Friday, 11 April 2014

Win a copy of Inspire!!



EXCLUSIVE EASTER INSTAGRAM AND PINTEREST GIVEAWAY: WIN A COPY OF WILLOW CROSSLEY’S NEW BOOK AND A £50 VOUCHER TO SPEND ON HOMEWARE AT ALEXANDALEXA

APRIL 10, 2014
Willow Crossely comp
Earlier on this week, we posted some Easter table inspiration from blogger and interiors expert Willow Crossley. Read our interview with her here.  To celebrate the launch of her new book Inspire, we are giving you the chance to win a copy along with a £50 voucher to spend on homeware at AlexandAlexa!
All about bringing nature into your home, Willow’s new book shows you how to decorate the eco chic way, using “hedgerow finds, beachcombing bounty, and home-grown harvests”.
HOW TO ENTER
To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is follow us on Instagram or Pinterest and regram or repin our Willow Crossley competition post, with the caption @AlexandAlexacom.
MORE ABOUT THE PRIZEWillow Crossley’s second book, Inspire, is divided into five chapters on Woodland, Flora, Fauna, Beach and Edibles. Containing more than 50 innovative projects, the blogger and interiors expert shows you the easy way to bring the outside world indoors.
Inspire The Art of Living With Nature by Willow Crossley is published by CICO Books and is available from rylandpeters.com. You will also receive a £50 voucher to spend on full price items in our home category at AlexandAlexa.

Willow Crossley
Inspire The Art of Living With Nature by Willow Crossley
Willow Crossley
Inspire The Art of Living With Nature by Willow Crossley


Click here for more info 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

New Anthropologie Workshop Date

I'm very excited to be doing another workshop with Anthropologie next week.  This one is in the Regents Street store and there are some tickets left so if you are interested, please do get in touch.  Really hope to see you there! x








Monday, 7 April 2014

Easter Styling with Alex and Alexa


EASTER TABLE INSPIRATION: AN INTERVIEW WITH WILLOW CROSSLEY

APRIL 6, 2014
Willow Crossely
Blogger and interiors expert Willow Crossley lives in Oxfordshire with her husband Chaz and their two small cubs Rafferty and Wolf. With a background in design and a degree in fashion journalism at the London University of the Arts, she worked on magazines before moving to the south of France to live on a vineyard. She says “I’d left my job behind and so stared my online business and blog Willow Rose boutique from there.” To celebrate the launch of her new book ‘Inspire’, which is all about bringing nature into your home, we asked her to style an Easter table with our Hop & Peck Oak Bunny Ears Egg Cup.
We will be giving away a copy of Willow’s book, so watch the blog for more info. Scroll down to read our interview with her below and see her beautiful shoot.
Willow Crossely
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR EASTER TABLE SHOOT?The Hop & Peck wooden egg cups were my starting point and then I wanted to use my favourite blue and white speckled plates.  Keeping it tonal and seasonal I added a jug of hyacinths and pussy willow from the garden.  I’ve recently started drying hellebores heads instead of throwing them out when they’ve come to the end of their life and have scattered them all over the table.  They take a few days to dry and just look so beautiful.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR AMAZING BLOG?
Everywhere really.  I’m constantly on the look out.  Taking Wolf to school, in the supermarket, walking the dog, shopping, out to dinner.  I don’t limit myself to topics with my blog – If I think it’s interesting/beautiful/delicious and want to share it with people – I’ll post something about it.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK?
It was always a dream.  Both my mother and maternal Granny are/were writers so it felt almost like my path in life.  My lovely agent Clare saw my blog when I was living in France and said to my Mother that she could see a book out of it.  She obviously passed that on to me; we met, I went off and wrote a proposal, she took it to various publishers and then it went from there.
WERE YOU ARTISTIC WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
Not in a painting/drawing kind of way.  I’m more creative than artistic I think.  I’m obsessed with the way things look and am very particular – I spent my childhood rearranging my bedroom, making my brothers swap rooms with me so I could re-decorate theirs too.  I can vividly remember making a very detailed housing complex for some flies in my room one summer in an ice cream tub.  Lots of little compartments for their bedrooms, sitting rooms, bathrooms…
DO YOU LIKE CRAFTING WITH YOUR KIDS?
I love the idea of it but in reality they don’t have a lot of patience for it yet.  They prefer to play with the piles of glue rather than doing anything with it.  Although they love coming out hunting for feathers and stones with me and are always running in from the garden with treasures “for your work Mummy”.
Willow Crossely
HOW WILL YOU BE CELEBRATING EASTER AS A FAMILY?
An Easter egg hunt.  I still completely love them and get so excited seeing a glimpse of a crème egg peeking out from underneath a bush somewhere! And a huge Sunday lunch at home.  The table will have a warren of baby gold Lindtt bunnies scattered all over it as always.
AND LASTLY, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE BIGGEST FLORAL TRENDS WILL BE THIS YEAR?
I’m afraid I’m not great on floral trends – I know what I do and don’t like and go from there really.  I’m very anti tight, formal bunches of flowers and much prefer the loose, relaxed, wild feel.  Saying that, launching my new book in Anthropologie I created a woodland scene using plants potted in cabbages.  I took red, white and savoy cabbages and planted a mix of cowslips, pansies, violas and muscari in them.  They were then nestled in among big branches I’d found in the woods and buckets of moss.  So maybe using vegetables and flowers together could be my new trend!?
With thanks to Willow Crossley, visit her blog Willow Rose boutique.
Inspire The Art of Living With Nature by Willow Crossley is published by CICO Books and is available from rylandpeters.com

Friday, 4 April 2014

Magical String Gardens



I am completely and utterly obsessed with my new find.  Originally from Japan where they are called Kokedamas, they're more commonly known here as string gardens - basically giant hanging floral, moss covered pompoms.

They are much easier to make than they look and I've found a great DIY on Design Sponge which shows you how to make them, step by step.    









That's this weekend's activities taken care of...



Thursday, 3 April 2014

Not Another Pigeon


My amazing brother Ned, of Not Another Bill making headlines today...


Businessman hires pigeons to deliver goods after huge Royal Mail price jumps

A FRUSTRATED businessman who runs a mail order service has decided to boycott Royal Mail services and set up a team of carrier pigeons to deliver his goods.


pigeon, oxford, ned, alreadyLETS FLY: Ned has sent some pigeons to Oxford already [NATIONAL NEWS AND PICTURES]
Ned Corbett-Winder, 29, said his small business now cannot afford to use the regular parcel service and is now testing the new animal-based technique to save money.
The owner of NotAnotherBill.com said he is standing up for the little guys and is not willing to pay the hiked prices.
He said: "Businesses like mine rely on Royal Mail and we're at the mercy of these price hikes.
"The latest price increase will cost my business around £2,500 over the course of a year which for a small business is a huge amount of money.
"Government is supposed to be supporting small businesses but this move flies in the face of that support and I fear that with the privatisation of the Royal Mail price increases like this are going to become a regular occurrence."
sent, some, pigeons, oxfordSMART: Ned is hoping to save thousands by using the pigeons [NATIONAL NEWS AND PICTURES]
“”
New Royal Mail prices came in to effect on Monday.
First class stamps increased by 2p to 62p and second class now start at 53p rather than 50p.
In 2012, a first class stamp cost 46p, a third less than what it is now.
Ned has taken on his new pigeon delivery service by setting up a flying route from his home in Acton, west London to a destination 59 miles away in Oxford.
The homing birds, which were used largely throughout the first and second world war, have been used throughout history to transport messages.
birds, set, testPIGEONS: The birds are all set up to test new routes [NATIONAL NEWS AND PICTURES]
He is now testing if the pigeons would really be reliable enough to deliver letters on a regular basis.
Ned said: "People always joke that if their parcel is late it would have been quicker sending it by carrier pigeon. Well I'm testing the theory out."
By placing food at the location, the birds have so far back and forth travelled twice a day.
They could carry parcels up to 75g with the journey taking just over an hour to get there with the birds flying over 50mph.
After Royal Mail was sold in October last year, many are saying the organisation was undervalued and taxpayers have not received enough in return.


Monday, 31 March 2014

Pick n Mix for Grown Ups




Over head lighting is the one thing that I have paid absolutely no attention to in doing up the house.  I've no idea why as I love lamps and their shades so much I practically collect them.  Embarrassingly, I think it's because subconsciously, I know I can't do all the rewiring they need into the ceiling and I'm too impatient to get someone to come and do it for me.
However, I've now discovered Rothschild and Bickers and think it's time to man up.  One of the last glassworkers in the UK, they have the most beautiful collection of hand blown, jewel coloured creations of all time.  And the best thing about it is that you can design your own creation by picking and mixing your own glass colour, metal fixings, bulb, pendant shape and even the flex too.  Pick n mix for grownups.















Saturday, 29 March 2014

Molly Mahon


The house is basically finished but I can't stop hunting for new fabrics and wallpapers. I would love nothing more that to be able to re-wallpaper the whole house every few months.  Especially now that I've come accross Molly Mahon.  



Molly By Design is a small Sussex based company, set up by Molly Mahon and specialises in creating 'hand carved, hand printed, whimsical designs'.  The designs for her wallpapers, fabrics, cushions, stationary and lampshades are all inspired by her love of colour and the beauty of England.  And are all absolutely divine.  I am block printing's biggest fan anyway but  Molly's original designs and in bright, bright colours are something I haven't come across before and am desperately trying to work out how to wangle them into my home.  I'm thinking of re-upholstering my sofa in her khaki starry skies or going bold with a fuchsia Leaf and Wiggle...


Chair covered in Coffee Bean


Spot and Star wallpaper

Coffee Bean


Leaf


Starry Skies



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Cool as a Cauliflower





I've been getting more adventurous in the kitchen over the last few weeks.  Nothing especially fancy or difficult - just quite different for us.  Chaz is getting braver in the 'lesbian food' department and I'm taking full advantage.  We'd fallen into a habit of eating roast chicken for every other meal and I wanted to branch out and try something new before we completely od'd and never want to look at one ever again.







So, out came Jerusalem - the latest in my Ottolenghi library - and a load of cauliflowers.  I wasn't aware of just how good cauliflowers are for us - apparently they're the most super of all the supers. Cancer fighting, anti oxidising, digestion helping, I could go on. Better than a blueberry dare I suggest.  Roasted in the oven too, they are incredibly delicious.  Not remotely related to the watery, bland, stinky way we ate them at school.  The creation I want to share is one from said book but I didn't have all the ingredients so adapted it and it was still a sensation. I now make it as I did the first time.   I used toasted pine nuts in the place of the hazelnuts and my dressing is a more simple concoction of olive oil, lemon, maple syrup and salt and pepper.  


Here is the proper Ottolenghi recipe.


Roast Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad
1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets (660g) 

3 tbsp olive oil 
Salt and black pepper 
30g hazelnuts
1 large stick of celery, cut on an angle into ½cm slices (70g) 
10g small flat-leaf parsley leaves
50g pomegranate seeds 
¼ tsp ground cinnamon 
¼ tsp ground allspice 
2 tsp sherry vinegar 
1 tsp maple syrup
Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.


Roast the cauliflower by placing it on a parchment lined backing sheet, drizzle with 1-3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss it together with some salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until parts of it are turning golden brown. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool down.
Decrease the oven temperature to 325 F. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I used the same one as the cauliflower, just switched the paper) and roast for 17 minutes (although depending on your oven, I suggest watching these closely, mine were burnt at 17 minutes, and I took my second try out around 10 minutes).
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.
Allow the nuts to cool a little, then coarsely chop them and add to the cauliflower, along with the pomegranate seeds, celery, parsley, and the dressing. Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Inspire in English Abode



INSPIRE: THE ART OF LIVING WITH NATURE



Willow Crossley describes herself as ‘neither a florist nor an interior designer. I am just flower mad with a serious passion for decorating.’ Having worked with her once upon a time I can attest to this; I don’t think that there were any phones or staplers left in the office that had not been  ‘Willow-ed’. But, given ingredients beyond office supplies (the fact that they were Vogue Russia office supplies didn’t make them any more glamorous – that is until Willow got her hands on them) and time and opportunity, Willow creates objects of beauty out of everything and anything. 

Nature has been a lifelong passion; from an early age she picked flowers and pressed flowers to decorate her bedroom, and “when I made a den with my brothers, I insisted on being chief decorator.” This book is divided into five sections: Woodland, Flora, Fauna, Beach and Edibles, and between them she shows us the art of effortless-looking flower arrangements, how to make acorn napkin rings (my children will love that one), quails’ egg baubles (perfect for Easter), sea urchin candle sticks and salt and pepper pots . . . her talents are endless, and very inspiring. 
Wayward Tulips:

 

Ingredients
Branches of budding beech (Fagus) trees
Blossoming hawthorne (Crataegus)
Vintage white porcelain pitcher
Viburnam tinus
Red and yellow bicoloured parrot tulips
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum x hybridum) in muted colours

1. Arrange the branches of beech and hawthorn in the pitcher first, to create a base shape.
2. Add the viburnum, tulips and Solomon’s seal.
3. Stand back from the pitcher to see if the display can be improved and move the display accordingly.

Primroses for Tea

 

Ingredients
Gravel or wood chips
Pretty china bowl and cup with saucer
2 primrose (Primula vulgaris) plants
Potting compost
Sphagnum moss

1. Put a ½ in (1 cm) layer of gravel or wood chips at the bottom of the bowl or cup.
2. Position the primrose plants in the centre and fill in any gaps with potting compost.
3. Decorate the top of the potting compost with pieces of sphagnum moss, and water well.

Hydrangea Pom Pom

 

Ingredients
Fishing wire or ribbon
12 inch (30cm) diameter ball of florists’ foam
Thumbtacks (drawing pins)
4 dried hydrangea heads
Small scissors

1. Tie the fishing wife around the middle of the ball of florists’ foam, leaving two long ends.
2. Secure the wire in place with thumbtacks (drawing pins). I used about eight, to be sure it would hold.
3. Knot the two ends of the wire together.
4. Break off small florets from the dried hydrangea heads, making sure that their stems are strong enough to pierce the foam ball.
5. Start inserting the florets into the ball, keeping them all very close together to hide the foam beneath. When this starts to get a bit fiddly, you will find that pushing them in with a pair of small scissors is much more effective than using clumsy fingers.
6. Continue until the whole ball is covered. Hang it from the knotted wire in a place where it can be admired and enjoyed.

 


Inspire The Art of Living With Nature by Willow Crossley is published by CICO Books and is available from

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Inspire Launch at Anthropologie


I had the best time launching my new book in Anthropologie last week.  The whole day was spent in the store preparing for the workshop I was doing in the afternoon and party in the evening.  I'd been potting cabbages with spring flowers all week and then the wonderful Tom and I - head of visual merchandising for their Kings Road store - got to work on our transformations, turning our area into a magical woodland.  I used red, white and savoy cabbages and filled them with pansies, cowslips, old fashioned primulas and grape hyacinths.  They were then nestled in among moss covered branches and logs and ended up looking like something from A Midsummer Night's Dream.




Delicious organic nibbles from Daylesford

 Chaz and I




 Sarah Corbett Winder, India Langton and Chloe Delevingne


 Chaz, Charles Delevingne and Numa Heathcote



 Me and Ari Dunn

 Alice Naylor Leyland and Ellie Shepherd




Sacha Forbes, Jules Konig and Chloe Delevingne



To buy Inspire, click here