I’m kicking off a new blog series today where I get to meet some amazingly creative people from here in Northern Ireland, each playing a vital role in shaping and influencing our homes and interiors.
This week I’m chatting to local designer Amy Scott, aka ‘The Cushion Queen’ – a title she richly deserves as you’ll find out! From her studio at home in the seaside town of Bangor, County Down, Amy runs a bespoke cushion design business, the idea for which was borne from a raw passion for vibrant fabrics, colourful pattern and rich textures. I recently spent a morning with Amy in her beautiful home near the sea, finding out a little bit more about what ignites her creative fire and what we can expect to see from Amy Scott Designs in the future…
In this age of social media and social sharing, it seems we can’t say we’ve truly enjoyed a meal without having shared it with our Instagram community or Facebook friends, taking perfect shots of our plates in the hope of capturing the moment and enticing the senses of others. As a blogger, I am a totally guilty party on this front, so I was really delighted to be invited along to my local IKEA store here in Belfast to learn some top tips on styling and photographing food and kitchen wares for that perfect Instagrammable shot. As a homes and interiors blogger, I haven’t worked with foodie styling that much in the past, however with IKEA’s gorgeous new Summer 2017 dining and kitchenware ranges in-store, I was excited to get to use their products whilst creating some Insta-worthy shots.
Local stylist and all-round Instagram guru, Eve Brannon, was on hand during the evening helping us create a Swedish ‘smorgasbord’, which is essentially sharing plates of tapas-style food which is enjoyed by family and friends together around the table, everyone helping themselves in true feel-good ‘hygge’ fashion. Eve showed us how to style the various ingredients on our own individual smorgasbords, all the while imparting some invaluable tips on how to make our culinary creations totally and deliciously ‘Instagram-able’, using food and serving ware which can all be bought in-store.
I have been asked a few times to feature my garden on here and share some of what I have learnt as a (very much) novice gardener since we moved into our home last Spring. Now that a full year has turned around in the garden, I feel that I’m gradually getting to know the place and the plants that reside here, plus I’ve gained more confidence in dealing with the various trees, shrubs and flowers that I’ve come to recognise. A year ago if you’d asked me what a herbaceous perennial was, I’d have thought you’d taken up a new foreign language. It really was Double Dutch to me.
So, as it’s the height of the growing season now and there’s more green lushness and splashes of colour about, I thought it the ideal time to show you around. I suppose it’s a decent enough size for a suburban garden, which is perfect for us, as it’s challenging enough without being overwhelming and there’s plenty of room for the kids to play outdoors, too.
Final point: as a complete novice, I have always found gardening to-do lists and jobs for the month incredibly useful for clarifying and prioritising what I should be investing my time on outside, so I’ve written up a little list of jobs for May at the end of the post, if you’re interested. So, all that remains is for you to pull on your wellies and come for a look around!
May has arrived in all its glory here and across the country, patio tables and chairs have been dusted down, or in some cases, entirely stripped and repainted (you can get carried away when the sun shines), and friends invited over for impromptu barbecues and drinks in the garden. It’s fabulous!
I was planning a patio tidy up myself recently, when Amara Living got in touch asking me to take a look at some of their summer dining collection. As a blogger, I had initially heard of Amara as they host the IBAs (Interior Blog Awards), however if you haven’t come across them before, they are an über stylish homes and lifestyle store, housing over 300 of the world’s most luxurious home fashion brands, including Orla Kiely, Missoni Home, Ralph Lauren, HAY and Bloomingville, to name but a few. Amara have evolved since their inception in 2005 to build on their brand and product range, however quality of service and luxury style remain at their core and their website definitely reflects this.
Here are some products I want to show you in all their summery loveliness…
Well folks, May Day weekend is almost upon us and despite the recent cooler climes we’ve all been exposed to over the last little while, I’m told that warmer weather is on its way, so I thought it was the perfect time for a brief garden-related post. Specifically, I want to share some ideas with you on how you can spend some time over the long weekend getting your outdoor patio area or yard summer-ready. As long as it’s been given a quick clean up and the boring jobs such as power washing slabs and giving the lawn its first cut are out of the way, these are the fun touches you can accomplish in time for your first al fresco soiree with friends or simply a glass of vino and a book on a clear evening. Aah, how I love summer!
With Mothers Day just over a week away, I figured a little gift guide might come in handy for some of you. It can be daunting trying to think up an original gift idea for that very special lady in our lives; something that is both personal to your mum and properly shows how much you appreciate everything she does for you. Often it’s a case of picking up a scented candle, some flowers or expensive chocs at the last minute, and very nice though these treats are, I thought it would be fun to look at a few alternative gift ideas, each costing no more than a fiver.
I was therefore delighted when the kind folk over at TK Maxx sent me a gift card recently to spend in-store on Mothers Day gift ideas. I have made no secret before of just how much of a TK Maxx fan I am and after a very enjoyable wander around the store, I chose a handful of goodies which I think make quite unique gifts, so if you’re struggling on the present front, have a read for some last minute inspiration…
I was lucky to recently experience the sights and scenes of Qatar’s capital city, Doha, when I went to visit my brother and his family there at the beginning of March. Having never travelled to the Middle East before, it was a totally new experience for me and one which I thought I’d share with you here today.
I managed to take in some of the amazing architecture, interiors and culture during the few days I was staying in the city, thanks to my wonderful tour guide a.k.a. my big brother, so I’ve pulled together a few shots of things that particularly caught my eye, from beautifully tiled pavements to those towering skyscrapers so typical of a fast-growing, modern city in this part of the world…
I don’t know about you, but these cold, dark mornings are making me feel really lazy and lethargic when it comes to getting out of my warm bed at the start of the day. I’ve also never been that good at getting myself organised and off to bed early during the week; the draw of on-demand telly whilst cocooned in a thick blanket on the couch, being my particular downfall. Who’s with me on this? Or perhaps you find yourself scrolling through Pinterest, searching for the answer to your dream kitchen cupboard colour – been there? Thought so. We are all depriving ourselves of wholesome sleep for every minute we waste on our tablets or phones when it’s past our bedtime, and in the morning when the alarm goes off, we pay for it.
I was therefore really excited to be contacted by the lovely folk at IKEA, asking me to work with them on their Win at Sleeping campaign, which you may have noticed recently on TV and in the press. It’s no secret that as a nation, we aren’t great sleepers, with many of us struggling to get a decent eight hours’ kip on a regular basis. The fast pace of modern life, along with the addictive pull of ever present smartphones and tablets with their stimulating blue screens, is certainly a major contributing factor, however many of our sleep problems have startlingly simple roots, such as inadequate sleep preparation, bad sleeping habits or a poorly organised bedroom environment.
IKEA are determined to promote better sleep for all of us and for good reason, too. There are countless benefits to be had from sleeping well, including better mood, raised energy levels, improved productivity at work and school, as well as positive health effects, such as improved memory, a sharper mind and lower stress levels. And the best thing about it? It only takes making a few small changes to guarantee ‘The Wonderful Everynight’ that we all need…
With Christmas literally just around the corner, the shopping days left in the calendar are quickly falling away. Hopefully you will be super organised and have everything wrapped up and safely installed under the tree, however for many of us (me included!), there is often the stress of that last present or two that we are simply struggling to find inspiration for.
With this in mind, I was therefore delighted to be contacted by the lovely Katrina, who co-runs Designers in Detail, an exclusive pre-Christmas pop-up shop, showcasing some of the best designers and makers from all over Ireland. Located in the beautiful Victorian surroundings of Maryville House, off Lisburn Road, Belfast, the collection features unique and carefully designed gifts for men, women and children, including ceramics, jewellery, textiles, skincare, homeware pieces, leather and tweed bags, cookbooks and candles, as well as a fantastic children’s range of clothing, toys and books. Many of these designs aren’t available locally here in Northern Ireland, so if you’re looking for that unique, individual gift for someone, I urge you to visit the pop-up shop – it’s open between 11 and 5 everyday (except Sun) until Christmas Eve, upstairs in Maryville House, 2 Maryville Park (above the Maryville Tearoom), so you’ve a few days left to have a browse and hopefully find that perfect gift! (more…)
This morning I wandered across with my two girls to our local market in the bustling East Belfast village of Ballyhackamore. It’s a monthly artisan market, running on the 3rd Saturday of each month, which started up just over a year ago and is already becoming one of the city’s most well-known spots to find locally produced goods.
This Saturday was the annual Ballyhackamore Christmas market, with more stalls than usual and extended hours of business, plus a little festive music, of course. I had a lovely mooch about and (in between entertaining and feeding my children!) discovered some superb local talents offering their wares, including everything from art prints to greetings cards and hand tied posies to jewellery – perfect for a spot of seasonal gift buying, whilst supporting the local economy, of course!
Here are some of the gems you need to look out for… (and excuse the questionable photography – my youngest was intent on photobombing me at every opportunity so I had to snap quickly!!)