Medicine Garden, Cobham

Now that we have a toddler, we tend to do a lot more 'days out' and visiting of places than we used to. A leisurely wander round the shops on a Sunday afternoon, is not sufficient entertainment for an excitable toddler! Saying that, at the moment, we can pretty much take Ruby anywhere and she will find it fun (as long as she's able to get out of the buggy!) so we aren't quite at the stage of spending our weekends at places like Legoland! But it means that we are getting out and about and discovering some great places that are actually right on our doorstep! 

The other thing that toddlers don't care about is whether it's raining or not! They'd much rather get outside than stay indoors, so last Sunday, we donned our raincoats and headed for the Medicine Garden in Cobham. I actually came across this place on Instagram (the source of all new discoveries!) and realised it's only a short drive away from us. 

We headed straight for the cafe when we arrived as the rain was coming down pretty heavily. They actually have 2 cafes on site, but we went for the Hot House, as they enticed my hubby with the hot breakfasts! The decor inside is lovely and the food was pretty delicious too.  

Once fed, we ventured outside again, and Ruby had a look at the chickens and we wandered amongst the various plant displays. It's not exactly a garden centre, but it has a small, but decent range of plants and containers in the courtyard. 

There are a few little shops dotted around the courtyard: a flower shop, a little gallery and a gift shop which are all worth popping your head in. But for some reason, I was drawn to this old potting shed (?), which I'm not even sure if you were supposed to go in! I think it might have been more of a store room, but the collections of succulents and old pots and things were too good not to grab a few snaps of! 

Before leaving, we had a (slightly soggy) wander around the walled garden, which is really lovely. There is a bit of a wild flower theme  to the planting, which looks beautiful against the weathered brickwork. There is also a kids play area which Ruby was loving, as it was basically just a huge sandpit! 

We really enjoyed our visit despite the rain! I would say it is really only a morning or afternoon visit, not a whole day thing, although I imagine with the sun out you could spend a lot more time enjoying the garden and sitting outside!  

Find out more on their website: www.themedicinegarden.com

The history of my home

A few months go I had the most intriguing of emails. It came from a woman who had lived in my house nearly 20 years ago. She had come across pictures of our kitchen/dining room online, and spotted the fireplace which she had purchased in an antiques shop in Glasgow in the 1980's - apparently it was bright orange when she found it! She cleaned it up and brought back to Kingston to install in the house. Shona emailed me to let me know of this crazy coincidence and we began chatting about the house and what it was like when she lived here. It really is incredible the connections that can be made via the world wide web right?! 

It feels particularly poignant to be looking back on the history of our home, as we prepare to move on from it ourselves after nearly seven years of living here. (that's if we EVER exchange, it's been the longest process). Shona sent me a few pictures of the interior when she was living here which was SO interesting, so I thought it would be fun to show the comparisons (which also includes some shots from when we bought it in 2009) and I did a little interview with Shona, to find out about her time living here... 

Now image by Cathy Pyle

Now image by Cathy Pyle

Patchwork Harmony: When did you live in the flat?
Shona: 1989-1997

Patchwork Harmony: What was the house like when you bought it? 
Shona: Not great, it needed totally refurbished - it was in a real mess. It needed a new bathroom, kitchen and it didn't have any central heating so that had to go in too. Before buying the flat we looked at one of the top floor flats next door, which was immaculate but I think about 25k more (!) - that gives you an idea of how much work needed to be done on it. I think the purchase price was around 72k.

Now image by Cathy Pyle

Now image by Cathy Pyle

Now image by Martina O'Shea

Now image by Martina O'Shea

Patchwork Harmony: Do you know any history of the house prior to you living there? 
Shona: I think it had been rented, although for some reason I think I was told squatters had been living there before we moved in!

Patchwork Harmony: What are your memories of living here?
Shona: I had an interesting time there. It was exciting in the early years as I had moved down from Scotland and just started my career. It was my first step on the property ladder. I got married when I was living there and then divorced just after I left the house so it's a place of real mixed memories and emotions. I also got two cats when I was there: Pyramus and Thisbe and my fondest memories seem to be of them as kittens!! I asked my friend if she had any interesting memories of the house and she said she remembered dancing a lot!

Now image by Cathy Pyle

Now image by Cathy Pyle

Patchwork Harmony: Did you make many changes to the house in terms of layout etc? 
Shona: The kitchen was made slightly bigger. The only other thing was the garden was really small and as we got on well with our neighbour we decided to make it one large shared garden instead of two smaller ones.

Patchwork Harmony: Things are very different now from when you lived here in terms of where homeowners find inspiration for decor - how did you go about it back then? Where did you find ideas? Where did you shop for home furnishings etc? 
Shona: If I remember correctly I loved Habitat, Laura Ashley and Designers Guild. I must have got inspiration from magazines and my brother is a designer so he was a great help. I remember I had to learn how to make soft furnishings as it was too expensive to buy them all - curtains, cushions etc. Festoon blinds were all the rage in the 80s :)

Patchwork Harmony: How long did you live here for and why did you decide to move on? 
Shona: From 1989-1997 then we moved about fifty metres up the road until 2006!

Thank you Shona for getting in touch and giving this little insight into the history of our home! I don't know if this is interesting to anyone else, but I felt the need to document on here even if it just for myself. 

I guess when you are about to move on from a home that has been so important in your life, it is a nice time to reflect on and look back on your time there. It was our first home we purchased together, we became a married couple while living here, and we brought our first child into the world here, not to mention that the magazine I founded is named after this place! It's funny how there are some similarities in the life events Shona experienced while living here too. Her email definitely wins the prize for the most intriguing of the year! 

A favourite Vintage event - Decorative Living Fair

Well, it's been a super busy few weeks as I've been immersed in getting the first ever print edition of 91 Magazine in to print. It's been stressful yet joyful as well as knackering yet hugely rewarding! if you would like to see the results of months of work bringing the publication together, you can pop over and order a copy via the 91 Magazine website. I really hope you might enjoy it the same as so many others have already. You can see lots of readers pics over on Instagram via the #my91magazine hashtag. 

To give myself a little break and get away from it all last weekend, we took ourselves down to Kent to visit the Decorative Living Fair. This is only the 2nd time I've been to the event at Eridge Park, although I've been to the London one a few times, but this Kent based fair is definitely one of my favourite ones to make the effort to travel to.

Set in the grounds of a beautiful private house, overlooking a stunning view of the Kent countryside, the fair has a real feel of a French brocante or flea market yet is beautifully curated; firstly by Caroline Zoob and Hetty Purbrick who carefully select the vendors, and then each stall is impeccably styled by each individual. 

Chatting with some of the regular sellers, I find out that they only bring their very best stock to the Decorative Living Fair. The quality of stalls means that everyone makes sure they up their game and they all spend lots of time planning and preparing how their stand will look. 

Not only is the quality of stands and products top notch, Caroline & Hetty pay extra attention to every detail. Their food tent is full of seriously delicious lunch options, you can even have a glass of wine or fizz if you so wish! And this may sound silly - but, posh portaloos! I'm sorry, but it does make a difference! (to me anyway!) :) 

While all the stands are great, I do have a few favourites that I look forward to rummaging at! The first is Goose Home and Garden (pics above). Sarah and Paul are talented vintage buyers, and always have the perfect mix of interesting finds - from painted furniture (which they've often restored themselves) to architectural salvage items down to delicate china, cutlery and glassware.  I had to stop myself from bagging this enamel bucket (loved the colour!) as I've put a bit of a shopping ban on myself until we move house! 

The other fave is The Old Haberdashery (pics above). If you've got my book, you may have spotted Sonia's gorgeous shop and home in there, and her stand at the fair is like a mini version of her store - so many beautiful and unique finds and LOTS of haberdashery items you never knew you needed to rummage through. I did cave at this point, and purchased two pairs of scissors! You can never have enough scissors in these days of Instagram photo styling right?! 

Here's a few more shots of lovely stalls and some things I could have easily bought but held back due to the house move!

It was just what I needed after a hectic few weeks (months in fact!) - happily strolling around taking in all the vintage beauty, plus I get a weird thrill from photographing vintage things even though I can't buy anything! :) 

Put the date in your diaries for next year peeps! It's well worth it! More info here: Decorative Living Fair

Becoming brave with colour

Whenever I watch programmes like The Great Interior Design Challenge and they say 'be brave with colour' and then the contestants proceed to paint a room in deep red or lime green, I find myself shouting at the telly with cries of 'noooo!' and 'why??!'. For me, being brave with colour is not about going over the top with something you probably wouldn't normally go for, just to prove you're 'being brave' - it's simply about introducing colour naturally, choosing shades that you know you will love to look at and that will complement the rest of your decor. If I'm honest, I haven't been brave in our current home when it comes to paint colours - every room is white, except the bedroom which is Pale Cirrus from Fired Earth, a very pale blue grey. I've added colour in other ways, through accessories and art work, as these are easy to change. 

We've also already agreed that when we (finally) move into our new place, we will paint everywhere in white to start with (there are some pretty ghastly colours and one mural (!) to cover over!!) and then work around each room decorating properly. But I do wonder if I may try to be more brave this time? These images which I received from Dulux this week have instigated these thoughts, as while they are still fresh and mainly white, the use of colour really is inspiring...

I particularly love the use of colour on the sloping roof, and it's something I'll keep in mind for the loft room. These shades look so fresh together and not at all sugary despite being on the pastel spectrum. Using two shades of blue in the below image also works fabulously... (side note; I'm also loving these polished concrete floors!) 

If you simply can't stray from all white walls, then this last shot is a great way to add a few pops of colour in a subtle yet 'brave' way... the challenge would be getting all those circles perfectly lined up! 

What do you think? Are you brave with colour or are you like me, and find it hard to commit to painting with anything stronger than chalky pastels? 

What to do with a 'sort-of' conservatory

So in case you were wondering... no, we still have not moved house! After putting our house on the market in September and having an offer accepted on the place we are buying in October, it does seem to be taking an AWFULLY long time! There was mention of an exchange date today though, so perhaps the end is in sight.

But when it's been this long since you saw the place you about to move into, your brain does start to play tricks on you about what said house actually looks like. Our new house has what I would call a 'sort-of' conservatory. It had a sloped glass roof, but it has solid walls and only a slim envelope window along the top of the wall. In my mind, it looks (or could look) a lot like some of these images, but in reality it is VERY far from looking anything like this! 

While I KNOW it definitely won't ever look this fabulous, I do think it's possible to work with what you've got (at least to start off with until you can afford big transformations) so these images can at least spark some decorating ideas if nothing else. I am also assuming that with the presence of a garden room in my life, I will automatically be transformed into a green-fingered guru, and that my house plants (the ones that are still alive) will now flourish in this light-filled space! That will happen right?! 

I like the idea of an exposed brick wall, either painted or bare, and a tiled floor. The two images below have both of these elements but in very different ways, and both very lovely. It would be nice to have an almost Mediterranean terrace feel mixed with a bit of a Petersham Nurseries vibe I'm thinking...!

L: via Pinterest R: via Pinterest

L: via Pinterest R: via Pinterest

There is SO much work to do to the whole house when we move in, it is a HUGE project but hopefully one day we will have a lovely little sunny room similar to these (even a little bit!) to curl up with a book and a glass of wine! Watch this space to see how we get on! :) 

Pre order 91 Magazine print edition

I have 'bloggers guilt' at the moment! I am working at a rate of knots every moment I can, but I still can't manage to find much time to dedicate to my first and original little blog space! :( 

I imagine once we move house I will start sharing a lot more on here about the transformations we will be doing there, but for now, please do bear with me as I wrangle with my other work commitments. 

One of them of course being 91 Magazine! Our team has been beavering away for the last few months, and now we don't have long to go until our deadline, so with the issue nearing completion, we have opened up pre-orders. As it's our first issue, we need to have a rough guide on the size of print run we will do, so while we will order more than we need, ideally it is best to pre-order if you would like one, as our stock will be limited post print run. 

The first 200 pre orders we receive will get a gorgeous Lollipop Designs notebook free, although these are nearly all gone, so do be quick! 

The first 200 pre orders of 91 Magazine print issue will receive one notebook. 

The first 200 pre orders of 91 Magazine print issue will receive one notebook. 

While things are quiet over here on Patchwork Harmony, the 91 Magazine blog is busy, where we are posting a couple of times a week, so do follow us over there and on Instagram for regular updates. I've also set up a new Patchwork Harmony Instagram account, which will continue to be my personal feed, with the 91 feed being more focussed on the magazine. 

I do hope you might like to support our little indie magazine and pre order a copy, it means so much to see people getting excited to see it, and our team are so proud of how it is looking! It really is a treat for the eyes, that I promise you will want on your coffee table, but also snuggled in your lap with a cuppa! 

Pre order 91 Magazine print edition now. 

WIN! My book PLUS Oh Hello Friend goodies!

As so many of you entered my Shopkeepers Home bumper giveaway before Christmas, I thought I'd give you another chance to win a copy of my book as well as some other lovely goodies! I'm afraid it's not quite as bumper as the last time, but still, it's a bag full of beautiful goodies nonetheless, all courtesy of Oh Hello Friend - a gorgeous shop, featured in the book - based in the sunny state of California! 

Owner Danni, has such great style, her home is full of beautiful vintage finds and like me, (and I'm sure a lot of you guys!) she is a big stationery fan! She has sent me this little bundle of goodies for one lucky Patchwork Harmony reader to win! Here's a closer look at some of the things included... 

And of course you will also win a copy of The Shopkeepers Home. So, how can you enter?! All you have to do is read all the details below, including the terms and conditions, to find out! 

HOW TO ENTER

To be in with a great chance of winning you can enter in a few different ways, one entry per method per person, so you basically you have 4 chances of winning: 

Comment on this blog post, telling me why you'd love to win The Shopkeepers Home book. Please leave your email address so you can be contacted if you win (or leave your comment here then email me at info@patchworkharmony.co.uk with your contact details with the subject line WIN SHOPKEEPERS HOME - BLOG ENTRY)

- Follow me on Instagram and regram the giveaway image - please include @patchworkhrmy and #winshopkeepershome in your caption.

Like The Shopkeepers Home Facebook page and share the giveaway post, ensuring you tag in 'The Shopkeepers Home' page too. 

Follow @patchworkhrmy on Twitter and tweet your entry using this link.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

- Giveaway closing date is 4th April 2016 at 23:59pm. Entries after this are not counted. 

- The giveaway is open to worldwide readers. 

- Entries can be submitted via the four options listed above, giving each person four chances to win, but only one entry per method will be accepted per person.

- The giveaway image on Instagram & Facebook should not be changed, edited or defaced when regramming or sharing. Entrants who do so will be disqualified. 

- Failure to follow entry guidelines as above will result in that entry not being accepted.      

- All prizes are non-transferable, non refundable and non negotiable. No cash alternative is available for any prize.

- The winner and runners up will be chosen at random on the 6th April 2016, and will be notified shortly after this date. If the winner has not provided an email address or can not be contacted through social media or via email by 15th April 2016, we reserve the right to select another winner at random.

- Prizes will be shipped from the UK by 30th April 2016, using the most affordable shipping method available. 

- The decision in respect of all matters to do with the giveaway will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

- The giveaway and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.

From nursery to toddler room

So it seems I am now officially the mum to a toddler, not a baby. I honestly don't know where the time goes. One minute they are sleeping in a tiny moses basket next to you, next they are scrambling all over your furniture like a excited puppy! Ruby is 19 months now, and is of course still sleeping in a cot, but I've been thinking recently about giving it a little update as she gets older, and will very soon have grown out of her sleeping bag. So whenever Silentnight got in touch to ask me to take part in their 'Room for a little one' campaign, it seemed like a good opportunity to give her sleeping quarters a mini update! 

I choose some lovely bedding from Olli Ella, whose designs I've admired for a while. I went for a fitted sheet and pillow in their confetti pattern, and a blanket in Terra and Tartine. 

It makes such a difference to the cot, as before there was just a plain white sheet on the mattress, so it looks much more 'grown up' and part of the room decor. Plus the bedding goes perfectly with the existing wallpaper.

The other thing with a growing toddler is the ever increasing accumulation of 'stuff'. I've talked about storage for kids before, so you'll know I'm always on the look out for lovely baskets, boxes or bags to incorporate, so I also ordered one of their lovely belly baskets to help with the expanding toy collection! (I may have had my eye on one of these for some time!) Ruby's comment when she saw the new basket in her room was simply 'what's that?!' I'm sure she'll appreciate its beauty one day! 

I think new bedding is to a bed, what new cushions are to a sofa. It can make such a huge difference and generally for very little expenditure. It's a transformation that literally only takes a few moments! The next thing will be when she is ready for the cot to be turned into a bed! That really will bring home how fast she is growing up! 

This post was created in collaboration with Silentnight. All product choices and views are my own. 

Places to stay: Bert's Barge

I haven't been around here much of late - things have been a tad busy what with working on the relaunch of 91 Magazine as well as my new part time job, not to mention additional freelance work that seems to all come in at once! :) 

I've been working most evenings until about 11pm to try and stay on top of things, but I guess that's the life of a freelance working mum! I'm grateful for getting to do things that I love as a job, so I'm definitely not complaining, BUT a little holiday sometime soon would certainly be very welcome! :) 

Even a couple of nights in a barge in Hackney would be a dream! Well, especially if it was Bert's Barge! Have you seen this beauty?! 

15.05.21_BARGE_132.jpg

What a beautifully designed small space! The white wood panelling keeps it bright while giving it a cosy cabin feel, and the Scandi modern look is softened by textiles and a beautiful rug from Larusi

As if just swanning around in here wouldn't be enough, you are also greeted with a welcome hamper and treated to a local artisan breakfast too. All to enjoy from the comfort of the king size bed with it's duck down bedding. 

To be honest, I don't think our budget will stretch to the £250 per night price tag just now, not when we are in the middle of buying a house which needs some serious love and attention! So for now, I guess swooning over the images will have to do! But hey, if you do fancy treating yourself to a night on the river, then do let me know how it was!! 

Find out more at Bert's Barges. 

Shopping in Rye, East Sussex

Last weekend we took ourselves off to the South Coast to visit some friends who recently moved to beautiful Rye. I must say, I am a little bit jealous, as it is a lovely little place to live, packed with gorgeous shops to browse on a laid back Saturday afternoon... 

We only had a few hours to shop before they all closed for the day, but I thought I'd share a few of my favourites; the ones I think you should definitely make a beeline for when you visit the town. 

Lion Street Store

A compact little shop that is full of beautiful things. A mix of homewares, books, clothing, stationery and vintage finds, I was really chuffed to hear that they had stocked my book and it had sold out in a week! They had a lovely selection of indie magazines too, which I'd very much like to see 91 Magazine alongside some day soon! 

www.lionstreetstore.com

Four Doors

This quirky little shop originally started off as a pop up shop selling Ladybird books, but is now a permanent fixture selling of homewares, stationery and party supplies and other lifestyle products. I really loved some of their creative display ideas, such as these old drawers holding books...

www.fourdoors.uk

The Shop Next Door

This is actually the shop joined to Rye's well loved hotel The George. They stock all the things that you find in the hotel. So if you really loved those towels you can actually take some home without feeling guilty about discreetly slip them in your luggage!! Even if you haven't stayed in the hotel (which I haven't) you will still feel inspired by their lovely collection of homewares and beauty products. I really loved this little display they had in the window... 

www.thegeorgeinrye.com

Crock and Cosy

For those of us with a deep love for kitchenalia, Crock and Cosy is literally like walking into heaven! It is filled floor to ceiling with vintage crockery, glassware, tupperware, enamelware, cutlery, pyrex, textiles, jelly moulds, utensils, you name it! I could spend hours in here!

There is no website, but here is the address: Strand Quay, Rye, East Sussex TN31 7DB

Wishbarn Antiques

For those vintage fans that love a good old rummage, Wishbarn will be right up your street. From furniture and mirrors to zinc buckets and door knockers, you could even take home an enormous fairground sign if the mood took you! My friend also spotted an original sign from The Laines in Brighton - it's 'original' status giving it a hefty price tag, but still, interesting to see. 

www.antiques-atlas.com/wishbarnantiques

And there you have it, my afternoon of whizzing round the streets of Rye! I can't wait to go back down in the summer months, when we can incorporate ice cream and a beach visit into our trip! 

All photos: Caroline Rowland

My new job

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have heard me mention a new job which I started last week? I thought I would explain a little bit about it and the company I'm working for, as I think lots of you will like it, and hopefully you'll be keen to follow along with what I am doing with them too. 

I've taken on a part time position working with interiors brand called One World Trading Company as their Content Director. I'm still freelance, and it is flexible enough to work around my other work and family, plus I'm getting to do lots of lovely creative things, and particularly I'm doing a bit more styling which I love! 

The company is a family run business, based in Chessington, Surrey, and has just celebrated it's 25th birthday last year! Starting off sourcing candles from Swaziland for the UK market, the company has expanded massively over the years, and has focussed mainly on supplying furniture and homewares to trade, but they have recently made the move into direct retail sales and I am really excited to be part of letting the world know about One World

They have a shop based in Haslemere in Surrey, but the main focus is their website, featuring much of their products, with new items being added all the time. There's lots to suit all tastes too - from vintage French chic through to relaxed rustic and industrial cool. They stock large furniture such as sofas, dining tables and cabinets right down to the small details such as glassware, vases and crockery. 

I will be dealing with the blog content and social media, amongst other things, and I hope to work with some other fab bloggers and brands going forward. It's an exciting start to the year. I'd LOVE it if you'd pop over and check out their social media pages and say hi to the new girl! :) 

One World Trading Co on Instagram 

One World Trading Co on Facebook 

One World Trading Co on Twitter

One World Trading on Pinterest

One World Trading on Google+

One World Trading Co on Houzz

You can check out the online shop here and keep updated on what's happening on the blog and new products ranges by signing up to their mailing list (at the bottom of the homepage). Oh, and if you spot anything you like and treat yourself you can share your pics with us via the #oneworldlifestyle hashtag! :) 

91 Magazine relaunch

As I mentioned in my plans for 2016 post recently, there are lots of exciting things happening this year, and the first thing I can now officially share is the new look 91 Magazine website! woohoo! 

We have also created a brand new blog dedicated to all things 91, and will be posting on this a couple of times a week. Our first post is live and reveals the brand new team who I will be working alongside, all fabulously talented, creative people, who I am honoured to have as part of the team. So do pop over and find out who they are.

Also, I have just created a brand new Facebook page for 91 Magazine, so we need your likes! Please stop by, share and give us your FB support! And of course we are regular users of Instagram and Twitter too. 

We are ESPECIALLY excited about the plans to publish a print version of 91, which you will be able to pre-order soon! If you'd like to keep updated on this, as well as receiving some special content and offers we'd love you to sign up to our mailing list. (don't worry, we don't share your info with ANYONE!) 

That's it for now folks, I do hope you like what you see! xxx

Shelfie solutions

While the phrase selfie might be the one that has made it into the English Dictionary, it's the #shelfie that is loved by both interiors fans and book lovers, and has become a bit of a phenomenon on its own. Whether it's perfectly styled shelves or rows of intriguing book titles, the shelfie gives a little insight into the person's life and loves. 

But you can't post shelfies without some fabulous shelves right?! So I thought I'd share my top 10 finds perfect for displaying your prized possessions.

1. Cox and Cox - wooden shelf - these would be perfect as space saving bedside tables wouldn't they?!

2. LOVEThESIGN - string shelves - These classic Swedish shelves are really versatile as the shelves can be adjusted. This image might just inspire your #plantshelfie too! 

3. LOVEThESIGN - pink wooden shelves - these are super cute in a child's bedroom - especially for displaying special keepsakes.

4. Urban Outfitters - mint shelf - I'm still a big fan of mint green so loving these modern, sleek shelves that will add a subtle pop of colour. 

5. LOVEThESIGN - simple white shelf - this classic and simple shelf will blend in to your decor and let your possessions shine. Hang some paper decorations from the hooks for extra colours perhaps. 

6. Urban Outfitters - cloud shelf - if you'd rather make your shelf centre stage, then this is a really fun design and budget friendly too.

7. Cox and Cox - wood and leather shelves - these go half way between a simple aesthetic and a centrepiece. Natural materials used in a modern design, love. 

8. LOVEThESIGN - string shelves - yes these are string shelves again - but in PINK! So deserved a special mention. Plus this pic shows them working well for crafty supplies. 

9. Rowen and Wren - plate rack - ok yes, not technically a shelf, but still a way of displaying crockery, books and other items. Love this simple wooden version. 

10. notonthehighstreet.com - concrete cactus shelf - this is described as a cactus shelf, but you could display any favourite small item here - ceramics, a vase of flowers or a tiny pair of child's shoes perhaps.

Do you enjoy posting shelfies? Do you like restyling your shelves regularly to keep things fresh? I'd love to hear what your faves are in this round up too! 

This post was in collaboration with LOVEThESIGN

plans for 2016

So far, 2016 has mainly consisted of grey clouds and rain here in the UK. We spent a week over new year at my parents in Northern Ireland, and it was nearly impossible to get out of the house because of all the rain! Not to mention that Ruby had a suspected case of measles, so we were pretty much quarantined until it cleared up. Yesterday was my first day back home and back to work, and it kicked off with a meeting with the new 91 Magazine deputy editor. (more on that later!) Afterwards I felt inspired and rejuvenated and ready to take on 2016! I thought I'd note down a few of my plans both personal and professional that I can look back on next year and see how they all panned out...

- I'm taking on a new part time job which will be 3 days a week. I will tell you more about this when I start next week! I'm still freelance, but it will just be a regular gig meaning a regular income which is great. 

- I am relaunching 91 Magazine this year. I'm super excited about this, there will be a new look, new website, new blog, new team and much more, so make sure to stay tuned for all the news!

- I hope we will finally get to move house. We are currently in the process of selling our flat and buying a house. I'm desperate to move as soon as possible as we are literally bursting at the seams here. Hopefully there will be lots to share on here once we start redecorating the new place!

- In conjunction with moving I really want to try and declutter. Although you wouldn't think it by the state of our house at the moment, I am actually a bit of a neat freak and it makes me feel uneasy when there is mess and 'stuff' everywhere, so I want to try and simplify things a little if I can. 

- Finally, my plan is to not plan too much. I'm always looking ahead to the next project or what's happening next week, next month etc, I want to try and enjoy the moment a bit more, especially when it comes to Ruby. It's a bit of cliche to say, but she really is growing up so quickly so I want to make sure I appreciate every little part of her development.

What are you plans for 2016? I'd really love to hear if you've got anything big on the horizon for this year that you want to share! x

 

My year in pictures 2015

Wow, I can't believe 2015 is nearly over already! It went by in a flash! I guess that's how life goes when you are juggling a toddler, a career and trying to sell and buy a house! Anyway, as always, I like to reflect on the past year, even if it is just for me, as it helps me to appreciate everything that has happened and not worry so much that I'm not getting enough done. 

The year started off with lots of book related news - of course the announcement that my very first book would be publishing in October, but also some other projects I'd worked on, including Shed Decor which I sourced all the photography for. 

Ruby turned 6 months in January so I finally felt she was old enough for me to leave her (with dad!) while I went to Paris to do some shoots for the book. I was shooting with one of the fabulous photographers who worked on my book - Simon Upton - and we shot two shops: Adeline Klam and Le Rocketship as well as their homes, I absolutely loved working on the shoots, and was a bit sad I missed out on the rest. Both shopowners were SO lovely, and I felt so inspired just hanging out with them for the day. The first pic below is Adeline's home and the next shot is Benoit's home of Le Rocketship. 

SU486_JS_Shops_AdelineKlam_H_4_HERO.jpg
Above two images, photo credit: Simon Upton/Jacqui Small Publishing

Above two images, photo credit: Simon Upton/Jacqui Small Publishing

It was pretty much full steam ahead with the book for the first six months of the year, but I still had to fit in other work around it including my craft blog posts for ao.com/life. In February I did a fun Valentines post with five handmade card ideas which you can check out here for next Valentines day! 

In March, we finally got round to decorating the last room in the house that needed it - the bathroom. It was probably the only room that was fine when we moved in, and we easily could have left it, but after getting a new boiler installed it needed redecorating as the walls had got damaged plus we had built a new cupboard around the boiler. I'm so glad we did in the end as it is a much nicer space now. You can read the full post and see more pics here

And of course we celebrated Easter by dressing Ruby up and eating lots of chocolate and mini eggs! 

In April I was featured in Prima Makes magazine which is always nice! And I took Ruby to my parents in N. Ireland, while hubby painted our floor white. What a great decision that was, it made such a difference to our dining area and hallway. 

photo credit: Cathy Pyle

photo credit: Cathy Pyle

This time of year is definitely my favourite. You start coming out of hibernation after winter, it's warmer, the flowers are blooming and I just generally feel more motivated. We finished off our kitchen renovation with the kitchen island worktop, which was a long and arduous battle. You can see how we did the DIY worktop here and also the full kitchen makeover tour

I also got busy with some spring/summer inspired craft projects, including this plant pot holder for the garden, and a floral wreath using my all time favourite flowers, peonies!

I also took a little trip over to Nice in May to celebrate 30 years of friendship with my best friend. We stayed in the amazing Negresco hotel on the promenade, drinking cocktails, laughing, chatting and shopping. It was a much needed holiday and I realised how good it is for the soul to spend quality time with someone who has been in your life since you were 4 years old, but don't get to see that often. Of course, even on holiday I've always got my eyes peeled for lovely shops, and this one called Cabane caught my eye in the old town area of Nice...

In June, our home was featured on Apartment Therapy which was a bit of a 'pinch me' moment! Photographer Cathy Pyle came and shot the pictures which were really fantastic, and it's such a nice 'souvenir' to have of our home as we are selling it and moving on, but we will always be able to look back on these gorgeous images. 

Photo credit: Cathy Pyle

Photo credit: Cathy Pyle

Blogtacular happened in June and it's always a really fun, inspiring day, where you get to hang out with like minded people and get motivated to get to work on your blog. Afterwards I shared what I think the benefits of attending a bloggers conference are. 

I finally got round to printing and displaying some of our wedding photos, exactly two years after we got married! Why does it always take us so long to do these things?! I'm so pleased I did as I love looking at them regularly and remembering what a great day it was. 

It's the time of year for weddings of course and I attended two in July. First one in London of a dear friend, and the second in Spain, when I was bridesmaid for my now sister in law. How stunning is this bouquet at the London wedding?! 

And in Spain, the pink and orange colour theme was stunning... 

In between the two weddings, we celebrated Ruby's first birthday, with a circus themed party at home. It's as much a celebration of making it through your first year as parents I think! It was such a lovely day though, and it's really unbelievable to look back and see the speed of change and development in your little human's first year of life. It's pretty incredible. 

August saw another trip to N.Ireland, and another wedding, when Ruby stole the show in this super cute little number... 

When we got home, I was greeted by the latest issue of Mollie Makes which featured our home! It was really lovely to be featured as their home tour, after writing about so many of them for the magazine. Such an honour, and again a lovely memento to have of our time living here. It was also featured on Made.com/unboxed this month! Our house has been getting around! ;-) 

To finish off the month of August, I went up to Milton Keynes to take part in a styling collaboration with Argos. It was such a fun job and day, and made me really want to do more styling work. I styled a child's bedroom, which you can find out more about here

September's highlight had to be my trip to Munich. I'd been nominated for a blog award by Callwey, a German book publisher, and they had invited us to a day and evening of blogger activities and an award ceremony. I didn't win anything, but it didn't matter as it was such a FAB weekend, and they had published a book to go with it, which includes some of my photographs and is really really lovely. You can read more about the trip here and here - the second pic below was from a styling event we attended at a shop i featured in my book - Room to Dream - such a lovely shop if you are ever in Munich! 

In September I also started the publicity in the run up to the publication of my book. I put together a special issue of 91 Magazine which was a little preview of what is inside the book. You can still view this if you have not got the book yet and would like a sneaky peek... view the preview here

We finished off September with a little break from all the busyness with a week in Spain. It was lovely to get away and see some sun and blue sky, although I''m not sure 'relaxing' is how I'd describe a holiday with a toddler in tow! Ruby loved running around on the beach and eating her lunch outside, so it's worth it for those little moments. 

In October, I turned 34 (blimey, mid thirties!) and I celebrated with breakfast out with the hubby, and a whizz around the Decorative Living Fair in Chelsea. I didn't buy anything though, as we are now in that weird state of flux where we are selling our house so there is no point buying anything new until we have moved... (much to my disappointment!) 

October was of course also the highly anticipated month of my book release! Obviously a huge highlight of my career! It really is a funny feeling to see your book that you worked on for months and months on the shelves in Waterstones and other lovely shops! I've really enjoyed seeing people's snaps on Instagram too, either when they've spotted it in a shop or taking pics of their own copy. Just hashtag #theshopkeepershome if you've got any you'd like to add. 

I also attended the Amara Interior Blog Awards ceremony, at which I was up for an award for this blog! I was in the interior magazine blog category, which on reflection perhaps wasn't quite the right slot for me, as this blog is a bit more a personal account of my love for interiors than an accompanying blog for 91 Magazine. I didn't win, but it was a really fabulous evening, and I enjoy those occasional chances to get out and chat with lots of other inspiring creative people. 

Following these high points in my life, it was followed by a very difficult time for our family. I haven't mentioned it on here so far, but as this is a round up of my year (good and bad) I thought I would now. Sadly at the end of October my husband's father passed away not long after being given a diagnosis of liver cancer. It was a huge shock, as only a few weeks before we'd all been out in the pub together for lunch, and there was no hint to what was just around the corner. He was truly a wonderful man, who brought up my husband and his brother (as a single dad for a time) to be respectful, caring, hardworking men and I am thankful for the last 13 years I got to call him my father-in-law. He will be sadly missed from our family, but we have vowed to always tell Ruby about how great her grandpa was. This pic was taken at our wedding in 2013. x

I wasn't sure whether to go ahead with the planned book launch event at the start of November, but as a family we decided that we would as my father-in-law was so proud of what I'd achieved with the book. It was a lovely evening with my close friends, my publishers and fellow bloggers and work colleagues. 

Photo by Siobhan Watts

Photo by Siobhan Watts

And then it was December already! The last few weeks have been spent getting ready for Christmas and preparing for 2016. I'm mainly preparing for a new job that I am taking on in January which I will tell you all about when i start! And working on plans for relaunching 91 Magazine! It's been a year since I published it, and I was so unsure how to move forward with it, but I'm finally excited about it again, as I have got a deputy editor joining me who again I will reveal in the new year, and also I'm hoping to get some other creative people on board to help me out. If you are interested, you can see more about the available roles here. There is going to be a brand new look, website and logo and lots of new features inside, but I will of course keep you updated on all of that as it happens! 

I'm taking a little break now until the new year, so I want to wish you a very merry Christmas and lots of joy in the new year! Thanks as always for your support and stopping by to read my ramblings, I'm looking forward to a creative and inspiring 2016! You can follow me on Instagram for little snippets from the holidays of course! 

xxx

All images by Caroline Rowland / Patchwork Harmony unless otherwise stated. 

91 Magazine news - work with us!

As 2015 comes to a close, I am very excited about what 2016 has in store! As promised, I am resuming publication of 91 Magazine, although it will be biannually instead of quarterly. There will be LOTS of changes including a new website and a new look, but I will keep you updated on everything as it progresses. 

Photo by Aileen Allen

Photo by Aileen Allen

In the meantime I wanted to share the news that I am looking for some lovely creative folk to work alongside us (I have a new deputy editor, whose identity I will reveal soon! She is super talented!) so I have posted the openings we are looking to fill on the website. All the positions are part time, and can be done from home, fitting around other work and commitments. We are looking for a magazine designer, a sub editor and a brand & advertising manager. You can download the full job specs over on the 91 Magazine website. Closing date is 5th Jan 2016 for all positions.

In addition, we are always looking for talented creative people to contribute , so if you are a photographer, stylist, maker, writer or blogger and think your work with fit with the 91 Magazine aesthetic then please do get in touch. Email me at info@91magazine.co.uk with any submissions. 

I look forward to hearing from you! :) 

Celebrating collaboration

I love a good collaboration. That's one of the things I love about blogging, as there are so many opportunities to work with great brands as well as other bloggers, photographers, stylists etc. It's also lovely to see brands collaborating with each other to produce exciting products, and this post is celebrating just that. 

British brands Christy Towels and Harlequin have come together to combine their products and design, with Christy producing a range of towels inspired by Harlequin's Amazilla wallpaper range. It's such a great idea to work with another company whose expertise can translate your designs into a product that you might not necessarily be able to produce. This is definitely something that independent designers should be inspired by, and look at who they could work alongside. 

Christy very kindly sent me some of the towels to share with you. Harlequin's Amazilla wallpapers are based on extravagant tropical motifs, so as you can see the towels are bold and graphic too. Great for adding a splash of colour to your bathroom. 

To mark the launch of the range and to celebrate this collaboration, Christy asked me to create a craft project using some of the wallpaper that inspired the new towels - so in fact, it's a bit of a three-way collaboration!! ;) 

Enter... my chance to have a crack at making some origami decorations! I've been wanting to give these a go for ages, and I should warn you.... they are incredibly addictive!! There are some things I make and I think I really don't fancy making those again, but these, oh my goodness, I just can't stop!

Rather than sharing the step-by-step instructions for making them, I'm just going to direct you straight to where I learnt how to make them. Bog and Ide blog has a great visual tutorial which I found really easy to follow. I ended up using superglue to stick mine together though, as my glue gun didn't seem to want to stick the paper I was using. 

The diamond on the left in the above pic was made using Harlequin's Pecoso wallpaper. The one on the right was made with some papers that came with Flow magazine, which I thought complimented the other one quite well. If you wanted to make these into hanging decorations, you can easily add string or ribbon through the top before you glue it together. I quite like them as simple decorations to set around the house, on the mantelpiece or a shelf... 

Are you a fan of brand collaborations? It seems to be happening a lot these days - obviously fashion brands like H&M and Topshop have done lots which often sell out in hours and some of my previous favourites have been Cath Kidston and Gola and recently two brands I love - Liberty and Meri Meri have joined forces to create some lovely party items. Shops such as West Elm have been collaborating with smaller independent brands to hold pop up shops in their stores like the recent one with The Future Kept as well as workshops with Quill London and Geo Fleur. I'd love to hear what your fave brand collaborations have been! I'm excited to start working on 91 Magazine again and do lots of collaborating! ;) 

Oh and one last thing - you MUST enter this competition that Christy Towels are running - You can win bedlinen, towels, a Roberts radio, a Fortnum and Mason hamper and much more!! A pretty fabulous prize! Enter here now

My book launch at Drink, Shop & Do

Not long after my book published in October, I gathered a few friends and colleagues together on a Wednesday evening in London to celebrate its launch. I really wanted it to be held in one of the featured shops, and was chuffed when the lovely Kristie of Drink Shop and Do offered to host it. 

After all the hours beavering away at my computer researching, coordinating photoshoots and writing the copy it was really nice to have an evening to celebrate its completion with my nearest and dearest as well as my colleagues at Jacqui Small, some of the featured shopowners and blogger friends! Thank you so much to everyone who popped along! 

Me chatting with lovely Jeska and Katy. 

Me chatting with lovely Jeska and Katy

Fellow recently published author and 91 Mag contributor Leigh Metcalf chatting with Sonia of The Old Haberdashery. 

Fellow recently published author and 91 Mag contributor Leigh Metcalf chatting with Sonia of The Old Haberdashery

Gift wrapping extraordinaire Jane Means

Gift wrapping extraordinaire Jane Means

Susan, owner of lovely shop Loop, featured in the book.

Susan, owner of lovely shop Loop, featured in the book.

Sonia, owner of The Old Haberdashery - also featured. 

Sonia, owner of The Old Haberdashery - also featured. 

Moi.

Moi.

Me with some of the featured shopkeepers. L to R: Sonia of The Old Haberdashery, Me, Susan of Loop, Lisa of Sew Over It and Kristie of Drink, Shop & Do. 

Me with some of the featured shopkeepers. L to R: Sonia of The Old Haberdashery, Me, Susan of Loop, Lisa of Sew Over It and Kristie of Drink, Shop & Do

It was such a lovely evening, and topped off by the news that Anthropologie are stocking the book! Has anyone spotted it in there yet? I must make the trip and see it! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine ever having a book for sale in there! ;) 

Finally a massive thank you to Siobhan Watts who took all of the above photographs. Siobhan agreed to come at quite short notice to take some pics and I'm so pleased as it really is lovely to have a record of my first ever book party! :) 

My tabletop Christmas tree

Space is at a premium in our flat these days (hence our planned move!) and last year we didn't even bother with a proper Christmas tree, opting for a slightly unusual fake 'branch' tree! I did miss a real tree though, and had hoped that we would have moved into our big new house by this Christmas and we'd be back to finding the biggest tree possible! But alas, we are still in our flat, so I had to compromise on size, but thankfully have got a real one this time! 

Literally the only space we have available for a tree was on a table top so we decided to opt for a smallish tree - choosing a medium pot grown Norway spruce from B&Q. While we were browsing the trees, it dawned on us that in fact this was a very sensible idea with a toddler running around! I'm sure by now most of those baubles would have been removed if the tree had have been on the floor! But as it is, Ruby enjoys looking at the tree, but can't reach it! A pot grown tree was also ideal for displaying on a tabletop, I just popped it into this zinc bucket to protect the table, which also concealed the black pot it came in. 

For the decoration this year I wanted to go for something a little different. Pink and grey might not be the colours you immediately associate with Christmas, but I think they actually look fantastic! I selected some pale blush pink baubles, strings of beads and some glittery snowflakes and mixed them with some grey homespun decorations, made from felt and wool. I'm really liking this mix of textures too. 

What you can't really tell from these images is that the lights actually have a bit of a pink glow which works really well with the scheme. I then styled the rest of the table top with honeycomb balls and other paper decorations from Hema, a vintage frame with a Paperchase postcard hanging inside and some vintage candle holders.

I must say, I am totally sold on a smaller table top tree - it doesn't take up too much space and is out of the way of mischievous children and pets! What are your plans for your tree this year?!

** Thank you to B&Q who provided the lovely tree, lights and decorations.