My Favourite Decor Books

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Vintage tea party!

(photos Sharon unless otherwise specified)

I love the whole idea of AFTERNOON TEA, the ceremonial feel of it all, the preparation, the dusting off of that valuable antique TEA SET you have which you hardly use for fear of breaking it, the polishing of those tiny cake forks and tea spoons.... the ironing of that oh so pretty tablecloth, which is so old fashioned you hardly use it any more....

So if you don't own Granny's valuable tea set, what then?

Well is all not lost.... second hand shops are full of sometimes lovely one off pieces from unusual tea sets, and mixing it all up so that you have different designs is very in vogue at the moment..and you'll find that these little beauties are really quite reasonably priced!  Try to find delicate cups and saucers in similar sizes but in different designs and colours that compliment each other, you'll usually find the matching side plates as well.

You can't have a tea party without the master of ceremony,The TEA POT and once again you can look in second hand shops or even a car boot sale for a silver plated tea pot or just a beautiful looking china or porcelain tea pot to add to your growing vintage tea set!  Give it all a good clean and polish when you get home and you'll find it will work perfectly with your newly acquired tea cups and saucers.

Do you have any silk roses - you don't use anymore - now don't be shy!!! dig them out, clip them off at the stem and decorate your cake stand with these roses, it finishes off the vintage look a treat!  Or if you're lucky enough to have a garden full of blooming flowers then of course feel free to use them.

Antique markets are a great place for finding uneven sets of damask or linen napkins, look out for similar colours and designs
Cake forks are another easy find at market, sometimes sold loosely, they can be found without breaking the budget...

Now for some CHOCOLATE CAKE.....see you later...

Friday, 28 October 2011

Farrow and Ball Giveaway

I'm going to have to share a secret - ssshhhh!  Sarah at
 is having a Farrow and Ball GIVEAWAY.... sign up and see if you can win a few litres of this wonderful paint for yourself.....

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Inspiration all around!!

I’m inspired!  But at the same time so humbled!  All around me people are blogging and writing, painting and photographing fabulous things and in the midst of their own personal agony!  And strangely it has inspired me to plod on and DO SOMETHING myself, like painting again….taking that wonderful atmospheric photograph…but first….I’ve had a lovely time browsing these blogs, and so you have to log on and see for yourself…

Amy Merrick… simply gorgeous, big blowsy florals and dainty snowdrops….the photographs are atmospheric and whimsical….check out her new Florist and Stylist’s website some of the most beautiful flowers and arrangements I’ve seen in a long time.


 Photos compliments of Amy Merrick from her website  - I know it just makes you want to go out and plant flowers right now.....or take a trip to the florist down the road..... – in the midst of having her entire house burnt to the ground, she managed to salvage a few pieces of art and some clothing.  I love her wide brush strokes and her funny faces – she makes painting look soooo easy!

photos from Carol Marine's art blog

Lisa Daria art blog, young adult cancer survivor .....truly an inspiration
photo from Lisa Daria's art blog

It's enough to get anyone out there doing something creative!!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

How to create atmosphere

There's nothing more pleasing than coming home and liking what you see when you close your front door.

Our homes are our castles and we are the queens and kings who live there.
So how do we create that chic setting.....especially when we've all got such a lot of STUFF???

Grey Willow Heart Wreath
Let's start with the dining room...

I'm going to use the word De-CLUTTER (wince!)

Think about what we do in dining rooms, and pack anything that doesn't relate to eating in a box and store it....somewhere up high....where it takes great effort to get it down!

Look at the furniture you have, and whether you use it....if you don't use it, chances are you don't need it....drop it off at the nearest charity shop....or give it a make over by giving it a paint's amazing the difference a coat of paint can make to a once dark brown table or  wall cabinet

Wall paint creates instant atmosphere 
Mirrors add depth to a room and create a focal point
Hurricane lamps and pairs of ornaments always add symmetry to a setting
Use colours which are similar or complementary
Flowers in a vase or a jug will always bring a smile to your face and to others
Paintings and object d'art with a similar theme will make your room unique and interesting

Oval planter

So now you've de-cluttered, repainted the furniture, added a few candles and created a great's time for a dinner party!!!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Something's Gotta Give

Now this is funny, peculiar...because I LOVE this film, it must be one of my all time favourites for romance, style and hhhmmm just everything about the film is SO STYLISH ....I was so taken with the film, that on our recent trip to Paris, we just had to have dinner at LA GRANDE COLBERT!!!  And it didn't disappoint, it's Art Deco so old worldy....beautiful...

and now for the peculiar part ...whilst reading Moderncountrystyle blog today, Sarah is embarking on decor style based on the film
Something's Gotta now you know why....AMAZING... 

Remember the last scene in the film, when they have dinner at La Grand Colbert - here's photos of the REAL THING....

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Flowers beautiful Flowers!!!

I promised you beautiful things....

The month of June celebrates spring in full bloom and the air is full of the heady scent of flowers warming in the sun and where better to celebrate a birthday but in the romantic city of Paris.... We were walking through the Marais district and we came upon the most beautiful flower shop I have ever seen...full of orchids...I had never been in such a wonderful shop.. it was so picturesque I had to ask the owner if I could take a few photos, the frenchman smiled .... oui madame ....

Isn't this just beautiful - all shades of pink!

Now who wouldn't be happy working in that environment every day!!

Interior Heaven!!

I love beautiful interiors, they do to me what jewellery and diamonds do to others - they make me gasp with pure joy!  The Cosby Hotel in New York's SoHo district is exquisite - Kit Kemp, Interior Designer Extraordinaire, has managed to do it again ...these rooms are beautifully presented, down to the finest detail....just look at these pics I've sourced from the internet...

Greys and orangey reds mix with tones of taupe and off white - swoon!

Note how both rooms above have the same lighting, and the same side cabinets
and all three have white linen

Deep bold stripes teamed with delicate florals - who would have guessed!

I'm sure you'll agree these are BEAUTIFUL ROOMS!!!

Muffin Mania!

When I arrived in England five years ago, I looked everywhere for a bran muffin mix or something similar but I couldn't find anything, so after searching for several years...yes years...I found some wheat bran in Holland and Barratt at a remarkably cheap price - 89p for a large packet - but this is just the bran and you need the rest of ingredients to make wonderful HEALTHY bran muffins - so here's how:

100g wheat bran
200g plain flour
100g brown sugar or you can use normal granulated sugar
2 eggs beaten lightly
200-250ml of milk
100ml of sunflower oil
a handful of chopped walnuts
2 teaspoon of poppy seeds
a drizzle of honey
a handful of raisins
pinch of salt

Add all the dry ingredients together,  add the walnuts, raisins and poppy seeds (if you don't like nuts and seeds leave it out) mix the eggs, milk and oil together and pour into dry mixture and blend well.  The mixture should be thicker and more dense than cake mixture, if it's too stiff add some more milk but not too much. Using friand/muffin cases (because cup cake cases are just too shallow) spoon in the mixture almost to the top.  You want the muffins to rise above the case.  Bake in hot oven 190C-200C for 10-15 minutes until golden brown or when a knife comes out clean.  

You can add grated carrot and apple to the walnut, it makes a moist muffin, but equally delicious!

My family love these muffins, they're great in lunchboxes and if you're not watching the calories, they are delicious spread with butter and jam!

This is what the wheat bran looks like:

What the mixture should look like

Bran Muffins!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Forgotten Soul

Are you there?
I have missed your smile,
Your shadow light behind the hidden wall
At mercy once more,
We stand at the door
With faith in our hands and hurt in our eyes
We meet the dawn,
drained in face and white as snow
We reflect your nature, that I know
Destined for future, yet obscure in your light, we fall.
Patience sister, meet the mask that clears you of your wanton past and take pleasure in the stirrings of your soul.

Christmas Fair

I did say this blog was about all things nice so I'd like to tell you about House and Garden's Spirit of Christmas Fair where you can buy all sorts of lovely decor gifts as well as jewellery and garden things (I don't do gardening!) - it's being held in London from 2-6 November - there's so many beautiful things to buy and see and touch - you just have to visit!! - don't you just wish it was Christmas already! 

Tarte Tatin

Hi there, my name is Sharon and I love all things beautiful - beautiful interiors, beautiful historical buildings, a good read, exquisite food and more...not sure why it's wacky wednesday, but today for the first time, I've been told how to BLOG!!! so here goes... I'm blogging....talking about food...congratulations to Jo for winning the Great British Bake off, she's just so quiet and sweet and she can bake!  A colleague and I were talking about how good we thought we were - baking wise, but not good enough to enter TGBB!!  I've made Tarte Tatin though and it's turned out pretty good, so I'll share the recipe with you - it comes from Larousse Gastronomique - the serious cooks BIBLE!  Hope you enjoy it, but if you have high cholesterol you might want to skip this - there's tons of butter in it!

Anyway here goes, don't say I didn't warn you:

Tarte Tatin:

Mix 200g of sugar with 220g butter.  Smear this over the bottom and sides of a 23cm tarte tatin tin or flameproof shallow baking tin (I used a fry pan and poured the mixture into a quiche dish - it worked perfectly!)
Peel and core 800g of apples (bramleys are lovely!) and cut them into quarters, trimming off all the pieces you don't want, then arrange them in concentric circles (just arrange them in a circular shape!).  When the apples are neatly packed in place, cook over a fairly high heat until the sugar and butter form a golden caramel. (I added vanilla paste for extra flavour here!)  The mixture will rise as it boils and coats the apples.  Romove from heat and leave until completely cold. (If you've done what I did and used a pan to fry the syrupy mixture first, now is the time to pour gently into the quiche dish so that the concentric circles remain in shape (mine did!!)and then leave to cool down completely.

Shortcrust pastry:
Sift 225g plain flour into a bowl and stir in a pinch of salt, add 50g chilled butter and 50g chilled lard or white vegetable fat.  Cut the fat into small pieces and then lightly rub them into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons cold water use a round blade or mix with the straight side of a knife until it forms a soft dough.  Chill for 30 minutes before using.

Cover the apples with the pastry, tucking it into the edge of the tin/dish so that the fruit is contained.  Bake in a preheated oven at 200C (400F) for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Place a serving dish on top of the tin and turn the tart upside down.  Remove the tin, serve warm with creme fraiche!