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August Month

The most apt meaning for the word August are ‘inspiring’ and ‘to bring realization.’  They really do sum it up for me. The last month of winter when we are inspired by the thoughts of shedding drab wintry layers and the fresh awe-inspiring awakening of the natural world and then the realization that the merry months are well on their way. It is a month that we start seeing the light so to speak, the days start getting noticeably longer, brighter and lighter, and we dream about those long-forgotten picnic days. We may even have the first scary thoughts of the festive season.

For me August brings with it a certain buzz that’s hopeful and exciting. We plan and implement for the spring and summer and really start to focus on the upcoming festivities, just without the panic. There is still plenty of time left in the year to enjoy the whole process.

By now we seem to have settled into the year, 2017 is well set, so let’s just savour what it has to offer. I know from my own experience, my boys feel confident and grounded in this second half of the year, they know what to expect and start to really prosper and grow. I do believe as adults it has the same effect.

However, August is the one month of the year that I’m sure you would agree can give you a bit of a jolt, it seems to say ‘hey, only five months left, so wake up and smell the roses.”

Planning is key here, spending August if nothing else, thinking and planning the rest of the year is really all that’s important. With our busy lives, juggling work, children and families and balancing it all with special moments. We need this month to really get our heads around the hustle and bustle of the upcoming season. Being prepared does really work.

We all have a to-do list even if its just a mental one, but somehow time just seems to march straight on by and yet again we are left feeling hopeless and thinking “ it will have to be next year then.”  So this year I’m certainly going to give it my best shot.

The top 10 things on my to-do list

  1. Prepare the Spring cleaning regime , house and garden - I mean top to bottom, paint touch ups, cleaning of carpets and blinds, drawers, cupboards - the whole tooty.
  2. Lists for packing away winter stuff - so often these things just hang around the house till next winter. This year they will be packed away!
  3. Making a homemade Christmas cake in time this year, I’m serious about this one.
  4. List of Christmas cards to post to overseas families and friends. I need a list of the postal addresses and a schedule from the post office for when to post them to reach their destination on time. It’s really means so much to receive a hand written Christmas, and sending a text just doesn’t match up.
  5. Making personalized gift sets , even home made ones, they mean so much when we receive them. Giving them just says you care.
  6. Start Christmas shopping (food and gifts) early to ease the budget.
  7. Planning year end parties well in advance to relieve the stress.
  8. Making pre-prepared meals so we can enjoy the long summer evenings without having to waste time in the kitchen (just a salad on the day)
  9. Curtain making and upholstery - remember the work books close sometimes as early as end October.
  10. Start exercising again, oh dear the winter makes me hibernate.

My Inspiration

It is the sea that’s providing me with inspiration at the moment. It’s wildness, mystery and the sheer vastness of it.

The different shades of white, from the pearly sheens to the sun bleached and sand blasted, also the ever changing exquisite blue hues of the ocean. The natural shapes and textures of shells, coral, pebbles and driftwood weathered by the sun and the waves. Soft pale sea sand that pours as fluidly as hour glass sand and graceful sea creatures in all their splendour.

As August suggests: be inspired, do something new and fresh, take inspiration from our beautiful land and sea.

With love Laura

Laundry craze

Just recently on one of our first very chilly mornings I had to drop some laundry at the local launderette for washing and drying and the experience inspired this blog post. It was not that it was that visually stimulating, it was just a heartwarming experience with the warmth from the tumbling linen together with the clean fresh scent, and the comforting sounds of domesticity, the swishing of the washers and the whirling of the dryers and the radio playing in the background.

But perhaps the seed was originally sewn when we popped into the most exquisite store ever in Constantia, Al Donna linen. Besides an indulgent feast for the eyes and touch, we chatted about the laundering of her beautiful linen. It is these little interludes and conversations that spark interest and encourage us to revisit the simple pleasures in life.

What our mothers did and the tips that have been passed down from generation to generation, that we continue to pass on, not just to our families but to anybody that is interested. What seems mundane can actually be a therapeutic and thrilling chore.

Hanging your linen on a wash line on a sunny day is not only good for the linen, it’s also the ‘back to basics’ that’s so grounding and tangible. So, lets embrace this household chore and tackle it with enthusiasm.  There is something so satisfying about having an organized linen cupboard with its neatly folded linens in their perfect piles, it gives one a sense of order in our chaotic lives.

There are lots of new sexy products to enhance the laundry, linen waters, lavender sprays, gorgeous baskets, all manner of ironing aides and pretty accessories, steamers, dryers, airing racks and rails, you can build up your dream laundry in no time.

My dream laundry would definitely have an airing rack on a pulley above a large surface for folding and organizing, separate baskets for each room for freshly folded laundry, a sheet press and an extra-large ironing board with a classic ticking covering.

A shelf for containers of old fashioned wooden pegs, linen sprays and water spray bottles, all the soaps and soaks, a sewing box for repairing, a rail for peg bags and for hanging laundered items, a radio to keep me company and lots of natural light.

A few interesting facts

Washing soaps

  • Olive soap - natural and gentle and the perfect choice for hand washing, it can be expensive but a big block lasts a long time.
  • Sunlight soap in its bar form - trusty, inexpensive and has such a clean generic scent. The hand washing staple.
  • Woolite - highly recommended for wool and cashmere, smell delicious too.
  • Soap flakes - these are gentle and lather beautifully, imported from France so rather pricey but a delight to use for those special items.
  • Soap nuts - If you are very green then this is the way to go, no chemicals. They are 100% natural and very effective to use in your machine.
  • Commercial hand wash powders - These are fine to use but they contain chemicals which would not suite delicate fabrics but one can use them on less precious items.
  • Commercial Automatic machine powders - These are the everyday soaps that we all use, I would still separate any special linens or prized possessions as the chemicals are harsh and will damage the fibres after extended use.

Hand washing

  • Delicate fibres such as silk, wool and cashmere need to be hand washed as excessive rubbing damages the fibres and can cause felting in wool and cashmere.
  • When dealing with stains, it is never advisable to soak patterned fabrics as the colours may run, especially Indian prints. Rather treat the spot and then wash as usual.
  • Machine washing is the most convenient and practical way of getting through the mountains of laundry that we seem to produce. We can however be selective on the cycles and temperatures that we choose for specifics. Cotton towels can take higher heat than other fibres and it is also a way of killing any germs.
  • Synthetics should be washed on a moderate heat.

Dry cleaning

  • This is my least favourite, I am finding that I steer away from items that advise dry cleaning only. All those chemicals can’t be kind to the environment and I prefer the feel and smell of water washed laundry.
  • Hands down I recommend the Parthenon dry cleaners/laundry in Rondebosch, for dry cleaning or washing bulky items like quilts and blankets.

Tumble drying

  • I only use our dryer in Winter when absolutely necessary. It is so harmful to natural fibres, all the rubbing and heat, whilst its nice to have your towels soft and fluffy, they wont be thick and plush for long. Crisp cottons will end up dull and limp.

Ironing

  • I just love crisp white linen that is freshly laundered and pressed with sharp fold lines. Getting into a bed freshly dressed is without doubt one of life’s biggest treats. Fill the steam tank with fragranced water for added luxury and indulgence.

Stain removal remedies

  • Red wine - salt on the spot and then flush with warm water.
  • Grass stains - a solution of 1 tablespoon surgical spirits and 2 tablespoons
  • Oil - baby powder, baking soda or corn starch on the spot to absorb the oil.
  • Felt pen marks - a solution of 1 tablespoon sunlight dish liquid, 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 2 cups water on the spot.

Happy laundering
With love Laura

The Art of Painting Your Home

Painting- All the Difference

So many people find choosing a paint colour a daunting task and would rather like me stick to a trusty neutral palette. Having just repainted part of the Wynberg store I feel inspired to write about paint in decorating and what amazing effects colour can have.

After 17 years of a very pleasant mushroom colour on our walls we were desperately in need of a change, I felt that we needed a fresh, clean but interesting look and one that would complement the natural elements that are ever present in the store. A colour that would not fight with new fabrics and one that was pleasing and uplifting I usually gravitate toward the sage greens and greys and of course the many shades of white, but now was a time for real change. After much deliberating I finally settled for a blue/green almost aquamarine colour that Ralph our painter thought rather a risky at the time - of course he did, such a big change for us. I have to say he now loves it as much as we do and is thrilled with the result. We offset the gorgeous new colour with bright white trimmings and it just pops.

Here are some tips and facts about this wonderful cost effective way to make a real difference in your decorating.

Colour Trends for 2017

One must think carefully when selecting a paint colour.  It is wise to select a colour that is trendy, but will age well.  

This year is just full of beautiful colours that you can mix and match to come up with the perfect combination:

  • Dusty blues, powdery blues & greens and aquamarine.
  • Earthy greens -from dark shades to more muted lighter tones.
  • Spicy reds, Sunshine yellow and pale yellow.
  • Light pink and rose quartz or even lime green and mineral grays.

 

Top Tips for a Great Start

 

Here are some basic tips to select the perfect colour for your project:

  1. Start small, if you are nervous and unsure of yourself, start with a small project like a guest bathroom or an entrance hall or passage.
  2. Start by choosing a few colours (2 or 3) drawn from your fabrics, artwork or rugs.
  3. Think about the mood that you wish to create, soft cool colors like soft greens and blues create a calm and soothing environment, while the warmer stronger colors are for drama, bright colors are stimulating and sociable. Deep blues, grey and purples are more formal.
  4. Buy small sample tins to paint up sample boards that you can use to hold up against furniture curtains and floors to get a good idea of the finished look.
  5. Look at your lighting, natural light gives you the truest colour, incandescent lights bring out the warm tones, whilst florescent light cast sharp blue tones.
  6. Finally the perfect match is not always the best - be bold and try some new combinations!

Important Paint Terms

Here is some important paint terminology that will help you ask for the right paint at the hardware store:

  • Matt paint - little or no sheen for low traffic areas
  • Egg shell - velvety sheen easy to clean with a flat look
  • Satin- silky/ pearl like - stain resistant, resists moisture, good for kitchens bathrooms and high traffic areas
  • Semi gloss - sleek and radiant, high resistance to moisture, good for cabinets (kitchen) and doors
  • High gloss- very durable, easy to clean, has a glass like finish. Good for trimmings and moldings.

Do's and Don'ts when Painting Your Home

Do's

  1. Take time to prep your surface - take off all handles switches etc.
  2. Calculate the paint you need, its better to have all the paint mixed at one time.
  3. Choose the appropriate rollers and brushers for the pain viscosity.
  4. Prime walls if going from dark to light.
  5. Keep a stash for touch ups and some artists brushes for touching up.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t rush.
  2. Don’t paint out of order, start with ceiling ending with floor.
  3. Don’t apply water base to oil base or visa versa without preparing your surface by sanding and priming.
  4. Keep the room well ventilated.
  5. Don’t wipe or wash for two weeks and wait 24 hours before replacing everything.

Painting is so rewarding and is something we can all do to make a real change, I hope you feel inspired to add a sparkle to your home before the Winter sets in.

Have fun!

Warm wishes,
Laura

A Home Filled with Plants

We are living in an Urban jungle so it is rather nice to bring nature into our homes or work places with some very low maintenance and quite forgiving indoor plants.  These plants that can thrive in low light conditions and can survive with little watering. They are undemanding and are easy to grow, just little “tlc” is needed giving you endless enjoyment.

Indoor plants are also great for our working or living spaces as they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen- especially the highly efficient wonder plant, Spekboom (Portulacaria), which is indigenous to South Africa.

The plants that have regained popularity are the big leafed plants such as Monsteras, philodendrons and the very desirable Ficus laurata. We are also still enjoying the succulents. Aloe with its medicinal and healing properties and the other gorgeous echaverias. There is also a resurgence in the spiky cacti.

Playing with containers that suit your interiors is also fun, African basket ware, wooden planters, stone/cementitious and the very much trending but classic terracotta Just make sure there is drainage so that the roots dry out and do not rot.

Mixing and grouping plants is a great idea as it benefits the plants by increasing the humidity in their environment. It is also lovely to pot up two different plants in one pot. By this I mean using say two different heights, in the centre a lovely tall fern type plant with a lower soil covering plant around the edges.

With the 70’s revival of macrame you can hang your plants indoors in a fun and interesting way. The exotic looking Kokedama, Japanese inspired moss wrapped hanging plants are wonderful. Air plants can thrive in the right spot indoors too. Terrariums take time to settle but there are so many beautiful mini greenhouses available, to play with creating little water wise ecosystems - therapy in our fast-paced life.

So many of us feel that we kill plants by just looking at them, but with this 7-step guide from our very own plantswoman - Suzanne, you will be set to have great looking and thriving house plants to love and enjoy.

  1. Light - darker leafed plants don’t mind low light but variegated plants and lighter leaved plants like medium light. Windowsills are perfect for the light lovers.
  2. Keeping them clean - dusty leaves prevent the absorption of light, so wipe down foliage with a damp soft cloth, or brush delicate and furry leaves with a soft brush
  3. Grooming - dead head flowering plants to encourage more blooms. Cut off yellowing or dead leaves.
  4. Watering and humidity - most indoor plants should only be watered once they are dry or at least the top 5cm of soil is dry, this could be weekly or every two weeks depending on the position and size of the pot. Misting your plants is a great way to aid humidity. Another suggestion if your environment is very dry (air conditioned) is to place the plants on a drip tray filled with pebbles.  Important: don’t let the roots sit in the water though.
  5. Checking the pot -the plant may grow out the pot, if the roots are poking out of the drainage hole or there are too many surface roots.” Pot up” meaning place the plant in a new pot one size bigger than existing pot. Add fresh potting soil as the nutrients will be depleted. Rotate your pots so that you get even light absorption.
  6. Feeding -the best way to feed your potted plant is with a water-soluble plant food, once a month or so should be enough. You can also spray the leaves with a foliar feed.
  7. Disease control - watch out for insects and disease that will harm your plant, whitefly and mealy bug are the most common, spray the plant with a solution of sunlight liquid in water. Wipe any scale off with a damp cloth.

Don’t forget, the most common causes of indoor plants not flourishing or dying is over-watering and not enough light.

Here is a list of indoor plants we love and recommend

  1. Aloes
  2. Sansveiria (mother in laws tongue)
  3. Ficus - all varieties
  4. Staghorn
  5. Peace lily
  6. Philodendron
  7. Monstera
  8. Succulents and cacti
  9. Spekboom
  10. African violets.

We hope that you will fill your home with happy and healthy plants!

 

With love and warm regards Laura and Suzanne

In the Name of Love

Love notes

Celebrating Valentine’s Day is a given in my family, children and dogs included. I adore those little handmade love notes that without doubt make the day so special. I also especially love not being seventeen and feeling the peer pressure and the anxiety from not having a truck load of cards from secret admirers, nowadays it’s just pure innocent joy and delight. With no obligations, just a normal day where we go about our business with just a little added buzz from expressing our true love, it is very simply put - heartwarming.

Tokens of love

It has almost become an informal tradition at home, ‘a family thing’ and I relish putting in just that little bit more effort into our daily routine from lunch box treats and love notes to a special candle lit dinner for all of us to share. Chocolates, shrimp cocktails and heart shaped desserts, kids champagne and of course the adult version are a must. Essentially, it’s about the little touches that speak the language of love.

Although the long stemmed red rose has become synonymous with Valentine’s day, to my mind the most romantic rose of all is the old fashioned heady scented, pink garden rose with its soft velvety petals and ruffled edges. We are privileged to have a rose farm (The Chart farm) so near to home where we can pick these beauties which are warmed by the sun, and so intoxicatingly sweet scented, ourselves. They are not perfect, not long stemmed or blemish free and often the heads so large that they droop from their own weight, but splendid and so utterly romantic. Crystal rose bowls or pretty jugs suit them best, singles or a mass of them, even their fallen petals are exquisite.

Romantic escapism

Why not indulge in a little bit of romantic viewing? Although I don’t get to watch many movies these days (the viewing being capitalized by boy flicks) I certainly have my all or should I say old time favorites which I love to watch over and over again.  Just that little romantic escapism that one needs!

My top 10 favorite romantic movies are:

  1. Out of Africa
  2. Bridges of Madison county
  3. Pretty woman
  4. The English patient
  5. Sleepless in Seattle
  6. Chocolat
  7. When Harry met Sally
  8. Titanic
  9. Remains of the day
  10. You’ve got mail
  11. Oh and Beauty and the beast for the little (that makes it 11)

It’s not just the script, but also the music, the scenery and settings, and the actors that make them classic romances to me.

Recipe for Romance

To end off I thought I would share this romantic, very quick and easy Valentine’s dessert.  I call it “The love nest” (Serves 4):

Ingredients

  • 4 Store bought meringue nests - Melissa’s even have heart shaped ones
  • 250 ml whipping cream add a little sugar and vanilla extract if you like
  • 1 bar handmade nougat (Wedgwood works well) - frozen overnight
  • 1 punnet raspberries and a handful of strawberries (quartered)
  • Chocolate shavings

 

Method

Add a spoon of sugar and a drop of vanilla extract to your cream and whip until stiff. Take the nougat from the freezer and bash (in its packaging) into shards.

Fill the nests with the whipped cream sprinkle with the nougat shards, raspberries and quartered strawberries. Finally add a flourish of shaved chocolate and a little sprig of mint (or not).

 

Joyeuse Saint-Valentin,
Laura

The Most Beautiful Time of Year

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” Luke 2:10

What a beautiful message!

Gift giving, Christmas music, greeting cards, tree lights and decoration, advent calendars, garlands and wreaths, mistletoe and holly and finally the feasting, are all the hallmarks of the celebration of Christmas, and not to forget Santa Claus bringing gifts to the children.

Christmas is the perfect time to celebrate the love of God and family and to create memories that will last forever. It is a time to think of others and to give of yourself. As the year draws to an end there is the warmth and smell of summer in the air, the anticipation of the summer holidays and the excitement of Christmas just weeks away. The shops are looking festive and jolly. We think about our friends and loved ones, choose special gifts and prepare our homes for the big celebration.

 

Getting into the spirit of Christmas

I am never organized enough to make a Christmas cake in September, so I tend to cheat here and buy a fruit cake, douse it with brandy and decorate with fruit, nuts, holly and berries.

The Tree

It all seems to really start with the tree in my home, once up, and always in the same designated spot.  The Christmas music CD goes on full blast to get us in the spirit of things, the lights are tested and installed, then the famous red boxes are opened and the memories just flow! Each decoration is reminisced about, there are homemade ones, baby rattles, sparkly ones and lots and lots of the quintessential, but kitsch, tinsel. Even the furry children get involved and there are always a few decoration casualties to be had. We break for tea and mince pies and keep on going till there’s not an unadorned branch left on our tree. Finally we stand back and admire the beauty of it all.

Gold and more gold is the theme I have chosen this year, the “old gold” spray paint has worked wonders on many a tired old decoration.  Even last year’s giant wreath got a good spraying and it looks fantastic.  I love sparkle at Christmas time but inevitably the country girl in me always comes out.  I can’t help but tone it all down with Hessian bows, pine cones and other earthy textures.

I love to decorate almost anything that’s willing, it’s a time to have fun! It’s not permanent, just think of it as one long party.

The wreath

This iconic symbol of Christmas is one of my favourite and most meaningful decorations.  Make your own with the family or add your own personal touch to a store bought one.

The feast and table setting

This is central to the celebration (it is for everyone not just the children) whether you go the whole hog traditional fare or the South African braai with a cold salad buffet, the table decor and presentation of the delicious dishes is so important, such fun and most definitely makes the day.  It is, after all, a feast and the table should reflect that with embellishment on a grand scale with candles, flowers and crackers, just an all-out affair.

I do find it helps to have a theme to give a bit of direction, mine being gold this year, so again I will bring out the good old spray paint and give new life to some old friends, but also add some freshness in the form of new candles and flowers.  The boys love to get involved here and we do it in advance to enjoy the splendour of it for a day or two.

Everyone of us complains that we have eaten too much and feel quite stuffed, and that there is paper and mess everywhere.  But if we were asked, would we do without all the expenses, fuss, pomp and ceremony, the answer surely would be a definite no!

It’s warm and fuzzy and the best thing ever. I love and cherish what Christmas means to my family and friends.

I wish you too a warm and fuzzy Christmas!

Laura

The Art of Flower Arrangement

“I must have flowers always, always, always.” - Claude Monet

My sentiments exactly. I can’t really draw or paint to save my life, so thank heavens for flowers, I can create still life arrangements to my heart’s content.

My dream is to have a flower arranging room with deep basins and a wet area, a long work bench with all the necessary tools and paraphernalia as well as shelves full of containers of different shapes, sizes, textures and styles to use as vases - I shall dream on!

Anyway, even on a less grand scale we can have just as much fun and get really creative with mother nature. In our family I have two rather eager collectors of all things wild and natural.  We have bowls full to the brim of everything from fallen bird’s eggs, feathers, mosses and lichen, quills, shells, pods and cones; such a jumble of natural beauty but simply exquisite.

Just yesterday I came home from work and was sold a bagful of gnarly lemons by my two collectors.  In a bowl they are the perfect still life so I was happy to fork out the R28 they charged.

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of flower arranging, I am definitely of the opinion that here rules are meant to be broken, but having said that it does always help to have some guidelines to give you confidence in your arranging so that your creativity will flow. Here are some simple steps to follow:

Selection

Choose flowers that are in season - much like fruit and vegetables they are better and cheaper that way. Spring is a wonderful time for scented and colorful little beauties. Always check for freshness. Buy flowers that are still in bud or just about to open especially lilies and tulips.  For roses feel the base of the flower as it should be firm not soft and spongy.  I also check the state of the stems in the water they should fresh and clean. l to use scented flowers they are definitely natures greatest gift to us.

Greenery (hopefully from yours or your neighbours garden) will take your arrangements to the next level.

Once you have all the flowers and greenery select your vase which could be jugs, jars and bottles, tea cups or tea pots, wooden stumps camouflaged with moss, tins, wooden crates and test tubes be bold and creative.

Colours

I love the seasons to guide me, vibrant colours in spring, autumnal golds, rusts and saggy greens in autumn, whites in winter and fresh lavenders and blues in summer. Whether it’s a single colour and variety or a study of colour with a mixed variety such as blue hydrangea with agapanthus, delphiniums and larkspur or country mixes with many colours. There are so many ways to create wonderful effects.  Think out the box and blend vegetables (artichokes and cabbages for example) with flowers and different textured greenery as well as dried natural elements too.

 

Preparation

Prepare your flowers by stripping leaves and thorns from the stems, split the ends of any woody stems for greater absorption of water , place your stems in a bucket of cold water for about and hour before arranging, when you start your arrangement trim the stems at an angle for a greater surface area, add some bleach to the water especially if you are using a clear vase this keeps the water clear and kills any bacteria.

Pull off the pollen stamens on lilies to prevent any staining and allergic reactions.

Arranging

Build a foundation by using your strongest stems to provide a structure and to give you a guideline for the final size of the arrangement. For proportion sake the tallest stem shouldn’t be more than one and a half times the height of your vase.

Use stabilizers in your vases like spiked frogs or oasis if need be.  Keep turning your vase to judge size and shape from all angles.

Next, add your most prominent or feature flowers - lilies, roses, peonies, hydrangeas sunflowers, proteas, irises etc then fill the gaps with softer greenery and filler flowers As hard as it may be and I’m certainly not one to talk but know when to stop. Generally you should stop before you are actually finished.

There is a Monet in all of us!

Happy arranging!

Laura

Mattress Ticking – The striped fabric with a checkered past

This durable denim-like canvas twill has a 1000-year history.  “Theka” (ticking) is a Greek word meaning case or covering.  Ticking is synonymous with the first mattresses, covering straw or feathers beneath. Ticking fabrics were very tightly woven linen or cotton to prevent any quills from poking through. The textile was often waxed or starched to seal the fabric even more tightly.

True Blue

The most classic design and color is the blue and white woven stripe (not printed), but was also available in muted taupe’s, greens, black and occasionally reds or multi colored. The stripe pattern has varied designs from thick to very narrow stripes which is then repeated to form a pattern, or in its classic form, a very thin stripe.

Humble beginnings to high society

Ticking was not only used in the manufacturing of mattresses.  The tough fabric was also used for heavy duty aprons (for distillers, butchers etc.).  Even army tents where made of the same fabric.

Ticking was made fashionable in the 1940s by and American decorator, Sister Parish, who started using the humble fabric in combination with floral designs for her high society New York clients, even using it for upholstery. It was mainly being used for bedspreads and cafe curtains creating a homely look.

Although the classic ticking has been abandoned by the bedding manufacturers for the more luxurious look and feel of damasks, companies like Conran are thankfully bringing back mattresses in the blue striped cotton ticking.

The real thing

Using ticking was once a cheap way to create a great simple look.  One could use large volumes of it for full curtains and slip covers without breaking the bank. Now it seems that the cheap ticking is exactly that and is usually printed and rather too lightweight and not even pure cotton. Quality tickings are available from almost all our fabric houses in gorgeous muted colors and historical designs, and even if they are not inexpensive, they are worth every cent.

My love for ticking

Textiles in general are my thing, I simply cannot resist cloth of any sort be it a rustic piece of indigo dyed fabric to the delicate and intricate French floral, silk brocades and velvets, I can go on and on. But my greatest love is the simple ticking.

Oh what joy to find the vintage pieces of mattress ticking at brocantes in the south of France and at the Clignancourt market in Paris.

But my most memorable discovery felt as though I was entering the pages of my beloved Victoria magazine.  Armed with my copy, Alex and I went in search of the famous Mrs. Ticking, Elisabeth Behr of Bath, England, whilst sitting in a warm and cozy pub in Bath itself.  We plucked up the courage and gave Mrs. Behr a call and asked if she would see us, and to our utmost surprise and delight she was home and happy to meet us.  We headed off in search of her home where I discovered that she’s was not Mrs. ticking by accident!  The basement of her country home was a veritable treasure trove of French textiles - I wanted to weep with joy!   “Take your time,” she said and boy, we did, soaking it all in. I left this wonderland feeling transported, totally inspired and happily lugging my modest armful of ticking treasure.

 

Back home my precious bits of textile history where transformed into lavender bags, cushions, patched if need be in contrasting fabrics, appliqued hand towels and aprons: all pure delight in my opinion.

In store

At the moment we have ticking in many different shades: blue, black, green and a gorgeous rust. They are all woven canvas twills, which make them durable and robust. These have been made up into large comfy cushions. We also have ticking tea towels and other kitchen textiles in stock.

You’ve earned your stripes - so use them!

With warm wishes Laura

The Power of Fragrance

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

Since childhood I have been fascinated by the precious liquid in beautiful bottles that my mum carefully kept in the fridge (so that they wouldn’t spoil). So often taking off the lid to have an intoxicating whiff.

 

There is no doubt that I have a very strong sense of smell. I love being surrounded by beautiful fragrances and I am instantly transported by scents. I firmly believe that scents remain in our memories and can so often revive the past.

 

Now that spring has sprung the Jasmine is filling the garden and our home with the most exquisite, unadulterated floral scent. There is nothing quite as wondrous as taking in a deep breath of a bunch of beautiful sweat peas or freesias.

 

The Most Asked Question

We always get asked in the shops “what am I smelling?” The answer is not always as straightforward as we would think to it to be. The combination of scented products and of the different fragrances is where it comes from. This made me realize that fragrance layering is probably the best way to keep your own unique scent in your home that will give the desired effect and last longer. It seems that with home fragrance more is more!

How to Achieve Fragrance Layering

Firstly, there is your domestic scent signature, this comes from cleaning products, clothing detergents, linen sprays and so forth. These provide the base layer which is clean and fresh.

 The next layer would come from scented products of which our best example is the rose scented hearts. The rose is so floral and soft but not too sweet. Another example is the sachets which are wonderful for cupboards and drawers. Also, unlit scented candles give off a subtle fragrance.

 The third layer would come from air diffusers, a combination of scented oils and alcohol.  As the air evaporates the alcohol the fragrance is given off from the thin reads.

 The final layers are the boosts of fragrance that you will achieve by spraying room spray and or heat diffusing e.g., burning scented candles, using oil burners or the ultimate in home fragrance: The French Lamp Berge.

Fragrance Choice

Choosing fragrances can be a daunting task, especially as gifts. I do however believe that we can mix and match to achieve our own unique blend, and of course as the seasons change we desire different scents. I have found that we will always veer towards what we really like and what gives a us feeling of well-being and comfort.

The basic fragrance types might help you when asked what you like the most.

  • Floral - Romantic, light and a little sweet. Rose, jasmine, violet, lily, lavender, freesia for ladies and men will lean towards the alluring tones of orange blossom.
  • Oriental - These are the exotics, spices, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. They are warm, sensual and have depth.
  • Woody - These fragrances are largely favoured by men - warm and often musky at the core, examples are Sandalwood, oak wood, cedar, patchouli. Women tent to prefer these fragrances in winter.
  • Fresh - Citrus or green notes. Lemon, orange, bergamot, lemongrass or lemon verbena. These scents are uplifting and lovely in summer and spring.

Fragrance is powerful and even magical. It not only revives the past but also helps us enjoy the moment. As was once said, fragrance is a cocktail of memories and emotion.

 

Beautiful scents and Happy memories,

Laura