Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Cooling Treat...

It is hot out there! And we've been cooling down today with Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream and delicious Iced Coffee. 
Our Famous Iced Coffee (well famous in our house anyway)
We have to get our caffeine fix somehow so in the heat, why not ice it up!  
You will need:

1 shot strong espresso
2 x Tea Spoons Instant Coffee
2 heaped Tea Spoons sugar
2 drops Vanilla Extract
600 ml Semi Skimmed Milk
Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
Make the espresso and place in a jug.  Add the instant coffee, sugar and vanilla extract and stir til the sugar has dissolved.  Add a couple of cubes of ice and stir.  Add the milk and stir. Always good to do a taste test at this point and see if there needs to be an adjustment to either the milk or the sweetness.  Serve in a glass with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Bliss.

And for our second cooling recipe, Strawberry Ice Cream. You'll need an ice cream maker for this one.

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

You will need:

1 pint Strawberries, hulled and chopped
1/3 cup Caster Sugar
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Cups Double Cream
1 Cup Milk


Combine straweberries, 1/3 cup caster sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl. Cover with cling film and leave int he fridge for about 1 hour, longer if you have time.

Whisk the eggs in an electric mixer (we use a Kitchen Aid) and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar a little at a time and keep whisking until blended, and keep mixing for 1 minute more.  Pour in double cream and milk and whisk to combine. 

Meanwhile, mash the strawberries into a puree and add them to the creamy mixture (you can strain the puree if you'd rather not have strawberry seeds in the ice cream, but we don't bother) and mix to combine.  Transfer to an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions.



A world of words and wonder at Port Eliot Festival

Just as the big yellow thing in the sky came out, we set off to Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall. It's far from your run-of-the-mill festival - Port Eliot is a three day event that celebrates literature primarily, and acts as a platform for writers, speakers, and all manner of artists to showcase their work. Of course, there is music, and cabaret, too. 

We spent two nights camping in the lush green grounds - not too far from the stately home that was open to the public and hosted an exhibition of fashion designer Mary Katrantzou's dresses, one of which was inspired by the festival itself. 

Over the course of three days we strolled the estate, taking in the glorious views and exploring every inch we could, before taking a moment to watch the world go by as the sun welcomely shone on us. Here's a peek at what we got up to.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A chat with Thornback and Peel

Deck chairs, hankies, wallpaper, and cushions - there's almost nothing that Juliet Thornback and Delia Peel aren't itching to adorn with a curious, quirky print. 

Since 2007 they've been doing exactly that and under the name of Thornback & Peel they've quickly become known for their sketch-like motifs and unexpected take on home furnishings. We sat down with the ladies for a cup of tea and a chit-chat about everything from how they got started to their favourite food.

How did Thornback and Peel come to be?
We [Juliet Thornback and Delia Peel] met in 2004 and recognised a mutual taste for the surreal that bordered on grotesque. Our first collaboration was a collection of evening bags printed with brains, pulled teeth, and beetles. Delia had studied textiles at Goldsmiths and was working as a set designer at the Royal Court; Juliet was working as a florist. In 2006 we joined Cockpit Arts and a year later we established Thornback & Peel – a brand focusing on products for the home and inevitably reining in the grotesque a little.

Where do you find inspiration?
From everything and anything! Classically though it would be: Victoriana, Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, Mr. McGregor’s garden, our own gardens, and 17th century microscope imagery.

Who is your favourite designer and what aspect of their work do you most admire?
Juliet: Eric Ravilious; the designer of my coronation mug. He is a ceramicist, artist and textile designer and did all the designs for Wedgwood. My husband gave it to me and it is more of an ornament; I can’t bear to use it in case something happens to it.

Delia: At the moment, the late designer, illustrator and commentator Olle Eksell.

What aspect of your work gives you the most pleasure?
Lifting up the screen and seeing the first print of a new design.

Where are you most creative?
All of our designs are collaborative so we start of the creative process by clearing our desks and making a cup of tea. We are looking forward to moving our office into the new shop on Rugby Street where we’ll have room to spread out.

What is your workspace like?
It is no longer chaos thanks to our amazing studio manager Emma – now there is a place for everything. We’ve been in this studio within Cockpit [Arts] for three years now, and we feel pretty established in the space – it has worked as an incubator for us; both creatively and commercially,

How do you describe your style?
A celebration of the traditional quirkiness of British humour and design.

What are you currently working on?
We’re just beginning to sample some beautiful rabbit coasters and placemats, and we now sell fabric and wallpaper by the metre, which is an exciting addition to our product range. We’re also in the design process for the opening of our shop in Rugby St (off Lamb’s Conduit St).

What was the best advice you received when you first started out?
Try to stick to your plan.

What advice do you have for other designers starting out?
Get as much work experience as you can afford to do.

How do you achieve a work/life balance?
Er, it’s a juggle, but there is a structure under the chaos…somewhere.

What are you other passions?
Our families.

What is your favourite food?
Juliet:  fish and chips.
Delia:  roast chicken.

What is your greatest weakness?
Delia:  impatience.
Juliet:  hesitation.

Thornback & Peel's Artichoke Apron, Tea Towel and Hankies are available Exclusively at Roost Living.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Easy, healthy, burger dressing

We have the Americans to thank for introducing us to the good old ‘burger and fries’ and it’s a dish Brits (and the rest of us) love just as much.

Burgers in buns make for a wonderful simple supper too, and just by switching a few sides - such as mayonnaise for juicy home-made salsa - gives an old classic a delicious, yet healthy spin.

Here's how to make the salsa (it literally takes minutes and costs next-to-nothing):

4-5 ripe tomatoes
tsp of ground coriander seeds
¼ tsp cumin
1 clove of garlic, smashed
½ a small onion, diced
½ a small green chilli (with or without seeds)
dash or two of freshly squeezed lime juice

Drop all the ingredients into a food processor and give it a whizz - not too long though; the salsa is best a bit chunky.

Pile on freshly grated beetroot, rocket, a sprinkling of mozzarella, and enjoy!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Artichoke Season, Pan-Cooked Artichokes

Artichoke season is here so its the perfect time to start experimenting in the kitchen with this striking yet beautiful vegetable.  When cooking artichokes it's best to keep it simple.  Here is a rather delicious, yet simple recipe is from My Tuscan Kitchen by Aurora Baccheschi Berti, with beautiful imagery by Beth Evans.

Pan-Cooked Artichokes

12 Baby artichokes (violetto variety preferably)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Leaves from 1 bunch parsley, chopped, plus more for serving
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the artichokes, remove the hard outer leaves, and cut off the pointed ends.

Place the artichokes in a saucepan with the oil, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Place over low heat, add 1 cup of water, cover the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the artichokes are tender.   Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Artichoke Apron, Tea Towel and Hankies by Thornback and Peel is available Exclusively at Roost Living

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The party theme....

It is that time of year again, when I dream up yet another Children's birthday party.  My inspiration for kid's party often comes from Donna Hay's Kids Magazine.  Donna Hay is an Australian food writer and she's always been a bit of a hero of mine. Her food is delicious, but it's her styling I particularly love...

This year the theme is Pink Rainbow, strange you may think, but a great inspiration for food... I'm even going to try one of Donna's Rainbow layer cakes...

My search for the perfect party bags in the UK proved fruitless. I just couldn't find any I liked, so I have to admit, I ordered these lovely brown paper party bags from Donna Hay's Home Store

all the way from Australia!  Ok.  I may have gone slightly over the top...

So I am still in planning mode, but I have decided (after my dreadful efforts last year) to bring in an expert to take the photos.  So London based children's photographer Emily Gray is stepping in to help. 

With only a week and a bit to go, the pressure is on.  I will report back with styling decisions, recipes, and whether I survived 2 hours with 18 3 yr olds in my house!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Make your own vintage bunting

With a summer of celebrations upon us (first The Queen’s Jubilee, and soon, the Olympics), now couldn’t be a better time to festoon your home with decorations – vintage, lace-laden ones of course!

All you need to make your own vintage bunting is a selection of old doilies (fabric ones, though paper ones would work too – just use glue instead of sewing them). You can often buy a bundle on eBay, or if you’re lucky, someone in your family may have an stash simply waiting for a use.

Once you’ve got your doilies – big or small, the more variety the better – all you need to do is cut each one in half.  Find, or buy, a length of cream-hued bias binding that’s wide enough to slip cut doilies in-between the fold.

Arrange your cut doilies as you’d like them to sit on the finished bunting, slipping them into the bias binding and pinning them in place. Once ready, stitch the entire length of the binding down on a sewing machine and voila - your very own vintage bunting.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A few Highlights...

The Roost Sale is now on with 50% Off across a range of items.

Here are a few of our favourites:

Linda Bloomfield's beautifully simple Candy Cakestands are now on sale, 50% off 
Was £48 Now £24

Candy Mug now on sale Was £18 NOW £9

Vintage Decanter by Kathleen Hills, WAS £82 NOW £41

These lovely Set of 3 Mini Vases by Shan Valla Was £40 Now £20, make really lovely gift for Birthdays.  Arrive in black box.