Thursday, 26 April 2018

SUMMER BERRIES GIN & TONIC WITH DARTINGTON CRYSTAL


I should probably make it clear from the start that I'm a gin convert. I didn't really know what the fuss was about until I got introduced to Napue, a Finnish Award Winning Gin, last year. I was holidaying in Finland when a very good friend of mine insisted that I tried the Finnish gin (it has won quite a few awards and the Finns are very proud of it as you can tell!) I wasn't a big gin fan at the time so I didn't really have high hopes for it. But guess what? I actually loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I even brought a bottle home with me and I've been telling everyone about it ever since.

When Dartington Crystal launched their new Gin Connoisseur collection, I knew this was a collaboration I couldn't miss out on. Their timing was perfect as I had just literally discovered gin. I decided to go for their tumbler style gin glasses since I knew they'd be super versatile. Also, I had just recently read somewhere that big glasses can enhance the taste of gin. A bowl shaped glass will apparently help open up the flavours of the gin and the bigger the glass, the more ingredients you can add.  The tumbler style is probably the most versatile of them all because you can easily use them as a whisky glass or with any other short cocktail.

I was actually surprised how big the glasses were. They are the perfect size for gin and are very comfortable to hold thanks to the bowl shape. The quality also feels superb, but then again I knew this already as I already have some glasses from Dartington Crystal. The glasses feel quite thin around the edges (they are fine crystal) so I would never place them in a dishwasher, although they are dishwasher safe. I prefer to clean my crystal glasses by hand and then dry them with a glass towel. The tumbler glasses are also engravable which make them ideal gifts for birthdays, anniversaries or weddings.






Here's my favourite summer gin cocktail recipe..

SUMMER BERRIES GIN & TONIC

Ingredients for 1 cocktail


2 oz of Gin

150 ml Tonic Water
6-8 Ice Cubes
1 Table Spoon of Frozen Summer Berries (mix of strawberries, redcurrant, raspberries, blackcurrant, blueberries)
Fresh Thyme


How to Make


1. Place the ice in the glass (almost to the top).


2. Pour the gin over the ice.

3. Add the frozen berries to the gin. Try not to stir too much at this stage.

4. Pour in the tonic water and gently stir with a straw.

5. Garnish with some fresh thyme.

I prefer to use only few ingredients so that you can really taste the gin. You could also add mint, lime or even syrup to add extra flavour. Personally I feel that an award winning gin like Napue doesn't need any 'extras'. I always mix the gin with a good quality tonic like Fever-Tree or Schweppes Slimlime tonic too. Trust me, it makes a big difference!




I also love using pretty serving trays when we are entertaining. I usually serve some nibbles too with the gin. Roasted almonds go incredibly well with a dry gin. Pairing drinks with food is part of the fun, isn't it?



I'd love to know what is your favourite gin recipe? Do you like to keep it simple or do you like to get more creative with your cocktails?  

* This post is in collaboration with Dartington Crystal.
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Tuesday, 17 April 2018

BEHIND THE SCENES OF AN INTERIOR MAGAZINE SHOOT


If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that we had our house styled and photographed for an UK interior magazine last week. I can't unfortunately reveal too much of the shoot itself (you'll have to buy the magazine in July!) but I thought it would be nice to shed a bit of light on how much work and planning goes into those glossy interior photos you see on magazines. Although this wasn't my first interior magazine shoot (I also did the Style at Home Christmas Tree challenge last December!), this was the first magazine shoot that took place in our home which made it extra special. 

6 months ago the lovely Maxine from We Love Home Blog got in touch with me. In case you're not familiar with Maxine's work, she is an award winning interior stylist, journalist and lifestyle blogger. She also happens to be one seriously cool lady and I just adore her relaxed and totally impeccable (and relatable style). Anyway, Maxine had seen my Instagram page some time ago and got in touch with me to see if I'd consider featuring our home in an interior magazine. Of course it was a massive yes from me. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase all the hard work we've put into this house in the last 7 years. Who knows, I might even share some useful tips for those who are in the process of renovating their home. 


I had 6 months to get my house in-check but things didn't go as planned (I will come back to this later). I made myself a to do list, so that the house would look as presentable as possible for the shoot (it's funny how you need that extra push to get projects completed, isn't it?) This year we got a new carpet for the stairs and landing and even added some coastal art to the landing to give it a nice bohemian/coastal feel. I had no idea whether the magazine would want to feature it but I really wanted to finish decorating this space for myself, not for anyone else.
  


Like I said, everything didn't quite go as planned though, Our bathroom renovation was supposed to start in March but our fitter injured himself at the end of February and has been on sick leave ever since. Since our bathroom reno wasn't finished (or hadn't even started) I knew that Maxine would just have to get creative with it. Which she did to be honest. I was also concerned that some of the other rooms weren't magazine worthy but the good news is that you don't have to feature the entire house. The magazine will pick the inspiring rooms and leave the ugly ones out (sorry husband, your man cave didn't stand a chance!) Also, the stylist will be able to make some small miracles and make most of the space you've got. They will also move furniture around if required (with your permission of course).

So, Maxine and her trusted photographer (David) arrived last Monday at our house around 10 AM. She arrived with loads of props and fresh flowers which was pretty hilarious since I had just bought flowers myself. But you can never have too many flowers in the house, can you? Most stylists will always bring few small props with them that will go with the theme of the shoot. They might not use them in the end but it's always best to be prepared. The cool thing about having someone else to style your house is that they'll introduce different concepts that you may have not considered yourself before. I definitely learned a lot from the shoot by just watching how Maxine styled the house which has given me so many new ideas and aspirations.

From a photography point of view, we didn't have the best start to the day but luckily professional photographers know how to make most of a bad situation. It was raining heavily all Morning which obviously ruined our chances of shooting in the garden (which would have been amazing considering the shoot is for a July issue). Anyway, they decided to shoot the upstairs bedrooms first hoping that the sun would come out later on. The main shoot with people took place downstairs as it was more important to have plenty of light for these shots. Also, my daughters (5 yo and 2 yo) were off school/nursery at the time (it was half term) so I was busy keeping them entertained with snacks and ipads whilst Maxine and David were busy shooting the house. I didn't find it too difficult with the kids to be honest. Or, maybe they are just used to being in the middle of a photo shoot, who knows.


Although clothing isn't really that important when it comes to interior shoots, there are certain colours that you are told to avoid. I was told to avoid black and pick something summery in stead. I also learned from my first professional shoot that bright lights, and flash particularly, wash out features, so you may want to apply a bit more make-up on your face than you normally would, unless of course you want to go for that au naturel look.

So, if you've ever thought about having your house featured in a magazine, I'd say go for it. It's a really great way to share your knowledge and tips with the magazine readers and showcase the hard work you've put in transforming your house. By the way, I didn't get paid for my feature (I think 99% of the time you don't) but it was definitely worth the experience for me.

All the images in this post are my own. If you want to see how Maxine styled our home, you'll need to wait for the July issue. I'll let you know once it's out!

Home Etc

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

SPRING TABLESCAPE



We had such a lovely Easter Sunday lunch with friends and family few weeks ago and the tablescape couldn't have looked more spring-like either. Creating pretty tablescapes is the most exciting aspect of dinner parties for me, believe it or not. Well, that and chatting to the guests of course! Although I created this tablescape with Easter in mind, I didn't want to make it all about Easter, if that makes sense. I think the table setting turned out a lot more seasonal than intended, but I actually love that. I just know I'll get so much more use out my yellow table runner during spring and summer that I would have been crazy to go for anything else. 

I decided to go for white flowers to balance things out a bit. Yellow roses might have been a bit more OTT, don't you think? I know you're thinking, why not tulips? Tulips are the obvious choice for Easter but personally I just don't think the arrangements ever look that good close up. Especially if you're going for that 'formal' look. I'm definitely more of a roses kind of girl and they last much longer too, so they will always be my go-to flowers when it comes to dinner parties.

I've linked all the products at the end of this post, in case you see something you like!








Product List


Sainsbury's Helsinki Luxe Napkins (available in-store)

Napkin rings (similar)





Brass wine bucket (gifted, similar)

Gold champagne flutes (gifted, not similar but love these)





Small clear vase  (similar)

Table cloth (similar)


Happy entertaining!



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