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
May 27, 2013
I stumbled across a blog recently that I thought you might like to know about, if you don't already. It is called The Socialite Family and delves into the stylish abodes of real families around the world. Perhaps it is the nosy journalist in me, but I really enjoy peeking into stylish people's homes and reading about their loves, lives and inspirations. I guess it is a little similar to The Selby, although more accessible I feel.
All images by Constance Gennari for The Socialite Family
May 24, 2013
Don't worry - this little here blog isn't turning into a wedding planning report but I’ve had so many inquiries about our Kraft business cards that I thought some of you might be interested to hear about our Kraft wedding invites too.
I’m a little bit obsessed with Kraft card so knew we’d use it for our wedding invitations. We are getting married at a converted barn, so the tactile feel of the recycled card suits the rustic venue and relaxed vibe we want to achieve for the day.
I purchased the card and envelopes from Razzle Dazzle Rose and there's plenty of card leftover for other bits and pieces we’re planning for the day.
I looked into custom designed invitations but with quotes of £150+ we had to veto this option as it wasn’t an area we wanted to splash out on. So I turned to Etsy – the best place for PDF templates that you edit and print yourself. It is a super affordable option that gives the look of a bespoke design. Result.
We chose a chic and simple design from Amy Adams Printables, which I planned to get printed locally in Lichfield. However one issue I had was that the file I purchased was for printing at home – it was an Adobe Reader document, which could be edited and printed but not saved. This proved a problem as my home printer couldn’t take the cardstock and I couldn’t save the file to take to a professional printer either. Amy kindly went out of her way to help by editing and saving the file for me – but it’s just something to be aware of if you go down the route of buying a printable file for your own invites.
To add a little extra interest, I made liners for the envelopes using striped paper bags I had left over from one of our pop-up shops. I like the contrast between the rustic card and modern stripes, and although it was time consuming to do, several guests have commented on the little detail already so I’m glad I made the effort!
To make the liners, simply make a cardboard template around 1cm smaller than your envelopes, draw around it on your chosen paper, cut out and stick on with trusty Pritt stick. It got a little tiresome for 40 invites, but far more affordable than buying pre-lined envelopes. You can buy cheap paper bags on eBay or consider other liner options such as pretty wrapping paper, pages from old books and even wallpaper.
We are really pleased with the result and our guests seem to like them too. Are you brides and grooms out there making your own invites? Do you love Kraft card too? I'd love to hear from you.
May 22, 2013
The weather may be acting otherwise, but it is summer salad season in our house at the moment with some new favourites on heavy rotation. Last week’s amazing Caesar, and this delicious Asian slaw style salad with chicken.
I spotted it in Bon Appétit magazine and was drawn to the colours, crunch and quickness of using a rotisserie chicken. It is great for those evenings when even the most enthusiastic of cooks cannot be bothered to turn on the oven or hob.
I couldn’t find red cabbage so substituted two bags of this ruby coleslaw mix from Waitrose, which worked really well and saves even more time. I added some sliced mange tout and cocount as well, and used Sriracha sauce for extra punch. Sriracha hot sauce is my new best friend in the kitchen. Have you tried it? I put it on absolutely everything from poached eggs and avocado to soba noodles and fried rice. I’m actually feeling a little nervous now the bottle is almost empty. I get it from Amazon and the £6 bottle lasts for months, even for a chilli fiend like me.
We devoured this salad for dinner and packed in lunch boxes the next day. The recipe makes a fair amount and I imagine it would be great for picnics and BBQs. It feels healthy and light, but very filling and satisfying too. Give it a go! Find the full recipe from Bon Appétit here.
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May 20, 2013
I’ve always loved having plants and flowers at home but it has now become a need rather than want. I find it very calming to have nature around while I work and it really helps my mood and concentration. Do you find this? Of course it can get costly to replace fresh flowers every week, so I like to add different things like this lovely lilac snipped from my parents garden and this gorgeous butterfly lavender plant from Morrisons (popped in a terracotta pot painted with blackboard paint).
I’m on the look out for some new ideas and different vessels to display, so thought I’d share some of my Pin-spiration.
On the wall // Wall-mounted vessels are a great for saving space on surfaces and adding interest to otherwise plain walls. I particularly like this cute little glass bubble vases from Rowen and Wren.
Hanging pretty // Gypsophila seems to really divide opinion in the floristry world. It can make arrangements feel a little dated in my opinion, but can also provide a wonderful lightness of touch, as in these hanging Gyp pompoms. And how awesome are these hanging brass planters? I'm stalking some similar on eBay.
Branch out // Bringing branches inside is a great way to add an architectural element to your interior for next-to-nothing cost. If you haven’t got access to fallen branches or twigs, pick up something like willow or hazel from a florist or online at Decorative Branches.
If you fancy some simple DIY ideas for bringing the outside inside, check out my homes special in next Sunday’s Fabulous magazine (free with The Sun on Sunday).
May 17, 2013
Caesar salad with chicken is one of my all-time favourite salads. It reminds of the summer I lived on Martha’s Vineyard and I love to order it when eating out during the warmer months. I’m under no illusions that it is a healthy option, but it tends to be one of the few carb-light meals on pub menus.
I’ve recently started making it at home too and now both Gav and I are totally hooked. The secret is in a punchy homemade dressing. None of that goopy nonsense from a jar, oh no. A simple mix of finely chopped anchovies, minced garlic, lemon juice, zest and olive oil, and you’re good to go. I love this kale version (where my dressing is adapted from), but more often use romaine lettuce. A whole head provides plenty of crispy goodness for two people.
Croutons are made from sour dough, torn or cut into bite sized pieces, tossed with a little olive oil and baked in a 200°c pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Chicken tastes best griddled I think, with the smoky charred stripes contrasting nicely with the sharp and creamy dressing. I look forward to making this lots over the summer (if we get one!), enjoying it in the garden with a chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Bliss. I hope you'll give it a go.
Amazing Caesar salad dressing
1 garlic clove
3 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
*Blitz all the ingredients except salt in a blender. Taste and season with salt if needed. If the dressing is too thick, thin with a little water. Toss with torn romaine lettuce, croutons and grated Parmesan. Serve griddled chicken on top or on the side.*
May 15, 2013
I’m not particularly green fingered with growing plants or vegetables but I’m really keen to get our outside area sorted this year. We don’t have much and it isn’t very pretty (at the moment!) – but there is space for a dining area and displaying interesting potted plants. I like the idea of creating a simple, urban-style space - a little like these images here:
I’m currently drawn to a colour scheme of green, black and buff shades of brown, with splashes of orange and blue. It’s funny – these aren’t colours I’m normally drawn to in nature or floral design (especially not together!) but I’m inspired by this tear from Red magazine and think it could work really well in the garden for a fresh and contemporary look.
Two things I'm really into at the moment are potted trees and succulents. We already have them inside and plan to introduce them in the garden too. I love these vertical planters as they're a great way to dress up a boring expanse of wall. I think I might paint the walls too - perhaps F&B Down Pipe - to really make the green plants pop and help create an atmosphere.
Have you got plans for your garden this summer? I'd love to hear!
May 10, 2013
I’m always looking for interesting artwork to adorn our walls, so I love to follow the findings of The Jealous Curator. I like pretty much everything she features, but one artist that particularly caught my eye recently is Beth Hoeckel. Her quirky and whimsical collages really draw me in – a modern take on the surrealist artists I loved and studied at school. She's cool right? Check out Beth's website, Etsy store and on Society 6.
All works by Beth Hoeckel
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May 1, 2013
I’ve never really been into meatballs. Growing up in a red meat-free household, our bolognaise was soya, burgers were quorn and our sausages contained the lovely Sos Mix (it is really lovely, honest. I still use it in sausage rolls now.) The idea of a ball of meat sounded quite gross and never really appealed, until I gave them a go at Leon a few years ago. De-lish.
Now completely converted to these tasty little morsels, I love to make meatballs at home, especially with turkey for a leaner option to beef. My favourite recipes include Ottolenghi’s turkey and sweetcorn meatballs (I’ll feature them soon) and these hoisin-glazed turkey beauts.
Super simple and tasty, they are great to whip up any day of the week. We had them on Saturday evening with basmati rice and steamed asparagus. Yum. Just don't let them overcook - the lean turkey mince can dry out.
Hoisin-glazed turkey meatballs
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp freshly grated root ginger
½ tsp crushed red chillies
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
2 spring onions, minced – plus extra for garnish
450g turkey mince
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment/grease-proof paper.
2. Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, crushed chillies and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in corn flour until smooth. Mix in spring onions and turkey until completely combined.
3. Wet hands, take rounded teaspoon of mix and roll into bite-size balls. Lightly coat with cooking spray and transfer to oven. Bake until meat is cooked through – about 15-17 minutes.
4. Stir hoisin sauce, coriander and lime juice in a large bowl. Add cooked meatballs and gently toss to coat with glaze. Sprinkle with spring onions and sesame seeds and serve hot.