Monday, July 31

{ my july }

Can somebody stop this year, I want to get off.

I'm sure I say this at the end of every month, and if I don't I certainly think it. But, is it just me, or is this year going really really quickly? I don't think I can blame this strange time phenomena on being really busy. Nicely busy, yes, really busy, not so much. The super productive month I was hoping for in June's reflective post didn't materialise in quite the way it could have done. I'm thinking more that tentative baby steps might be a better description for it. However, as I realise that we're hurtling at breakneck speed towards Autumn, Christmas, and Winter, and peak knitwear season, I really had better start taking bigger steps towards getting MissSmith up and running.

{ exploring }
A month which began with a trip to the Derbyshire Summer Market, which as usual was a delight, and led to me discovering a few more designers and makers. A day trip to Uppingham in Leicestershire led to a few more discoveries. An incredible pretty town, with an antiques centre that you can quite happily lose yourself in for a few hours, and home to a number of lovely independents, including Priddy Essentials, and Goodwin and Belle.

A happy discovery was another great independent coffee shop, almost on the doorstep. The Steamroom opened earlier this year, and it's combination of really good coffee, and a quieter location than that afforded Booboo Coffee and Peel & Stone, I think it may become my new favourite.

The month ended with the PopUp + Hustle market, hosted by Studio NL at their workshop in Tur Langton. A wonderful mix of designers, illustrators, ceramicists, and others were brought together under one roof, for a weekend celebrating local independents. A really lovely new find to end the month on, and the dates for their next one are already in my diary.

{ baking }
Slowly starting to bake again after a short break. The last of this years blackcurrants were baked on top of a madeira cake. Using Donna Hay's Olive Oil Madeira Cake, replacing the orange with lemon, and scattering a good handful of blackcurrants on top. The blackcurrants bake into a jam like consistency, adding a wonderful tart note to the cake. On a slightly healthier note, Madeleine Shaw's Buckwheat Granola made a change to my usual porridge, though it is incredibly moreish, and much like the cake, really needs to be put out of sight between servings.

{ painting }
Continuing to enjoy a little watercolour painting, as I finished the last couple of prints for a client. Really looking forward to seeing how these turn out on the finished product, and I'm happy that it's given me a bit more confidence to step away from the laptop and return to drawing and painting more. Plus I have a feeling it's a little better for my increasingly ageing eyesight.

{ freeing up my insta }
I don't think it's any secret that I love Instagram, but just recently there's been a feeling of Insta fatigue. Frustration with the change in algorithm's, the more recent phenomenon shadowbans, and a sense that Instagram has lost the spontaneity that was it's original intention. My feed is full of undeniably beautiful images, but I also know that in reality most of them are not captures of a moment, but are carefully curated, edited, captioned and scheduled, something of which I'm as guilty of as most. 

I know that I'm not alone in feeling this, but it was Allison Sadler who stepped up to the plate, with her hashtag #freeupyourinsta, which in her words, gives you the ' freedom to share whatever the f*ck you like your way '. 10,000 posts and counting, and if you fancy being an Insta rebel then round 2 starts tomorrow.

And so July, over, but for a few hours. In August I've got friends and family birthday's to look forward to, and a To Do list which reads something like this; Knit, Sell, Sleep, Repeat.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, July 28

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Don't judge a book by it's cover. Instead enjoy a blind date with a book instead. 
{ 2 } Etsy find of the week. Le Petite Alice. Embroidered linen handmade with a lot of love.
{ 3 } When you don't let a little rain stop you from wearing your favourite summer dress.
{ 4 } The next generation of crazy plant ladies ­čî┐  dressed by Lacey Lane.
{ 5 } When you spot a really cute coffee shop on Insta. Then discover it's in Nova Scotia!
{ 6 } A love letter to the sea side ⚓️  drawn by Jonny Hannah.
{ 7 } Dare I say the perfect bag to take to the sea side?
{ 8 } You are great. Yes, you are!
{ 9 } Lucky enough to be off to NYC? Here are the 10 best spots for that Insta worthy pic.
{ + } A lemon tart to bake and serve with the last of the Summer's berries.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, July 26

{ a delightfully delicious Dundee cake }

I have always thought that fruit cakes get a bit of a raw deal. They're not the prettiest of cakes, have a reputation for being dry, and heavy, not to mention full of candied peel - have you ever met anyone who likes candied peel? - and usually only get thought about at Christmas time. And lets face it, even then they're likely to be overlooked in favour of the mince pies and yule log. Admittedly they wouldn't be my first choice out in a tea room or coffee shop. Not that I have seen many, if any, in tea rooms and coffee shops, forgotten about amongst the more fashionable layer cakes, brownies and banana loaves.

And yet I have quite fond memories of them. There would always be freshly baked cake at home when I was younger, and a simple fruit cake took it's turn with the equally classic Victoria Sandwich, chocolate or coffee sponge cakes, or lemon drizzle. Never ever made with candied peel (yay, thank you mum) but full of currants, raisins and sultanas, it's a comfort blanket of a cake. Perfect with a cup of tea, and one of those cakes it almost feels ok to enjoy a slice of everyday.

It's also the cake I remember us taking on picnics. Individual slices wrapped in foil, to be enjoyed after the, slightly soggy, salmon sandwiches. And so it was a fruit cake that I turned to when looking for a treat to bake to take with us on our journey to Scotland last year. The Dundee cake has it's origins in Scotland, produced by the marmalade company Keiller's, and is said to be a favourite of the Queen's. Baking a Dundee cake to take to Scotland may seem like taking coals to Newcastle, but I had a feeling that it wouldn't be something we'd see on offer there, and if it's good enough for the Queen, it's good enough for us.

Now there are so many different Dundee cake recipes out there, and the original is no doubt lost somewhere in the sands of time. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon it, but the recipe I chose was Dan Lepard's, whose recipe featured in The Guardian. No whiskey, which I'm not averse to, but didn't have any, and didn't want to buy especially for this, and more importantly, no candied peel (yay, thank you Dan).

This is such a lovely cake to make. I made two smaller cakes, and if my memory serves me correctly I soaked the fruit overnight in the juice and zest from the orange. This makes the fruit lovely and plump, and will eradicate any memory of dry and mealy fruit cakes of the past.

Do try and make this cake a little ahead of when you're planning on eating it. Like most fruit cakes it tastes even better a few days after baking it. Just wrap it up tightly in parchment, pop it away in the pantry, and forget about it for a little while.

{ recipe credit . Dan Lepard }

I remember now why this is a perfect picnic cake. It travels well, no worrying about messy frosting, or curdling cream, just unwrap, cut a slice, and settle back with a cup of tea and watch the world go by. Ah, happy memories. And a reminder that perhaps I need to plan a little train journey, just for the excuse of baking this again.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, July 24

{ lets go somewhere . Edinburgh }

Last week I asked Instagram for ideas on places to explore here in the Uk.  I had some wonderful suggestions, places I'd already been wondering about, and places I'd not even thought of, and one city, suggested by a couple of people,  was somewhere I'd been lucky enough to visit already. A family wedding last year was a wonderful reason to visit Scotland, Perth for the wedding itself, with a few days either side spent exploring Edinburgh. I came away with very fond memories, but feeling that I'd not really scratched the surface of what the city had to offer.

Edinburgh, like many cities today, is an eclectic mix of old and new. With a wealth of history, beautiful architecture, and alleyways dotted here and there, it's a city you can wander around just looking, without needing to visit anything in particular. Though if you did it would be a shame, as there is an abundance of coffee shops and cafe's to eat your way around, museums, castle's and palaces to be a tourist in, and lots of lovely independent boutiques to shop from.

{ stay }
We stayed in Edinburgh for one night before travelling onto Perth, and stayed in the charming Albyn Townhouse. A little further out of the centre of the city than some, it proved a lucky find, as it was just off Bruntsfield Place, a street where you'll find even more caf├ęs and shops to explore, and that we might not have discovered otherwise. It's perfect walking distance from the city, giving you time to appreciate the gorgeous architecture, the parks, and for those bookworms amongst you, seek out Admiral Terrace, the home of Muriel Sparks, author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and whose house was featured in the opening shots of the film.

On our return, we ventured into our first Airbnb adventure, with a few days staying in the grandeur of one of the townhouses in Eglinton Crescent. I was already a little in love with this apartment from the photo's on line, and it did not disappoint. Beautifully high ceilings, original detailing, and as per it's description, both elegant and cosy, it was the perfect place from which to explore more of Edinburgh. Not far from the Haymarket, it was only a short walk away from yet more lovely coffee shops, and also not far from the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, which I happily came across on my morning run.

{ eat & drink }
Where do I start? This is a city with an abundance of really, really good coffee. I tried my very best, but I didn't manage to get to try everywhere I would have liked to.

You'll find The Milkman on Cockburn Street, behind the unassuming facade of an old confectionary shop. One of those small, but perfectly formed places, that was a cosy hideaway from the summer rain.  Not too far away on Bank Street is Zebra Coffee Co. They have a reputation for great coffee, but it was the window display of Rocky Road that drew my attention. Sadly this was one place that had to be popped on the 'to visit next time' list, possibly losing out due to my inability to resist a return visit to Lovecrumbs. Yes, a place so good, I went there twice. You can read more about the very very lovely Lovecrumbs in my review for the Clandestine Cake Club

S├Âderberg has bakery's dotted around Edinburgh. Their Kardemummabulle and Kanelbulle (Cardamom and Cinnamon buns ) make the perfect breakfast to set you up for a day of sightseeing. Wellington Coffee, on the corner of George Street and Hanover Street, would be easy to miss, but is worth looking out for, as is Mimi's Bakehouse, where I bought one of the loveliest cupcakes I have ever eaten.

{ history }
I was lucky enough to visit Holyrood in time to catch Fashioning a Reign, one of the three exhibitions of the Queen's frocks that was held last year. The Palace of Holyroodhouse is a beautiful place, and even on a grey day, you can't help but be moved by the architecture and the history.

In complete contrast to the history of the palace, is the Scottish Parliament Building, a contemporary building opened in 2004, not without some controversy. Standing opposite the palace, it has a stark, impressive facade. The Canongate Wall is dotted with 24 stones, each engraved with quotations, my favourite being that of Charles Rennie Mackintosh;

There is hope in honest error;
None in the icy perfections of the mere stylist.

{ shop }
For lovers of all things vintage, head to Grassmarket and W.Armstrong & Son, then wander down West Port stopping off at Godiva and Herman Brown.

For quirky gifts, and some not so typical, but still very Scottish, souvenirs, try Old Town Context, where you'll find, amongst many other things, a wonderful print with instructions on How to Make a Deep-Fried Mars Bar. For some not so Scottish, but still very lovely gifts, you could do worse than stopping by Biscuit, which you'll find tucked away in Thistle Street. Described as 'Somewhere to come and buy a pretty top to wear for a Saturday night at a friends dinner party, and while you are there why not pick up the perfect present for the hostess!' a description I don't think I can better, only to say that they had the loveliest selection of stationery and cards too.

{ culture }
And for my last day in Edinburgh I spent it immersed in art, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Comprised of two galleries either side of the Belford Road, both buildings sit in the midst of a beautiful sculpture park. They are both wonderful places to visit, quiet and contemplative, and on a sunny day, a lovely place to spend wandering the grounds taking in all the art outside. The fact that both have equally lovely coffee shops is an added bonus, meaning there is no need to hurry your visit, being able to take your time to look, in between well timed coffee breaks.

There are so many places I've not been able to mention, and many more that I didn't discover on last year's trip. This is Edinburgh is a great place to read more, and for a more local point of view, take a read of 48hours in Edinburgh like a local.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, July 21

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Sssh. A freshly hatched little Hatchling, and ready to be adopted.
{ 2 } For summer playtime. This lovely linen pinafore from Moonroom.
{ 3 } For summer partytime. This fabulous frolic dress from Le Petit Tom.
{ 4 } Sigh. How beautiful are these silver spoons, and too lovely to use?
{ 5 } Lets go fly a { really lovely Sailing Ship } kite!
{ 6 } It's #shelfie love.
{ 7 } Etsy find of the week. BAGatelle Studio. Just love this Pride & Prejudice clutch.
{ 8 } Dare to fail. JF Kennedy.
{ 9 } Enjoy the ride. With these ├╝ber cute embroidered bikes by Walker Boyes.
{ + } Weekend + Rain = Chocolate Pie #anyexcuse.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, July 19

{ inspired#16 . jane austen . reading & love }

. inspired#16 .
It isn't what we say or think that defines us
It's what we do
clockwise from centre
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death.  Whether you have read her novels or not, you can't help but be familiar with her work; Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice { Her heart did whisper that he had done it for her }, the Dashwood sisters of Sense and Sensibility { I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way }, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park { A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself }, the matchmaking meddling Emma { If I love you less, I might be able to talk about it more }, Northanger Abbey, and her last novel, Persuasion { None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives }.

There was so much love for her on Instagram yesterday, the day that marked 200 years since Jane's last, and I'm going to borrow the caption from this picture, which sums up Jane in a way in which I think the author herself would approve.

photo credit // janice mier

' Ardently remembering a badass woman who has taught me so much. There were too many lessons but if there's one thing I'd like to share with your ladies, it is that we should love using our heart and our head. Do proper assessment of character. Know the difference between a man who has a plan and a boy who just wants to waste your time.

Thank you Jane for your books. For who you are. For everything you've done. I'm grateful you existed. '

You'll find lots more Austen inspiration on my pinterest board { inspired#16 } and to read more about the anniversary take a look over on Jane Austen 200.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, July 17

{ four I adore . Illustrators }

One of the exhibitions I'm hoping to see during the Summer is the shortly opening at Somerset House, featuring highlights from the World Illustration Awards. The shortlist featured many illustrators of children's books, something of particular interest to me. There were 26 talented artist in the category, which left me spoilt for choice for today's post, but as it's 'four I adore' I have picked my very favourites to share with you.

Duncan Beedie
The first is Duncan Beedie, a Bristol based artist, who has illustrated books, including two of which he is author, The Bear who Stared, and the wonderfully titled The Lumberjack's Beard. There are so many things to love about Duncan's work, but in particular I love his use of colour, and the quality of light he manages to bring into his work.

Carly Gledhill
Carly Gledhill's work was already familiar to me, through the quirky characters she creates for Corby Tindersticks. Equally at home designing for children's wear, as she is illustrating children's books, she is currently working on her first author / illustrator book, due for release next year. Oh, and if all that didn't keep her busy enough she's the co-founder of Dot to Dot. It's hard to say what I don't love about Carly's work, but her lovely quality of line, and fantastic imagination have me feeling a little envious.

Silvia Bonanni
Italian illustrator Silvia Bonanni, works creatively in collage to produce the lovelies, and intricately detailed artworks for the many books she's helped bring to life. Her illustrations for The Magic Flute are crafted from fabric, paper and small objects, and have such a charm about them, creating a miniature theatre on the page.

Lesley Barnes
My final artist is Lesley Barnes. An illustrator and animator whose work spans children's books, film, fashion and music, and whose style is recognisable for it's distinctive bright use of colour. There is a mid century quality to Lesley's work, and a wonderful sense of pattern and texture within her illustrations that you could imagine brought to life on fabric and textiles.

Sadly, and as a reflection of how high the standard was, none of my featured artists won their category, but I'm keeping my finger's crossed that some of their work will be on display at the exhibition at Somerset House.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, July 14

{ happy friday }

Ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } It's that time of year when the sun is still shining, but all the winter woolies start appearing.
{ 2 } But before they do, here's a lovely story to keep you in a Summertime Mood.
{ 3 } Cool bag via Goodordering Mini.  Cool kid via Lala Lingy.
{ 4 } The most beautiful illustration from What KT Does.
{ 5 } Etsy find of the week. Connie Mabbott Design. I spy hand embroidered loveliness.
{ 6 } The most perfect bag from Forestbound. . .
{ 7 } . . . Perfect for packing for a weekend escape to the beautifully tranquil Harp Cottage.
{ 9 } A new local(ish) flower shop which I may just need to visit to buy some plant babies.
{ + } S'mores mini cakes from my name is yeh.  Summer camp snacks for grown ups!

{ have a happy day }

Monday, July 10

{ hello . Miss Smith }

For the past couple of years I've had a yearning to start something for me. A small business, designing, creating and making things that I was passionate about.  A designer for more years than I care to say out loud, I've always worked and designed for others. Whilst I've prided myself on doing my best to meet the clients brief, that doesn't necessarily mean you spend your days designing things that make your soul happy.

It took a long while to decide what that small business would look like. Pages and pages of scribbles, doodles, notes, talking myself into and out of ideas as quickly as they came to mind. Although I am a children's wear designer by profession, and have toyed with the idea of my own collection many times over the years, the idea of this no longer held the appeal it once had. Slightly intimidated by all the amazing small companies that have sprung up over the years, designing the most amazing children's wear, and more than a little fazed by the idea of finding and dealing with manufacturers, I was looking for something a little simpler, smaller.

The idea that eventually took hold, was something I'd been interested in since I was young, something that pre-dated my children's wear designing days. My mum taught me to knit when I was small, and the fascination for the craft has never left me. I knitted through art college, originally applying for a Knitwear degree, before choosing Fashion, yet knitwear played an integral part of most of the collections I designed, including my final collection. Whilst not the most fashionable of things when I was at University, knitwear has seen something of a renaissance over the past few years. Companies such as LoopWe are KnittersWool and the Gang, and Purl Soho, have helped to elevate knitting from a singularly unfashionable past time, to an ├╝ber cool hobby, helped in part by the move towards a slower, more mindful, way of living.

The scope that knitting now offers is vast, but I was particularly intrigued by the extreme knitting which I'd seen around the net, something which definitely hadn't been around in my Uni days. I started building Pinterest boards, for mood, for knitting, for colour, and started looking for yarns, for gigantic knitting needles, and I started knitting again.

And whilst progress has not perhaps been as quick as I would like, progress, of a sort, has been made. The images I collected have been sorted, and a selection made to give a snapshot of the impression I would like my business to make. Words have been written to define the brand I would like to be, and a name has been decided on. lily&Bloom has been my moniker since I started freelancing and blogging. Though I feel a great fondness for it, it didn't feel the right thing to take forward into this new venture. And so, and to my Dad's great delight, please say hello to the beginnings of Miss Smith.
I've loved my first go at knitting with jumbo yarn, and have loved discovering new stitches, techniques, and a whole community of like minded knitters. I've been playing with developing my own knitting patterns, and feel a style, and knitting handwriting of my own is starting to develop, though perhaps not quite there yet. I'm trying hard not to get distracted by all the wonderful knitters out there who are already selling their wonderful wares, knowing that I need, and want to offer something different from everyone else.

This post is, in part, a note to self to stop procrastinating further on this project. And perhaps to stop calling it a project, and start moving forward at a slightly greater pace than I have so far. There is a fear in putting yourself out there, in putting things you have designed and made out there, the fear that no-one will be interested, no-one will want to buy what you are selling. But if I never try, then I will never know.  I read an interesting post on Instagram, posted by @lisa_king_consultancy about how Starbucks began, and whilst the 'how it began' story was still interesting, for me it was the fact that it began back in 1971 that held a fascination. Whilst undoubtedly a hugely successful company for many years, when you read over their history, it took nearly fifteen years for the company to resemble the coffee stores that we now think as typical of the chain. Now I have no pretensions or desire to build a company as big as Starbucks, but I do think it serves as a reminder that things don't happen overnight, that it's easy to look at companies that are doing well, and are growing, and think that that has happened overnight. The word I used when commenting on Lisa's post was patience. Having the patience to take it step by step, moving forward slowly, yet surely.

I would love to hear your thoughts on all I've written today. Whether it's sharing your experience of starting a small business, or your thoughts on what I've shared above, a few words of encouragement, or even words of warning? 

In the meantime, full of optimism, and renewed enthusiasm, I'm off to scribble down a few more ideas and thoughts.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, July 7

{ happy friday }

Ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 2 } Overload of cuteness?  I have to agree Billieblush.
{ 3 } I may have to give Emile et Ida a regular Happy Friday spot!
{ 4 } Spotted on Paul et Paula. Sweet Hannah B. ♥︎
{ 5 } Etsy find of the week. Lotta's House. Which I just Love.
{ 6 } Spotted at Loop Knitting. Bumble Bees. ♥︎
{ 7 } How much do I love people who still send old fashioned mail?
{ 9 } A lovely list on Frankie of books to read when you have itchy feet ( see above! )
{ + } The sun is shining and I think it's time to make cookie dough ice cream sandwiches.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, July 5

{ fabulous finds at the Summer Market }

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

July started in the most summery and fabulous of ways, with the Derbyshire Summer Market, hosted by Deb of Fabulous Places. A slightly grey start gave way to a beautiful day, the perfect day to spend every single penny you have on the loveliest of things. As always, there was a lovely mix of food, to eat there, and to take away, things for the home, for you, and to buy as gifts, well, until you get home and realise that you'd really rather keep it yourself. Or is that just me?

There seemed to be a lot of new faces amongst the more familiar ones this time, and once again I came away spoilt for choice as to who to share with you today.  But, whittle it down I have, and here are my five, very fabulous finds from the weekend.

I'd already spotted Glosters gorgeous ceramics from Deb's Facebook feed, and they certainly didn't disappoint in 'real life'. Based in Porthmadog, North Wales, Glosters is Myfanwy and Tom, with Tom being the designer / maker of those lovely pots. So wonderfully simple, with a pop of colour, I must have stood in front of the stall for an age, picking up each vase in turn. I was feeling far too indecisive to make a purchase, but I'm keeping my finger's crossed they'll be back at the Christmas Market. Another maker I've seen before in Deb's photo's is Tweed Hands Co.  Beautifully simple illustrations and wonderfully worded typography, available as cards, prints and the sweetest banners. Yet another stall I hung around, walked away from, walked back to, and could happily have bought one of everything.

A new face at the market, but one that was familiar to me was Leah, of the eponymously named, Made by Leah. Like me, Leah is a member of the Clandestine Cake Club, and her sweet illustrations have been featured on the site. As a baker, a lot of her illustrations and cards are inspired by cake, cookies and all manner of sweet things, but I also have a bit of a soft spot for her fabulous flamingo's and her other cheeky animals too.

My penultimate fabulous find is Sophie Jarram Ceramics. As well as having the loveliest range of geometric inspired ceramics, Sophie was one of the sweetest stall holders I spoke with that day. Her passion for her work shines through. Working in porcelain making pots to fill with succulents and cacti big and oh, so, sweetly small.

And so to my fifth and final fabulous find, a familiar face that I've seen at every market I've been to since I first visited, Ruby Lou's Treat Co, also known as Yummy Little Cakes. They never disappoint, and always bring something new along to each market, this time bringing along their recently launched cookie dough. I lost count of the number of people I saw enjoying the 'dough by the scoop', and for a while I was tempted to 'forget' my current gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free status, thinking it was possibly worth starting three weeks of elimination all over again, for one delicious pot of 'the Dough'.

If you want to see more then take a look at Deb's post, and search for the hashtag #derbyshiresummermarket on Instagram.

Is it wrong that I'm already counting down the days until the Christmas Market?

{ have a fabulous day }

Saturday, July 1

{ hello July }

. hello july .

{ have a happy day }