Janice Issitt                    Life and Style

travel, interiors, photography, home, crafts, personal style

Big This Week

Recent Posts

9 Dec 2017

Be Home Free - Christmas Winners

In my countdown to Christmas, I thought some reading and shopping recommendations would be handy as I do like to share the love, particularly with small businesses and individuals.  You may remember that I was gifting a beautiful Christmas tree to one lucky winner of the 'Be Home Free' competition and the winner is announced at the bottom of this post, along with links to the other entrants. 


My tree from Lekto (those clever eco log providers) is just so lush, you can get one in the size of your choice over at ; https://lektowoodfuels.co.uk/products/lekto-premium-nordmann-fir-christmas-tree
so if you don't have time, or a car, to go and collect your own, then order one of these to be delivered to your door in lovely clean packaging and save making a mess of your own vehicle. The tree is really fresh and thick, so lustrous that it doesn't need many baubles.

The competition to win a tree saw some really pretty seasonal images as the decorations start to build up in our homes. Fires are being lit, wreaths being woven and fairy lights switched on. 


@bbutterscotch @and.mead @ceramicmagpie


@lewesmap @incredibusy @thegelfis @geoffreyandgrace

Also, in case you may have missed it, Reclaim magazine is celebrating it's second birthday. Last year I joined with Tamsyn Morgans and Alice Roberton in making a series of features for this magazine that we are very proud of. We have had some adventures, I can tell you.  We froze our toes off in Wales, boiled on the hottest day of the year in a greenhouse, spent late nights making decorations and drove a lot of miles across the UK with cars full of props. Our favourite magazine is running a competition to win a subscription, to enter post a photo on instagram with the tag #reclaim_birthday and show your image that says 'party'.  If you can feature the magazine in the photo then all the better.  The six chosen photos will also have their entry printed in the magazine! 








We made some fab things for the latest issue, Alice showed us how to make your old tin cans into lanterns, Tamsyn made baubles from old book pages, and I added a twist to my dreamcatchers, with small lace snowflakes to hang in a window. 

Here's my recommended reading and shopping blogs and sites ....


Incredibusy ; http://incredibusy.com


Geoffrey And Grace ; http://geoffreyandgrace.com




And so, onto the winner of the Christmas tree ..... drumroll please ... a beautiful fir tree is winging it's way to Melanie and Bailey, also known as Geoffrey & Grace, and if you have a look at Mel's instagram feed you can see how to get a personalised jar of marmite!

Love and peace to all, Janice. 

Share:

29 Nov 2017

Christmas Tree Competition

In my countdown to Christmas I thought we definitely need a recommendation of where to get a tree, and maybe even how to get a free one delivered to your door. Well, wait no more because I have the answer.


You may have read in my posts before that I get my fire logs from Lekto Wood Fuels, who supply a different range of compressed eco logs, heat logs and birch wood logs, firelighters and kindling. 

For the month of December Lekto will also be able to supply you with a real Christmas tree, a Premium Nordmann Fir Christmas Tree, those lovely lush ones of deep green soft and plump needles that don't drop and don't prickle.


If you choose a weekday for delivery then it's free and it comes all wrapped up and moist. I would suggest that while you are placing your order then do add some wood logs for your fire or wood burner, once tried you will never go back.

My tree here is a 5ft - 6ft tree and it is so perfect that I didn't want to overload it with decorations so I've chose my favourite vintage baubles and added into the mix the 'moon and stars' garland and battery wire lights from Rose & Grey. 


So here's some exciting news - if you live in the UK you can get one free by simply entering my instagram competition.  All you have to do is follow Lekto Wood Fuels and add the hashtag #behomefree_tree
to any of your photos.

The competition will run for the next 10 days so get your skates on and start tagging. Lekto start their deliveries from the 1st December.

For the moon and stars garland check out Rose & Grey who also have the battery operated wire fairy lights.

More Christmas decorating ideas coming soon, cheers you lot. x



Share:

26 Nov 2017

Boho Christmas Styling Ideas

Continuing my final countdown (ok I won't burst into song again), to the season of candles and fairy lights, I've put together another alternative look using the lovely items I chose from Rose & Grey click on this link for their Christmas shop .............https://www.roseandgrey.co.uk/christmas



I love these feather decorations in rich opulent colours. I had some dried hydrangea heads in very Chrismasy colours and so instead of a wreath I have hung them like a bunch with the feather baubles. Add to this either side the individual feathers for a garland look. All of these feather decorations could also work very well on your tree, or a tree alternative.




These richer coloured decorations work really well with the small honeycomb christmas trees, which can hang or stand. They are very light in weights so perfect to hang anywhere around the house, or stand amongst your other things, but don't forget they are paper, so not too close to candle flames.




As mentioned in my last post, I have been making my own candles to re-purpose some old glass containers, if you don't have time to do this, then check out The Botanical Candle Company, where I frequently buy their Ball Jar soy wax candles. I've also put some sparkly tea lights in champagne coups/cocktail glasses as they look so good given a bit of height, these are another thing to keep your eyes peeled for in the charity shops. 



I found some fabulous Christmas plates from the 1970's in a charity shop. Collectable plates from famous makers, in presentation boxes often find their way to the charity shop so keep an eye out, I got these for an amazing £3 each. 



Battery operated wire lights are a must have, get lots of them, you won't regret it.

Watch out soon for a competition coming your way and info about where to get a tree.  Happy decorating xx



Share:

16 Nov 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas ...

It's the final countdown, ta da da da, ta da da da da ...ok I know it's early but thought I should give you a chance to get planning.
My lovely friends at Rose & Grey asked if I would like to choose some products from their Christmas range to play with, I of course, jumped at the chance to get some new decorations and here's what I've done with them, I hope it gives you some ideas.

Every year I say, ok I've got enough Christmas decorations, I've bought new ones every year for the last couple of decades!! Sadly when I moved in with the Other Half the fragile thin glass ones disappeared one by one due to the world's most clumsy Taurus. 

Truth is, I just can't help myself, I love trying out new and different looks every year and adding to my vintage bauble collection or going with the latest trend. I'm going to try a pastel pinky theme I think this year but it's a work in progress.




I've created a few different looks, one for the dining area and one for the lounge, and in this post I'm showing a few ideas for the table on the days leading up to the holidays, more a 'start of party  season' feeling, which looks light and whimsical but not too obviously Christmasy.


darker evenings equals candles and fairy lights
Pretty cake stands with mince pies and biscuits for an afternoon snack or just to pick on if you are feeling naughty. 




Several years ago I fixed a hook above my table and it has come in useful on so many occasions.  I've hung planters full of hyacinths for spring, candleabras with real candles, hoops with decorations and small jars hanging from it (similar to the one in Reclaim magazine this month), and different lanterns depending on my theme. 

I've fixed it so that it takes a reasonable weight but if you do this and think it won't handle anything heavy, then these light paper decorations are perfect.  I particularly fell in love with the strings of moons and stars on this 'mini garland on a spool'. I think this would look so pretty winding it's way all across the room.



Rose & Grey also sell the wire lights that I've put in a glass vase and they are super adaptable. The lights are battery powered so they can go in places where you don't have a plug socket and great if you don't want wires trailing everywhere.  

I've been making my own candles so that I could re-purpose some glass containers that I had in the cupboard. I bought some soy wax on e-bay and also some fragrance to drop into it. It's super easy to do, you melt the wax the same way you would melt chocolate, in a pan within a pan. You boil water in the larger pan and then place the smaller bowl, jug or pan inside that making sure the water doesn't spill over. Then melt the wax and when it's clear, take it off the heat, let it cool very slightly and then add the fragrance drops. Glue your wicks to the bottom of the vessel and support them in an upright position while you pour the wax in.

I'm making a few as gifts as well for friends who like a hand made present.





And finally, I made the effort to actually arrange some flowers rather than just plonking them in the nearest vase, actually it only took a short while to do, we picked some autumn branches from the road side and mixed with these lilac roses and cabbages. The florist sold me some 'oasis' which you should soak for a good long while before using. I left my metal urn in the garden by accident and it has the most wonderful rust on it now, so I'm pleased, as it tones so well with the autumn leaves.

Watch this space for next week so see what I've done with my fireplace.  Don't forget to hop over to Rose & Grey for some great alternative decorations their Christmas section is https://www.roseandgrey.co.uk/christmas


Share:

28 Oct 2017

October - Be Home Free

October has been a beautiful month of misty mornings, some crisp sunny days and the arrival of pumpkins (of course) here in the UK. So my round-up of the Be Home Free hashtag this month is to celebrate once again, that gorgeous fairytale vegetable.

Thanks to everyone who uses the tag over on instagram, it's a great way for me to discover new accounts from all over the world.


@lucyquartermainejewels @homeisacottage @fromacountrycottage @lepetitefika

@niki.at.the.cottage @_toutsimple_ @acupfullofglitter @abookishbaker

I started to carve one of my smaller pumpkins and realised that it was mostly flesh, so I roasted it instead and made a soup with creme fraiche stirred in at the end. 


Giving you a heads up that at the end of November/early December I will be hosting a competition (for those in the UK) to win heat logs for your fire.  See my previous post about them and start tagging your photos of your fire (whatever kind it is). In the meantime follow me and Lekto Wood Fuels on instagram or facebook for more information.


Share:

20 Oct 2017

Getting All Hygge again

It's that time of year again - let's all get that Hygge feeling !
So here's my top 5 tips of the best ways to do that Danish cozy thing that we have all embraced so heartily.

Number One ; Real Fires

For me there is only one option for a good and eco friendly fire, and that's products from Lekto Wood Fuels, who make all their bricks and fire lighters from the unused wood shavings that normally get thrown away.




The British company Lekto have been making their wood fuel for over twenty years, and they are suitable for open fires, multi-fuel burners, and firewood stoves. I can confirm that their wood wool fire lighters catch super fast, as do the briquettes, yet their burning time is good and they leave virtually no mess behind in the grate. It will save you so much time in cleaning out the ashes, are clean and dry and very easy to store. 

Number two; wool bedding 

It's been a revelation to me, as I'd simply never heard of wool bedding until last year, but again, this British Company WoolRoom have found a chemical free, totally natural way to keep warm and cozy in the winter, and cool in the summer with duvets, pillows, mattress protectors, toppers and more; all made from british wool or alpaca fibres, encased in natural cotton.

The natural wool sleep products are good for those with allergies and made without harming any animals.



Literally every time I change the bedding my Ziggy is there like a shot, padding and purring and snuggling up, he is the biggest fan of wool bedding, and we all know that cat's are excellent at choosing the most comfortable place to sleep.



I do appreciate that allergy sufferers are horrified that my cat's sleep in my bed, but with the help of a good pet hoover, we can all snuggle down together and they make good hot water bottles when you're feet are cold.

Number Three ; Candles

Hands up who else is obsessed with candles, for me particularly scented ones and beeswax ones. Find them hand poured into lovely old containers, or make your own by melting church candles into pretty cut glass bowls.  

Make sure you are safe with naked flames, so find a lovely candle shelter like the one here from Rose & Grey.



Number four ; cushions and rugs

Whether it's lovely Moroccan Berber or fur, rugs not only look cozy but also great under foot by the sofa or fireside.

Change your summer cushions and rugs over from cottons to wools, from linens to furs, it's time to get the Scandi chic vibe going in time for the cold season.


Number five ; warm food and hot drinks ... 

Whether it's a hot milky drink, a root vegetable soup or just your morning porridge, keep it health and comforting and get that warm glow on the inside as well as the outside. 







Last but by no means least, get yourself some lovely hand knits, or better still learn to knit and make a chunky sweater or just hat and gloves, real wool is breathable unlike acrylics and often hard to find in knitwear on the high street, and by making items yourself, you get to choose the wool and colour from a much larger range. 

I've got a fancy for a lovely ochre, mustard coloured jumper but not sure I have the time to knit the whole thing, so keeping my eyes peeled with some of my favourite clothing brands.  Be sure to watch out on Instagram for some of my winter looks. 

Love Janice x

Share:

14 Oct 2017

Annie Sloan, Oxfam and new colour Lem Lem

This weekend sees the launch of a limited edition colour of Annie Sloan's chalk paint.  This fresh green is called Lem Lem and has been inspired and created in conjunction with Oxfam and Annie's visit to Ethiopia. Delighted to be given the chance to try out this new colour, I set about hunting down the perfect thing to paint. 

As the colour is based on the green fields of Alliums at the Ethiopian Seed Project, and the word means 'to flourish', I knew I wanted to do something with plants.  After a few days hunting the charity shops in my area I finally found the perfect thing, and taking the idea from my Reclaim magazine shoot about botanicals, I spotted that this chair had the perfect recess when the seat was removed.





The chair was £7.50 as the seat cushion had degraded so much, but I could straight away see that the cushion would not be used as the handy storage area under the seat would make a perfect hole for planting.

My intentions with this chair are that it could be inside or outside, the succulents are a mixture of both indoor and outdoor ones, and I think that during these cooler months, this would work perfectly in a conservatory.  It's a great way of grouping plants together as well, and if outside, the back of the chair gives some shelter.

The fresh natural colour of Lem Lem is just so perfect, inspired by plants, it tones so well, and becomes an organic object in it's own right.




If you want to see how others have used it then follow the tag #anniesloanandoxfam and you can see some fabulous videos on Annie's facebook page of her visit to Ethiopia.

Every pot of Lem Lem sold will raise money for Oxfam GB, so head down to your local stockists or order online from Annie Sloan Home direct, (if you click on that link it will go straight to Lem Lem).




Share:

30 Sep 2017

Pumpkin Perfection

When I visited my local pumpkin farm today I let out a little squeal of delight at the sight of them all. I have no idea why they make me so happy, but I just love them. As a consequence I end up with quite a lot of them in my house as decorations (and I don't mean just for halloween either), but I do really need to start eating them more too.



I'm not much of a cook but I am trying to eat more healthily and prepare more things from scratch so this month I've been experimenting a bit with raw ingredients, pumpkins and squash being one of them.  So what is the difference between a pumpkin and a squash? well nothing really, the pumpkin is a type of squash, but they are all from the same family, so I thought I'd try and identify the different varieties but honestly, it's impossible, there are just so many.






With names like Aladdin, Cinderella, Cotton Candy, Halloween In Paris, Fairytale, Jack-be-little, Charisma and Full Moon, I have seen more than fifty types of pumpkin listed and that's separate from squash, which itself has so many types, there are Turban, Acorn, Blue Ballet, Orange Dawn, Pink Banana and so on. 

My first stop, recipe wise, is always soup, just in time for the colder days, the pumpkin is such a good base for a thick and nourishing soup, and I'm also partial to the colour, it's so appealing. Sometimes I mix it with other vegetables that I may have around, but generally I stick to just frying up an onion, chopping the squash (I wish the skin wasn't so hard to get through, the arguments we have had here over whether it's worth the hard work!), and then adding them to a bit pot with water and stock cube.  I like it really thick so I watch how much water I add. As I recently commented on instagram, I think I need to get one of those wand blender stick things to smooth it out a bit perhaps. Finish off with a big dollop of creme fraiche and a large slice of artisan bread.





This pumpkin farm is very close to where I live in Buckinghamshire, they are called, "Farmer Paul's Pumpkins" just outside of Aylesbury and they open in late September ready for the Halloween season. Paul's wife told me that a great recipe is to use the pumpkin as a cooking pot, take the top off, remove the seeds and fill it with cooked lamb mince and onions. Bake in the oven and then when you serve the orange flesh can be scooped out at the same time as the meat, having been infused with the meat juices and flavours, it will come away from the skin nice and soft.

If like me, you struggle with the chopping and peeling then perhaps you should try roasting it first, cut in half, remove seeds and drizzle with oil. 








Last year I had a bash at making pumpkin pie. You hear so much about it from American tv and film, but you don't see it so much here in the UK. I cheated and bought tinned puree, which only seems to be on the shelves here for a few weeks, so I've looked up how to make the puree filling from scratch.

You may want to google up how to do this, as I'm sure there are many different ways, and I wonder if we can get the same ingredients in the UK. I saw a recipe that says to get a 'sugar pumpkin' and I'm not sure we have those so commonly, cut in half, remove seeds and rub the skin with oil (recipe suggests canola oil which in the UK we call Rapeseed oil). 

So roast it the same as for most other recipes, then put the flesh in a blender, make it nice and smooth and mix with ;

Condensed milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves. Some recipes suggest molasses, lemon zest and cornstarch but I thinks it's probably good to experiment, I've also seen one that adds stem ginger.

Put the mixture into a pastry case and bake slowly until it is set, it could take one hour. 

I'm a fan of sweet and savoury mixtures so this appeals to me and I think I will follow a recipe that uses less sugar or molasses than the others. I've also seen one that suggests to steam the pumpkin instead of roasting it and this way it also comes away from the skin, (cut it into sections first).






Aside from soup, or as a roast vegetable accompaniment, this sweet to savoury ingredient is also great in rissotto, tagine, curry, cake, and on a savoury tart.

Do you have a favourite recipe for pumpkin then do let me know over on instagram. I've turned off comments on this blog due to high levels of spam but I'm sure you can find me on facebook or twitter too.

Wishing you and your pumpkins a happy autumn. 

Share:
Blog Design Created by pipdig