Tuesday, 31 March 2009

snippet and ink

When I am designing I gain inspiration from allsorts of places, it could be a garden or a National Trust House, somebodies clothing, a bag or some stationery anyway I find inspiration in many places. When I am stuck for colour ideas I look on Kathryn's fabulous blog snippet and ink. Although it is theoretically a wedding blog, I find I go back to it time and again for all kinds of ideas. If you have any events coming up this summer (don't just think weddings) then have a look, I am sure you will be super inspired too. I am working on a couple of summer events at the moment - if you live in Gloucestershire check back for more info on the Amberley cow trail day in May. I was very inspired by these 2 lovely boards and will be using them as a basis for some of the refreshment stands for our cow trail day!
snippet & ink: daily wedding inspiration: February 2009: "Top row from left: strawberry cake, flower and shoe photos both by Jose Villa, milk bottle 'vase' photo by Cooke Studio Row 2: photo booth photo by Meg Smith, poster invitation via Southern Weddings, lunch boxes and strawberry shortcake both from Martha Stewart Weddings Row 3: bouquet by Saipua, vintage veil from i speak film's flickr, wagon from Brides Row 4: truck via Sweet Paul, invitation from Poppies for Grace, lantern photo by A Bryan Photo Posted by Kathryn at 5:30 AM 21 comments Labels: green, inspiration board, picnic, red

snippet & ink: daily wedding inspiration: February 2009: "Top row from left: hot air balloon poster via Oh Happy Day, apple trees from Jan_ice's flickr Row 2: Laduree macarons via Housemartin, shoes from Krisatomic's flickr, dress photo by Aaron Delesie, lunch boxes from Martha Stewart Weddings Row 3: red poppy bouquet via Project Wedding, paper lanterns from Lola Event Productions, cocktails from Soiree Charleston Row 4: green bridesmaid dress, barn photo by One Thousand Words Photography via Junebug Weddings, flowers from Brides, lollipops from Rebecca Thuss Posted by Kathryn at 8:00 AM 47 comments Labels: blue, green, inspiration board, pink, red, rustic Sponsored Post: Pearl by Milkmaid Press

Sunday, 29 March 2009

chocolate mousse

I started the week lacking inspiration for the food shopping list. However help was at hand, I asked the children what they would like to eat. Boy has a huge, savoury appetite and requested fish pie, spaghetti bolognese and pizza. The little girl has a very sweet tooth and demanded chocolate pie. Despite my explanations that it wasn't a very healthy meal option she insisted. As ever in a world of children, diplomacy and compromise won. I promised chocolate mousse for pudding with our Sunday Roast. Not only did that please the little girl, but it gave me the opportunity to use the cups that Sarah bought me - they were disinfected in the dishwasher before use!

It is so quick and easy I had to share it with you. This recipe makes 6 full cups of rich chocolate mousse:

375 ml double cream
200 g marshmallows
200 g plain chocolate

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently until chocolate and marshmallows have melted, pour into pots and chill in fridge over night.

peacock in his pride

We went to Prinknash Abbey today to look at the birds and deer and were amazed by the beauty of the Peacocks. We were able to get really close to them as they stood shaking their impressive plumes and the intensity of the colours was incredible. Surely the inspiration for something...

Saturday, 28 March 2009


I always love going on the Martha Stewart website. it fills me with inspiration. It saddens me that we have no magazine in the uk that is the equivalent. The photography is stunning. anyway fortunately for us over here in the uk, where is it is difficult to buy Martha Stewart living, there is a fantastic website which has everything that one can find in her numerous publications. Here is a little bit of Easter baking to whet your appetite. All of the recipes can be found on the martha stewart website.

Friday, 27 March 2009

bloggy gorgeousness

bloggy loveliness this week comes from emma bond
she is a super talented garden designer based in Bath. she has a lovely website
have a look at her blog, makes me yearn for cornwall in the holidays!

stitch & bitch

Sarah was unable to make our weekly stitch and bitch session due to the demands of her glamorous, magazine lifestyle! As a result I had a quiet morning and managed to finish this 'Spring Chicken' smock, just in time for me to post it to my Goddaughter for Easter. I'm new to this applique lark and found the curves literally drove me round the bend, especially since I was jangling from 3 cups of coffee. I don't know how Sarah does it so well on her cushions. However, I was pleased with the overall result, just don't look too closely.

Thanks again to Amy Karol's bend-the-rules Sewing for the pattern.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

childrens wall murals

I have been busy these last few weeks trying to get my kids fabric and wallpaper collection ready for launch. I thought i would let you have a smeak preview today! this is a wallpaper panel which is 130cm wide by 2 - 2.5m high. it can be sized to fit the height of the bedroom wall. I love the idea of big repeats in wallpaper, and enough goiing on to captivate a childs imagination.

pleasing photograph

i had to do a ' lifestyle' photo today for the English Home magazine, (a very lovely magazine which has fabulous photography and styling). Anyway with there being only 30 seconds of sunshine today I was quite pleased with the result!! I also had some exciting news this week, I have been accepted to sell my wares on not on the high street.com.

grown up easter gifts

We are spending some of the Easter break with my in-laws and I realise that I need some gifts, but again want to avoid the chocolate glut. I borrowed this 'pot-maker' from Sarah and made loads of little (biodegradable) pots and my girl planted Sunflower seeds in them. I was really pleased with the FT versions which I had done for the men in the family, if they grow they should sport a fantastic deep red sunflower.

Monday, 23 March 2009

sowing the seeds

Last year we rather ambitiously took on a large allotment 3 days before our baby was born. Despite inheriting an established asparagus bed, a blueberry tree and a fantastic crop of strawberries we soon realised that we just don't have the time to dedicate to an allotment. So this year I have some left over seeds that need a home. I also have a few outstanding thank you letters. So I decided to combine the two and created some seed books. This year someone else will have the pleasure of growing my seeds!

Sunday, 22 March 2009

spring green and primrose swap

just to let you know our 'spring green and primrose' swap will close this week. So if you want to join in email us at hardakerandpope AT gmail.COM and leave your details. swap packages can be anything you like, craft/stationary/fabric/easter/cooking inspired. Put your goodies in an A5 envelope and once you have registered your details Jo and I will email you with an address to send them to. We are going to add some special goodies to each swap package. Hope this explains a little for anyone new to the idea of swaps.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

saw these and thought of you

I found these teacups minus their saucers in my favourite (and far too whiffy for Jo) charity shop. Anyway I bought them for Jo to cheer her up after a rotten week. I had intended to get her some spring flowers from the man outside the Sub Rooms in Stroud, as I knew that she had seen a rather amazing green and yellow combo there, however I was thwarted by traffic and went to Nailsworth instead where I chanced upon these. I thought they might be just the thing for an event Jo is working on for the summer. (its amazing what a nice tag, some cello and a bit of ribbon do to a present!)

mural wallpaper

I was inspired to take a photo (admitedly not a very good one - and I am sure Mr P will have his head in his hands when he views this one!) by the lovely pictures on Lobster and Swan. She was featuring some stunning de Gournay hand painted wallpapers. I love the style of those beautiful chinoiserie wallpapers which you so often see in National Trust houses, however I wanted to create something on a more striking scale. I hand painted the design, and then had it scanned and printed. (it is available for sale here). What do we think about wallpaper? Are we making a return to pattern. Or do we think paint is a safer bet. Tell us how you use wallpaper (if at all) in your home.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

crown jewels

I don't know exactly what my latest project is yet, but I was inspired by the rich brocade and sumptuous sequin decorations seen in the Matthew Williamson shop in Bicester recently. Not only are the clothes fabulous but I was thrilled when I noticed behind the counter a single strip of wall paper, adorned with kitsch badges and brooches stuck alongside the flowers and birds on the branches. I got even more carried away when I saw an old velvet cushion with yet more sequins and brooches. Then I was reliably informed that the aforementioned cushion was not for sale. Thank goodness, I was prepared to spend a small fortune on it.

Then, at the weekend, a friend announced she had a box of old jewelry she was taking to the tip and asked if I'd be interested in anything for the dressing up box. Forget the dressing up box, inside I found an exactly what I need, an Aladin's cave of jewelry, the crown jewels. Now all I have to do is find some rotten, sun-bleached velvet curtains and all will become clear.

bargain hunting

I've been on a girly weekend 'up north' and discovered a fantastic flea market at a metro station in Tynemouth. Despite the fact it was the end of the day and the stalls were closing up, I did have time to find a couple of treasures, including this old box which I'm sure will become perfect packaging for a present for a new mum. Someone suggested I should put a solitary savoy cabbage leaf in it!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

primrose path

I've had an empty pot in the bathroom since the Christmas hyacinths died and I have decided I can stand it no more. The solution was waiting for me on the sunny banks of the garden, where pale yellow primroses are growing blissfully and prolifically. All it took was a couple of minutes, an attack with the trowel and a bit of moss to tidy things up.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

something for the weekend

the new 'not on the high street' catalogue plopped through the letterbox yesterday. For anyone who hasn't heard of them they are a fabulous online company who bring designers, makers, small producers together on one website. The site is really easy to use and the products are great. It is the perfect site for buying special presents, it also has a handy price tool down the left so you can search according to budget.

I have picked a few lovelies out to show you
carved oak swing £295 marnie moyle, peronalised kids veg planting kit £39 plantabox
whitstable oyster bucket £24 buy the sea, set of 2 garden lanterns £18 coasting along.

pearl bracelet £28 dirty cherub, thumbprint bangle£79 button and bean
leather thong charm necklace £30 samphire, pendant samphire.

manoir de kerledan

Some years ago friends of ours Pete and Penny Dinwiddie upped sticks from Wiltshire and bought Manoir de Kerledan in the Finistere region of Brittany. Penny is an incredibly talented garden designer and has created a stunning garden at the manoir. Penny is also a very stylish lady and the interior is as fabulous as the exterior (I think she could possibly have a career in interior design too if she wanted one!!) Penny and Pete have opened the doors of their home as a super stylish and very welcoming boutique B&B. Manoir de Kerledan has been included in Alistair Sawdays special places to stay.
Penny has recently joined the blogging community and you can watch her beautiful garden grow and see more pictures of the Manoir and its garden on her blog www.kerledan.blogspot.com.
I have come over all french inspired I think I feel new collection coming on!! perhaps I can photograph it at Pennys!!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

purse tutorial

I have always had a fear of making anything with a zip. For some reason I thought it was too complicated and way beyond my abilities. However the lovely Amy Karol banished my fears and made it look so simple. I am glad to say zips no longer freak me out!!!

I thought I would post a nice easy tutorial to begin with. This is a great quick fix project and you feel you have actually achieved something good in a very short space of time!!!
I won't give you exact sizes as you can scale this project up or down to suit whatever size zip you are using.
1. cut out 2 x outside pieces for your purse and 2 x lining pieces (I use calico) and make them the same length as the zip.

2. make a sandwich of 1 x patterned (outside)fabric face up, zip face down and 1 x lining material on top an pin it as shown (pinning this way means you can stitch over your pins without breaking your needle and easily remove them when you're done

3. attach a zipper foot to your machine (don't worry if you don't have one just use the ordinary foot, it will just be a bit trickier) and set the needle to the left side.

4. stitch the sandwich together. backstitch to finish

5. repeat step 2 with the other pieces of fabric.

6. fold flat and press the front and the lining.

7. unzip the zip half way and fold the purse so that the right sides of the patterned pieces are together and the right sides of the lining are together.

8. pin then stitch together leaving an opening in the bottom of the lining for turning out.

9. turn the purse right way out through the zip. poke the corners out carefully.
10. press the hole in the lining fabric closed following the line ouf your stitching.
11.stitch closed backstich to start and finish.
12. tuck the lining inside the purse and poke the corners out neatly. press with a hot iron.
you can tie a ribbon onto the zipper to make it pull easily.

new shoppers

I was really delighted on friday when an order popped into my inbox from an old school friend who I haven't spoken to for 20 years!! She had been on the website and ordered a bag for her and one for her mum for mothers day. Interestingly Kathryn chose a vintage paisley colourway that I very nearly didn't include in the collection because it was a misprint, but so many people liked it when they saw it that I added it in at the last minute!!!

no food colouring in sight!

I bought a big bag of Sicilian blood oranges last week, which were delicious, however the last 2 had been languishing in the fruitbowl, so I thought, I would make an orange version of lemon drizzle cake. Anyway I couldn't find the bottom of the cake tin so I made cupcake versions instead. Obligatory sprinkles for the children and candied orange peel for the grown ups!!. The juice was such a deep red that it turned the icing a beautiful shade of blossom pink, and not a drop of artificial colouring in sight (except for the sprinkles!!!)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

easter bunny egg cosy

Chocolate is rife in our house at Easter so I like to give something a little different and because Easter expectations aren't as great as Christmas's I feel I can get away with giving handmade goods. This year the lucky recipient's are going to get a make-your-own Easter Bunny Egg Cosy

Monday, 9 March 2009

easter hen cress heads

In amongst the various seeds I sorted on Friday I discovered a rather old packet of cress. So this afternoon the children created their very own easter cress heads. We cut up an old egg box to create 'nests' for the hens to rest on and then they got happy with the glue and paint, before adding cotton wool, seeds and a drop(ish) of water.

As we had some grown cress in the kitchen I added it to one hen so you can see what the end result may look like if we remember to water the other two. Rather funky chickens I think!

egg mayonnaise & cress sandwiches

And whilst the children messed around with feathers, glue and paint I made the boy's sandwiches for school tomorrow - egg mayonnaise and cress (with added crispy bacon). Simple yet surprisingly delicious.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

happy weekend everybody, check back in next week for a nice making tutorial.
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the end of a busy week

I have felt like a headless chicken on a hamster wheel all week. I have had a to do list that has grown and grown all week with one job leading to ten others. I thought mr. h was going to explode by thursday evening. There just aren't enough hours in each day to fit in children, designing, sorting PR, doing press packs, website stuff, blogging, and all the normal day to day necessities such as food shopping and cooking, I take my hat off to working mums the world over, I've been neither a good mother nor a good business women this week!! And I owe my friends and family kisses all round for being so amazing.
anyway mr.h and mr.p came up trumps on friday night, mine came home with 2 lovely steaks and a bottle of nice wine and jo's came home with a great bunch of ranunculas, so 10 out of 10 and a gold star for both. They then had to tolerate a great deal of squealing when we discovered that the lovely lobster and swan had added us to her making my day list, we were so excited especially as she authors one of our favourite blogs, thank you, you made our day!!!

beautiful ranuncula

My March edition of Martha Stewart Living arrived in the post yesterday. I've only had the chance for a quick flick through but I did spot a 'Fact' that research by Rutgers University showed that women's moods were heightened for up to 3 days after receiving flowers. I should be in a good mood all weekend as hubby came home last night with these beautiful ranuncula.

Friday, 6 March 2009

sorting seeds

We only planted the last of our bulbs 2 weeks ago but now that it is March I know I need to think about sowing the seeds for our summer harvest. I also have aspirations to have a vegetable patch and cutting garden like Sarah Raven but our crop normally ends up being a few carrots, radishes that are to peppery for the children to eat, tomatoes that never go red and lettuce that goes to seed before we get around to eating it.

However I do start off with the best intentions and this afternoon I decided to have a quiet moment to organise the seed box; working out which packets are out of date, sorting out what I need to plant when and what I need to buy. All I need now is a sunny day, some compost and to think about what tricks I'm going to use to keep the dreaded slugs away. Any ideas?

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

pressing flowers

This year's abundance of snow drops seems to be over but on our morning walk to school we have noticed the daffodils, violets, crocuses and primroses are now braving the early morning frosts. It brought to mind something I saw in an old copy of Country Living, where spring flowers had been pressed and used to decorate blown eggs. A perfect activity for the children. I rummaged through my 'craft cupboard' (a synonym for junk cupboard) and found my old flower press. It even had some daffodils and primroses in it, probably decades old, but I was able to get a step ahead of myself and decorated some eggs.

Meanwhile the children have been out in the garden picking Spring's early offerings and putting their goods in the flower press so they can decorate their own eggs in a couple of weeks time. Needless to say if the children are involved I will need at least twice the amount of required eggs!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

my present

On Friday Jo blogged about shopping in Stroud for a present to celebrate the launch of my website, well it was such a lovely gift I felt I had to do a post with some pictures. I studied embroidery for my degree, and have a real thing for vintage embroidered linen. My nan used to do this type of embroidery, and I just love it, I have quite a large collection buy am unable to resist it when I see it. Anway Jo fought her phobias of second hand goods and bought me this lovely tablecloth embroidered with daffodils and purple tulips, she also made me a pudding basin filled with minature purple tulips. such a lovely and thoughtful gift thank you!!

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Monday, 2 March 2009

sew pretty homestyle

There are so many brilliant books to fuel those of us that are artistically inclined and some are definitely better than others. We thought we would do a regular review on books that we've seen and really liked.

First off is Sew Pretty Homestyle by Tone Finanager. Sarah first showed it to me on one of the only beautiful sunny days we had last year, I sat in her garden loving every page, went home and ordered my own copy. It's bright pages are full of easy to follow ideas, the pictures are fab and you want everything that you see. Sarah has been prolific at label making and I'm particularly fond of the corsages, which I've adapted and added to tiny shopping baskets making great gifts for little girls.

However my best creation so far is the stuffed dog. I made this for my Goddaughter when she was born. I used a pretty rose fabric, made little fairy cakes decorated with roses for the mum and everything in white boxes tied with pink ribbon, rose stickers with a sweet smelling rose to top it off. Gloriously pink for a new born girl.