Autumn Fair 2019

accessories, Decorating, Exhibitions, home decor, Lifestyle, Musings, Ramblings, Shopping, sustainability

This week I visited the NEC for The Autumn Fair, which is an exhibition for buyers covering homeware, gifts, fashion, retails solutions, home decor and more.

HOME DECOR

It is a vast space and was packed with exhibitors from across the globe.  There was colour trend forecasting also on offer, with 4 distinct trends and co-ordinating colour palettes – Dome, Scarcity, Gorge and Ritual were the themes:

Moving through the exhibition, in which there were literally hundreds of stalls, the next stop was home decor and lighting.  There were some lovely companies showing.  Coach House were particularly elegant and had a wide range of styles with a strong emphasis in oversized lighting:

I discovered a new brand called One World, and love their oversized furniture and accessories:

Plus I found a fantastic lighting company called Light & Living from the Netherlands, featured below.  Every light was beautiful, and I love the mesh pendants (which incidentally a lot of brands featured so they will be a big thing in 2020).  Their lights were beautiful, although very heavy so the practical designer in me popped out as I pondered the way to hang them safely on a standard British light fitting..

So looking at trends for 2020 home decor, colour is definitely creeping back in, even if the sophisticated greys/blush combos and Hygge remain popular.  I am really happy to see some colour after years of pale greys though….

SUSTAINABILITY

On another positive note, there was a large emphasis from exhibitors on sustainability.  I spent ages talking to a Chinese manufacturer from the Shaoneng Group about their products made from sugar cane and bamboo waste pulp.  They apply it to disposable food retail products, but it could also apply to many other home items.  It is biodegradable, water and oil proof and much more.  A wonderful product, especially for take aways and similar food outlets.

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So definitely an interesting place to visit and see what is on offer, how it is made and what some companies are doing to help sustainability and recycling.  This month I also will be visiting 100% Design & The London Design Fair, so watch this space for more ramblings…

Gorgeous Candles…

candles, Decorating, home decor, Lifestyle, Shopping

Hello, I have been taking some photos for Muri Home candles, and thought I should share how delicious they are in terms of not just the look but the smells!

I am a bit of a candle freak to be honest, and dread to think what I have spent over the years on them.  Muri Home candles are available on Etsy, and are very reasonably priced at £18 each for a glass jar version – compared to similar quality candles by brands such as Diptyque and True Grace.  And they do not disappoint in terms of quality and scent.

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I like my candles strong.. so I can smell them even when not lit, and these ones definitely hit the mark.  I was a sent over three candles to photograph; Fresh Air, Freshly Cut Grass and Cactus & Sea Salt.  Once the lid its off the smell is really potent, which is a good sign of perfume levels I think in the candles.  The design is also really simple and so they suit any interior.

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There are several other fragrances available bedsides the ones I photographed; Rose & Neroli, Coconut Cream, Orange Blossom, Lemon & Lavender, Fig & Brown Sugar, Fig & Bergamot, Fresh Bread, Cinnamon Bun and Vanilla.  YUM!  They are also available really cute enamel mugs if you don’t want glass jars.  Definitely a great gift, or just be really selfish and buy them all for yourself!

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Music to work to: BBC Radio 6 Music ❤️

grown up, Inspiration, Lifestyle, music, Ramblings, working

Diverse, eclectic and always inspirational… BBC Radio 6 has become my constant companion when I am either working or mooching about at home.  The breadth of music is really diverse, there are no repetitive playlists, and I learn about new artists all of the time and from all over the world… no hierarchy, snobbery or commercialism… just music that inspires the DJ’s.

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Take today for instance, I was unpacking my shopping and gyrating to Gilles Peterson’s Saturday afternoon rare grooves, whilst later on I nodded my head in time as I typed away on a website article.  The latter article was relating to financial information, but PJ Harvey suited the typing speed, and now when I read it back I can hear 50ft Queenie in my mind – definitely not what the readers will hear as they read my FinTec news.

In a way it’s a bit of an addiction. I miss it when I am in the car and have to substitute another radio station to listen to.  I pine for Lauren Laverne, Radcliffe & Maconie and Tom Robinson’s dulcet tones.  If I have to listen to Jenni Murray on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, I end up enraged and comparing her to Cerys Matthews, and the latter wins hands down.  If I try Radio 1 it just seems so noisy and inane in comparison.  It’s got to the point where I’ll just plug in a podcast instead, and I am loving The Leisure Society series at the moment (from, you guessed it… BBC Radio 6).

I find that I am more creative when I listen to music as I work, and this information that follows proves my point:

Scientific research has uncovered that listening to music can actually be beneficial while you work. Although, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

A study by Simone Ritter, at Radboud University in the Netherlands, and Sam Ferguson, at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, looked at how listening to various types of music affected different types of thinking  compared to working in silence.

Their study found that happy music enhanced participants creative ‘divergent thinking’. However they found it had no impact on ‘convergent thinking’, which is problem-solving.

In their study, Ritter and Ferguson split 155 volunteers into five groups, which were then given tasks to complete. Four of the groups did so while listening to classical music aimed at stimulating different moods, such as Holst’s Mars and Vivaldi’s Spring. The fifth group worked in silence.

They found that the groups working to music they considered positive generally came up with more original ideas.

Ritter and Ferguson said: “The current project aimed to shed light on the potential association of music listening for optimizing divergent and convergent creativity, and demonstrated that listening to ‘happy music’ (i.e., classical music that elicits positive mood and is high on arousal) is associated with an increase in divergent thinking, but not convergent thinking.”

 

The upshot being, if you need to be creative with your work, then you should stick some uplifing music to help get the cognitive juices flowing.  But if you’re trying  to solve an problem, you’re better off opting for quiet solitude.  (Telegraph, Sept 2017)

 

As I don’t do problematic maths problems for work, I think I’m OK to continue….

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Instagram Challenges

Decorating, instagram, Interior Design, interiors, Lifestyle, Photography, Ramblings

Or how the # has become second nature…

It is a fact that I love Instagram, and I am always amazed and delighted by the creativity out there that I can peruse… from nature photography to food to clothes to interiors.  It means I follow so many people that it takes ages to scroll through daily feeds, but it’s worth it!  It also seems that there is a colony out there of similar minded people who like me are obsessed with interiors, it’s like having a mini village of people right on your doorstep.  Everyone shares ideas & tips, and are incredibly friendly.

From there come the Instagram challenges, which tend to be people setting up a hashtag and the rest of us posting pictures including it, usually within a timescale.  One that I have been doing is #myhousethismonth this February.  It’s a daily shot with a title, so things like #storage, #bestbargain, #love (Valentine’s day of course) and so on.  I love doing it, but WOW! it takes some planning.  Especially when you have to photo something everyday that passes muster.

Anyhow, here are some offerings I have been posting this mont.  My teenage daughter has trained me in various editing methods for photos as she said I needed to up my ‘instigame’ – thanks daughter, that made me feel ancient!  So I sometimes use Whitagram and VSCO to tweak shots before they are posted, although I do like to use Instagram as it was intended if possible and just shoot and edit on it directly.  So here are some shots posted while I tried to keep up, and it’s only mid month!  And this is the challenge set….

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This is #favecorner

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This is #window

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#metallic – a lovely silver leaf

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#lightit up – a very un pc lamp!

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#handmade – my upcycled cupboard

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#storage – my favourite huge cupboard

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#workspace – my desk where I ponder the universe

Once I get into doing it I then start taking other photos, so they go up as well as the challenge ones:

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And so it goes on… now off to shoot today’s picture which is #can’tlivewithout…. that will be my coffee maker then…?  Or maybe my cats…. ?  Hmm, it takes ages to decide…

Organizing For Your Lifestyle

Inspiration, Lifestyle, Organising, storage, tips

ORGANIZATION

Being a pretty obsessive OCD organizer, (mainly due to a lot of ‘stuff’ in my home which if I don’t control results in chaos within hours), I can happily spend hours sorting, catagorizing and decluttering areas. I find this a really calming thing to do, whereas to others it might seem like hell.

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I always thought that this was my own personal madness, as I can get itchy when I see clutter.  But I recently read a new book by Jane Stoller called ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’ that delves deep into the psyche behind organizing, and which explains what the benefits are as a whole to your life.  With the clutter controlled, there is more time to actually ENJOY YOUR LIFE!  I don’t usually read self-help books, but  ‘Organizing Your Lifestyle’   is a really useful hybrid as it offers both practical advice as well as explaining the psychological benefits of organization.

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Plus it is a realistic book, as I do not have the patience to look at everything I own and murmur in the latest fashion ‘But do I really love it?’  Of course I love it, I love all of it and am never, ever going to be a minimalist!  But I can be a tidy and organized maximalist, and this book has excellent tips on how to evaluate what you have and how to look after it all so you have more quality time on your hands.  It also makes you look hard at things so you can let some of them go without regret.

USEFUL ADVICE

Some of the tips are really useful, I loved the wardrobe section on how to store and look after items.  Like most ladies, I own more clothes and shoes than I realistically have cupboard space for.  There are great tips on how to look after and store things so they are not creased, crumpled and hence last longer.  If you think of the hefty financial outlay that we females spend on clothes, it makes sense to make them last.

Traveling away?  The book has great ways to make packing less stressful, and without the dreaded over-packing that I usually do so I end up with a massive suitcase full of clothes I don’t even wear on the trip.

The book breaks down areas of organization, so it can be something you can ease into this is a new process and makes you shake in your boots.

You can follow Jane on Twitter where she has motivational tips to keep the spirit going.

 

 

Winter Warmer – Cardamom Coffee Recipe

Lifestyle, recipe

During this past chilly week I have discovered a lovely way to make coffee, and it makes me feel like I am sitting in an exotic bedouin tent as opposed to being freezing in a drafty old house mid-winter.  Being a coffee fanatic, I drink coffee according to mood.  Latte usually in the day as a norm.   But I also love those little strong numbers, from gritty thick Turkish coffee served in weeny cups to brutally strong espresso which could put hairs on your chest.

I was at a meeting last week and was served coffee in this way, and it is LOVELY.  It smells and tastes heavenly, a bit spiced and moorish.  You can have it black or white, and serve it as a strong small coffee or as a base for latte’s and cappucino’s.

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The magic ingredient is cardamom.

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An aromatic spice indigenous to south India and Sri Lanka, cardamom seeds come from a plant belonging to the ginger family. They are contained in small pods about the size of a cranberry. Cardamom has a wonderful aroma and an enticing warm, spicy-sweet flavour.

To Make:

  • You can use either a stove-top coffee maker or a cafetiere.
  • Use one seed per cup.  Using the back of spoon, crush it so it splits.
  • Add to your normal ground coffee and brew.
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes and the flavour and scent is released into the coffee.
  • Add milk and sugar if desired.

I already have used dried cinnamon in coffee at Christmas before, but this cardamom version scales way higher on the yummy scale.  The next trial will be star anise….