Splashes of colour: Blogtacular Photowalk on the Southbank


Last Saturday (how has it already been a week??), I attended Blogtacular and managed to get a place on the photowalk. For those of you that don’t know Blogtacular, it’s a pretty inspiring conference with various workshops and talks on things like social media and styling. It was my first time attending, and it was a ton of fun.

The photowalk, led by Xanthe Burkley and Sammee Lapham, took place before the conference; so while most sensible people would have still been having a Saturday lie-in, we were out and about snapping photos on the Southbank. Although the photowalk was in a place that is very familiar to me (we live c.10 minutes away), it was a real treat to have the place to ourselves and take pictures without the rest of the world photobombing! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the riverside quite that quiet, to be honest…


I’m trying to get better with colour – i.e. be less scared of it, use it more, embrace it – and to try out different ways of building it into my photographs. It wasn’t too hard on the Saturday, thanks to the ever-stylish bloggers and plenty of balloons! Was great getting to meet so many creative brains and fun personalities.



DIY Ombre Pot: Hibiscus in the House!

Some of you might know that I have family living in Malaysia, which is suddenly relevant because May’s Plant of the Month at The Joy of Plants was the Hibiscus, Malaysia’s national flower!


The Hibiscus flower always reminds me of hotter, sunnier climes; aren’t Hawaiian shirts typically covered in the flower, for example? And I’m pretty sure hibiscus drinks/cocktails were invented in the tropics (by the way, there is a recipe for hibiscus tea on the website, and it looks YUM. Did you know that the flower is full of vitamin C and can lower blood pressure? Well, now you do!).


It’s only fitting then, now summer is upon us, that we spend some time admiring the hibiscus plant and showing it off in our homes. Here’s a DIY for a dip-dye flower pot! Enjoy.

What you need:

  • Hibiscus (in a pot)
  • Glass tank, vase or a bucket
  • Coat hanger with clamps (the kind for clipping trousers with)
  • Tin that will fit the plant
  • Piece of cotton fabric, preferably washed so that it doesn’t shrink
  • Pot to mix the glue with water
  • Textile dye
  • Salt to add to the dye (so it will set)
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors
  • Rubber gloves


Fill the tank vase with dye according to the instructions. Cut the fabric to the width of the tin. Hang the longer side of the fabric on the coat hanger.


Put the rubber gloves on and lower the bottom half of the fabric into the dye. Take the fabric out after 1 minute and then lower the fabric a bit further into the dye. After 5 minutes take the fabric out of the dye again and then lower it even further into the dye. You do this until the whole fabric is coloured in stages. Tip: attach the hanger to a string hanging from something, so that you don’t have to hold the fabric the whole time.


Let the coloured fabric dry. Then mix the glue with the water in the pot. Cover the whole tin with the glue mixture and stick the fabric to the tin. Make sure that the end of the fabric is glued securely so that it can’t come loose.


Your dip dye pot is now ready! Now all you have to do is put your Hibiscus in it. It will look best if the edge of the plastic plant pot is at the same height as the edge of the tin. You could put stones, or something else in the bottom of the tin to fill it up to right height.

05.D.I.Y. 1

Images and DIY courtesy of The Joy of Plants

Why You Should Have Plants at Home…


If, like us, you live a hectic life, we have the solution for some regular, fuss-free destressing: House plants!

Having potted flowers at home is the simplest way of bringing some zen and green indoors, especially if you live in an urban environment. We have found our flat to be more energised since The Joy of Plants kindly gave us a new yucca (funny story, see here!) and now, these beautiful Royal Pelargonium pots. It’s lovely having some of that wonderful, healing nature at home (and in the middle of busy London) – and it’s a bonus that the Perlargonium flowers are so colourful!

Here are some top tips for caring for the Royal Pelargonium:

1. Keep the plant in a light place

2. Water it regularly, directly into the pot and not on the plant itself (we found these to be fairly thirsty plants!)

3. If you remove dead flowers, the plant will continue to grow new ones

4. After it has flowered in your home, the plant is happy to be placed outside and will add some colour to your balcony or window box until late autumn

5. In the winter, place it in a cool room and give the plant limited water

Have fun!


For more, visit The Joy of Plants



Images/styling: Courage & Dash

Real Homes: We think you might love this home…

This morning was far too dark… does anyone else think so? I woke up and thought “oh yes, it’s mid-September, alright.” Summer is too soon gone… but we are excited about the broodiness of autumn, and the wind of hope that the crisp air brings. New beginnings, we’ve said to each other.

In keeping with that spirit, it’s time for another inspiring round, as we swing by the home of Brandy Schuman. Brandy runs A Sensible Habit – lifestyle, interiors, stationery, all-round pretty store. She hand paints linen, designs, quirky rubber stamps, and comes up with great supplies for your party. Amazing. If you like pretty, colours, DIY, homewares, you have to drop by A Sensible Habit. And tell us what you think! Let’s see what her home is like now…


Brandy: “Our home is colorful and very FULL. I’m envious of homes that are more minimalist, but I’m accepting the fact that I’m a hoarder who loves color and pattern.

“There is a mix of old and new and lots of little things that don’t look like much, but are a memory trigger for me. A blue ball jar that belonged to my grandfather, a kitchen utensil that belonged to my grandmother, or a jar of sea glass from Italy.

“I like having little things around that remind me of certain place or time.”


“I recently invested in linen bedding from AREA and I’m in love. The bedroom has been the last room to come together and I really wanted to have a bed that I looked forward to crawling into. We still need a few pieces like a bedside table, but the crispy white linen sheets are my favorite.”


I want a lived-in, comfy home, where everything is out of place, but also right where it belongs. Our home was built in 1940 so with an older home the house dictates the flow and some decor. There are quirky layouts and small spaces that you have to work around.”



“I think about a relaxed environment for entertaining friends when decorating the house. Music is also very important. We have a vintage record player in the living room (shown under my painting near the front door).

“Apparently, I love chairs! We have several vintage chairs and everytime I thrift I usually see a chair that I want. I need a bigger home for all of my chairs. My boyfriend showed up the other day with 3 vintage metal chairs (pink, blue, and an orange one) and they are my new favorite. We recently put in a patio out back, and they are the perfect pop of color. He earned some major points.”


“Everyday life (inspires me), I suppose. There is color and pattern everywhere we look. I like to take a blanket to the park or go for for a hike. I love boating with my dad… Anything where my brain gets a chance to stop racing.

“Travel is always good for a recharge. As far as what inspires me in decorating the home… I guess I would have to say entertaining with friends, and the slew of gorgeous homes on pinterest. I like vintage shopping and finding colorful unique items. Bright Copco pans, vintage platters and glasses.”


“I like a lot of Midcentury modern, but also a kind of southern cozy home… big quilts, relaxed and inviting linen fabrics or a little floral pattern.”

“The wood bowls hanging in my dining room from Montes Doggett. They have display hooks on the back so I can store them up out of the way and take them down when needed. I also just got a new wood serving board from Star Provisions at a great price. I like that these items are functional and also work on display.”


“Glasses and bar accessories are (other) items I hoard. I could never have too many vintage glasses or specialty cocktail glasses!

“We also (have) a custom stereo cabinet that was built locally by South of Urban – it houses a record player, stereo, and cassette tape player. It’s definitely a favorite item in the house.”


Styling tips? “Vintage thrifted finds are a must. We have a few little shops here in Atlanta that are my go to spots. West Elm‘s recent midcentury collection was a great way to find a bed frame and rugs that work well with the look of our vintage pieces.

“Oh, and treat yourself with fresh flowers around the house!”

We think so too! Thanks so much for that gorgeous tour, Brandy!


For more of Brandy’s vintage-modern blend style, visit A Sensible Habit at http://www.asensiblehabit.com.


Images: Brandy Schuman

Decorating with Rifle Paper Co.

If there was one thing we wished we spent more time on in school, it would have been art class. I blame a poorly designed curriculum obsessed with teaching art in a solely classical form with little emphasis on beauty, creativity, possibility, delivered in the most mind-numbing form. Because, really, what else could you want* more than to be able to draw and paint and design like Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co. does? (Check out her impromptu Sharpie pen makeshift wallpaper for a tradeshow here.) Given our lack of innate artistic abilities, we have just had to settle for appreciating Anna’s works. Most recently, her wallpaper collection has caught our attention – the wallpapers feature Rifle Paper’s signature whimsical, modern takes on traditional floral patterns. rifle-paper-co-wallpaper We love the gold patterns laid on on gem-hued backgrounds, the bright and intricate motifs on pale, neutral shades. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea to have such busy and detailed wallpaper (and most certainly not recommended for every wall in a room, unless the energising feel/look is what you are going for!), but how classy and stylish on a feature wall, or panel, or back of a cabinet or bookcase? peonies-copper-wallpaper-03_1safari-hunter-wallpaper-03_1rosa-indigo-wallpaper-03queenanne-ebony-wallpaper-03pineapple-indigo-wallpaper-03citiestoile-ebony-wallpaper-03 On a slightly separate point, the attractive styling of the catalogue shots got us curious about the Rifle Paper store across the Atlantic, so we thought we would share a peek into the store… Definitely not disappointed! foyerfrontwindowmeetingroomstorefront So inspiring! Look at those giant scissor-shears, the use of fresh flowers, and display mix of accessories with the stationery. LOVE. Also helps that we are partial to gold and coppery tones… Please come to London! Are you a Rifle Paper Co. fan? Do you have any stationery crushes? How do you display your paper collections? Visit Rifle Paper Co. at http://www.riflepaperco.com.   * Of course there are plenty of other things/skills to want (and perhaps to want more) but you have to indulge our love of Rifle Paper Co. and Anna Bond’s playful creations! Images: Anna Bond, @annariflebond, Rifle Paper Co.

The Curious Shop: Bonbon Balloons

Balloons! We love them! Colourful, floaty, dreamy, in all sizes and even shapes: Helium-filled spheres that bob along overhead, weighted foil ones in the shape of dogs, ducks, sheep to walk beside you, oversized cherry-coloured balls of fun to decorate weddings with…

Imagine how smug we felt when we chanced upon Bonbon Balloons up in North London – purveyors of helium goodness, provider of balloon couture…

Laura McCluskey photography
In Aug 2011, Rebecca Moyster left her full-time job as an Interior Product Developer armed with her background in textile design, and a desire to run a creative business. Before long, she found inspiration in Tim Walker images featuring very large round balloons – and Bonbon Balloons was born.

“I just thought it was funny how when you usually see or think of balloons you think old fashion egg shaped balloons in a traditional arch style,” Rebecca muses.

“I then thought about the concept of adding something beautifully decorative to the usually neglected balloon string. I immediately thought this could be customised to every clients theme or colour palette.”

All colours

Rebecca then spent months playing and designed lots of different garlands to use with the balloons. It was trial and error getting the weight of each string so it worked with the size of the balloon and helium pull.

It wasn’t easy, Rebecca recalls. “I had never inflated a balloon prior to starting Bonbon Balloons so I have a lot of learning and practising to do!”

Like all good creations, the confetti balloon came about by accident…

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 15.03.38
Confetti shake

“The confetti balloon only came about the day before my first photo shoot for the website. I had been cutting up confetti to sprinkle on the floor in the images, and knocked a big bag of it off the desk by mistake. As I was picking it up, I thought “this would look good inside the balloon”.

“Three years on this is our best selling balloon type!” Rebecca reveals.


Since then, Bonbon Balloons have gone on to provide all kinds of joy and make all kinds of dreams come true. Apparently, a customer requested a proposal note to be added within his confetti mix (his girlfriend accepted the proposal!), and another has used the balloon strings to tie an engagement ring for his proposal.


“When we have worked on an event concept and design for months it’s the best feeling in the world seeing them in action,” Rebecca shares. “For our customers and fans, it’s great sharing these images on social media because it often inspires customers to find ways of using our balloons if they have an event coming up.”

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 15.02.36P1060304photographer Nikos Gogas-1
“Balloons make everyone smile and feel happy,” Rebecca says, “and that’s such a great world to be in.”

We couldn’t agree more!

For more ideas of balloons and ideas of how to use them in your next soirée, visit Bonbon Balloons at http://bonbonballoons.com/.


Images: All Bonbon Balloons (Rebecca Moyster) apart from first and last pictures: first from Laura McCluskey, last from Nikos Gogas.

Real Studios: Bright+Cheery Home Studio – Rock Covers Paper

If you are lucky enough to be working from home, you need your workspace to inspire and energise you. Sometimes that’s tough, especially when it’s not your own home and you can’t exactly refit the entire room! You can, however, put wall hangings up, fill your workspace with your favourite items, choose a nice corner of the room for your desk, etc. We hope our real homes/real studios series has been inspiring you, and we’d love for you to send us photos of your spaces, either via email (info@courageanddash.co.uk) or via instagram (@courageanddash), Twittter (@couragedash), or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/courageanddash).

Today, we are visiting the lovely Amanda Barks from paper design house Rock Covers Paper. It has to be said, we were hooked by the logo (we know, so superficial!!!), and after swinging by the website, loved what we saw! Rock Covers Paper is fairly up and coming, and we are excited to see what else Amanda brings us in future… Meanwhile, her cheery studio awaits!


In a quirky little cottage, where the walls and floors aren’t straight, lies Amanda’s bright, light studio. Her room had to be both practical, as well as conducive for creative work (she designs bespoke stationery). Amanda is very lucky to have a window she can work by! The lightness of the room is added to by the white walls and furniture, creating a sense of openness.


“I picked this space because I wanted to work near natural light,” Amanda explains. “It’s got quite a cute view of the village too!” she adds.

When working in her studio, Amanda needs to feel at ease and able to be inspired. She cleverly has her Macbook on a lazy susan so she can move it around easily. “I always have to work out how I feel comfortable when working and the layout of the room just happens naturally – I move about a lot,” says Amanda. “I also always have my sharpies close to hand!”


When we asked Amanda about using colours in her room, she said “I’m obsessed with colour but like quite neutral walls but that’s at the moment, so I like to add my colour with objects I’m in love with – pastel colours mints and peach.”


“I’m not sure what inspires me I think it’s geometric patterns Scandinavian style which is where I like to pick colours from…” she muses.


Filling your space with your favourite items can make a room feel instantly personalised and lived in. Our favourite design tip is that if you don’t like something, it really shouldn’t be there, no matter how trendy! Decorating isn’t like wearing high heels – you don’t have to tolerate it for a good look!

DSC_9202work images together

We asked Amanda to pick some of her favourite items from the room. After some thought, she declared that there were quite a few things that she loved, but her top choices were:

1) d&ad pencil – so much hard work went into getting that!

2) Heidi Kenney doughnut  – he is so soft! he kind of goes everywhere with me in fact he just came and spent 7 months in Canada with me!

3) Carve a stamp kit by yellow owl workshop

4) I love making Pom pom’s and make garlands for everywhere!

5) My reworked invite by Sally as she couldn’t give me a plain one.

6) My moleskin note books that I can only write in with one style of pen I know I’m strange!

7) The Tintin poster is awesome, I love it! My boyfriend/Owen is a massive tintin fan so I kind of twisted his arm to put it up in my studio space.

8) I love love love the blanket on my chair it was made by Owens grandma.

9) And of course my Macs!


Delightful. Just the kind of studio you could be happy to work in, even on a weekend! So jealous about the sweet village (we overlook the railway arches, zzzz…)!

For more of Amanda’s creative work, do visit Rock Covers Paper at http://www.rockcoverspaper.com.


Images: Amanda Barks