July 25, 2013
After my desire to forget it went ignored, I ended up having a fabulous 30th Birthday this week. It all started with a lovely surprise meal with good friends and family at the Lost and Found in Birmingham on Saturday night, followed by a surprise overnight trip to York for my actual birthday on Tuesday. If this is an indication of the next decade, I think I’m going to like it!
I absolutely loved York and will definitely be visiting again. It has such a buzz and a wonderful cosmopolitan vibe set against a fascinating historical backdrop. I really think I could live there. We stayed at The Lawrance apartments in the city centre (highly recommended) and Gav booked a meal for us at The Blind Swine.
We were completely in the dark about what to expect here – the website is under construction and there is no menu – you simply book and turn up. Gav was able to book a table fairly easily for a Tuesday evening, but I think there’s a waiting list on weekends.
The dark décor is understated cool, with mid-century style wooden tables and chairs, collage artwork and amp speakers fixed to the wall. There is just a handful of tables and a slick, shiny bar.
We were presented with a very unique cocktail menu, before tiny dishes started to arrive – served by the chefs who had prepared the meals in the open kitchen. We had 15 small dishes in total – including cocktails, plus savoury and sweet plates. I won’t go into them all – as I think it probably changes by the day – but you can see how beautiful they are (I was also rather smitten with the serveware, from Wonki Ware and Jars, if you’re interested!).
Our favouties dishes were the squid ink bread with beetroot butter; pork belly with burnt pineapple and squid; and salted white chocolate cream. I also loved the vodka sours with beetroot and balsamic vinegar, and horseraddish and juniper martini.
There was an element of Heston's style in the unique flavour combinations and quirky presentation (the nut-encased foie gras was designed to look like a Feast lolly), but it felt very fresh and modern. There were twists on tradition, like the watermelon and passion fruit puree that looked exactly like beef tartar with an egg yolk.
The service was excellent and it is such a great place to go for something a little different. The perfect special occasion meal for anyone who appreciates creativity and is crazy about food.
WARNING: While exceptionally tasty and fun, the dishes aren't very substantial - and if you order cocktails or other drinks on top of those included in the set menu, you may find yourself more than a little merry. Hic!
All pics taken by me at The Blind Swine, York.
July 16, 2013
Bright green is one of the most popular colours with Ruby Rhino customers. Furniture in this colour tends to sell quickest and one of our very first green pieces, this sideboard Harvey, is our most re-pinned piece on Pinterest.
I must admit, it is one of my favourite colours too, alongside yellow, and we’re currently painting our metal garden furniture in an eye-popping shade of green (I’ll share pictures once the spare is more presentable!).
Although very vivid and eye catching, bright green is surprisingly easy to live with, and looks very clean and fresh in kitchens and dining areas.
I love how the colour is used in the two rooms below to provide a pop of fun and interest. In the first room it clashes beautifully with splashes of bright blue, pink and yellow, while in the second it provides a jolt of colour in an otherwise neutral space.
I especially like how the high-gloss finish of the table enhances the shade and highlights the contrast with the vintage plywood chairs and mattblack paintwork and accessories. So what do you think of this summery shade, are you a fan?
July 10, 2013
The highstreet fashion scene seems really strong to me at the moment and River Island feels particularly cool. I loved this store in my late teens, but then lost interest when pieces became a little too bling and cheap-looking.
Now it’s back with a vengeance and a bevvy of stunning Isabel Marant-inspired pieces that are perfect for giving your wardrobe that well-traveled jet setter vibe. Here’s a few pieces I’ve got my eye on. It's typical they’re not in the summer sale, but they’re good transition pieces that will work well into autumn.
Tribal blazer, £40
Tie dye kimono, £35
July 9, 2013
PS. Some of our exclusive handmade reclaimed wooden wall plaques are also on offer in the NotOnTheHighstreet.com summer sale - go see here.
July 5, 2013
The sun is finally shining and I’m making the most of the lovely weather, planning picnics and BBQs before it disappears. A potato salad is a stalwart of the outdoor dining menu, but I’m not one for the cloying, mayo-laden versions that leave you feeling a bit sick. I wanted to try something lighter and different, to take on a picnic in Hyde Park tomorrow and to my dad’s birthday BBQ next weekend.
Inspired by the Swedish fare of mustard and dill, I came up with this simple recipe and surprised myself how good it was. The sweetness of the honey pairs nicely with the tart mustard and the dill adds a lovely, light fragrance. At tomorrow’s picnic we’ll have it with smoked salmon, horseradish dressed prawns, green salad, Swedish crispbreads and cheese, and then with herby trout and chicken at next weekend’s BBQ. The dressing couldn’t be simpler and really takes the humble spud to a new level. I hope you’ll give it a go.
Dill & mustard potato salad
750g new potatoes (I used Jersey Royals but any will do)
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 egg yolk
Generous bunch of dill, finely chopped
Pinch of Maldon sea salt
What to do:
- Slice the potatoes so they are all roughly the same size – bite-sized chunks work well. Cook in a pan of salted boiling water until tender. Drain.
- Meanwhile, whisk all the dressing ingredents together and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if required, or more honey if you’d like it sweeter.
- Toss the potatoes with the dressing and tip into a serving bowl. Top with extra chopped dill.
July 1, 2013
Last weekend I headed out to Ibiza with 11 girlfriends to celebrate our friend’s 30th birthday. It was a last minute decision for me to join them and I’m so glad I made it. There’s nothing like a bit of sun and chill-out time with your girls.
We stayed in the most gorgeous villa called Ses Arcades in Cala Moli, just outside a little village called San Jose. It was absolutely amazing with stunning views and beautiful rooms, excellent facilities and spotlessly clean. We felt like celebrities! I highly recommend it.
My last visit to Ibiza was 10 years ago and this was a very different trip to that one, which at age 19, was the kind of mad holiday many people associate with the white isle. This felt more relaxed and sophisticated, but still full of fun, mischief and lots of laughs. Good memories for sure.
Find full details about the villa Ses Arcades here.
June 28, 2013
When storage is an issue like it is in our kitchen, you’re forced to get creative. As we are short on surface space, I wanted something to hang and take up some vertical space instead. Enter the hanging basket. We’re familiar with them in our gardens, but not so much in our homes it seems. Well, at least not in the UK, as I searched high and low and finally tracked one down to an eBay seller in the US.
When it arrived, the copper was much shinier than I imagined, but I actually really like it now. It works a treat hanging above the kitchen work bench, next to our upcycled spice crate. What do you reckon? What creative storage solutions have you used in the kitchen?
Here's my inspiration:
June 21, 2013
Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately and I’m thrilled to finally reveal why. We’ve been uber busy developing three brand new product ranges over the past few months, which are now ready and available to buy in our Etsy and Not on the highstreet stores! They will be available here from the site shop too, just as soon as we make a few tweaks backstage.
Our pieces are designed and handmade in house, ensuring the very best quality. The new items continue our love for all things reclaimed and we are SO happy with them. We hope you love them too!
First up is our range of upcycled Parquet flooring tables. I am completely in love with these babies and we have received some fantastic feedback already. The tabletop is made from original teak Parquet flooring - painstakingly restored in individual tiles and assembled in the traditional herringbone pattern. This sits snugly inside a handmade-to-measure steel box frame with subtle rusting to give the table a cool and contemporary industrial feel.
Next is our range of upcycled wall art handmade from reclaimed wood. Each piece is a true one-of-a-kind as the timeworn wood retains cool quirks and character from its former use. The reclaimed wood is gently restored to reveal the grain and sealed with beeswax for a natural yet durable finish. They are perfect rustic touch for your home, and work wonderfully for styling up weddings and events too.
Reclaimed wooden hearts (medium and X Large) available here.
We have used the same reclaimed materials and technique to create giant letters - available singularly or as the words EAT, LOVE, OK. This range really channels my love for typography and the letters look so fabulous mounted on the wall or casually leaning on the floor or a piece of furniture. They are a great way to personalise a space, while being nicely relaxed and rustic.
My love for all things made from Kraft card is well documented so it seemed perfect to launch my own stationery range using this lovely 100% recycled card. First we have tags and labels in cute and quirky shapes - perfect for gift wrapping, wedding styling and many other uses - to be followed by many more goodies very soon.
NEWS FLASH: We are thrilled to report that we are now a partner at Not on the Highstreet and have a shop front on the wonderful site where you can buy our wares. Have you heard that NOTHS founders Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish have been awarded MBEs? The award is for their services to small businesses and enterprise and wholeheartedly deserved I think.
June 19, 2013
Obviously we're very keen on all things green and upcycled here at Ruby Rhino, and we try to do our little bit at home as well with simple measures that help cut energy consumption and ultimately save money too.
So when we were approached by Andrex Eco to get involved with their new campaign, fronted by top eco designer Oliver Health, we were eager to take part. See the great little video below with a peek into Oliver's wonderful eco-friendly house, plus his tips on making small changes around the home and insight into sustainable design. If you watch to the end you'll see Oliver answer my question about how public opinion to eco design has changed for the better.
I was interested to read the findings from the Andrex Eco study, which found that nearly half of Brits (48%) say that they would like to be eco-friendly but think it is too expensive and too much hassle. I think it comes down to priorities and if being green is important to you, you'll make the changes no matter what. It takes time to build a habit, but think how many of us recycle our food packaging now without a second thought? As Oliver explains, similar changes can be made with a little thought and time. And regarding the cost element, well using less energy and repurposing materials leads to saving money, so it really is win-win.
Is eco-friendly living important to you? I'd love to hear what measures you put in place at home.
June 3, 2013
We had the obligatory three-month inspection of our flat last week and although we’re taking great care of the place, I couldn’t help feel a little apprehensive as we've done a fair amount of decorating and changed a lot. You fellow renters know what I mean right? Well, I needn’t have worried – the inspector loved what we’ve done and we had a nice chat about decorating, paint colours and brands – and he left full of gratitude for the tips I’ve given him and new found enthusiasm for decorating his home. He was hoping to win brownie points with his wife!
Some ideas I’ve simply picked up in my own work, while others I’ve learnt from my dad Pete who has run his own decorating business for over 45 years. So today I thought I’d share some helpful hints that we used in our lounge. It is still very much a work in progress and there’s many things still to do and buy, like our dream sofa, a yellow juju hat and some form of fireguard to hide the electric eye-sore - but we've come along way in three months.
Our living room... we're slowly getting there
Unless you have lovely deep skirting boards to show off, painting them the same colour as the wall is a great idea to heighten your walls and increase the feeling of space in a room. I felt that our short skirting boards were out of kilter with the rest of the period features in the room so I didn’t want to draw attention to them. Instead, we opted to highlight the picture rail instead – painting it in the same colour as the coving and ceiling.
Early work in progress
Lose the radiator
In my dream house we’ll restore some lovely old cast iron radiators, but back to reality we have an unnecessarily large radiator that takes up almost half of one wall. So again, we used the same trick as above and painted it the same colour as the wall in an attempt to ‘lose’ it. Obviously it is very much still there but it doesn’t draw the eye nearly as much as if we had painted it a different colour.
As I mentioned before, the living room colour is Farrow & Ball’s Cornforth White, with Wimborne White on the woodwork. I really wanted to enhance the feeling of space in the flat, so decided to continue this colour palette through the hall way, office and kitchen. This is a popular trick with interior designers as enhances the flow of a property – making it feel like one open space rather than a series of separate rooms. However, as the hallway and office don’t receive as much light as the lounge, we lightened the Cornforth White with Brilliant White to create a brighter shade that still toned in nicely and achieved the sense of flow.
Avoid own brand paints
I was actually reminded of this tip while visiting friends last night who had just decorated their new place. They had a bought B&Q paint and were tearing their hair out when it took five coats to cover their magnolia walls. "Cheap paint is a false economy" I gently told them, and it really is! Own brand paints tend to be inferior quality so although they're cheaper than the likes of Dulux and Crown, you end up using much more, spending the same amount anyway and giving yourself extra work. One exception I've found is Wickes as their paints provide pretty good coverage.
Personally, I'm a big fan of Farrow and Ball for their great colours and quality, but there's no denying that they're pretty pricey, especially when you have a lot of walls to cover. So, we buy our paint from Johnstones Decorator centres, who make top quality paint for both trade and consumer, and colour match Farrow and Ball colours at a more affordable price. Result.
As soon as we moved in and took down the ghastly patterned curtains down (above), light flooded into the room and we knew we weren’t going to replace them. We struggled over what to do – off-the-shelf blinds weren’t big enough and a quote for my ideal solution – custom-made roman blinds – came in at over £500. We could probably justify the expense if we owned the place but not as tenants. So we went for a much cheaper custom-made option – roller blinds in a white gauzy linen-look fabric. The result is bright, yet soft filtered light in the day and plenty of privacy at night. Result. I find that dark curtains always close a room in by taking up unnecessary wall and window space, whereas blinds allow maximum light in and as we all know, sunlight is huge mood enhancer.
Do you have any decoration tips to share? I'd love to hear them! x