Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Hanging pictures

I've been faffing around today in between attending tea parties in the garden hosted by my 2 year old!

My faffing involved hanging a few pictures, re-hanging a few and ditching a few. I'm afraid, along with symmetry, it's a bit of an obsession with me. Now, I am by no means an expert at hanging pictures and arguably there is no right or wrong way to hang things on the wall..only the position or way that pleases you, the hanger!

On the subject of hung/hanged....this is another of my rather irritating pet hates (along with the frequent misuse/over use of apostrophes whenever a word ends with an 's' ! Menus and cafe signs being the biggest culprits!) A picture is hung....a person is hanged.

Anyway. I digress.

A general rule of thumb is that pictures, or any wall hangings of any kind, should be hung at eye level. The centre of the picture being around 5'7"....the average human eye height, apparently.

If you are hanging pictures above furniture, then you should leave around 5-7" between the bottom of the frame and the top edge of the furniture.

These are merely guidelines. I live in an old house with beams and sloping ceilings and relatively few straight walls. I don't ever measure when I hang pictures, much to my husbands annoyance. Everything is done by eye. Needless to say, a few pictures in our house hide a multitude of failed attempts! I do think though, that sticking to the eye level rule is a good start and does work in most cases.

I also think pictures look great, as do mirrors, leaning against walls on the floor.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Real or a deal.

A friend recently asked me to suggest anywhere she might look for kitchen accessories as she was giving her kitchen a little makeover. Living in a period property, she wanted to stick to the country theme....or, as she requested, maybe a little bit of unashamed chintz!

Cath Kidston £12 for 2

Cath Kidston £12 for 2

Dotty Brown £9.99 for 2

Dotty Brown £9.99 for 2

Tea towels was the starting point. The obvious choice would have been Cath Kidston. Nothing new there though really, so I suggested Dotty Brown. Same sort of thing. Slightly more choice, slightly cheaper. Or......

My choice. Sainsbury's....£5 for 3! Bargain! If a little bit of chintz takes your fancy then these hit the spot. A little too much in my kitchen (don't want a floral/spotty theme park!) as a trio but quite pretty all the same.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Apple Tree Gift Shop and Tea House.

I had to laugh this morning. My husband works for a (the) major Communications/Telcomms provider in the UK who shall remain nameless! He read a directive out to me this morning concerning, amongst other things, 'the unsuitability of flip flops as workplace footwear' and 'guidance on how to use your handbrake..'! It must be comforting to all you end users out there to know that, despite any issues you may have with your phones or computers, that these burning issues are being dealt with!!!

Anyway. On to the delights of my village!


Ockbrook. A picturesque ancient village situated some 5 miles to the East of Derby, steeped in history. Boasting lovely local walks, pretty architecture of historical interest and importance and one of only three remaining Moravian Settlements in the UK, Ockbrook is most definitely a place to circle on your map!

Another great reason to drive this way is to sample the delights of The Apple Tree Gift Shop and Tea House. Situated in the centre of the village, The Apple Tree is a veritable feast of goodies – beautiful, unique gifts, cards, refreshments and a choice of mouth-watering cakes in very welcoming surroundings.

The Apple Tree (on moving to Ockbrook, Lucy says she had never seen so many apple trees in just about every garden as is found in this village…hence the name!) is owned and run by a local lady, Lucy Cassar. Lucy’s passion for all things creative, fashion and interiors as well as a background in Sales and Marketing were what inspired her to start her own business. With 2 young children and a hard working husband with his own business, Lucy felt strongly that she wanted to focus some of her energy into growing her own business and glad we are that she did!  

The ethos behind The Apple Tree is very much supporting local craftsmen and women wherever possible. Lucy works hard sourcing unique pieces whether that is locally sourced, handmade candles or beautiful pieces of (one off) handmade jewellery alongside the more well-known suppliers of home ware such as East of India. The attention to detail in sourcing stock is evident from the moment you walk through the door.

My eyes were drawn (and I may have to direct my husband’s eyes…) to the jewellery case.  Beautiful pieces, all hand made by Derbyshire jewellers – Anney Grace, Kate Rodgers, Kate Hamilton-Hunter and my choice (hubby!), exquisite silver jewellery by Sarah Stevens of Mickleover made from vintage silver tea spoons, coffee stirrers etc. I love the idea that each 
piece probably has a story behind it. Priced between £36 and £44 any of these pieces would make the most thoughtful, perfect gift, knowing that each one is unique.

Sarah Stevens jewellery

And I haven’t even started on the cakes yet!
I like the fact that the coffee and cake eating tables are in the heart of the shop. There isn’t that awkwardness you sometimes feel when entering an interiors/gift shop and there are only one or two other people in there, plus the assistant/owner watching you like a hawk to see if your browsing converts into an actual purchase! There is something very comforting and instantly relaxing about walking into a shop already bustling with people sitting drinking tea, eating cake and chatting. Another big tick in the box!

So, my urge to you is to make a beeline to the Apple Tree in Ockbrook. If you don’t live near enough, have a look at the website. Though there is no online purchasing facility at present (coming soon!) if you are on the hunt for something special or want to know if something is stocked or you would like something stocked or you need some gift ideas  then Lucy is more than happy to take your call. 

Contact details 
The Apple Tree Gift Shop and Tea House
6 Flood Street
DE72 3RF
Tel: 01332 987001

Monday, 9 July 2012

Sweets or chocolates...please!

The end of term is upon us. Sports days are out of the way...either completed or cancelled! Reports have been issued and it is that time of year when you decide whether or not to reward/thank the teacher with a small gift!

If it were down to the children, I expect most would lavish their teachers with the variety of 'decorative' hanging objects out there with 'best teacher' or 'no.1 teacher' or whatever etched across them. Lovely....but totally useless as gifts go!

Now, I speak from some experience in this department as the child of a former Teacher and a Head Teacher.

The end of term was always quite exciting for me as a small child. Almost like an extra Christmas as I used to help my parents open their end of term pressies. Whilst they were very much appreciated by my parents, quite a few of them ended up in my dolls house or at a bring and buy sale or similar. (Obviously with the latter..with enough of a time delay that no parent would recognise their gift on sale!) We would scoff the chocs and we kids would hoard the trinkets.

Now I am the parent buying for the teachers with my two children. Whilst I very much appreciate the support and hard work of my children's teachers, I am not willing to spend more than a couple of pounds on end of term gifts. The children are moving up a class....it's not like it will have any positive influence on their marks or report!! Too late by then! 

Retailers don't half make the most of this time of year though.

I thought I would post a couple of ideas for under £5 and over....but not much over!

I have bought these napkins above for my son's teachers. The cost between £2 and £3. I don't know about you, but I'd be happy receiving them...particularly with summer holidays round the corner (??). The butterfly notebook for a retiring teacher is another choice. Under £6 and again, pretty and the sort of thing that has some practical use.

I had a little look online and picked out the following:

The above gifts are from the East of India company. The 'Thank you' candle is £6.99, the shopping list pad £4.99 and the book mark, which I quite liked is £2.50. All 3 are pretty but practical. The mug is £4.75. All of these are available on Amazon.

Here's a good insider tip for you. If your children's teachers have children of their own......just buy them a box of chocolates...or biscuits....or sweets! Rest assured.....they will be very much appreciated!!! 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Bread of Heaven!

I've been very lazy over the past few weeks...in terms of posting. The truth is, I haven't picked up a paint brush or indulged in any interior purchases, re-arrangements or investigations of any kind. The closest I got to anything remotely 'interiorsy' was a recent camping trip to the Cotswolds with friends. I thought that may be stretching things somewhat!

 I've also been enjoying Wimbledon, not least of all watching my tennis playing fantasy husband, Roger Federer, taking the title again, despite his dodgy RF cardigans! (My real husband is fine with my extra-marital relationship with Rog....infact he positively encourages it based on the fact that if Rog does ever leave Mirka for me, that current hub should benefit from a nice settlement! The old romantic!)

Our house is having a breather whilst I take stock and decide 'should we move?' Or 'should we stay and carry on playing around with what we've got every now and then?' It's a tough one.

In the meantime, please stick with my as I may post on the odd random subject every now and again.

My most recent purchase, and my new best friend, is a bread maker. Now, I have had a range of reactions to this purchase. Some question whether it will ever see the light of day again after the novelty has worn off! Fair comment. I confess to a similar experience with a smoothie maker, which has gone into permanent hiding. I fell at the first hurdle with that one. Peel the fruit? What? Me? I don't think so!

Others praise the invention and say they rarely buy bread from the supermarket as the 'home made' bread is so much better.

Well. I have to say, so far, I am a convert and a worshipper of my new toy. I have made numerous loaves since its arrival and they have all turned out pretty well! Now I have mastered the white and brown loaf I am going to try the more adventurous recipes. All exciting stuff, I know!

So. For anyone in two minds. Go for it, I'd say. We bought the Panasonic SD-2500 and so far, so good. The down side is, if not careful, I will be 115 stone in a few weeks!