Wednesday, March 29

{ my march }

Planning a new {ad}venture.
Knitters gonna Knit.

Once again at the end of a month.  One of the interesting things about documenting your life through Instagram, is that you realise how much you do.  If you'd have asked, I would have described March as another quiet month, mostly spent at home.  Then I look back, almost in surprise, at what the month held.  

{ planning }
After a few months feeling in limbo with my work, this month was a month of decision making and planning.  lily&Bloom was finally given the makeover I'd been promising it for far too long, and I'm looking forward to seeing what new clients may come forward this year.  The plan, for a very long time, has been to develop something of my own alongside this.  Lists have been made, so many ideas talked about,  ideas I've talked myself out of as quickly as I've talked myself in to.  To the point, where I was, in all honesty, driving myself to distraction.  Until earlier this month, when something, The thing, seemed to fall into place.  It's still very early days, but the month has been full of business planning, research, and most exciting of all, buying things ready to start designing and sampling.  It still feels too early to divulge too much, but safe to say, the knitting needles and yarn just might be a bit of a clue.

Cardamom Knots & some very old fashioned Rock Cakes.
Homemade Granary bread turned into a simple breakfast of toast & rhubarb jam.

{ baking }
Bread, bread, and a bit more bread.  This may have been the month where Spring sprung, but I can't quite break my habit of soup for lunch, not just quite yet.  And neither can I break my habit of a slice of freshly baked bread to go with that soup.  Or with the freshly made rhubarb and ginger jam.  I also tried my hand at Cardamom Knots, which weren't quite the success I was hoping for.  A little more practice needed there I think.

I usually bake something for my mum for Mother's Day, and this year I delved into my childhood baking memories, to bake a batch of Rock Cakes.  A cross between a scone and a cake, not quite one, not quite the other, we'd spotted them in the window of a bakery in Bath the day before Mothering Sunday.  They may not be the prettiest, or most difficult bake, but they are super quick to make, and to bake, and in the words of my Dad, very very moreish.  

My month of currently reading.  Jenny Diski's In Gratitude.

{ reading }
One more month of kitchen delights in Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries.  Somewhat serendipitously he shared a recipe for banana bread, in a week where I happened to have banana's blackening nicely in the fruit bowl.  Sometimes the universe gives you a sign, and that week the sign was to bake Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.  Thankfully, for my waistline at least, this weeks sign seems to be to make his Lentil & Spinach Cottage Pie, a recipe I'd found a few years ago on-line, and have loved ever since.  I think that should help redress the balance of all that banana bread eating.  Well that, and a fair few miles of running!

As one of the things on my Fifty before 50 list is to read all Agatha Christie's novels, I felt I'd better start to make headway on those many many books.  So this month's reading began with The Secret Adversary, the novel is Agatha's second, and the first to feature Tommy & Tuppence.  After reading so many novels written in more recent years, what struck me most reading this, was how the writing, language and general tone, was so of it's time, and so very different from today.  And completely different to my next book, Jenny Diski's In Gratitude.  Written by Diski following her diagnosis with incurable cancer, the book is part diary, part memoir, part musings and thoughts of hers, though is mostly about the time she spent living with the author Doris Lessing.  Whilst not a particularly upbeat read, it's intriguingly honest and has made me curious to read more of both hers, and Doris Lessing's books.

Middleton Hall for coffee and chit chat
Coffee at Gorilla Cafe & the Fabulous Spring Market at the Roundhouse

{ visting }
Catching up with friends I'd not seen in a while meant an opportunity to try a couple of new places.  Middleton Hall, on the outskirts of Tamworth, and Gorilla Coffee Cafe, in King's Heath, saw my friends and I trying to put the world to rights over several cups of coffee.  Gorilla Coffee in particular, is now on my list of favourite coffee shops to escape to / read books in / take my laptop to / just sit and watch the world go by in.

And then, the start of all the lovely Spring fairs & markets.  First there was the Spring Market, hosted by Fabulous Places, at the Roundhouse, and last weekend, the Spring Fair, hosted by selvedge, in Bath. An opportunity to discover new makers, and revisit old favourites, buying a few lovely bits and pieces for me and the house.

Looking forward to a couple more Spring Fairs in April, not to mention copious amounts of Easter bunnies, chocolate, chicks and eggs.  And a little more of that lovely Spring sunshine.  Oh, and possibly a bit of knitting.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, March 27

{ a few more fabulous finds from another lovely Spring Fair }

Five lovely makers from the Selvedge Spring Fair held in Bath, 25th March 2017.
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

Another weekend, another Spring Fair.  This time down in beautiful Bath, and this time hosted by selvedge Magazine.  Held at the Assembly Rooms, the fair brought together some of the Uk's loveliest merchant's and makers.  Whilst not as large as the Derbyshire Spring Market, it was still lovely to take a wander around, spotting some familiar makers, and once again, making some new discoveries.

Although we had arrived only shortly after the fair opened, it was super { super } busy from the start.  Perhaps the combination of a beautiful sunny day, and Mother's Day falling the following day, had drawn everyone in.  That aside, we spent a lovely hour or so making circuits of the room, ensuring we'd not missed anything on the first time around, and giving us a chance to make a couple of purchases of things that had particularly caught our eye and were still on our minds!

I have loved Charlotte Macey's work for a long time, and featured her on the post I wrote on the selvedge Fair held in Stroud.  She was at the Fair once again, and once again had some beautiful things to buy.  Her lovely cow parsley design always brings to mind a slightly breezy spring day in the country, and her blue parsley looks particularly lovely on china, enticing my mum to treat herself to a pretty new mug.

Two new discoveries were Story HH { 2 } and Justine Jenner { 3 }.  I would have quite happily of made purchases from each.  Story HH curate ceramics and homeware from makers from around the world.  Their silver lining mugs are still holding a fascination for me, and have a beautiful story behind their making.  Hand thrown by Japanese potter Naoto Tanii, the tea stained glaze on the outside produces a tinkling sound as it cools and cracks, which he calls "whispered music".  Inside there is his signature silver glaze, giving this handcrafted piece a look of luxury.  Justine's ceramics are very different, but equally lovely, in particular her rainbow collection of mugs and her two-tone collection, of which I have a small vase sitting on my window sill, waiting to be filled with daffodils.

Linladan was a small stall of heaven for the many haberdashery lovers that were at the Fair.  I'm guessing there were quite a few, given that by the time we reached it the stall was already two deep.  Vintage buttons, snaps and pins sat alongside skeins of embroidery threads in rainbow colours, both muted and bright.  One of those stalls where you want to buy everything, and consequently leave, regrettably, empty handed.

My last find of the day, is Henri.  Based in London, they make a small range of beautifully handcrafted shirts, and bags, using a fourth generation local manufacturer.  In addition to supporting local business with the making, they use Organic fabrics, most of which are still woven on hand-looms.  Their commitment to reducing waste has become an integral part of their design process, and as such has given them products such as the coin purse, designed and developed in order to use up some of the off cuts from the making of the shirts.

There are several more fairs running through out the year, so fear not that you have missed out.  The next is in Edinburgh, on the 19th August, with ones in Lewes, and London to follow.

But for now, I'm off to buy daffodils to put in my pretty pot.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, March 24

{ happy friday }

ten lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Hello Spring.
{ 2 } For all you truly Scrumptious Mummy's
{ 3 } For all you mini Frida Kahlo's.
{ 4 } Etsy find of the week. OffOn.  Mummy & Me vintage dresses. 
{ 5 } Take a quiet moment to watch Katy Livings make her heirloom dolls.
{ 6 } These cushions.  
       Because you can never, ever, have too many comfy cushions.
{ 7 } These scissors.  
      Because you can never, ever, have too many pretty scissors
{ 8 } Thank you to my mama for my love of reading, knitting, baking.
      And so much more.
{ 9 } Beautifully curated Mother's Day gifts from Anthropologie.
{ + } And once you've spent all your pennies on gorgeous gifts for your mum,
       you can make these Broke Girl Truffles as an extra little thank you.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, March 22

{ fabulous finds at the Spring Market }

Delightful new discoveries from the Derbyshire Spring Market, presented by the fabulous Fabulous Places.
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

On Sunday I spent a very fabulous day at the Derbyshire Spring Market.  Having visited before I was looking forward to seeing some favourites of mine, plus discovering which new and lovely people would be showing their wares.  Whilst I usually potter along on my own, I had company on Sunday, which was lovely, though meant I was far too distracted with chatting, and shopping, to remember to take many photos of my own.  

On the upside, I think it led to us discovering many more lovely people than I usually seem to.  A few more than I'm showing here today, but I'm sure I'll get around to sharing these at some point or another.  An eclectic mix of jewellery, homeware and handcrafting, which I think exemplifies the diversity of product you'll find at one of Deb's markets.  Now in their seventh year, and held in the very fabulous Roundhouse, they are a wonderful mix of food and drink, flowers, homeware and much more.  With a pop-up Tea Room and a Prosecco Bar, not to mention an array of food trucks parked just outside, there are plenty of opportunities to take a break, eat, drink, and start shopping all over again.

{ shop . tea . chat . repeat }

There were a few jewellery stalls that caught my eye, in particular Amanda Brawn { 1 }, and Jo Irvine { 2 }.  One of Amanda's pebble rings is now sitting on my finger;  she tries to reduce waste as much as possible and all the silver left over from filing gets collected and used for these little pebbles.  Each pebble turns out different, making each one unique.  Jo's jewellery has a very different, but equally lovely feel.  She mixes precious metals in a simple, contemporary way, to produce stunningly simple pieces.

So Satsuma was incredibly popular, mainly with us adults trying on the cutest of bunny hats meant for slightly littler people!  Alongside some beautiful hand knits, were The cutest scissors, and The cutest enamel sheep pins, both of which are now on my ToBuy list.

Also on that ( quite long ) ToBuy list, were these concrete letters, from Koncrete Jungle.  One of the new stallholders at this Market, their stall was a treasure trove of concrete loveliness.

And last, but by no means least, we have Raine&Humble.  After chatting with them, I discovered that Raine&Humble are an Australian brand of home furnishings, originating in Melbourne.  They use colour beautifully, one of the things that attracted me to the stand, this season using a muted palette of charcoal and grey, with pops of peach and sage.  Their style is a mix of geometrics, alongside hand drawn and block printed conversational prints, with products trimmed and decorated with pom poms, large and small.  And how can you not like a product with a pom pom?

If this has made you feel wistful for missing it, fear not.  Deb's is hosting a Spring Fair on the 2nd April, held in The Walled Garden at Beeston Fields.  Nor is there too long to wait until the next market at the Roundhouse, with the Summer Market on the 2nd July.

You can find out more about Deb on Fabulous Places, and she's more than worth a follow on Instagram too { though be prepared for serious flower envy as she always seems to be buying the prettiest bunches for her home! }.

{ have a happy day }

Monday, March 20

{ an intriguingly boozy bake . cucumber & lime gin fizz cake }


When we decided on the theme of Intriguing Ingredients for our latest Clandestine Cake Club event, I'll admit that my selection process was based on choosing the most obscure thing I could find.  In the world of cake making there are some strange and wonderful ingredients that have found their way into cake recipes;  Lemon Drizzle Cakes have been made with mashed potato, Chocolate Cakes have been made with avocado, cauliflowermayonnaise, and even tomato soup, which also lends itself well to a spiced cake, reminiscent of carrot cake.  There is a fascinating article on theKitchn, The Enduring Allure of Tomato Soup, should you be curious as to the origins of this most obscure cake ingredient.

Even though all these choices were fairly intriguing, they didn't feel quite obscure enough.  For a while the Chocolate Cauliflower Cake was a strong contender, but it was whilst browsing through all the other baking delights on Veggie Desserts that I came across her recipe for Lemon and Cucumber Cake with Gin Icing.  Kate's cake was the prettiest pale green hue, three layers of lemon loveliness, and oh, yes, it was baked with cucumber.  On the one hand I can relate to how well the ingredients compliment one another, the botanical flavours of the gin marrying well with the lemon and the cucumber.  But still, this was a cake baked with cucumber.  I'll be honest and admit that I was sure with this cake I'd probably win the prize for most intriguing ingredient.  I wasn't convinced however, that I'd win the prize for most enjoyable cake of the evening.

I made a couple of small changes to Kate's original recipe.  I worried about the cucumber being too wet, so I grated mine and squeezed a little of the excess water out before pureeing.  And whilst Kate uses just lemon juice in hers, I wanted to make a lime curd to sandwich in between the layers, so I used a combination of lemon and lime in the cake, and just lime in that lovely gin frosting.  Apart from that, complete credit for this recipe sits firmly with Veggie Desserts.


Lime curd is available to buy, but I made my own using this recipe from Waitrose, though I used four limes and two lemons to give it more of a lime bias.


Cake // Frosting // Curd // Repeat

doesn't this make you forget this cake contains cucumber?


TaDaah

So I know that you're all dying to know.  What did it taste like?

Well, it was greeted with a polite but hesitant response, and an, ok, lets start with this one, get it out the way, and then we can enjoy the nice cakes! Slices were cut, and shared around.  The cake was such a pretty colour, mine a little more mottled than Kate's, the cucumber not pureed quite as much.  It smelt lovely, fresh citrus and juniper, and yes, undeniably, it smelt of cucumber.  We tasted with a little trepidation, me more so than others, and then with a little surprise we all found that we actually quite liked it.  No, make that more than quite liked it, even my little sister, who has never eaten cucumber in her entire life.

{ recipe credit // Veggie Desserts }

This is possibly the messiest cut slice in the whole of baking blogging world, but it was the only slice left at the end of cake club.  I think only once before have I come away with so little cake.  Seconds were enjoyed by some on the night, and slices were taken away to be enjoyed the next day.

It truly is a lovely cake.  It is light, and refreshing, the cucumber doesn't overwhelm the other flavours, but neither do they mask it to the extent that you question why it's there.  This cake would be perfect on a Summer's day, alongside a jug of Pimm's or a ( large ) G&T, and despite my scepticism, and my choosing it on the basis of it being the most obscure thing I could find, I will definitely be making it again.

By good luck, this cake also fits perfectly into Bumpkin Betty's baking club theme for March.  After welcoming her gorgeous daughter Evie on the 27th February, it was only fitting that the theme for March be Boozy Bakes.  So with a good measure of gin in the frosting on this cake, I think it fits the brief somewhat.  If you would like to join up then pop over to the Baking Club's Facebook page.

{ have a happy day }

Friday, March 17

{ happy friday }

10 lovely things that caught my eye this week.

{ 1 } Hello Posy
{ 2 } Hello Simone.
{ 3 } A House without End.  And a gorgeous giveaway on Mokkasin.
{ 4 } Blooming Flowers.  Bloomin' gorgeous Babiekins.
{ 5 } Etsy find of the week.  Cat's Ceramics. A little in love with the hanging planters  ♥︎
{ 6 } Coming soon.  Ruby Lou's Treat Co. Unicorn Cookies delivered right to your door.
{ 7 } This makes me want to start buying vinyl again.
{ 8 } Happy St Patrick's Day. #wisewords.
{ 9 } A hedgehog that likes coffee is my kind of hedgehog.
{ + } Today's bake has to be an Irish Soda Bread doesn't it?

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, March 15

{ Son de Flor }

Beautifully slow fashion for you and your Little One.

I am going to make everything around me beautiful.  That is going to be my life.

This is the opening line from the "About Us" page on Son de Flor.  How lovely is that for a mission statement?  Stepping into the Son de Flor world is to step into a gentler, quieter, slower life.  The words charming, enchanting, home, nostalgia, play, subtle and timeless jump out from the page, reminding us of a lives we lived without computers, email, facebook and twitter.

Based in Lithuania, the collection is made from natural materials.  All are made by hand, using one of the oldest sewing factories in the country.  Linen fabrics are dyed into a simple palette of white, sky and bluebell, dusty rose and lavender.  Silhouettes are simple, having that timeless quality they speak of.  There is no chasing of seasons, no new or old trends.  This is fashion at a slower pace;  fashion that you will wear year after year;  fashion that will be passed on from daughter to daughter, to friend, to granddaughter even.

Their Spring styling perfectly embraces that timeless quality, with styles that happily suit mum and daughter alike.  Which makes it the perfect thing to share this close to Mother's Day.

Beautifully slow fashion for you and your Little One.

Beautifully slow fashion for you and your Little One.
Beautifully slow fashion for you and your Little One.

Beautifully slow fashion for you and your Little One.
Beautifully slow fashion for you and your Little One.

website // facebook // instagram }

I think Son de Flor may have succeeded in that wish to make everything around them beautiful.

{ have a beautiful day }

Friday, March 10

{ happy friday }


{ 1 } Hurrah.  It's pie day.  ( Well, pie week actually, but pie day rhymed so much better )
{ 2 } Stunning.  New spring collection.  Designed by Mummymoon, shared by Junior Style.
{ 3 } Cute.  Tiny T-Strap shoes.  Designed by Starry Knight Designs, spotted on Pinterest.   
{ 4 } Hello Little Bear.  Handmade by Sprout.
{ 5 } Etsy find of the week.  The Letter Loft.  A little in love with the copper letter lights ♥︎ 
{ 6 } The loveliest lightweight printed denims from Guthrie Ghani.
{ 7 } The loveliest handmade pink plates from KCHossack Pottery.
{ 8 } The creative process.  At the moment still feeling 1. possibly about to trip into 2.
{ 9 } Stitch Life.  Beautiful garden embroidery patterns.

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, March 8

{ little ladies of literature . twelve books to inspire bold little girls }


Today is International Women's Day, bringing with it the theme of #BeBoldForChange.  Originally I'd planned to share with you women who had inspired me, but then I spotted an instagram post from Some Kind of a Library, sharing the classic "Little Women", talking with fondness of it's central character, Jo March, and I thought how much nicer it would be to share a few of my favourite books, all with strong female lead characters.  There's a mix of classic stories, right through to some modern day heroines, but all would inspire a new generation of little ladies to be bold & chase their dreams, no matter how big, small, silly or sensible.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

" 'I don't think you have a very nice way with the ladies,' said Pippi.  And she lifted him in her strong arms - and carried him to the birch tree and hung him over a branch.  Then she took the next boy and hung him over another branch. "
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Anne of Green Gables by L.M.Montgomery
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

" If you feel your value lies in being merely decorative, I fear that someday you may find yourself believing that's all that you really are.  Time erodes all such beauty, but what it cannot diminish is the wonderful workings of your mind:  your humour, your kindness, and your moral courage. "
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Clarice Bean by Lauren Child

" Life might have it's failures, but this was not it.  The only true failure can come if you quit. "
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty 

Little People, Big Dreams. Coco Chanel by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Little People, Big Dreams. Audrey Hepburn by Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Little People, Big Dreams. Frida Kahlo by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

" A girl should be two things: who and what she wants. "
Coco Chanel

#BeBoldForChange

{ have an inspiring day }

Monday, March 6

{ Over the Rainbow }

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // centre

. keep looking up . there may be a rainbow waiting for you .

I'm not sure that rainbows ever go out of fashion, but they seem to be popping up everywhere at the moment.  Well, everywhere except up the sky so high, despite having the perfect sunshine / showers / sunshine weather for them.

In the absence of any actual, real life rainbows, here's my pick of the virtual ones that I've spotted, and at least with these, they will last a little longer than those fleeting glimpses you only ever seem to catch of the ones above.

{ have a colourful day }

Friday, March 3

{ happy friday }


{ 1 } Hello March.  The most gorgeous image to say " good morning Spring ".  
{ 2 } Hello Coco Chanel.  Just one of the lovely Little People, Big Dreams books.
{ 3 } Hello Alice.  Just one of the lovely Love by Nellystella dresses.
{ 4 } Australian label Minouche launch their Autumn collection.  Perfect for an English Spring!
{ 5 } The sweetest swan night light from Lapin&Me.  
{ 6 } The loveliest toadstool night light from Little Belle
{ 7 } " Field recordings from the mind " the beautiful collages of Linden Eller.
{ 8 } I'd rather be reading.  Always, and always.
{ 9 } From now on I'll be compiling To Accomplish lists rather than To Do lists.
{ + } This year Maltesers will donate £5 to Comic Relief for every cake baked using them.
       Simply share your bake on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #bakeamillion.
       * pops bake Malteser Chocolate Chiffon Cake on my weekend To Accomplish list *

{ have a happy day }

Wednesday, March 1

{ hello March }

. hello March .

{ have a lovely day }