How nice it was for Spring to say hello this weekend. How nice it was too, on Sunday morning, to collect pungent bright green leaves of wild garlic sprouting out from the sunshine dappled woodland floor to turn into a simple pesto.
I used two handfuls of wild garlic leaves for the pesto. I firstly washed and blanched them in boiling water for a few seconds then blitz them with a couple of tablespoons of sunflower seeds, a little fresh parsley, rapeseed oil, salt and pepper. I would’ve also added a good tablespoon of parmesan but didn’t have any in.
The pesto was such a welcome addition to a simple lunch of boiled potatoes and leeks with lemon roasted chicken thighs. The subtle garlicky flavour really lifted the whole meal. I need to do more of this from-ground-to-plate-in-less-than-2-hours business. For me, it’s a case of being a bit more confident and knowledgeable in what I’m picking and from where. More advice from the regular foragers I know will help with that!
Last year, I emailed Ideal Home Magazine a few snaps of my home after they tweeted asking to see reader homes. I’d already taken some photos as was applying for an interior design program on the BBC at the time. I bearly expected a “Thank you for sending your photos, what a lovely home you have” email, let alone a “We love your home and would like to come and photograph it for the magazine” email!
The writer and photographer came and spent the day at my house back in October 2013 so it’s seemed a long wait to see the photos and article culminate in the April 2014 printed magazine. As I’m not a subscriber, it was a bit frustrating knowing that hundreds of other people were reading the feature before me! I eventually got the magazine today, and above is the spread. Very exciting to be featured, and nice to know that the love and creativity I’ve put into designing my home has been recognized in this way. The issue should be available in the shops from today until the end of the month.
Spent a day in Brighton recently and apart from getting drenched in heavy rain and my ‘new’ umbrella snapping in the wind, I still managed to enjoy a good mooch around fantastic shops and find lots of vintage and mid-century loveliness. I bought a new letterpress print with William Morris quote ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’, a 2 cup teapot, useful household goods, and 3 bright geometric washi tapes.
These are very nice shops indeed and worth a visit if you’re ever nearby…
As part of my new freelance role as a workshop facilitator, I was asked to plan and deliver a Young Artists Sessions this weekend at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. These two sessions are held every Saturday and are a group for under 8′s and a group for over 8′s.
Inspired by work in the latest pop-art exhibition at the gallery, we looked at making our own pop-art work. The collage letter shapes and still life line drawings that the kids created were fantastic, and we had a really fun time together. I hopefully enthused them a little about what I do as a graphic designer too – there were definitely some future designers in the groups!
Over the past few months, I’ve been working closely with North Birmingham Vineyard Church (previously Sutton Coldfield Vineyard Church) as they’ve been going through a name change and an extension to their building, the Living Well Centre. I designed a new brand for the church including logos, signage and banners. The new branding influenced the interior design of the centre brilliantly, with purple carpets and matching the logo green in tiles for the kitchen area.
It was nice to be invited to the launch evening a couple of weeks ago where the centre was officially opened by John and Eleanor Mumford. It was such a great atmosphere for a church that’s making a real difference in their community, and I saw my design on a cake too – that’s a first for me!
2014 has started as a busy time for me working in my new role as a Workshop / Education Facilitator at local craft and art galleries, as well as still running my print and design business. With this, I’ve hardly had time to use social media and think about upcoming blog posts. It’s thanks to West Elm‘s opening in London the other week for inspiring my first post for the year.
I discovered US based West Elm last year, and instantly knew it was my kind of interiors store seeing their mid-century furniture and functional home pieces. Above are a few of my favourite current products from their newly launched (much to my joy!) online UK shop – there’s a sale on at the moment too, go!
I had a meeting at Bilston Craft Gallery this morning and was so pleased to have seen a wonderful exhibition of work by artist Lauren van Helmond while I was there.
Wonderfully fun human and canine characters have been created in a mixture of wire, clock mechanisms, recycled biscuits tins, pegs, wood and washers. Each unique and up-cycled piece shows very British narrative scenes of gardening, tea drinking, day trips and hobbies. I loved the interest in dogs and tea particularly, being a fan of both myself! The exhibition is on until 18th January and is very much worth a visit. The rest of the craft gallery itself contains stunning locally made historical enamel work alongside more contemporary art and craft design.
Finally got around to visiting Goscote Greenacres community garden today after planning to go since I heard about it opening a few months ago! Goscote Greenacres provides opportunities for people with disabilities who use the onsite centre as well as for residents, community groups and schools in the Goscote area of Walsall. It offers growing opportunities as well as education in food production and the natural environment. The site has 48 gardening plots, poly tunnels, a shop selling local produce, putting green, wildflower meadow, woodland walk and soon to include fishing
platform and canal side walk along the Wyrley and Essington canal. It’s a great place and and I bought some freshly picked veg (picked before my very eyes in fact!) The bunch of kale, rainbow chard, red pepper, a mix of chillis and garlic bulb cost a bargain total of £1.80. Cheap, avoiding the supermarkets and pesticides, and supporting a fantastic local scheme. I love it.
I’ve just completed a logo and blog, website and carousel banner designs for Stewardship‘s Christmas 2013 campaign ‘Advent Wonder’. The logo icon was created to look like both a wrapped gift as well as resemble the star over Bethlehem.
Over the past few weeks, I have been super busy having meetings and email discussions with fellow Made By… group members in preparation for the opening of our pop-up shop in the local town of Walsall. Yesterday the transformed empty retail unit shop opened it’s doors and I feel a warm glow after working so hard in helping to make it a reality. A reality that has had a wonderful response from everyone who has seen it.
Made By... are a collective of artists, makers and designers who run workshops, creative projects and open pop-up shops. My roles were to re-brand, design the publicity and style the shop where we were selling our handmade and printed products, and vintage furniture from a local curio shop. I loved finding inspiration and creatively planning how the shop should look, and even though the 2 days setting up was exhausting, I was in my element as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. The local council have been running a scheme to fill empty shop spaces for a few months now so we utilised this opportunity to have our own shop again as last November the group had a pop-up shop in a different unit.
Upcycling and recycling played a massive part in the shop’s styling. Two cabinets were kindly donated by Sp4ce originally from an old school, and as a group, we got together one evening last week and made our labels and paper decorations for the shop using old magazines, newspapers and waste cardboard.
The shop is open until Sunday 27th in the Saddlers Centre, Walsall. Find out more and see photos on Facebook
I was asked by editor of 91 Magazine and owner of Patchwork Harmony, Caroline Rowland if I would design a back page pattern for this year’s Autumn/Winter issue. The magazine is a beautifully designed blend of vintage, craft and home style and this issue also features one of my favourite shops, Berylune. Read the new issue here.
HOUSE OF RYM was founded by Rym Tounsi and Zied Youssef, whose passion for their cultural heritages in Tunisia and Sweden bring a modern take on handcrafted and traditional products. They work alongside Swedish designers Anna Backlund and Elisabeth Dunker, and I adore the majority of products they have designed in simple, bold shapes with impacting yet neutral colours. The mix of ancient Tunisian and contemporary Scandanavian influences make for a stylish collection of home wares.
Have just completed a new logo and brand image for Covered Collection which offers a fresh take on decoupage through recycling and transforming the previously plain appearance of functional glassware and ceramics. Every item is hand decorated and finished by Catherine Bradley. Catherine wanted a simple and elegant logo design to use on printed materials and for stickers for products. Find Covered Collection on Facebook and online.
I started decorating and adapting spaces from the age of 16 when my parents gave me free reign to decorate my bedroom. A keen ‘Changing Rooms’ watcher, I got creative with silver spray paint on my radiator, hot pink walls with hand painted graphic shapes, and upcycled an old wooden desk. It was pretty extreme but it wasn’t for me at the time (although hot pink was a brave choice of colour and a talking point!) I loved doing it, the whole process of a blank canvas to work from.
Making my home a place with individuality, character, makes people smile to be in is important, as we like entertaining. My style is a mix of bright modern and vintage with accents of colour and pattern. Yellow is my favourite colour at the moment – I’m mixing it with blue in my lounge and grey, black and white in my bedroom. I don’t like to spend a lot of money on things, and tend to find the best items for my house from charity shops or secondhand. I have recently spontaneously applied to be on a new BBC 2 programme to find Britain’s best amateur interior designer and had interest from Ideal Home about my interior designing. Not sure whether anything will happen with either of them, but will see! What’s your style and how do you make your house a home?
A warm Saturday afternoon a few weekends ago, I held my first hand-cut paper workshop at Flutterby Art Boutique. It was such a lovely couple of hours spent with creative ladies who I shared some hand-cutting techniques and nifty scissors skills with. They created some super unique recycled paper artwork designs as we chatted, ate lemon & poppyseed cake and drank cloudy lemonade. I particularly loved the button ankle tattoo one of the ladies had…very cool.
Flutterby Art Boutique is a sweet vintage and craft shop at Curborough Craft Centre in Lichfield and I hired out the first floor mezzanine for the workshop. It sells all sorts of wonderful handmade items from local designer makers as well as vintage pieces and crafting materials. My next workshop is on 28th September, 2-4pm. Contact Kate at Flutterby Art Boutique to book a place or get in touch for more information.
Inspired by the glorious blooms I have in my garden, I have designed a set of prints which work together as a set of 3 and individually. Printed on A3 recycled uncoated 300gsm card, they’ll be arriving in my shop next week.
I’m always attracted by a book with strong typefaces on the cover, even more so when I find out they’re old cook books I could add to my ever-growing collection.
The Druimard Cook Book is a sweet, pseronal collection of favourite dishes put together by Barrie and Marianne Hesketh who built Mull Little Theatre from the shell of an old byre (cowshed) in 1963. The theatre began as the Thursday Theatre, an entertainment for the paying guests of the Druimard Guest House on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Scottish Hebrides. It grew in reputation and officially became “Smallest Professional Theatre in the World” according to the Guinness World Records. The last performance in the original Little Theatre was given in 2006.
Here’s a summery dessert recipe from it using peaches and meringue, copied word for word from the book. I’ll be making this tonight!
1. Drain the peaches well. This is very important and it is a good idea to finish process by ‘blotting’ them in absorbent kitchen paper.
2. Lay peaches in a Pyrex dish
3. Cover with a stiffly beaten meringue, into which is whisked the brown sugar and ginger.
4. Bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes.
If your family has not got a very sweet tooth you will probably find 2 tablespoons of sugar better than 3. We have put demerara sugar in the recipe as this gives a crisp meringue and most people seem to prefer it. For our own table, however, we always use soft brown sugar in the meringue. This gives a gooey toffee topping which we like very much. We also like an extra heaped teaspoon of ginger mixed well with the peaches before the meringue mixture is put over them. The juice which comes out of the peaches during the cooking turns into a sort of syrupy ginger beer – delicious!
Last week it was a friend’s birthday who I have bought vintage gifts for before, but this time I was super pleased with what I found for her. The first thing I found was a square floral silk scarf from a charity shop and knew she’d love the pattern and colours. Then I found this boxed set of sherry glasses at a local vintage fair which couldn’t have been more perfect for her – she is moving to Spain in a few months and I thought these would be ideal for drinking and sharing traditional Spanish sherry when she moves (and also for using before she leaves of course!)
My tips for buying vintage gifts are:
Always make sure the item you like is is great condition before you buy, especially if it’s for a gift. If the item/items are unused in it’s original packaging then even better.
Check inside pots/tins you might like to store food stuffs in that they are clean and free of any rust, and that any rubber seals aren’t hard or cracked.
You can barter with a stall owner at a fair to get a better price but never barter in a charity shop, remember it’s a charity shop afterall!
If you think it’s over-priced, don’t feel pressured to buy it. Set yourself a budget of what you’d normally spend on a gift and try to stick to it.