Tag Archives: Christmas

Winter days and Christmas preparation….

What a difference a few days make: we’ve been basking in an extended autumn here until this week when suddenly my mornings look like this:

…Cold, frosty and foggy – winter has definitely arrived. Just last week we were walking the beautiful High Weald landscape trail in the sunshine….

Now all thoughts turn to Christmas – with Christmas jumper days (so easy this year – tinsel, safety pins, and a rather fab traditional knitted boy’s jumper from Sainsbury’s…. that’s about the extent of my crafting skills….)
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…cards to be written, helped along by The White Company’s delicously scented Winter candle – I might even reach the end of my address book this year….

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Flowers are a work in progress: I mix fake flowers with greenery such as yew, rosemary and other random bits of evergreen from the garden – that’s this weekend’s project. (When it comes to fake flowers: nice ones are hard to get hold of: mine are from Rigby & Mac‘s Dulwich stores; also try Abigail Ahern and Sia at Selfridges. If you’re a real flower fan, the best place to shop for all kinds of flowers, decorations and more is New Covent Garden Flower Market).

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The tree is up and decorated by the boys – and on sunny mornings, provides me with my own private, sparkly space whilst I work….

I hope your preparations for the holidays are gathering pace too! Happy Friday, and enjoy your weekends, Jx

Christmas shopping sorted in clicks: the best websites, Pt1: Cox & Cox

If, like me, you have to shop for Christmas gifts with your nose near a screen rather than your feet moving on concrete, then we’re lucky – we can make the most of the best online retailers who’ve done the hard work for us. These are the sites that have buyers/owners with eagle eyes that disregard piles of mass-produced tat at trade fairs, instead winkling out the unusual, covetable and interesting, sourcing products made with care and design flair, perfect for giving and receiving. Some have physical shops and others, such as Cox & Cox, are purely online.

One of my favourite places to shop, Cox & Cox offer beautiful homewares, furniture and decorative details that, thankfully, can be used on a daily basis. Searching for gifts that are perfect for home-lovers, you’ll find decorative details that lend a touch of understated luxury to rooms, and at Christmas, many gifts can be put to work, adding festive glamour to the Christmas table and surrounding room: 

Candle angel wings, £12.50, Cox & Cox 

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Aged Linnea candelabra, £125, Cox & Cox 

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Stone-effect angel wings, £125; set of three aged zinc planters, £60, all Cox & Cox 

Gifts for gardeners and cooks are covered; such as the the zinc planters, above, and the cream tableware, below, which looks almost too good for everyday use:

Casa earthenware, from £45 for a set of four side plates, Cox & Cox 

And whilst this metal console table is probably too large for a gift, I’d be delighted if someone were to give it to me… alongside the rug, lanterns, mirror…..

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Antiqued metal console table, £180; frames mirror, £125; filigree tree hurrincane lanterns, £40 for two, all other products, all Cox & Cox 

If you love making your gifts look as good on the outside as they are on the inside, then don’t miss their wrapping paper, ribbons and crafty details to customise your wrapping:

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Wrapping paper, ribbons and snowflake punch, all from a selection at Cox & Cox

All these products and many more can be found online at Cox & Cox; let me know your favourites, and happy shopping! Jx

Cool Nordic tones: accessories for autumn/winter

Once the nights start to draw in, the autumn air and low light seem to influence my colour choices, and so I find I increasingly turn towards cool neutrals when decorating. Nordic House capture the essence of Scandinvian style with their carefully chosen homewares; their new Autumn/Winter collection is filled with thoughtful, sometimes quirky pieces that you won’t see everywhere else. Lanterns range from grey-toned wooden (where you’d expect metal) and oversized (where you’d assume small) glass-faceted hurricanes; textiles are super soft in both tone and to the touch, whether fluffy lambswool or shimmering velvet; whilst decorative details are intricate: these wooden panels (there are three to choose from) will turn any wall into a work of art: 55507lb213

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[all images, Nordic House

… and it wouldn’t be winter without a splash of red, that most Scandinavian of bright shades. These and their extensive (shh) Christmas accessories are all online now, so do take a peek and let me know which you’ve loved best….

A vibrant red to warm your walls; and Happy Christmas

Red wall paint is hard to get right – I know, as I bought many a taster pot in my hunt for the right shade: the walls as I mentioned before ended up looking like this:

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as I struggled to find red and neutral that worked for both walls and bookshelves. The neutral is Little Greene‘s versatile Pearl (for more info see Neutral Paint) but the red proved problematic, working my way through Fired Earth, Designers Guild, Farrow & Ball reds till I settled on Susie Watson‘s Ramsbury Red emulsion, which is manufactured for Susie Watson by Scottish paint experts Craig & Rose.

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The two images above show the finished walls and a glimpse of bookshelves; whilst below is Susie’s own shot, looking suitably Christmassy….

 

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And on that note, with the last Christmas image for this year, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and here’s looking forward to a great 2013 (especially as the world didn’t end this morning as planned!)

All you need to buy this Christmas* – gift shopping sorted in 10

If, like me, you can’t move for pages of gift suggestions falling out of this weekend’s newspapers, then don’t despair… here’s a capsule collection of 10 modern classics to solve your Christmas shopping angst.

These (subjective, obviously) fabulous, mainly design-led products for should cover ideas for most of the family: some come with a little country-twist, but most are good for townies too….

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1 – Zeena Shah cushions: Zeena is one of the hottest textile designers around right now. Her cushion motifs are fresh, current and just a little bit folksy.

Buy for: yourself!; textile lovers, anyone who likes to sit comfortably… 

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2 – Paul Cocksedge Invisible Bookend: This is such a brilliant piece of design. It’s functional, witty, it doesn’t require any fitting, and yet holds around 1.5 metres worth of books. For me, just what modern design should be about.

Give to: cutting edge design enthusiasts, DIY avoiders, keen readers… 

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3 – Cambridge Satchel Company satchel. I grew up in Cambridge, and when I started school my mum gave me a (brown) leather satchel which I LOATHED. Complete with brown uniform, brown satchel, and topped off with pink-framed NHS glasses, I was a true child of my time.

Now I’ve grown up and so has the satchel: I love it in red, but the metallic ones are covetable too…

Give to: yourself, again! Your sister. Grown up nieces. Anyone who travels by bike. 

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4 Makers and Brothers Owls – I keep wondering when the owl as a motif will stop being popular, but till then you’ve got to love these owls by Cleo. Made in Ireland using Irish tweed and felt, they look just as cute individually as they do shown here in a group.

Give to: you could give them to others, but wouldn’t you miss them? 

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5: Opinel knife: Made in France, outdoorsy company Opinel have designed this round-tipped knife specifically for children  it’s the perfect whittling knife for boys and girls who love the outdoors and comes in several colours from red to pink, green and blue. My 10 year old loves the responsibility of having his own pen knife (yes it too took me a while to adjust from the knee-jerk reaction – a child, with a knife – I have only just moved from sarf-east London!). Picnic-loving or camping adults will also enjoy it. A safety catch keeps it either open or closed, and the round tip is also a safety aspect. (Opinel say from 7+ but for common sense reasons, only give to responsible children).

Give to: sensible older boys and girls, outdoorsy types, al fresco diners, glampers 

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6 – Beesnees by EsterComunello from TwentyTwentyOne: One of my favourite contemporary design stores stocks these quirky bee houses: sold as a set of three. Encourage solitary bumble bees to live in your garden and help our ecosystem. Made from wood and steel, they’re small enough for even the tiniest town garden.

Give to: gardeners, nature lovers, town and country dwellers 

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7 Capital Spice cookbook: We all love a currry, and this newly published cook book is a brilliant gift for anyone who – loves to cook, and/or loves curry, and/or loves London and/or loves to eat out at Indian restaurants.

Top notch London-based chefs share inside info and recipes, so we can recreate these tastes at home. (Ed.Chrissie Walker, published by Absolute Press).

Give to: A great gift for men who love to cook 

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8 Hampson Woods chopping board. Suddenly the humble chopping board has become a designer item, and there are plenty to choose from, but these are my favourites. Hand-carved in their Hackney workshops with wood from the London Plane tree, the boards are beautifully smooth to the touch.

Give to: lovers of contemporary design, keen cooks 

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9 – After Noah House of Marbles  62 piece marble run. After Noah was one of the first shops to stock unique pieces of retro and vintage accessories. They also  choose their toys well: classic in design, but most importantly, fun to play with!

Give to: boys and girls from 3+

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10 Baker Ross  Scissors Carousel: Not a great image but a perfect present for any child who loves to make and craft. Each pair of coloured scissors cuts a different pattern. Again, for common sense reasons, supervision will be needed for little ones.

Give to: boys and girls from 3+ 

 

 

Let me know what you think: Happy shopping!

(*FYI none of these are sponsored links, they’re just lovely products, in my opinion, which I’ve discovered this autumn whilst researching  for my ‘real’ job) 

Silver and metal Christmas decorations; Winter morning

This beautiful frosty morning here, with clear skies and icy air, has prompted me to indulge in my fondness for silver and worn, but delicate metals.

I took these images not even first thing – around 7.45am I guess – but the light was amazing. They aren’t altered: just as nature intended.

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Two inspirational companies, Northumberland’s RE and Denmark’s House Doctor, have decorations that successfully mix this year’s key trends of vintage / industrial / recycled and still keep the look pretty enough for most interiors.

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From the top: Bells from RE, candles from House Doctor, decs from House Doctor; jewelled crosses, metal crosses and mix of decs, all from RE.

Natural Wood

With my return to country living comes an increased awareness of how natural, untreated wood is making an appearance in interiors. SCP, Cox & Cox, House Doctor and Garden Trading are all places to head to for beautiful wood furniture or decorative pieces, and/or decorations to transform your homes this December.

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From the top: Decorations from House Doctor, heart from Cox & Cox, shelves from Garden Trading; stools and decs from Cox & Cox, vintage sleighs from SCP.

These wooden animal boxes by Karl Zahn at SCP are my favourites: they double up as artwork whilst storing bits and pieces, and can be a toy as well (if you can bear (no pun intended)) to part with them….

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