..Janice Issitt Life and Style..

travel, food, photography, home, crafts, personal style

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Jessica Zoob Artist Preview

The paintings of Jessica Zoob are not something you can describe, I don't want to show you them in full, perhaps just hint at what you can expect to see if you visit her studio over one of the two open weekends coming soon.

I don't want to show you because I really want you to get the wow factor the minute you enter this large studio just outside of Lewes.
Your first visit will always be one to be remember, my breath was taken away by both the scale and the emotions that are evoked.





A small group of bloggers who are all huge fans of Jessica's work, myself included, travelled from every corner of the UK to be together for this preview of what will be available to see in May. Works in progress and finished pieces are all here. Don't feel under pressure to purchase, because Jessica is such a generous spirit that she just wants to meet you and share her work with everyone.  A lovely relaxed atmosphere, quite unlike your usual stuffy gallery.



good friend Tamsyn Morgans working her magic

Jessica and Georgie who put together this wonderful event
If you can get to the studio you will get the full experience of the impact that this abstract wonder can have. It is dreamy and romantic, striking and emotional, with an amazing eye for colour combinations, and it is impossible to pick which one is your favourite. 

The Lewes studio is at : 
May 6-7 & 20-21  11.00- 17.00  Private Previews from April 29th.
Banff Farm
Upper Clayhill
East Sussex BN8 5RR
Free Entry, Easy Parking

If you are heading into London however, there is also a very special selection of  Dreamscapes’ oil paintings in the HR OWEN Rolls Royce Showroom ,15 Berkeley Square W1J 6EG
May 23 – 30  Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm Saturday 10am – 5pm Sunday 11am – 4pm.


view from the Lewes Studio

bloggers going about their business

So, you know I said that Jessica is enormously generous, well, she has also said that my readers can win a print from her.  I will be running it as the prize for May's Be Home Free hashtag on instagram so watch out for that announcement.
I will attempt to choose my own personal favourite for you.

What I would like you to do is to go a bit abstract maybe this month, look for colours and impressions of the month of May, at home and outdoors, wherever, it is about freedom this tag, home and away.

If you hop over to https://www.jessicazoob.com/ you can see the beautiful smile of this welcoming and lovely spirit, where there is a feel for the process and prints available of the art.  

I urge you to take some time out to visit here, it really does lift the soul and is hugely inspirational.

Love and cake from Janice xx

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Friday, 28 April 2017

April Be Home Free

I'm celebrating that my little hashtag #behomefree has reached over 10k posts so a big thanks to all who regularly use the tag and help to make a really beautiful feed, it's been a great way for me to discover new people and I hope that you have too.

April was a month of enormous weather changes from hour to hour, sunshine followed by hail storms, you just didn't know what to wear!

This month our prize is two tea towels from France as we are looking at all things French style here on this blog, leading up to a retreat in Brantome in September, booking is still open for that on the Lush Getaways site so look at my previous post for information.

One of my favourite things is grouping these photos together, these two here were my top favourites, I think @thesefourwallsblog has perfectly captured the essence of outdoor French style dining, simple but inviting, I can hear the laughter around that table.

Rida from @beforeandagain_ took us back in time with a shot she took at Charlecote Park and I just couldn't stop looking at it.



@thesefourwallsblog @beforeandagain_
Outdoors on sunny and moody days, we had bluebells, and so many new flowers to fill our eyes with beauty.  The photo of wisteria from @saffronandsuitcases is screaming French style, taken in Ju-Belloc  I just want to be in that photo with my croissant.


@lewesmap @niki.at.the.cottage @@micolbendel @saffronandsuitcases
 Pastel circles, tea and tart, flowers and butterflies.


@patisseriemakesperfect @lottsandlots @elizaroseshop @makeitinwales
 Simple and still, pale and interesting ...


@thevintagehousethatcould @_apothecary_ @littlegreenshed @alexandradudley



Gosh this was a hard one, but because I was looking for something that I thought had a French flavour, I have decided that the lovely Abi Dare from These Four Walls blog has captured something with memories of warm evenings outside the chateaux, or the gites perhaps.  The Lush Getaways retreat is going to be focused on food and a real culinary experience with antiques thrown in for good measure. If cooking is your thing, then lessons from top chefs and visits to vineyards will surely tickly your palette.


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Thursday, 13 April 2017

French Style - Top Ten Must Haves

If you want to get some ooo lala into your home, mix up some French style with other exotic pieces, then I'm here to help. I consulted some aficionados and put together a list of key elements that are seen in French homes and how you can work with them.


french linen bed sheet dyed by Gail at GZBB Antiques. I use it as a table cloth.

So I called the experts, one in France and one in San Fran, mother and daughter Kim and Johnelle Mancha.  Mignonne Decor is the beautiful store in Berkeley California, and having studied in Paris and Italy, Johnelle is quite the expert on eclectic interior design with a French flavour.  

Kim and her daughter are also the founders of Lush Getaways, where they will be hosting the most amazing retreat in the South of France later this year, it is booking now for September if you are interested, it will be a culinary adventure with antique hunting on the side, an old 17c manor house with salt water pool, yoga and cocktails, set in a beautiful typical french town. 

To kick off the list, my very favourite thing ..

1. Something Linen, or as much linen as possible. You can find many vintage and new items made from linen in France, bed sheets, tea towels, table cloths, napkins, curtains and shepherds smocks. The French have these large square pillows and are much more comfortable than cushions on a bed, perfect for sitting up in bed while you have a cafe au lait and croissant. 


large french pillow cases and linen peasant smock from GZBB mixed with new linen bedding from Soak and Sleep

details like religious statues are very french, curvy furniture too

2. Wooden chopping boards, a collection of imperfect ones for all your chopping needs. Collections of different shapes look great together in a kitchen as well as being practical.  Most have a hole in the handle so can also be hung from butchers hooks, they make an interesting wall decoration for the perfect rustic kitchen.



3. Old Glass Decanters and chippy vintage pottery and china. Most typically arranged in a lazy but stylish way on a dresser or open shelves.

4. A wild garden bouquet, not fussy or too prim, but roughly tied and placed in any container.



5. French Lavender potted plants, nothing says France more than this plant. Bring it inside for a few weeks before planting outside.


French shutters as wall decoration 

6. A rustic wooden farm table or something in the spirit of. This is on my wish list but I don't really have space so I have painted an old extending table with curvy legs, painted in colours with French overtones like grey and off white.  Keep your eyes peeled for an old scrubbed top one, pale pine planks with some history and tales of wine and song, summer salads and naughty deserts.

7. Lovely old glassware, cute little aperetif glasses for your traditional Apero, the most classic being Pernod or Ricard Pastis.
A ramshackle collection of Pernod or Ricard glasses and water bottles for when you have a Pastis on a long summer evening.


A drink that originally started as Absinthe, so strong it was an hallucinogenic and highly addictive, became adapted by Jules Pernod who took the ingredient of wormwood and changed it to the widely available and legal anise. Mix your Pernod or Ricard to three quarters of water and watch the dark yellow liquid turn to a milky pastel.  You can keep adding water to further dilute, sip slowly.

8. A chest of drawers with barrel front, think chateaux style, they are called a Bombay chest. Plenty of curves on this beauty for that faded grandeur feel.

9. Old books for styling up your bookshelf, interesting spines on topics your family would love. Start a collection of old ones with strange topics, fun to flick through while sipping your Pernod.




linen tea towels are an essential french item, old ones with embroidery 

10. Triple Milled Soap from France has been around since the 1700s and is the perfect luxury soap.  The process in soap making known as milling is done three times for extra fine quality and this special manufacturing method was invented by French soap makers. 

Have it on display in old china bowls, these with the stencil printing are very typically French.  Fill your bathroom with different scents and the pile the soaps high. 




If you want more inspiration for these looks I'm pinning daily to some boards over on Pinterest, for French interior style and food.


my Pinterest board for this is here : https://uk.pinterest.com/JaniceIssitt/french-inspired-by-france/

Other links you should check out : 

Lush Getaways France https://www.lush-getaways.com/
Mignonne Decor San Francisco
Kim in Brantome at her shop The Bohemians 
GZ BBAntiques selling at Uk Arthur Swallow Fairs.

In the summer I will be visiting Gail from GZ bbantiques at the Arthur Swallow Fair in Loseley and doing a shop the look for more key pieces.

Over on instagram I'm running a comp with the #behomefree hashtag so you can win the vintage embroidered linen tea towels featured above. Get tagging, until the next time, happy Easter, √† votre sant√© !!

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Friday, 7 April 2017

March Macrame Winner for Be Home Free

Thank you again for all your entries to #behomefree on instagram, with the prize this month coming from Bird Tribe Wall Art in the form of a blush pink macrame hanging. 

March is a mixed month, rainy days in bed mixed with signs of sun and days out to isolated beaches and interesting places.

@katrinabartlam @rebecca.kathryn @charis_in_wonderland
I've got my cooking head on this year, in preparation for the Lush Getaway trip to the south of France. My eyes are drawn to anything food related and beautifully presented. So the following caught my attention and made my mouth water ...


@trish.swetnellie @rayofsunshine60 @bittyfawn @the_curious_north

@takingamomentintime @aslowgathering @simpleandseason @salikons_roser

@_scarlett.l @lewesmap @catesthill @heatheryounguk

It was Heather who won my heart, I think I love everything in this photo, a fiddle leaf fig tree (on my list of wants), large glass bottle, dark walls and moroccan basket.  I couldn't wish for more, I think the hand made wall hanging from Nicole will look absolutely at home here.   


Thank you everyone who takes the time to use the tag, we are nearly up to 10k entries now which is more than I could ever have dreamt of.

Keep them coming, the vignettes, the home corners, the getaways and home from home. 

The prize for next month is something French and I will be revealing it in my next post which is the top ten tips on how to get the French Look in your home. 


Love Janice x



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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Magical Journeys to Essaouira Morocco

It was seventeen years ago when I got the flavour of Morocco. The first wave of interior design featuring ethnic styles was becoming increasingly more recognised, leaving behind the eighties fashions for Laura Ashley and pastel shades. I went with my friend to celebrate my fortieth and to see first hand the beautifully decorated china, coloured tea glasses and richly coloured textiles.

I have yearned to return ever since, so when the Creative Writing teacher Claire Steele came onto my radar with her Magical Journeys to far off lands like Kerala, Thailand and yes, yes, to Essaouira. Serendipity waved her wand and I was to discover that we would also be staying in the same Riad that had enchanted me nearly two decades ago.  The Villa Maroc is a haven in a paradise, exquisitely decorated and staffed with the most caring and attentive ladies and gentlemen.  Like all Riad houses, the exterior bare walls gives nothing away of what will wow you once you venture down its corridors.


so many ramshackle doors in walls that lead to who knows where

villa maroc
Essaouira, the windy city, the city of cats and carpets, is a breezy sea port on the coast of Morocco.  Previously to reach here you would have to negotiate the overwhelming and crazy Marrakesh to then drive three hours south, but now we have a brand spanking new airport, shiny and clean and just the right size for one or two planes a day, if only all airports could be this size.



You will probably know by now, that I am crazy about cats, nutty about squirrels and simply stupid about anything with a fur coat. I had forgotten how many cats were here and suddenly got a jolt that I may get upset if I saw too many poorly ones needing attention. Thankfully this isn't the case, on the whole, the cats are friendly and cared for, the odd one is a bit scraggy, but the majority of sun bathers, fish snatchers and scrap hoovers can be stroked and picked up. Often found asleep on the seat next to you in the outdoor cafe, or just ambling down the cobbles, Essaouira is all about the cat.



villa maroc


I have never tried any kind of class in creative writing before, or studied anything further than exams in English, so it was a complete and utter surprise to find out how Claire unlocks the words and imagination in our heads. She cleverly weaves her wisdom and kindness to encourage and stimulate every level of writer. The group practise became like a therapy for me, as we unlocked memories and life experiences to enrich our words.

Afternoons we wandered, shopped, sat in cafes being entertained by slightly toothless and tuneless street musicians, and we smiled and laughed, loudly and often.





Within a day we had found our way around, sticking to the outside walls will often take your round in a circle, the more we wandered the more we became brave to exploring the narrow alleys. Often we would wander alone and there was never any problems or unwanted attention to anyone, sure they like to sell to you, the banter is fairly full on, so if you want to shop be prepared to haggle and spend some considerable time doing so.

The sellers will often take ages before they quote you a price and then when you have your starting point expect to get them down to half the amount they started with. So when they ask 'what do you want to pay' say under half what they first said. They will act horrified, but if you start to walk away they will do anything to meet you somewhere in the middle, the banter can be quite hilarious. Be firm, don't feel obliged, if they are being ridiculous then walk away.




villa maroc
If anyone asks if you'd like to go to the 'hippy village' or Jimi Hendrix house, don't bother, its one scrappy cafe miles from anywhere.  We learnt the hard way and brushed it off to experience. Some of the braver souls got a camel ride back along the beach, which maybe I will try another time.

The beach is large, made of fine sand and windy.  Popular with wind surfers but certainly not too overcrowded. Here you can get camel rides, but I have no idea what it's like to swim, I'm sure the locals will advise you.




I had no idea that in the seventeen years that had passed, the shops would now have enlarged their range of wares and you can now buy great clothes, suitable for the climate and modest enough for the culture. I would suggest packing as little as possible, loose trousers, linen tops and light cotton layers can all be found, as can straw hats, lovely scarves and sandals of all kinds.

The streets are uneven and full of holes, so make sure you have some sensible shoes with you that won't rub when you do lots of walking in heat, perhaps save the sandals for a walk on the beach.



The food was fantastic, and I will mention below the names of places I tried and liked. Seafood freshly caught will be on most menus. If you are worried about avoiding any tummy upsets I can only give the advice that works for me.  I know people who do have one day of problems, I didn't want to risk it so I avoided tap water, even for brushing teeth, and salad which is washed in tap water. If everything you eat is cooked (particularly tagines that come piping hot) then it's safer for those who don't have a cast iron stomach.
The fancy restaurants will cost about 20 t0 25 euros for three courses without alcohol.  Lunch can be found for under 5 euros, the berber tagine is an omelette with flavours, a brochette is a skewer of meat, the grilled chicken is great. Vegetarians have lots of choices cooked and salads. Buy some hand sanitiser gel when you get there, in case you can't resist stroking a few cats or have handled some dirty junk. Some cafes may not have toilet tissue so a few wet wipes might also be handy to carry.




If, like me you find yourself divided by your own and your partners wishes on holiday then this could cover all bases.  Mine likes to sunbathe, so while he roasts on the terrace or braves the sea, I will be seeking the shade in some antique jewellery store, trying on the treasures previously owned by some bedouin, berber tuareg nomad.

The tribal jewellery is stunning, but if your tastes are more european then there are equally the same amount of new jewellery shops.  Rugs are also a speciality and a modest sized one can fold up smaller to squeeze in that empty suitcase. Have in mind your colour scheme before you go.









Lunch cafes I liked were Safran in a square surrounded by shops just off a main shopping street(Avenue Mohammed Zerktouni), also the Cafe Sahakfe which has healthy food and is on the Place de L'horage. Next door the shop selling clothes has lovely tops for men. Just round the corner is the Villa Maroc where you can book for an evening meal. Chez Ali doesn't look much but they serve a great Berber Omelette.

Other great eateries are ; The Unicord (La Licorn) Rue Skala (where there are also some lovely craft shops selling wooden boxes), Le Table de Madada, I didn't like Taros, it's very noisy,and the atmospheric and beautiful The Patio (fish). 

If your budget doesn't extend to the Villa Maroc I would suggest that you try and stay within the old city walls, in the Medina or Kasbah where your experience will be enhanced by the hundred year old houses, medieval walls and carless streets.  Here you can walk everywhere easily and drop back to your room when you need a rest.

I have already booked to go back as I want to do more and share in detail more individual shops. I am definitely taking empty suitcases with bubble wrap inside so I can wrap the breakables better. 

Love from along the watchtower ... x

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