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DIY: how to make a spring flower crown

20 Mar

How to make a spring flower crown - step by step at Decorator's Notebook

Celebrate spring by making a pretty flower crown - step by step at Decorator's Notebook blog

Flower crown DIY - Decorator's Notebook blog

Make a flower crown with wild flowers - Decorator's Notebook

Wildflower headpiece - tutorial at Decorator's Notebook blog

Simple garden flower crown - DIY - Decorator's Notebook blog

It all started with a Friday afternoon twitter chat. You know the sort: when everyone’s an hour or so away from pouring their first G&T and avoiding the last few tasks they should be finishing for the week.

The conversation turned to having pictures of ourselves on our blogs. If you’ve been reading for a while, you might know that I wrote Decorator’s Notebook anonymously for the first two years, without my name, let alone with a mug shot looking out top right. There was some discussion around how posting a ‘blogger’s selfie’ can feel like a horribly awkward and self-conscious thing to do. But for me, it was actually one of the most important moments for me and my blog. Until I ‘came out’ I didn’t realise how detached I’d felt from the blogging community and how much I’d been holding back for years. The second I posted a photo of myself and wrote a proper ‘about me’ was the moment Decorator’s Notebook actually felt like mine.

One of the blogger profile pictures I like best in all the world is Michelle’s – go and check it out and see how the idea for #primaveracrowns was born! So, here’s my contribution… a simple garland of flowers from my Mum’s garden to celebrate the start of spring. Is anyone joining us? You know what, it doesn’t really matter. Because this is me, wearing my crown, on my blog. And I’m proud and happy to be here.

How to make a spring flower crown from garden flowers - DIY - Decorator's Notebook blog

DIY - how to make a spring flower crown - step by step at Decorator's Notebook blog

HOW TO MAKE A SPRING FLOWER CROWN

1 | Gather your supplies: thick wire (the rubber coated sort used for garden ties works well), some thin beading wire, secateurs and a selection of freshly-cut flowers and foliage. I used rosemary, hellebores, cherry blossom, primroses and grape hyacinths.

2 | Twist the thick wire into a circle just a little larger than you want it to be once it’s on your head – the finished crown will fit a little more snuggly once it’s filled out with flowers.

3 | Start by covering the wire with foliage. Something quite dense that comes in long stems will make this easier. Tuck the end into one of the twists in your wire then gently wrap the stems around, securing it every now and then with beading wire.

4 | This is where you want to end up – an evenly covered base on which to build. Now the fun begins!

5 | Add your flowers, starting with the bigger ones. Hold the stems in place with one hand while you secure them with beading wire with the other. If you want to get all florist-y about it you could use special wire and tape (see how here) but I find my way a lot less faff! How you position the flowers is completely up to you… I went for even spacing all the way around but something asymetric can look wonderful too. Head to my flower crown inspiration board for lots of ideas.

6 | Once your big blooms are spaced as you’d like, add in the smaller ones using the same technique, filling any gappy bits as you go.

An important note: soft-stemmed wild or garden flowers like these don’t like being out of water for long, so you’ll need to make your crown soon before you want to wear it or it will look wilted and sad! For a longer-lasting flower crown, choose blooms with woody stems like roses and eucalyptus – these will last overnight if spritzed with water and stored in a plastic bag in the fridge.

If you’ve made a flower crown with Michelle and I, please post your photos to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using #primaveracrowns and add your link below. We can’t wait to see them!


Spring flower crown DIY by Decorator's Notebook blog

{Photographs and tutorial all © Decorator’s Notebook – you are welcome to share but please do not re-post the entire tutorial and always link with love!}

15-minute make: autumn wreath DIY

21 Oct

Autumn is the most beautiful and intriguing time to live in the countryside. It’s when I get my strongest cavegirl tendencies and I love gathering nuts, berries and mushrooms to cook and preserve. Inspired by the return of Nature in the Home this week I decided to get crafty with my autumn gatherings (instead of eating them!) and make something pretty to bring indoors.

autumn wreath DIY

1) Start off by making a base for your wreath. I took advantage of the heap of prunings in the garden and grabbed a handful of spiraea but there’s no science to this and any slim, flexible stems will do. Take a small bunch in your hands and bend them round into a ring, twisting the stems together as you do. At the top of your circle, cross the tops over and wind the loose ends back around the ring to create a basic wreath. Tuck in any escaped twigs. I left on some of the fresh leaves but snip them off if you want a longer-lasting decoration.

how to make a wreath at home

2) Get out and about and gather up some interesting autumn bits to decorate your wreath. Even if you live in the city you should be able to collect plenty of colourful leaves, pinecones and feathers in your local park.

autumn collection of natural objects

3) It’s completely freestyle from now on! The basic wreath can be adapted using whatever natural ingredients you can find. I set out to try and make this wreath with only natural elements (no wire or glue) as I always find it inhibitive to have to assemble materials before I get started. Instead, use the twisted stems of you wreath to weave in the decorations – there should be spots all around where you can tuck them in tightly.

fall wreath DIY

{Project and photos all Decorator’s Notebook blog}

That’s it! The best thing about this project is that each and every wreath is going to be different and the basic idea will work just as well in other seasons. Make your own Christmas wreath for the holidays by adding fircones, evergreen foliage and red berries or an easter wreath with lots of feathers and blossom. Mine hasn’t completely dried out yet, but I can’t see any reason why the twiggy wreath base wouldn’t last and be reusable again and again.

Foraging, fungi and the fear that followed

14 Oct

Last year, my friend Emma and I went on an utterly unsuccessful mushroom foray on Wimbledon Common. This weekend she came to visit me in my new Somerset home and look what we found!

foraged mushrooms

foraged penny bun mushrooms or ceps

Now, it is a little known fact that my first ever published feature as a keen young journalist was on the subject of wild mushrooms. A slightly dangerous subject for a completely unqualified English graduate you might think, but on the plus side, I was dedicated enough back then to actually do some proper research and ended up gleaning some basic mycological knowledge in the process. So when I saw those little brown domes poking out amongst the fallen beech leaves, I was 95% confident I had discovered the great delicacy that is the Penny Bun, also known as ‘ceps’ en Français.

Despite being faced with deep suspicion, after a quick google and creating an insurance policy on instagram I decided to brave it. I call it ‘Cep Surprise’…

wild foraged mushrooms on toast

Knock me down with a fungus, they were blooming delicious. Ok, I have to admit that I spent the rest of the afternoon slightly worried, but can confidently report I am still alive and well.

I reckon I’m on a bit of a roll with this foraging lark… look what I discovered walking the dog today:

field mushroom growing

puffball mushrooms

freshly picked field mushroom

{all Decorator’s Notebook on Instagram}

More mushrooms – of varying deliciousness perhaps – but I’m determined to give them a go. Puffball surprise anyone???

One day in cider country…

8 Oct

When I lived in London I used to subscribe to get a Riverford Organic veg box each week. I once told my parents about what a great idea it was, to which I got the reply “Why would we do that? We’ve got Tony!”

hand picking a red apple

apple orchard

If you follow Decorator’s Notebook on Instagram you’ll already have met Tony (aka The Vegetable Fairy), our nextdoor neighbour who leaves the pick of his homegrown produce on our doorstep most days. This weekend he popped round for a chat and invited us to help ourselves to apples from his orchard. We don’t need asking twice!

apple tree

This little tree was so laden it could hardly stand up. Lucky we were there to relieve it of some of its burden :-)

apples on a tree

lottie eating apples

We can see you Lottie! She was very impressed with these scrummy ‘balls’ lying all over the grass.

basket of freshly picked apples

There are loads of different apple varieties in Tony’s orchard but he claims not to know what any of them are so we just took a lucky dip and picked a few of each. The little red ones are my favourite – crisp and pure white inside with a little hint of sharpness.

top 5 apple recipes

{all Decorator’s Notebook Blog}

We gobbled a few straight from the tree but the rest are being saved up to make into puddings and cakes. I tried to narrow down my top five apple-based puds but it’s a lot harder than you think… what’s your favourite?

Nature Table: red

26 Sep

Everywhere I look now, vibrant autumnal reds are catching my eye…

We've been photographing lots of our products for the new shop on a slate backdrop. It's a bit different to the usual white background you see in most online interiors shops... and it does something lovely to colour.

Red apple Decorator's Notebook blog

red leaves Decorator's Notebook blog

rosehips Decorator's Notebook blog

rowan berries Decorator's Notebook blog

{all Decorator’s Notebook Blog}

We’ve been photographing a lot of our products for the Decorator’s Notebook Shop against this slate background… it does something wonderful to colours and gives quite a different mood to the bright white backdrops you often see in online interiors shops.

What autumn shades have been catching your eye?

Squatters!

3 Sep

woolly squatters

So, fifty sheep have turned up in our garden and old Nanny Arabella is less than impressed!

sheep in the garden

{both Decorator’s Notebook}

Answers on a postcard if you know how we can find out their owner!

A hungry girl’s guide to chicken-keeping: part 1

5 Aug

You don’t need to be good at maths (and I’m not) to know that three chickens, one person at home and everyone else on holiday means an awful lot of these…

fresh free range eggs

Our three lovely chickies have been laying one egg each a day and even though I’ve been giving them to the neighbours… well, when there’s only one neighbour that doesn’t really help. So, I’ve been trying my best to find different things to do with them, my current favourite being an invention I am calling Garden Baked Eggs.

baked eggs

I’m calling it that because thanks to that one neighbour, we are lucky enough to have a constant supply of homegrown veggies in exchange for the eggs, so almost everything I threw into this came from either our garden or his.

ingredients for baked eggs

I’ll tell you what I put in by way of illustration, but everything apart from the eggs and some kind of cheese can be substituted depending on whatever you have to hand. That’s why this is such a good recipe!

Garden Baked Eggs

for each person

Two free range eggs

Small handful each of sliced courgette, mushrooms, broad beans and red pepper

Three slices of chorizo, roughly chopped

Feta cheese, cubed

Lots of chopped fresh herbs (I used chives and oregano)

Tablespoon red pesto

Salt and pepper

Knob of butter and drizzle of olive oil

1) Drizzle a little olive oil into a shallow individual baking dish and brush around the inside. Turn the oven on at about 180ºC / Gas Mark 4 and put another larger baking dish inside. Put the kettle on.

2) Melt the butter in a frying pan and gently saute the veggies with some salt and pepper until softened.

3) Pile the vegetables into the small dish then sprinkle over the chorizo and feta. Make two wells in the mixture and carefully break an egg into each one.

4) Dot the pesto on top, sprinkle with herbs and grind over more black pepper.

5) Place the small dish inside the larger one, then carefully pour boiling water into the big dish so it comes about halfway up the sides of the little one.

6) Cook in the oven until the top is golden and the eggs are as done as you like them – I like the yolk still a bit runny – so about 10-15 minutes.

baked eggs recipe close up

Yummy for lunch with salad and a big slice of crusty toast. Thanks girls!

grey free range hens{all Decorator’s Notebook}

On the Road: St Davids, Pembrokeshire

31 Jul

At Decorator’s Notebook we love visiting new places and we’ll be sharing our travel stories with you. But to kick off our ‘On the Road’ series we’re starting with an old favourite.

Every summer of our childhood, Bethan and I would go on family holidays to St Davids in Wales. We’d stay on the campsite that our Mum had gone to with her parents when she was a girl, overlooking Ramsey Island and the Celtic Sea.

DSC_25872 (700x460)Last week I got a chance to return to St Davids for the first time in nine years and had a fantastic week revisiting all of our old haunts in the glorious July sunshine.

picmonkey-collage1

DSC_20522 (700x467)

DSC_21432 (700x467)

picmonkey-collage-700x700Going back to such a familiar place, I felt bound by our old annual traditions. Fig rolls on the beach,  crabbing from the lifeboat station, welsh cakes with a cup of tea and fishing from St John’s Point. Trying my hardest to stick with tradition, I did my best to lose as much tackle as possible without catching any fish, a feat which I’m glad to say was achieved!

DSC_2466 Stitch (700x271)DSC_2418 (467x700)Not for the faint-hearted (particularly with some of the lowest tides of the year), we also found time to visit the Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy. Though we didn’t quite match the efforts of the Red Bull cliff divers, it was certainly high enough to get the heart racing and the legs wobbling!

2{all Decorator’s Notebook}

What better way to calm the nerves than a trip up the hill behind the campsite to watch the beautiful sunset accompanied by a glass of something warming. Hopefully I won’t have to wait another nine years before my next visit.

Golden hour

15 Jul

In the 13 years our parents have owned this house the field behind has always been for sheep, but for some reason this year it’s been planted with wheat. Last night I took an evening stroll through in the still-wilting heat with my camera in the hope of capturing the golden hour.

wheat field in summer

trees edging wheat field

hands holding wheat

furrow in wheat field

wheat

wheat field

wheat close up{all Decorator’s Notebook}

The light was a gift. It was still so warm the wheat smelled grassy-sweet in the sunshine and the red Wiveliscombe earth was baked red beneath my feet. I couldn’t resist lying down in a furrow made by the tractor’s wheels, looking up to the blue sky and breathing the scent of a British summer all around me.

Ten days of hellos and goodbyes

10 Jul

A lot has happened while I’ve been away from here…

east london line

… farewell Gingerline commute

camera strap

… farewell day job colleagues

labour and wait

… farewell favourite shop

liberty london

… farewell other favourite shop

london skyline from millenium bridge

… farewell Southbank skyline

Crystal Palace Park

… farewell Crystal Palace Park

my first home

… farewell first home sweet home

packing labels

… farewell lovely belongings

packing boxes

… hello ice cold beer

cleaning products

… hello four day cleanathon

tea revives you

… hello well-deserved tea break

view from my bedroom window

… hello waking up to this

the cleave pub dartmoor

… hello Granny, happy 80th birthday

scones

… hello Wimbledon final day (woop!)

to do list

… hello new life!

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