April 14th,2014

Easy Easter door decoration

This simple decoration is perfect to add an Easter touch to your door. I picked up a few mini glass tankards for 50p each from a local junk shop recently. Filled with bright and cheerful chocolate eggs and a couple of grape hyacinth stems,I’ve simply tied it to the door knob with ribbon for a happy hit of colour (and a sugary treat for friends and family).

Shot on our Farm Bloggers day,my lovely friend Kat suggested snapping the door decoration on an external door too,as she thought it would be a great Easter gift to hang on a friend’s door for them to find.

Easter decoration | Growing Spaces

And of course you don’t have to hang it on a door at all. Use it to decorate a window sill,shelf or side table.

Mind you,with two four-year-olds in my house,I predict it will only last for about ten seconds before the chocolate is consumed and all I’m left with is the foil wrapping. Not as pretty,but still colourful I guess,and at least they won’t eat the flowers!

Decorate for Easter | Growing Space

April 13th,2014

M&S Throwback Makeover Challenge

This was my bedroom in 1996 when I was 16. What I love about this picture is that I can see the seeds of my future career as an interiors journalist – I’ve quite obviously taken time to tidy the room,make the bed,arrange things in a way that I thought looked visually pleasing. It’s like I was practising for the hundreds of homes I’d end up styling during my future career.

I’m sharing this picture for a throwback challenge set by Marks &Spencer to see how I’d refresh a room from my past using products from M&S’s new Spring/Summer collections. The basic palette of blue and white in my 1996 bedroom is a classic that I think would work well in 2014,but I’ve swapped the dull,deep red accents for hot pink ombre and that awful orange pine wood for oak details.

Freya footstool,from £429;jacquard tribe bed set,from £59;tile print photo frame,£19.50;two round weave baskets,£55;tree table lamp,£79;step ladder,£129;Conran Kitson side table,£199;pure linen ombre cushion,£25;lace design jug vase,£35.

 

 

Disclosure:M&S are sending me an item from my moodboard for writing this post

April 10th,2014

Walnuts Farm and the farm bloggers

Meeting bloggers you’ve long admired from afar is a strange thing. Overwhelming and inspiring in equal measure,it can take you some time to find your groove and fit into a group full of big characters and existing friendships. This was definitely the case when I met up with a group of nine other interiors and lifestyle bloggers – Emily,Catherine,Kat,Lottie,Igor,Bridgee,Geraldine,Yvonne and Tina – for a day on Walnuts Farm,a stunning Sussex location house,for some styling,photography and fun. Our nominated hashtag for the day? #farmbloggers!

Kat's spring wreath | Growing Spaces

It was great to see everyone’s different approach to the day – some had ideas of things they wanted to shoot (I’d spent the week crafting so that I had projects to photograph),others just let themselves be inspired by the location itself,which wasn’t hard as you can see.

After the initial adjustment of being in the group,the calm of the countryside location took over,and I really enjoyed escaping from the hustle and bustle of reality for the day. Thanks to Emily for organising the trip,and to all of the farm bloggers for making it such a pleasure to be part of.

Group photographs by Kat. Back row,left to right:Kat,Yvonne,Bridgee,Lottie,Tina. Front row,left to right:Geraldine,Emily,Igor,Me,Catherine

For a different perspective on our day,there’s a sneak peek from Bridgee, Catherine’s post has some gloriously romantic shots,Kat’s written about the beautiful spring wreath she made,Emily photographed Yvonne and her new book Yvestown in the Kitchen,and Yvonne has captures the essence of the location. I can’t wait to read everyone else’s posts,too,and to see most of the group again soon at Blogtacular (Igor,we’ll miss you!). If you haven’t snapped up your ticket yet,you really should – it’s going to be awesome.

April 9th,2014

Gardening with kids:B&Q easyGrow

The Spring days make me desperate to get out into the garden,and with the twins’Easter holidays about to begin,an email from B&Q about their brand new packaging solution for bedding plants – easyGrow – pinged into my inbox at just the right time.

The kids love gardening,so yesterday with the sun shining,I gave them an easyGrow tray of plants (begonias for Fonz,and petunias for Ez) and a pot each,and they got stuck right in.

 

B&Q’s easyGrow has done away with the polystyrene packaging usually used for bedding plants,replacing it with a teabag-style solution that can be planted directly into the ground and is fully compostable. The kids could lift each plant straight out of the tray and plant them themselves,making it really easy for them to finish the project with little help from me.

Here are a few stats from B&Q that definitely got me thinking about greener gardening:

  • B&Q sell 80 million bedding plants between March and May – which would result in 22,500 cubic metres of polystyrene being sent to landfill,enough to fill 87,200 wheelie bins or 9 Olympic sized swimming pools
  • The new packaging is 95% peat free,helping to ease pressure on the excavation of peat bogs,using coir instead which is made from coconut husks. 94% of this peat bogs in England have been excavated largely for use in compost
  • Peat use in gardening in the UK releases around 1.25 million tonnes of CO2 each year.  Around 400,000 tonnes of this comes directly from commercial peat extraction on UK bogs
And you can also watch B&Q’s video with Emilia Fox about greener gardening for more inspiration.

Disclosure:We were sent a tray of easyGrow plants to use for writing this post. 

April 7th,2014

DIY concrete planters

Last Friday I spent a wonderful day with some really talented bloggers at a beautiful location house in Sussex for a day of photography and fun (see the hashtag #farmbloggers on IG and Twitter for some great snapshots). I’ll be writing a post about the day itself this week hopefully,but in the meantime I wanted to share these pictures of the concrete planters and candleholders that I made in the run up to the farm trip.

The above concrete planter was made using ballast (a readymix of sharp sand and small stones) in the concrete mix and I love the roughness of the texture at the bottom against the smoother section above it.

The planter and candleholder above was made with a sand-based mix to give the concrete a much smoother finish. I left the top of the pots rough for contrast (you can sand them down for a sleeker look).

After meeting the very charming Igor on Friday,I really wanted to write up my concrete planter post to join in with his and Judith’s Urban Jungle Bloggers series. This month’s topic is spring or Easter styling,and I think my planter would make a great centrepiece for a table set for Easter lunch. For loads more Urban Jungle ideas visit Igor and Judith’s Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board.

There are some excellent online tutorials for making your own concrete planters already around (I liked this from Simply Sofie and this one from Little House Blog),but here are my own instructions:

  1. Choose the containers to use as moulds for your planters or candleholders. You’ll need two for each pot – one to create the outside form,and then a smaller one to create the void in the middle. I recommend making the wall of your planter at least 1.5 inches thick,or the walls of the pot might crack and crumble when you try to get it out of the mould. I have also heard that you can use cardboard containers,and that the cardboard is much easier to peel off when the concrete has set than plastic or metal.
  2. Mix up your concrete. We made two mixes – one using building sand (for a smoother finish),and one using ballast (a readymix of sharp sand and small stones that creates a rougher texture). Mix one part cement with four parts sand/ballast,and add water to create desired consistency (we read that we should be aiming for something similar to peanut butter). Wear gloves as the concrete isn’t kind to your hands.
  3. Fill the moulds with concrete. For the thinner mix (using the sand) it was possible to pour the concrete into the main container,and then push the smaller container in afterwards. For the thicker mix (using ballast),I found it easier to put the smaller container into place,and then scoop the concrete into the void. I actually pressed it down with my fingers after each scoop to make sure it filled the space completely.
  4. Leave to dry and then turn out of the moulds (easier said than done). I kept going back to the pots while they were drying to wiggle the inner container a bit so that it wasn’t too tight when it came to pulling it out at the end. Getting the pots out of the moulds was pretty challenging,because we’d used substantial containers that were hard to peel off – we used a saw or stanley knife to break through the mould and pull it away from the concrete. Once out of the moulds,I left the pots to completely dry on our kitchen floor (with the underfloor heating on).

April 1st,2014

Family-living favourites from Ikea’s new PS 2014 collection

Ikea’s new PS 2014 Collection hits stores across the UK today,and with flexibility at the heart of its design,it’s ideal for family living – where the demands on the home are constantly changing as kids grow and develop. Take this balancing bench for example – perfect for hallways for children to sit on while you put shoes on or take them off,or as a seat next to a low table set up for crafting,or pulled out for balancing and playing. And at £40 it’s also really affordable.

Also great for kids is this greenhouse,£25,that can be wall-mounted or popped on a table or shelf. My twins love gardening and I think planting seeds and watching them grow is a real winning activity.

I’m always lusting over vintage school lockers and wishing we could afford them for our home (but I’ve never been lucky enough to come across any that are within our price range). This wardrobe has the industrial feel that I’m after,but is a real bargain at £100.It comes with 160 plastic pixels in black,red,yellow,orange and green so you can make up your own design (or use one the instructions for three ready-made patterns). I can see this wardrobe in our playroom,with fancy dress clothes hung up,and toys and games stored on its shelves.

Anything with hidden storage gets top marks for family living,and this side table,£50,is made up of four stackable trays of varying depths so the trays can be used for storage or for serving.

These are just a few of my highlights from the 51-piece collection,which is full of clever space-saving,multifuctional pieces for flexible and small-space living.

I can feel a family trip to Ikea coming up…

March 31st,2014

Etsy’s Best…Stationery picks

My love of stationery knows no bounds. I relished stocking up ready for the start of each school year,and can remember the joy of buying tres chic French stationery whilst on camping holidays with my family in France. I still adore stationery,and will happily head to the stationery section in any shop first and foremost,so I couldn’t let National Stationery Week pass me by. I’ve scoured Etsy for my favourite products in fresh,Spring shades,and here’s what I found..

1. Yellow hand screen-printed pencil case with rubber,ruler and pencil by InkCircusStudio,£11.77 plus shipping.
2. Cute Korean pear sticky notes from 2to21m,£1.17 plus shipping.
3. Stay in Touch correspondence kit by wearebreadandjam,£10.50 plus shipping.
4.  Yellow and white chevron portfolio case by Allisajacobs,£23.45 plus shipping
5. Faux grass mini pegs by lizzles,£4.85 plus shipping

 

Disclosure:I have an affiliate relationship with Etsy,and if you click through to buy any of the products I’ve chosen above,I may earn a small commission

March 26th,2014

Family living:5 great ways to display children’s artwork

Before I had kids I was under the impression I’d treasure every last bit of artwork my children produced. But I had absolutely no idea of the vast mountains of paintings,drawings,and junk-model sculptures that two children would create on a weekly basis!

I try to keep on top of the stacks of pictures. We have a wall of magnetic boards from Ikea in the playroom (I also have them above my desk),and I try to display the latest week’s artwork on these. Here’s a quick snapshot.

I’m constantly on the lookout for other ways to show off their creations and here are a few other display ideas that have caught my eye recently..

Source: Oh Joy

Source: DesignImprovised

Source: Dwell

 Source: ModCloth

 

 

March 25th,2014

When clouds and rain look good

We’ve woken up to a dull and dismal day here,but it made me think back to the trip we did to Doubtful Sound (and area of fjordland full of verdant rainforest) when we were in New Zealand. Rain is pretty much par for the course there,and without the rain there wouldn’t be the clouds,and the sight of those layers of clouds clinging to the mountains as we sailed through the fjord was breathtakingly beautiful. It gave you a sense of being absorbed into the landscape,with a powerful sense of stillness and peace on such a grand scale.

So whenever it rains here,I’m going to try to remember the beauty and drama of those grey skies,and the serenity that they invoked.

March 21st,2014

My spring flower crown

When I saw Michelle and Bethan’s posts about making floral crowns to celebrate the start of spring,I immediately wanted to get involved but when I checked my diary I could see that joining in on the 20th March (the spring equinox) was going to be next to impossible. And so I’m a day late with my post,but I figured that as it’s the first full day of spring today,I can probably be let off for good behaviour.

I found choosing the flowers for my crown really tough because the garden is so full of beautiful spring blooms right now,but each year,when I see the camellia right outside our back door suddenly burst into a cloud of vibrant pink flowers,I know spring has arrived,so I thought it would be the perfect choice for my crown.

I used thicker florist’s wire to create a ring the size of my head,and then thinner florist’s wire to secure the flowers to the ring. I should really have covered the ring with foliage first (I would have used rosemary) before wiring on the flowers but I was short of time so missed this stage.

I love my flower crown,and it will go onto our kitchen table as a spring centrepiece for today.

Happy spring,everyone.