Saturday, 20 December 2014

December Florals

I feel I should apologise for my absence.

I haven't posted anything for far too long - as much as I've wanted to do - I'd been compiling the Christmas wish list for months - I just haven't had a second to do it.  Plus, country living has rendered us without phone lines and internet for weeks.  So it's not entirely my fault.  I thought I'd share my photo album for the last month showing what I've been up to so to prove I haven't been just sitting around slacking, getting fatter.  On that note, I can't quite believe just how soon the third small person will be here.  This weekend is going to spent organising/buying sterilisers/washing tiny baby grows.

Doing a Christmasy shoot with Jo Malone London in their London townhouse.

A 60th Lunch in a London restaurant.

A woodland, winter wonderland 40th Birthday party.

A Christmas breakfast for Jo Malone London.

A christmas lunch at Daylesford Organic.

A Christmas dinner at a client's house.

A christening at Blenheim Palace.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas with Jo Malone

I was completely overjoyed when one of my all time fave brands,Jo Malone London, approached me suggesting we collaborate on Christmas decorating a few months ago.

They chose four of their fragrances and my job was to come up with ideas of how to decorate their London town house for Christmas, incorporating these scents.

The first one was Pine and Eucalyptus and I created a very simple but high-impact mantle piece.  Lots of recycled glass bottles, green and painted gold eucalyptus and dark red hydrangeas.  So easy to recreate at home. 


Pine & Eucalyptus Candles
11 different sized, large, recycled green glass bottles
2 big bags of fir cones
20 stems of dark red hydrangeas
3 bunches of eucalyptus cinerea
2 bunches of long stemmed eucalyptus robusta
1 bunch of gold-sprayed eucalyptus populus with berries
A box of dried lichen
Gardening secateurs
Florist wire

To make the garland

Measure out how long you want the garland to be. Add an extra 20 cm on each end to use as hanging loops. Lay the eucalyptus out along the ribbon, like a long, fat sausage. 

Hold onto the reel wire tightly and starting at one end, carefully wrap it up and around the foliage and ribbon to bind them together. Secure the wire at the other end.

Hang the garland. Next feed in the hydrangea and golden berried eucalyptus wherever you want. It’s a matter of personal taste so keep adding foliage until you achieve your desired size and then add flowers.

For the mantle piece

Very, very simple – arrange the glass bottles along the fireplace, mixing up the sizes. Fill the outer bottles with the tallest stems of the eucalyptus robusta, and then fill the inner bottles with the shorter stems of the eucalyptus cinerea.

When you’re happy with how they all look, add in lots of different sized Pine & Eucalyptus candles among the bottles. Finally, scatter the fir cones and dried lichen along the ledge.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Pook me up

I haven't been this excited about an interiors find for a long, long time.  My discovery is called 'Pooky'.  A UK based, online treasure trove selling beautiful, original, decorative lighting.  The site is brilliantly designed, easy to navigate and sells the most exquisite lamps and lampshades that don't cost a million pounds.  I've never understood why lighting costs so much.   But it's just one of those things that I've learnt to accept.   Along with chairs, lighting just is expensive.  Until now.  

50cm gold hand blocked shade £70

Blue resin lamp base £100
Pink hand blocked shade £54

The silk ikat lampshades have gone straight to the top of my Christmas wish list.  Along with the blue resin bases and navy silk shades. 

Green glass base with the multicoloured silk ikat vision

 Loving the pineapple-esque base

The even better news is that I've sweet talked them into giving you a magic, festive discount.  It's only going to work until  December 7th. So get your skates on.  And please leave some of the ikats for me.

To shop for one of these sensations go to and remember to add
WILLOWPOOKY for your magic code

Monday, 10 November 2014

Preen Line S/S15

As much as I'm completely over-excited about Christmas, 45 days to go in case you were wondering; I'm already thinking about Spring.  Mostly because I'll no longer be the size of a small island but also because we'll be able to get our hands on Preen Line's new collection.  A complete vision of miss-matched Moroccan tile prints and colours. Heaven in a midi dress. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Happy Halloween

The Cubs have had a thing for pumpkins for as long as I can remember.  No idea why, but the bigger and the more orange they are, the better.   In a dream world they would fill the house with them all year round.  
This year, to my absolute joy, they announced orange was out and they would like green ones instead.  Imagine my joy! The rejoicing was short lived however when I was informed it was due to them all being transformed into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Lit up with neon, oh so tasteful, glow sticks. Not then, for the rather chic table display I was already envisaging.

These photos are taken from my book, Inspire, which I thought I'd share in case you have an overload of pumpkins that you don't know what do to with. Don't throw them away just yet - get out some paint and get crafty.  If you want an extra sparkle, sprinkle over some extra fine glitter when the paint's still wet.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Skincare Miracle

Someone up there absolutely does not want me to sleep at the moment.  If it's not the smallest Cub or DC (Devil Child) as he's now known, screaming at me five times a night, it's Alice the small dog  being sick or barking at imaginary intruders at the end of my bed.  Yesterday, it was a wasp.  In my bed, under the duvet, stinging me.  At 5am.  In the winter.  A wasp.  What have I have done to deserve this continuous torture I'm not sure.  But to whom I've upset, I am truly sorry and repent of all my sins.  

So, naturally it goes without saying that I'm looking pretty ropey.  Very pregnant - or just very fat if you ask the Cubs  - and very sleep deprived.   And it's October.  No one looks good in October.  Too much drizzle and too many hot to cold temperature changes.  The perfect recipe for skincare disaster if there ever was one. 

But, there is always a silver lining and this time it comes in the form of a small brown tube.  Inside this tube is a miraculous 10-in-1 beauty balm. (Talk about multi-tasking). It's a super-charged BB cream that in one fell swoop illuminates, protects, anti-ages, smoothes and basically, just makes you a lot prettier.  As well as the immediate effect though it has also seemingly improved the general state of my skin after only about a week of using it.  Definitely my new hero product. I'm already doing that slightly crazed thing of worrying about what  I'll do in the case of it being discontinued...

Monday, 6 October 2014

Heading for Hibernation

I'm secretly quite thrilled that it's getting all cold and wintry.  All I really want to do right now is hibernate.  I'm getting bigger by the day and I want to hide away, wrapped up warm, eating a lot of really-bad-for-you comfort food.  Thank God for Jamie Oliver.  He's just brought out a new and very wondrous book called 'Comfort Food'.  The clue to the contents is in the title. Inside there are pages and pages of the most comforting, slightly lard-infused yet delicious looking creations that I  cannot wait to start making.  I'm most looking forward to the 'Lobster Mac and Cheese'.  Being pregnant though, I'm not supposed to be eating shellfish and at 895 calories per serving it's probably not a bad thing.  So for now, it's sadly going to have to wait.

But what I can eat however, is cake.  And this Chocolate Celebration Cake is where I'm going to start with my new hibernating lifestyle. I'm celebrating my hibernation.

For the sponge:
250 g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
150 g quality dark chocolate (70%)
2 tablespoons olive oil
300 g caster sugar
6 large free-range eggs
150 g self-raising flour
4 tablespoons quality cocoa powder

For the chocolate rice layer:
300 g quality dark chocolate (70%), plus extra to serve
1 large knob of butter
1 splash of double cream
100 g puffed rice cereal

For the nougat frosting:
2 large free-range egg whites
3 tablespoons runny honey
200 g caster sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange blossom , or rose water, or natural pink food colouring (all optional)

"Every household needs a blooming good chocolate cake in their repertoire, whether it's just for the hell of maintaining your chocolate quota or, of course, for those special occasions where you need a freshly baked cake, or need to arrive somewhere with a showstopper in hand. Regardless, this chocolate celebration cake will reset everyone's expectations of what a chocolate cake should be – it's delicious, it has incredible texture, it looks absolutely amazing, and it's a pleasure to make and watch people enjoying.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Grease a deep 23cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base and sides with a double layer of greaseproof paper. 
For the sponge, smash up the chocolate and melt in a large heatproof bowl with the butter, oil and sugar over a pan of gently simmering water until smooth and glossy. 
Remove the bowl from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes, then, using an electric hand whisk at high speed, one-by-one beat in the eggs until combined. 
Sift in the flour and cocoa with a good pinch of sea salt and beat for a short while until just combined. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for around 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out ever so slightly gooey (the top of the cake will rise up and crack slightly, but don't worry, it'll end up covered by all your lovely toppings). 

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place on a cake stand, use a long knife to carefully slice the sponge into 3 equal rounds and remove the top two sponges to separate plates.  

For your mega-crispy chocolatey rice layer, smash up the chocolate and melt with the butter and cream in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until smooth and glossy. 
Leave to cool for 5 minutes (to avoid soggy cereal!), then stir in the puffed rice until evenly coated. Divide the mixture onto the 3 cooled sponge layers and spread out evenly across the tops, going right to the edges.

To make the nougat frosting, place the egg whites in a heatproof bowl with the honey, sugar, cream of tartar, a good pinch of salt and a splash of water. 
Place over a pan of gently simmering water, turn up the heat and, with an electric hand whisk, beat for 6 to 7 minutes or until it starts to form peaks. 
Remove the bowl from the heat, add the vanilla extract, orange blossom or rose water and a dot of food colouring (if using), then carry on beating the mixture until thick. Leave to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then evenly top each sponge and stack them up nicely. 
To finish the cake off, use a large knife to shave some extra chocolate, then sprinkle it over the top (scroll down for a video to show you how to do this). 
Add your candles or sparklers, get them lit and indulge in chocolate celebration cake heaven."

For more info and to watch video tutorials on how to to the tricky bits have a look here.