January Moments

Hello January you funny month, I must admit I find you rather perplexing if I’m quite honest.  I never want the sparkle of Christmas joy to leave so I find leaving one year and stepping into the next a little strange, especially with the noise I seem to have noticed more from social media this week about goals, year planning, resolutions, self promotion and so on.  I am a gentle person, not one to rush or shout about myself very much.  I like writing my blog for myself and hopefully a few of you like it too.  I am lucky to get to work with some amazing folk along the way too, considered brands that I whole heartedly support in every way.

So no resolutions coming your way from me, I’m happy as I am most of the time, of course I have those days where you want to change the world and everything in it including yourself but who doesn’t.  I have a lovely home, a loving family and things around me that make my little space a happy one.   I find that January is a month to hibernate a little, do those things in the short light hours that we have to rejuvenate a little, read, sleep, relax, take walks outside in the cold, swim, have warm baths, look after your skin, eat hearty well cooked food and cuddle lots.

I wrote a similar post last year here, nothing has changed much but the sentiments still stand.   So 2019 is a blank canvas in front of me, who knows which colours and brush strokes I will make, who I will work and connect with.  Maybe I should shout a little louder about my talents and what I can do but for now I’m going to let January just be simple, what will be will be, tomorrow’s another day.

Jx

 

Slow Simple Days // The Lake District

Shhh don’t tell anyone but I think I love the Autumn half term holidays more than anything in the world.  We hooked up our little van and drove a couple of hours to our special place Ullswater in the Lake District to be surrounded by big brooding hills, a riot of colour and air so still and clean that it makes you take deep breaths just so you can hold on to it.

We know the place so well now its like going home but at this time of year it has an added dose of magic, I don’t think I’ve seen it so resplendent, cold and frosty but bright. The trees a kaleidoscope of burnt umbers, ochre, burgundy, and russets, truly breathtaking.

Sitting in the quiet of the morning hands wrapped around a mug of coffee wrapped in a blanket watching the mist rise off the lake is something I will never tire of, then up and out to make the most of the day visiting and exploring the places that we love and making new discoveries.  We built a driftwood sculpture on the beach, found a hidden boat house and sampled fine wine in a 17th Century Coaching Inn sat by a a roaring fire.  We ate the most scrumptious lunch in Chesters, swang on rope swings in the woods of a National Trust property and watched red squirrels going about their day which was such a treat.  We marvelled at the sheer beauty that is Aira Force and drove down the Struggle a few times.  Everything else we did was a bonus and all with the most wondrous backdrop that I will never ever get bored with, it brings joy and wonder and makes me feel alive.

So Shhh don’t tell anyone but I think I love the Autumn half term holidays more than anything in the world.  I think if you’d been with me you might agree.

Jx

 

 

 

Natural Wellbeing with Essence + Alchemy

When the days start getting shorter and the evenings close in
bringing with it a sense of hibernation and rejuvenation after the heady days of summer;  I like nothing more than to unwind and relax by lighting scented candles or incense sticks to bring peace and tranquillity to my surroundings.  A big mug of tea or glass of wine curled up under a soft throw with a good book, you simply can’t beat these moments.
One of my favourite places to go to treat myself to botanical scented goodness is Essence + Alchemy, from their divine packaging to the heavenly scent of each of the goods, it truly is sublime with an added touch of magic. Lesley really is an alchemist,  bringing to the fore the four elements, fire, water, air and earth the inspiration behind each of her goods.  Everything is handmade in small batches with pure essential oils and packaged in an ethical way, everything has been sourced and produced to have as little impact on the environment as possible, the brands ethos behind what they do  and why is rather wonderful you can read more here.
We all seem to be living more increasingly busy lives but I try very hard to stop on an evening, the phone goes away along with the laptop what doesn’t get done today can wait until tomorrow.  We need time to restore and recharge, learn to breath, slow down our thought patterns and relax.  I find scent be it candles, aroma mists or incense help me focus and do all of the above.  Essence + Alchemy aroma mists and incense are subtle not overpowering but have delicate tones that help aid sleep.  I use the aroma mist before I go to sleep the scent helps me fall asleep quickly and brings with it a restful nights rest.   I am also a huge fan to incense sticks, I find the process of lighting and releasing the smoke into the room has such a powerful effect, the scent lingers for a long while after the stick has gone bringing with it a soothing calmness that helps with my overall well being.
I asked Lesley the founder of Essence + Alchemy became what it is today and how she sees it growing in the future, this is what she said.
“I started out as an Environmental Scientist and after experimenting for many years with botanicals and essential oils for their well-being properties, I decided that this was a true passion and it was time to launch a new venture. I started creating natural candles in my kitchen and then hatched the idea for Essence + Alchemy, which brings together the natural scent and energy of plants (essence) with my scientific and environmental background (alchemy). 
Candle making came about because it was a happy distraction from house renovations and then slowly became an obsession into making the best candles I could with quality materials.  I started E+A alongside my career as a self-employed environmental consultant which was hard work because I was often travelling and away overnight.
Moving into the garden lab earlier this year, I’m still investing a lot of time and resources into that.  I enjoy growing slowly.  I think E+A will always be small-batch, it’s very personal to me and rooted from an idea of sustainability and creating less.  Candles and products are all about wellbeing and aromatherapy so if it was mass production behind the scenes, it really wouldn’t fit with this.
I’ve just launched candle club which is a way of reusing candle beakers so that customers can receive a refill every month in their favourite scents without having to worry about a growing container collection.
Earth products, which is a new apothecary line, is launching end of the month/early October, starting off with bath salts.  I’m a massive bath lover and it’s always been a dream to make my own range.
Continuing to collaborate, I really love working with other makers or businesses on projects, it’s always something a bit different from what I’m usually doing. I’ve got a few exciting collaborations  coming up this year.
For the future, I’d really like one day to have a small space or a travelling space because I have a retro caravan to renovate – a small sanctuary where people can come and breathe in aromas. Maybe next year!”
I can’t image not having the joy that bontanical scent brings to me and my home, to my overall well being, it nourishes my mind and brings calm to my surroundings.  The world would be an altogether sadder place without it.
Jx

Concrete Chic with Ross & Brown

I do have a confession to make I absolutely love concrete in all its shapes and forms, the minimal urban interior is something I covet, if you follow me on Pinterest you will already have figured that one out!  My dream would be to have cast concrete worktops in my kitchen and a polished concrete floor throughout the downstairs of my house.   For now though this isn’t a reality but I can add touches of it through accessories in my home.
Ross & Brown have just launched a new selection of home wares from LIKEconcrete to give folk like me that little slice of minimal chic to our interiors.  The brand has combined Danish style with refined industrial design using innovative technology to mould concrete in unique ways to create a silk like texture.  All created with organic, sustainable materials to reduce their carbon footprint.  Each of the products has been given an ancient Nordic name.
The Karin tray meaning clean and tidy is perfectly named.   These stunning trays are not only beautifully formed and tactile but are very useful around the home.  I like keeping certain items out on display, things that get used on a daily basis but don’t want to let them scatter all over creating a mess, feeling cluttered.  Having a stylish tray to place things on when not in use is very handy indeed, not only will things not go missing but you can create little vignettes with your things.   They come in three different sizes and colours all in my favourite monochrome tones.
This simple white concrete tray will become one of my favourite new additions, it looks great on the bedside table, keeping your essentials to hand like jewellery, hand cream and reading glasses.  It works equally well keeping all your bathroom lotions and potions essentials together, everything is in one place so you don’t have to go hunting for that precious face mask when needed.   Then again it doesn’t have to be just for storing your bits and bobs, it works equally well grouping your favourite ceramics and house plants on, creating a pleasing display.   Or even as a morning coffee tray, making every day that little bit more enjoyable and oh so stylish.
Along with the LIKEconcrete collection Ross & Brown stock some of the finest designer home wares, selecting brands such as Norman Copenhagen, Bloomingville and House Doctor DK.   The owners Peter Ross and Gary Brown started in the interior design and architecture world. Through their love of sourcing products for specific projects they began exploring the idea of setting up an on line store as a destination from which interior designers and home owners would visit to find new and interesting products.  The store has a minimal Scandinavian feel, filled with beautiful products for the home that make me very envious.  What I like most about Ross & Brown is that Peter and Gary have to love a product before they list it on the site, everything they stock they would have in their homes, as Peter puts it ‘we are essentially designers doing retail, not the other way around’.
So if you are like me and are after something a little different with a contemporary Scandinavian design edge then please do visit Ross & Brown you will certainly not be disappointed.
Jx
*  with thanks to Ross & Brown for gifting the Karin Tray for the purpose of this post

Escape to Croatia at Villa No24

What do you look for when booking a holiday?  I like staying in places that are unusual a bit different , somewhere I know nothing about.  I also like to find holiday homes that are in keeping with my style, that make me feel at home instantly.
Alas I am not going to Croatia this year but if I were Istria would be the place to go and my time would be spent at Villa No24.  Croatia is a place I have always wanted to visit and hopefully one day I will, it seems more untouched tourist wise a hidden gem especially Istria,  full of culture, historical architecture and breath taking scenery surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.
Villa No24 is stunning, the interior is naturally decorated, slubby neutral tones that I adore, a calm peaceful retreat to escape to, owned and renovated by Ita and Žac.  The couple both have fast paced careers and wanted to be able to find a way to combat their high paced lives with something that would be good for their well being.  Their plan for the future is to be able to move to Istria permanently and do what they enjoy the most, renting their haven of a property during the Summer months and in the Winter escape to warmer climbs for rest and relaxation.
Villa No24 is located in a small romantic village in the heart of Istria, set in the most tranquil and peaceful surroundings, the villa was built in 1921 an old stone dwelling that Ita and Žac renovated in 2017 to bring back the charm and elegance of the original building but added contemporary details to make it into a beautiful modern retreat.  It is spacious and open with 3 bedrooms each with their own bathroom, a kitchen inside and out for alfresco dining, a stylish lounge area to relax on an evening and the pièce de résistance the large pool for whiling away many hours basking in the sunshine or snoozing in the shade of the terrace’s canopy.
The rooms are individually decorated with original pieces of art made by Ita, her macramé pieces adorn the walls and light fittings creating a unique look in my favourite colour palettes.  Her macramé work is exceptional and I am the proud owner of one of her wall hangings.
I for one am now rather desperate to find a way to visit Villa No24 not only for the hospitality that Ita would provide but the peaceful beautiful interiors that I would get to stay in.   A simply serene get away in an undiscovered part of the world I would dearly like to visit.   Fingers crossed I will get to visit Croatia very soon.
Jx
* with thanks to Ita for providing the images of Villa No24 for the purpose of this post.

January Skies

 

Well here we are January and I’m sat typing this still in holiday mode watching the rain pouring down outside and I have the lights on in the middle of the morning!    That said I quite like the feeling of hunkering down, laying low for a while gathering my thoughts not running head long into the year at a fast pace with a list as long as my arm of things I know I couldn’t possibly achieve.  I am a go slow kind of person, always have been but I get there in the end.  So no resolutions for me just keeping up with what I have been doing and improving on that.  Now that the Christmas decorations are packed away for another year I like the feeling of space and will take the time to stop and look around to fully appreciate all the wonderful things I have in my life and have achieved over the last year.

I find this month one of true reflection and self care.  I have planned to get outside more than ever this year, it truly helps clear ones head along with my morning swim.  I do pretty well on looking after myself, I make time on an evening to have a soak in the bath but this year I am definitely going to invest more in invigorating potions to add to the water, one of my favourite places to go is Magic Organic Apothecary, these guys really know how to self care the natural way.  Once out of the steamy bath I like nothing more than to wrap myself up in a luxurious gown and  Toast do the best ones around, one of my gifts this year was a Kimono style gown that I could honestly live in!  I adore anything from Aesop and have gradually over time added most of their products to my bathroom cabinet, a soothing face mask rejuvenates the skin especially at this time of year when you can feel a little sluggish.

Another great thing about the darker days is being able to curl up with a good book, wrapped up in blankets to lose yourself for a while.  Take the time to enjoy that pot of tea rather than drinking it on the go, things can wait. Nothing is more important than looking after yourself and one of the most beneficial things we can do is sleep, so after lingering over that cup of tea, taking a soak in the tub and wrapping yourself up in your linen gown, climb under the duvet and let your body rest, no phone, no laptop just pure sleep.  What are these darker days for if we can’t take time out to properly look after ourselves when the sun goes down.

I do hope that you are taking time out too to slow down and enjoy these winter days, simple and still is most certainly the way to do it.

Jx

 

 

 

Lighting the Way with Kovac Family

My passion for simple design is growing constantly along with sourcing brands that hold sustainability within their hands to create wonderful products that move forward with technology but keeping their integrity and ethos focused on the environment around them.

I can’t deny that I have been an admirer of Kovac Family for a very long time, such simple elegance in everything that they do.  The Sweden based multidisciplinary company is run by Camilla and Christopher Kovac, designing and running their business as environmentally friendly as they possibly can.  All their products are made in Sweden using sustainable materials and sold exclusively in their showroom and online store.

Their ambition is to create products that have the smallest impact possible on the environment by sourcing the materials needed and producing them locally.  The challenge was to be able to create something using a minimum amount of certified environmentally friendly materials as possible and also have the capacity to be easily recycled.

Their collection is simply called Numbers, each product named after the number of parts used to construct each form, yes as simple as that!   The inspiration behind it all comes from nature itself, the question asked is, how can we make this better in all aspects to improve the every day life and our environment, a question we should find ourselves asking every single day.

The versatility of these stunning lights is wonderful, the shape mimicking that of a shell can be placed anywhere, as well as hung creating a focal point where ever it is positioned.  They come with either 3 or 5 metres of cord giving you plenty of options to drape and hang to perfection.  I had great fun placing this stunning Ebonized Oak 25Lamp around my home, I think it’s final resting place with be hanging low over my kitchen table creating a delicate pool of light and added wow factor.

14Lamp is the new design, smaller than the 25Lamp but perfectly formed and still as striking, they would look fabulous hung low as bedside lights, hmmm now there’s an idea!

Each light be it oak, ash, waxed, striped, dip dyed, freckled or whitened comes delivered flat packed in a box smaller than one you would get a pizza in!   You ingeniously fold out the pieces to create the iconic shape, total genius.  Such simplicity in it’s beauty, bringing sustainability to our homes with clever design is something we should all strive for.

Jx

  • with many thanks to Kovac Family for the Ebonised Oak 25Lamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Considered Home

For a long time now as a family we have made a conscious decision to improve the way we live, taking into account every aspect of our daily life.  It takes no time at all to assess the every day things we do and make small changes to be more sustainable in our homes.

Arhaus featured a tip of mine in one of their infographics, quite proudly I could have given quite a few but this is the one I chose.

Arhaus are leading the way in sustainability striving to make the home wares industry more environmentally friendly for all as you can see above.  They make many of their products with organic fabrics and materials, including their earth-friendly sectionals.

So how can we make a difference, I say start small and build from there, the impact of just changing your your light bulbs to energy efficient ones has a massive effect, they don’t need to be utilitarian looking either the technology out there today is amazing, all my light bulbs are low energy led squirrel cage designed so look fabulous and use hardly any electricity.  As a family we made a choice to use a green energy company to supply our gas and electricity, they source all of their electricity from renewable sources and off-set the carbon emissions from the gas they provide.  We also have a smart meter which helps us keep track of the energy we are using.   Another great tip is to time yourself in the shower, it’s amazing how much water you can be saved by using what you need rather than squandering it.

When it comes to cleaning and washing think about the products you are using,  I use eco-friendly ones even down to my washing powder, no harmful chemicals involved at all.  I don’t have a tumble drier either, clothes dried outside in the fresh air is the best way, just takes a little more time but uses no energy other than what nature provides.  On those inclement days clothes airers in doors do just fine.

As a consumer try and think about the ethical benefits of all the items you buy for yourself and your home, even down to the clothes you wear, the bedding you sleep in, the towels you dry yourself on, the paint you use for your walls, the furniture you choose to have in your home.  Each and every one  of these small things add up to a larger picture, it’s not rocket science but a little time and effort can help change things for the better.  There are many wonderful companies out there today that are trying very hard to make a difference to how we live putting a great emphasis  on ethical values.  It’s the little changes we make that will most certainly have the biggest impact in the future.

I could go on and on, going into greater depth on each subject but for now, change your light bulbs, sleep in linen sheets, don’t use too much water in the shower and stop using that tumble drier!

Jx

  • Images 5, 7 & 9

 

 

Simple Aesthetics with Murmur

I love it when I come across a brand that has all the right aesthetics that resonate with me and my style.  Let me introduce you to Murmur a lifestyle and interiors brand that I know you won’t be able to resist when you see their beautifully designed products.

Murmur is more than just a home ware brand they want to capture a renewed desire for hand crafted simply designed pieces, bringing with it a fresh approach and attitude to how we live today.  Their ethos is simple based on one that is influenced by Scandinavian and Japanese design; elegant natural materials are paired together with geometric patterns inspired by batik style dyeing techniques.  Texture and colour palettes marry together perfectly but by then adding in a simple stripe or pattern, layering each piece becomes effortless.   The combinations simply work beautifully creating a coherent home.

Each product has been designed in house at their Northern Irish studio space.  Pieces have been sourced and hand crafted by the talented design team who have travelled from India to Scandinavia to gather inspiration bringing together this collection, making sure each piece can be mixed and matched to create harmony for your interiors.

From soft cotton bedding in soothing tones to beautiful cushions and throws.  Adding texture through cotton, linen and wool layering in a mixture of scale, pattern and colour palette to create a haven of comfort.  Their ceramics collection of Portuguese stoneware will add that artisan twist to your dining table.  Organic shapes with hand finished details coming in three complimentary shades are designed to be mix and matched creating a unique look.

I have a selection of their stunning towels, so soft and lightweight make bathing a great pleasure.  They bring a little bit extra to my bathroom, the deep geometric pattern of the Japanese floral towel contrasting with the small print of Hama towel adding texture and tone to my all white room.

I can’t stress highly enough that you should pay Murmur a visit to bring a little of that pared back style into your own home.

Jx

  •  with thanks to Murmur for gifting the towels in this post

 

 

 

 

Summer Moments

From Lake side decks and country houses to golden wheat fields and city exploring I think we managed to squeeze in rather a lot of amazing things in the three weeks we have been away.   I can’t say it was all plain sailing what with the pesky weather playing it’s part in dampening our spirits a little and a rather nasty tummy bug that caught me by surprise.  All that said it was our Summer holiday adventure and with all it’s ups and down we thoroughly enjoyed it and want to do it all again with a little more sunshine and no sick!

Our first leg was to our spiritual home the Lake District with it’s moody mountains and deep waters, we love it so very much. One of the many highlights this year was to swim and canoe in and on Ullswater both exhilarating in their own way.  Moments of peace at Allan Bank in Grasmere a unique National Trust property that seems to go under the radar a little.   An evening of moules frites and a Shakespeare play in the Theatre by the Lake, frequenting a few cool cafes and stores (Chesters by the River, Lingholme Kitchen, Homeground Coffee + Kitchen) to keep me happy amongst the majestic scenery that surrounded us.

We then travelled south to Wiltshire a spot we go to every year to spend a happy family filled weekend in a field.  Nothing glamorous no mod cons but lots of laughter and a few cheeky drinks.  The golden light on the wheat field this year was rather breathtaking, the kids run amok it’s so freeing, we even drove tractors this year which was an eye opener!   I got my ceramic fix in Lacock pottery, can’t help myself.

Finally our last jaunt was onto the quaint village of Charlbury in the Cotswolds.  Be still my beating heart, it’s damn pretty there and the sun came out to greet us.  I finally got to visit Hidcote or should I say make a pilgrimage. What a delight these gardens are to wander.  The rooms, each one different to the next, such a joy.  Then finally, on our last day Oxford happened. Goodness me I fell in love all over again and can’t quite for the life of me remember why it has taken us so long to make a return visit.  An odd purchase in Objects of Use and Toast couldn’t be helped but hey I was on holiday.  A wander around New College, a museum dash and a Jane Austen exhibition and it was time to bid our farewells and return home.

It is lovely being home, it feels like we’ve been away for a very long time so getting acquainted with my things again is rather nice, waking up in our bed and finding new homes for our holiday purchases is always the fun part.

Above is a little glimpse of what’s coming up in next weeks post, how could I resist a beautifully made throw.

 

 

 

 

 

Working with Wool // Solidwool

Wool a natural commodity,  a sustainable resource, one that is plentiful but so very much underused and under valued.  Can you believe that one sheep’s fleece commands a shockingly low price of 40p.  This is where Solidwool come in, this innovative brand are championing a new way of working with wool in a diverse and contemporary environment.   They are modern day manufacturers of a by product of sheep farming, turning it from something unwanted into something beautiful and unique.

The items designed and made by  Solidwool can be considered in place of Injection Moulded Plastics and fibreglass. Wool is used as the reinforcement, bio-resins as the binder. Their manufacturing methods are designed to have the lowest environmental impact that they can.

The Hembury collection is simple, clean lined and practical, a design with longevity in mind, a range of everyday products for the home or creative space.  With a chair to sit on, a table to rest your book and coffee on and placemats to make your dining table more stylish the collection is just right.  The beauty of the wooden legs of the chair and table contrasting with the dark smooth Solidwool top are a master stroke, tactility in the utility with sustainable values.

I spoke to Hannah, one half of the Solidwool team and asked her about their vision for the business, where it started and where they see their vision going in the future.

About Solidwool

We started Solidwool to find a new way of working with wool, in the hope that we could bring some wool manufacturing back to our home town, create fulfilling jobs for ourselves and maybe a small team of people.

We were inspired by our home town and an old industry in decline. Buckfastleigh was once a thriving part of the woollen industry but it had grown quiet since the key manufacturing had left.

We learnt that the coarse wool from hill-farmed sheep had dramatically lost its value in recent years. Historically used in the UK carpet industry, the demand had declined and the wool was now considered worthless, a by-product of sheep farming.

So we started to play, to turn the way we have always worked with wool on it’s head. To take the unwanted and make it beautiful, give it value once again.  The end result is what has become Solidwool.  A strong, beautiful and unique composite material. Think of it like fibreglass, but with wool.

The Hembury Collection came from this. We had a material and wanted to create a product to showcase the material.

Currently, we use wool from the Herdwick breed of sheep. This wool is wiry, dark and hard. An itchy scratchy type of wool. It’s also one of the lowest value British wools. Once a major part of a shepherd’s income, the wool sells for about 30-40p per kg. It costs more to shear the sheep than they get back in sales.  When used in our products the Herdwick wool is beautiful. It produces a dark grey composite with the lighter guard hairs standing out.

What’s Next

At the beginning of the year we moved into a new factory space in the centre of Buckfastleigh, in one of the old disused woollen mill buildings. The space is amazing, light and airy. We’ve been busy fitting the space out in a manner fit for a modern manufacturing company, whilst working out what that is!  For us, 2017 is about working on the next generation of Solidwool technology. Really getting to grips with understanding the material and its capacity. Once we have done this we will be expanding our range of furniture.

We also hope to begin sourcing our own wool direct from farmers. Currently we source wool that has gone through the British Wool Marketing Board auction system. This system works, but buying direct from farmers, enables us to be more transparent about our supply chain. It also means we can pay above market price for the wool we source. Giving part of the value we create back to source.

We are also playing with lighter wools, such as the Scotch Blackface sheep on Dartmoor. It is another lower value wool, but can be used with a coloured resin to create a material which is very similar in appearance to coloured fibreglass.

So if you are on the hunt for a unique piece of contemporary furniture with a sustainable twist then please do take a look at Solidwool.  Just think how cool your kitchen table will look surrounded by the Hembury chairs, I know I am!

  • With thanks to Solidwool for providing the images for this post

New Year Wishes

friday-musings-127A simple style New Year is filling my thoughts.  Well planned escapes, working with cool clients and ambitions to strive for.  Beautiful simple moments to be enjoyed and cherished with those I love.

For now though I shall immerse myself in the last day of fairy lights and tinsel, champagne and naughty treats.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year may it be all that your heart wishes it to be.

Take A Break

The next few weeks I am going to be away, downing tools hooking up Agatha the caravan and hitting the road for some seriously needed rest and relaxation.

 

The summer frocks and sandals are packed the green fields of our campsites are waiting.  New and exciting destinations are longing to be explored, the days to be played out in front of us.

No rush, no worries, simple living at it’s best. As long as I have a cold glass of wine and a good book to indulge in once back at our van, sat outside in my deckchair bathed in the glow of our new festoon lights until the sun goes down I shall be one happy girl.

See you all on the other side, if you follow me on instagram come and see what I’ll be getting up to over the next few weeks, it will be full of holiday moments.

Signature

Images Source ~ 2, 3, 4 & 5 (1 & 6 are my own)