• Archive for December, 2011

    Time for an end-of-year rest

    by  • 22/12/2011 • Living, Out and About • 3 Comments

    Ever one for a good life phrase or quote, I came across this thought by American writer and journalist Hal Borland today…

    ‘Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.’

    It’s my last day in the office today and at the end of 2011, myself and all at Country Homes & Interiors would like to wish you a Christmas brimming with good cheer and a New Year full of promise.

    We have some exciting plans for 2012 and I look forward to sharing them with you then. In the meantime, we are giving ourselves an end-of-year rest on Country days and will be back blogging on 3 January.

    Country Homes & Interiors wreath

    Happy Christmas!

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    Make a handbag-style doorstop

    by  • 21/12/2011 • Crafting, Living • 2 Comments

    This lovely, fun tartan doorstop features in our February 2012 issue and we’ve provided all the templates and instructions that you’ll need to make it yourself.

    The pretty fabric is Lomond Tartan by Osborne & Little, but you can make it in any fabric you choose. Inside is a lining bag filled with sand, which is easily removable for when you want to wash the bag. The little pompoms add a stylish finishing touch.

    If you’d like to try more sewing projects like this one, visit the Housetohome website.

    Our fun doorstop features a lining bag filled with sand.

    Slip stitching the bag flap in place along the back edge.

    Illustration by Michael A Hill

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    Favourite candle buys

    by  • 16/12/2011 • Living • 3 Comments

    Let’s hear it for the humble candle. It’s a small but mighty force and an easy way to instantly create the perfect cosy ambience. We’ve seen so many lovely ideas for candles in the lead up to Christmas - here are three of my favourites.

    From Dee Puddy, this charming nativity scene projects a silhouette on the wall; the delightful hearts from Breeze are ideal for a table centrepiece and, finally, from The Chic Country Home are these fabulous hanging house lanterns that look so warming when all lit up by a flickering flame inside.

    From left; Christmas tea light, £5.95, Dee Puddy; Silver hearts, £7 for 3, Breeze; House lantern, £12 each, The Chic Country Home..

    From left; Christmas tea light, £5.95, Dee Puddy; Silver hearts, £7 for 3, Breeze; House lantern, £12 each, The Chic Country Home..

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    Creative gift wrapping ideas

    by  • 15/12/2011 • Crafting • 2 Comments

    Wrapping presents ready to put under the tree is one of my favourite Christmas preparations, so I’ve been looking for some lovely ideas as inspiration for this year’s gifts.

    I love these creative ways to personalise presents and tips on how to get organised with a gift-wrapping station for rolls of wrapping paper, tissue, scissors, tape, ribbons and bows.

    There’s a gorgeous selection of paper and trimmings at Notonthehighstreet.com, including handmade snowflake design paper, personalised gift tags and country-style striped ribbons…

    How are you getting creative for Christmas this year?

    Giftwrap from Notonthehighstreet.com

    Giftwrap, tags and ribbons, from a selection at Notonthehighstreet.com

    For more gift wrapping ideas, see the Papers & Trims feature in the January issue of Country Homes & Interiors.

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    Colourful dining room

    by  • 15/12/2011 • Living • 2 Comments

    When it is cold and dark outside, I love nothing more than looking at houses where owners have used colour to enliven a room and give it personality and warmth. This dining room, which features in Decorate by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick (£30, published by Jacqui Small), showcases colour so effectively. The room is a fairly blank canvas, but is given an instant lift through the colourful lampshades, cushions, and tableware. If you’re entertaining over the festive period, why not enliven your dining table by injecting splashes of colour through everything from your napkins to the Chrismas crackers?

    Colourful Dining Room

    Decorate by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick. Photographs Debi Treloar (£30, Jacqui Small).

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    White chocolate and cranberry muffins

    by  • 13/12/2011 • Eating • 0 Comments

    White Chocolate and Cranberry Muffins

    This is such an easy recipe to do and uses two of my favourite ingredients. Bake a batch this weekend to have on standby for Christmas visitors – they’ll fly off the plate. You will need…

    For the cranberry compote:

    250g cranberries

    Juice and zest of 1 orange

    Zest of 1 lemon

    2 tsp vanilla essence

    100g golden caster sugar

    3 tbsp water

    1 tbsp cornflour

    1 cinnamon stick

    For the muffins:

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    2 tsp ground allspice

    100g unsalted butter

    200ml full fat milk

    Zest of 1 orange

    2 large eggs

    150g golden caster sugar

    250g self-raising flour

    200g Menier white chocolate, finely chopped (available from supermarkets)

    12 paper muffin cases (makes about 10 – 12 muffins depending on size of cases)

     1 Preheat the oven to 170°C. Make a cranberry compote ingredients, except the water and cornflour, into a small saucepan over a moderate heat. Bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are soft. Dissolve the cornflour in the water and add to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium, then stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and cool.

    2 Line a muffin tray with paper cases. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, butter and orange zest and set aside. Using a food mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Add the butter and milk mixture and whisk until completely combined. Gently fold in the flour, cinnamon, allspice and white chocolate, being careful not to over-mix the batter.

    3 Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases (about 2 tablespoons per case) and top each muffin with a teaspoon of the cranberry compote, pushing down as you do it. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm with a dusting of icing sugar. Store in an airtight container and eat within three to four days – if they last that long.

    Do you have a favourite Christmas recipe? If so, we’d love to hear about it.

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    Real reindeer

    by  • 12/12/2011 • Out and About • 1 Comment

    My kids and I felt very Christmassy when we joined the Christmas procession through the ancient streets of Rye late on Saturday afternoon. Father Christmas joined us on his sleigh led by the most beautiful reindeer from The Reindeer Centre in Kent. Home to 100 reindeer, you can visit the centre and get up close to these beautiful animals up until 24 December.

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    Shop of the Month… Squirrels

    by  • 10/12/2011 • Out and About • 2 Comments

    This month, Country Homes & Interiors writer Sheila Purcell visited the New Forest in Hampshire where she discovered this gorgeous home interiors shop in Brockenhurst:

    Squirrels Lyndhurst Road Brockenhurst 01590 622433

    ‘Brimful of country style furniture, glassware, ceramics and unique vintage finds for the home and garden, Squirrels is a treasure trove of affordable decorative items to brighten up the home all year round…

    Be sure to see the surrounding area too – palatial Beaulieu, idyllic Swan Green and curious New Forest ponies await your visit.’

    Palace House Beaulieu celebrates Christmas with Victorian festivities from 17th December to 3rd January. Image ©Beaulieu Estate

    Read more about the New Forest in  Country Homes & Interiors  January issue now on sale!

    Do you have a favourite country style shop? We would love to hear more…

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    Perfect Christmas stocking

    by  • 09/12/2011 • Living • 3 Comments

    One of the things I love most about Christmas is its traditions, hanging the stocking above the fireplace is one of my fondest memories. This traditional red design in rustic linen from Retreat Home and Gift is on my wish list, embroidered to look like a special delivery parcel. It’s the little decorative touches that I love – the stamp is an appliquéd heart and the mother-of-pearl scattered buttons add just a touch of festive sparkle.

    Linen Christmas stocking by Retreat-Home.

    Special Delivery Parcel Christmas stocking, £22.99, Retreat Home and Gift.

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    Charming country living room

    by  • 08/12/2011 • Living • 0 Comments

    I love the contrast of patterns and fabrics in the Milton Checks and Stripes Collection from Colefax and Fowler. The complementary blue and cream shades work beautifully and give the room an elegant feel. The large scale Kashmir Leaf design on the curtains is both contemporary and stylish. The wall display of plates in different sizes works well because they are neutral in colour and don’t detract or overshadow the other elements in the room. Perhaps you should try this look out in your own living room?

    Curtains, Kashmir Leaf, ref F3186/01, col Blue. Chair (left), Gresham Check, ref F3839/07, col Blue. Cushion on chair (left), Kashmir Leaf, ref F3816/03, col Aqua & Pompadour 11, ref 047616, col Soja. Chair (right) Gresham Stripe, ref F3838/07, col Blue. Cushions on chair (right) Front, Kashmir Leaf, F3816/01, col Blue & Pompadour 11, ref 0476/16, col Soja. Back, Suffolk, ref F3722/02, col Soja, all Colefax & Fowler.

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