Sweetly feasting.

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I know Christmas is over, but I just remembered I haven’t shown these to you! One weekend in December, Xin, from Pudding Pie Lane, baked up a storm and we spent all of Saturday catching up, giggling, getting far too sugar high, and playing with Christmas decorations. So much fun! If only we could do this all the time?? Sadly, I am back to work on Tuesday (I know lots of you are too, so we shall be mournful together!), and so no more feasting and lazing. Christmas season is, alas, over (although technically speaking, it’s not over until 12 days from December 25, no?)… for me at least. Until 2016.

Hang in there folks… 3 more working days until the new year.

 

Images and styling: Courage & Dash; Food: Pudding Pie Lane

Styling Your Bedside Table: 5 Tips

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A year and a half ago, I married the love of my life. We are so different, which is great because we balance each other out, but sometimes, as one would expect, those opposites can lead to tension!

One of the things I anticipated before our marriage was a clash in decorating choices. Mr M is more of the Scandinavian, minimalist school of thought, while I am more of the quirky, cosy (cluttered?) school. I remember asking (worriedly) before we got married if he expected to have much creative direction at home, to which his answer (worryingly) was yes. Thankfully, because we are renters, we haven’t had much freedom to redecorate, so many of our design differences have been avoided! And credit where it’s due, Mr. M has been rather indulgent of my styling ideas.

One weekend, while Mr M was out, I took it upon myself to style his (sparse) bedside table. It is usually bare, save his radio clock and cufflink box, so I gathered some props from around the flat to style his table with. I also wanted to give him a cute elephant letterpress card which I had found + framed – bit soppy, but it says “Grow old along with me – The best is yet to be.” What better way to give that than a styled bedside table? Also, as renters, styling is often the only (if not, main) way of expressing our creative tastes and preferences.

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I really wanted to incorporate bright colours in the vignette, but with hindsight I’m not sure a pot of cacti is the smartest thing to put on a bedside table. It was within unsafe distance of the flailing about in the dark for the alarm clock or bottle of water zone! Here are my top 5 tips for styling your table:

1. Use items of varying heights – this helps draw your eye around the scene and gives the setup different points of interest. You can stack items at different levels if all your props are the same height.

2. Don’t be scared of colour – It’s difficult to go wrong with colour especially if you are starting with a white base. If you are starting with dark wood (e.g. mahogany) then choose lighter colours, or go monochrome. If you are using a yellower wood (e.g. maple or pine) then choose bright colours with more blue(ish) tones in them.

3. Pick a few things to focus on otherwise it can get cluttered – I wanted the table to look casual yet stylish, so I had to choose what I wanted on it, rather than include all the props I had gathered. It’s always a battle to know when to say enough, but my rough rule of thumb is that I need to have enough clear surface for an iPhone 6 and a glass of water.

4. Include a couple of quirky items – My little deer antler is probably one of my favourite things; I bought it off a retired search & rescue airman who makes walking sticks out of old antlers. Interesting items (even small ones) add a bit of fun and personality to the vignette.

5. You can’t go wrong with books – especially pretty books. If you are stuck for ideas, use books to add colour, height, focal points… The books can be in varying sizes and be a range of coffee table picture books or actual novels you are reading. A stack of books always looks trendy and makes you look learned 😉

Do share images of your styled bedside table/bedroom surfaces with us on Instagram, @courageanddash!

Styling/Images: Courage & Dash

DIY: Glitter gem placecard by Berinmade

Some of you might know that we occasionally help out wedding stationer, Berinmade, with blog posts, moodboards, styling, and random bits and pieces along the way. We thought we’d share this gorgeous Berinmade DIY* with you that we helped supply props for – the pinks and glassware are so elegant, and really simple to style for a classy dinner party. Full details here!

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*DIY: Berinmade for Love My Dress

Images: Lucy Davenport Photography

Table Styling with Suitcase Susie

Remember Suitcase Susie from our Makegood festival favourites? We loved her travel-inspired collection of dining wares so, that we asked her to pop back in and say hello!

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There’s something wonderful about alfresco dining in the summer that makes you feel like you’re on holiday when you’ve never left home. I always associate it with having friends around for some good food, maybe a glass of wine or two, great conversation and definitely a few laughs.

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It’s not as constrained as a formal dinner party and that lovely casual feel often means your friends enjoy themselves more because they’re more relaxed. Of course it’s helpful if the sun’s shining as that always makes people smile, but I’ve had some great ‘alfresco’ dining moments when we’ve had to rush indoors to escape a summer ‘shower’ (for shower read downpour – ah the great British summer)…

Now I was lucky when I styled the first image because someone had left behind that fabulous piece of wood in my garden when I moved into my home. But the rest of the photos demonstrate how you can still achieve the right feel even with a standard wooden dining table. You may not have a garden, or the weather might have changed – but you can recreate the alfresco feel indoors too.

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The key thing about styling your alfresco dining table is to retain a casual feel. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be beautiful. It’s just a lot simpler. The bottle (used as a vase) is a small port bottle that came with a Christmas hamper, but even a jam jar with a ribbon tied around it would do. Wildflowers or even dandelions (as I’ve used in the image at the top) are perfect to retain that impulsive feel.

A rustic basket for that just-baked loaf of bread and fresh fruit sets off elements of your table with a touch of colour and a warm friendly feel. You may have a wooden board to lay out some antipasti or use a wooden salad bowl. Natural materials are what you’re looking for where possible. Keep it slightly random – no need for perfect symmetry here!

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Because you’re eating outdoors it doesn’t mean you have to eat from paper plates. Suitcase Susie’s Koru tableware is fine bone china, but perfect for this setting. The wave pattern makes you feel like your at the beach (maybe you are!) and just knowing it was inspired by New Zealand whisks you off to another part of the world, even if it’s only in your dreams. Notice I’ve set out lemon slices for everyone’s gin and tonics…

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I’ve tied the pretty napkin with some suede thong I had at home – no need for fancy napkin rings. You could use some coloured ribbon or raffia twine – the kind that’s popular for gift-wrapping these days. Just a simple knot gives it all the detail it needs.

So I hope you enjoy lots of lovely days in the sun this summer, but even if the skies are grey, you can still recreate the alfresco experience under cover and pretend you’re by the sea in New Zealand – at least you won’t have the 24-hour flight to endure!

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Thank you Suitcase Susie!

All of Suitcase Susie’s designs are screen printed in small runs and hand-decorated onto fine bone china in Staffordshire, while her screen-printed textiles are made from 100% cotton also in small quantities in Lincolnshire. 

Visit Suicase Susie at http://www.suitcasesusie.com.

Images by Suitcase Susie unless otherwise credited.

Midsummer Day in Finland with Jonna Saarinen

We fell in love with Jonna’s designs the moment we came across them. Think Marimekko goodness, only brand new and upcoming. Exciting. Then we realised one of our Curious Shops, L O I S, stocked her products, and we knew we were onto a winner. 20140621-172404-62644744.jpg
Jonna is a Finnish textile designer and Central Saint Martins College & Royal College of Art graduate. Her work combines influences from Nordic nature and memories of times past, brought together in a variety of items developed by hand drawing, mark making and screen printing. Since her graduation from the Royal College in the summer 2011, Jonna has launched her self titled homeware label, which is the reason we found her!
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Since it’s Midsummer (Juhannus) today, we thought it would be perfect to bring you some quick table styling ideas from Jonna using her gorgeous tableware. Definitely set up your table outside if you can! 20140621-103751-38271054.jpg The Juhannus night is known for being very light across Finland – up in Lapland the sun does not go down at all. People decorate their homes with lots of wild flowers and young tree branches, especially birch tree, which can be used in the sauna. 20140621-103715-38235203.jpg20140621-103714-38234783.jpg Traditionally in Finland, the festival is a celebration of light; it is also a national holiday, and is the only day in the Finnish calendar when all the Finnish flags are up through the night until 9pm following day. 20140621-103750-38270819.jpg20140621-103714-38234609.jpg20140621-103715-38235665.jpg Juhannus involves plenty of rituals, drinking (this was meant to bring you good luck with you crops for the following year!!), eating, going to the sauna and dancing. 20140621-103714-38234990.jpg “We also burn big bon fires on beaches across the country, they symbolise success, bring you luck and scare evil spirits.,” Jonna says. 20140621-103715-38235419.jpg “Some of the most common rituals are about finding yourself your future partner,” she explains. “A very common one is to pick 7 wild flowers and put them under your pillow on Juhannus night, and your future lover will appear in your dream!” 20140621-103750-38270625.jpg “Most of the magic spells you have to do naked, like running naked across the meadow in the middle of Juhannus night in order to see you future lover,” Jonna adds. “Very Finnish!!” she exclaims. We think it all sounds splendid. Jonna Saarinen http://www.jonnasaarinen.co.uk   Images by Jonna Saarinen