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September 1st  
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Bargain buys for a cosy home

Don’t miss the chance to snap up a homeware bargain, from the ever lovely online store, An Angel at My Table.

1. We love the boho revival crochet pouffe and the warming berry colours would be perfect for autumn – it’s half price at £47.50

2. A vase of beautiful, cheery flowers is the centrepiece on this lovely cushion. It’s hand embroidered and designed by ethical company, Rice. Complete with a feather pad, it’s half price.

3. Natural wood looks great used in home accessories. This pair of nature candlesticks is now half price, at £7.50. Buy for yourself or to give as a gift.

4. Ideal to use as gifts, these exotica candle tins are filled with scented wax. Choice from three designs, for £5.76 each.

5. What a pretty metal tray this is! It’s from Danish brand Rice and is hand painted with a bright flower design. There’s £15 off the original price – buy it for £10.

6. Wise words indeed, from the optimist’s porcelain tealight holder. Add some positive thinking into your home for just £3.75.

7. Who knew old jeans could be so effective on the floor? The traditional knotted rug has been made from upcycled denim jeans and looks fab. It’s now half price, at £47.50.

8. These handmade cley pots are sold as slight seconds, but we think they look perfect. There are various sizes and colours available, but they’re now half price at £12.50 each.

9. This watercolour cushion is on trend and would brighten up a bedroom or living room. It’s reduced to only £10.

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August 31st  
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With the 11th National Dog Day celebrating the UK’s relationship with our canine friends, we thought it was time to indulge in a little pooch-related pampering with a cracking canine crockery. Dog bowls don’t have to be utilitarian – here’s our pick of the bright, the pretty and the clever to brighten up your home.

1. Carni folk pet bowl, Gummi Pets

Carni folk vintage-style dog bowl, £8.82

 

How long before your dog learns to pick up this bowl and follow you round the house with it as a hint?  With its bright, carnival-style lettering, this bowl will cheer up a dark kitchen corner. It has a stainless steel inset that can be removed for easy cleaning and a slip retardant edge on the base of the bowl. £8.82 from The Design Gift Shop.

2. Double dog bowl feeding stand, Marquis and Dawe

Double dog bowl feeding stand, £46

If your pet has ideas above their station, treat him or her to this ornate double dog bowl feeding stand. It’s more than just a fashion statement – it also holds bowls in firmly in place for older pets who have trouble eating. £46, available from Marquis and Dawe.

3. Personalised pet bowl, Laura Lee Designs

Personalised pet bowl, £35

Prevent arguments at feeding time with this ceramic bowl, personalised with your pet’s name or anything else you like. It’s handpainted, and available in a range of colours. £35 from Gift Wrapped and Gorgeous.

4. Lula dog bowl, Alessi

Lulu Alessi dog bowl, £48

If your dog fancies himself as a bit of a style hound, this bowl, designed by Mirriam Mirri, is ideal. The stainless steel bowl can easily be removed for cleaning and the useful lid with a dog shaped handle means that uneaten food can be covered if necessary. £48 from Black by Design.

5. Woof! dog bowl, Sophie Allport

Woof! dog bowl, £12

Feed your dogs in style with this Woof! bowl. Made from galvanised steel, it features Labradors, spaniels, dachshunds, Jack Russells and dalmatians and has a a practical non-slip rubber rim around the base to ensure it doesn’t tip over or slip around while your dog is eating. £12 from Sophie Allport.

6. Country gent pet bowl, IN-SPACES

Country gent pet bowl, £17

Handmade from English earthenware clay and hand decorated with flat cap, check waistcoat, wellington boots and faithful hound, this bowl is perfect for any country kitchen. £17 from IN-SPACES.

7. Travel dog bowl, The Gift Oasis

Travel silicone dog bowl, £1.99

This collapsible silicone bowl is ideal for travelling, or for keeping in a cupboard for visiting hounds. It collapses into a flat disc to fit into a small space, and it’s light and easy to carry. Available in green, orange and pink. £1.99 from The Gift Oasis.

8. Personalised pet bowl, ADRA

Personalised enamel pet bowl, £18.95

Feed your pets in style with these vintage style cream enamel cat and dog food bowls, personalised with your pet’s name. These bowls would look lovely in a traditional kitchen. £18.95 for the large size bowl from Not on the High Street.

9. Chalk dog bowl, Cloud 7

Blackboard ceramic dog bowl, £45

Is your dog a fussy eater? Have some fun with this chalk ceramic dog bowl – there’s an integral  ’blackboard’ surface to write on the menu of the day! Alternatively, write the name of visiting dogs to keep track of food bowls. £45 from Amara.

10. Dogs Trust dog bowl, Fenella Smith

Ceramic Dogs Trust bowl, £28

This attractive ceramic bowl is great for your dog and for rescue dogs as well – 25% of the sale price goes to the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, the Dog Trust. £28 from Fenella Smith.

 

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August 25th  
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Image: Pixabay

According to the song, how many kinds of sweet flowers grow in an English country garden? Well, as far as we’re concerned, the answer is ‘lots’!

If you want a cottage garden look, ‘organised chaos’ is the theme – forget plants in neat, serried rows and plant as much as possible.

Check how tall and wide each plant will grow and what conditions it likes, and plant from the back forwards.

Fill up any corners at the front with bright annuals. Mixing herbs, flowering plants and vegetable plants makes for an eclectic look and you can add interest with trellises and support cones. Plants in a traditional cottage garden are mostly a mix of pinks, blues and white. Here’s what to plant:

1. Pinks

Pinks. Image: Pixabay

Pinks are a perfect choice for a cottage garden. They form compact clumps of silvery grey leaves, and flower profusely in early and mid summer with pretty variegated pink flowers. Choose a perenniel variety rather than an annual, and you’ll have colour in your garden for years to come. They’re really easy to look after, and make great cut flowers. They prefer a sunny position.

2. Pink lilac

Pink lilac. Image: Pixabay

If you have space, a common lilac or syringa vulgaris is a welcome addition to a cottage garden. These small trees originally came from Persia and were brought to Europe in the 16th century. They bear abundant, highly scented flowers in spring and early summer, and are a magnet for bees. They prefer full sun or partial shade in a sheltered position, so are ideal for planting by walls. Look for a variety that bears pink flowers rather than the more common lilac flowers – examples are ‘Pink Cloud’, ‘Pink Perfection’ and ‘Pinkie.

3. Pink geraniums

Perennial geraniums. Image: Pixabay

Perennial geraniums, not be confused with the variety grown in pots on sunny windowsills, are incredibly easy to grow. In fact, after a few years the main problem is to stop them growing and taking over the garden! They’ll grow more or less anywhere but prefer a sunny position, and send up a profusion of delicate pink flowers. Try a variety such as Wargrave Pink which has prolific light pink flowers.

4. Echinacea

Echinacea. Image: Pixabay

Coneflowers, more correctly known as echinacea purpurea, are perennials which form clumps of leaves and flower with pretty, daisy-like pink flowers. Bees love them, and they’re really easy to grow being fairly resistant to pests and diseases. They prefer a sunny position, although they will tolerate partial shade. You can dry the flowers and make them into tea, too.

5. Flowering cherry

Flowering cherry. Image: Pixabay

If you’ve got a little space, flowering cherry trees (also known as Japanese flowering cherry, or prunus) are spectacular. In the spring, the branches are laden with frothy flowers in pale or deep pink. You can also buy miniature varieties, as well as trees with ornamental bark that will look good all year round.

6. Phlox

Phlox. Image: Pixabay

Phlox are pretty much an archetypal cottage garden plant – it’s a tall perennial with dark green leaves and prolific pink flowers in spring. The varieties we have in the UK are mostly descended from a variety that grows wild in America and can reach up to 6 feet tall, but UK cultivated varieties are smaller. The traditional colour for phlox is pink, although you can now buy multi-coloured varieties as well.

7. Common thyme

Common thyme. Image: Pixabay

Thymus vulgaris or common thyme is a really useful addition to your border. It flowers with delicate, pretty pink or white flowers that bees love and of course it’s great for cooking with, either fresh or dried. It’s easy to grow and is quite hardy, making it ideal for novice gardeners.

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August 16th  
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Horsey, horsey, don’t you stop, just let your hooves go clippety-clop….Most little girls (and quite a few little boys!) go through a pony mad phase. We set out to find the perfect accessories to create a ‘stable environment’ for your child’s bedroom.

1. Pony print teepee, Mini Eden

Pony pattern child’s teepee, £86 from MiniEden

If you don’t want to theme your child’s whole bedroom, this pony-themed teepee is idea. Just put it up in a corner, and scoop all the model horses out of sight. It features a little window that can be opened and closed via a canvas flap and velcro. Made from durable canvas, it’s also suitable for outdoor use and comes with an integrated ground sheet. £86 from Mini Eden.

2. Pony clock, Annabel James

Pony clock, £44.95, Annabel James

Ideal for older children is this pony clock with a tail that sways on the second. Made of foamalux board with nickel hands, it comes complete with battery. Made in England. £44.95 from Annabel James.

3. Pink ponies baby blanket, Becky and Lolo

Pink ponies baby blanket, £26.95, Becky and Lolo

Keep your baby warm and snug with this double-sided baby blanket. Feature multi-coloured ponies on a white background with a pink reverse, this thick blanket is suitable for strollers and can also double up as a play mat. £26.95 from Becky and Lolo.

4. Horses magnetic noteboard, Milly Green

Horses magnetic noteboard, £10.50, Milly Green

This noticeboard has a white melamine surface perfect for notes, lists and reminders. It comes complete with a dry wipe black ink pen, and is perfect for homework reminders, party invites and riding lesson times. £10.50 from Milly Green.

5. Grazing horse pillow case, Charmajesty

Grazing horse pillow sham, £58, Charmajesty

A lovely finishing touch for an older girl’s room is this hand finished appliquéd pillow sham, with a picture of a grazing horse. Made from blue Belgian linen, it has scalloped edges and is designed in the UK. £58 from Charmajesty,

6. Hobnob rocking horse, Little Bird Told Me

Hobnob rocking horse, £115, Little Bird Told Me

Every child’s bedroom needs a rocking horse, and we love this soft version with his textured bouclé fabric body and scrunchy faux suede mane and tail. ‘Hobnob’ is the perfect first mount, guaranteed not to bite, buck or rear. Maximum recommended weight allowance is 20kg (44lbs), £115 from Little Bird Told Me.

7. Rock a Bye Baby paper bunting, Ginger Ray

Rock a Bye Baby paper bunting, £7.99, Ginger Ray

This paper bunting with 14 assorted flags includes rocking horses, teddies and plain pastel colours. Great for Christening parties and birthday parties as well as decorating a bedroom. 3.5m long. £7.99, available from Ginger Ray.

8. Horse night light, White Rabbit England

Horse night light, £75, White Rabbit England

This lamp lights up from the inside and shines through the bone china to give a reassuring and comforting glow at night.
Made in England by skilled craftsmen in the Staffordshire potteries, each one is hand made and had crafted so that the quality is perfect. A beautiful addition to any baby’s nursery or child’s bedroom. £75 from White Rabbit England.

9. Horse Crazy wall stickers, Becky and Lolo

Horse Crazy wall stickers, £35.99, Becky and Lolo

Loud and eye catching, these wall stickers will appeal to horse fans of all ages. Each set contains a huge wall sticker of a horse and rider. The bright colours and assorted patterns on both horse and rider are perfect to make a statement in any child’s bedroom. The stickers won’t leave a residue on the wall, and can be repositioned if necessary. £35.99, available from Becky and Lolo.

10. Horses two drawer storage unit, Milly Green

Horses two drawer storage unit, £16, Milly Green

Perfect for keeping stationery, jewellery, small toys or crayons tidy, this two drawer storage box featuring a horse design and comes in various different colours. Measures 25cm x 17cm x 17cm. £16 from Milly Green.

 

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August 14th  
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Limited edition Whittard Alice tea china

Amazingly, it’s 150 years since the book Alice in Wonderland was published. To commemorate the event – and celebrate Alice and the Mad Hatter’s tea party  in style – Whittard have released a limited edition set of china.

The pretty fine bone china limited collection includes a cup and saucer, teapot and tea plate, plus three designs of mugs:

Limited edition bone china

Alice mug, with a key handle – £16

150 years of Alice two cup china teapot – £45

Alice mad hatter mug – £16

150 years of Alice cup and saucer – £25

Alice tea plate – £20

150 years of Alice white rabbit mug – £16

If you can’t get enough of Alice in Wonderland designs and want a bit longer to be able to collect them, then Whittard also have some Alice themed items in their standard range, including these fab items:

Host a mad hatter's tea party

Alice in Wonderland tea party teapot – £35

Cup and saucer – £16

Milk and sugar set – £20

Tea plate – £12

Alice in Wonderland tea chest, with three delicious teas – £15

Alice in Wonderland drink me tea selection – £10

Queen of Hearts strawberry shortbread biscuits – £5

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August 11th  
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August 10th to 16th is afternoon tea week, with events for tea lovers going on up and down the country, so here at Cosy Home we thought we’d celebrate this most British of traditions.

History of afternoon tea

While tea itself has been with us since the mid seventeenth century, the practice of sitting down for a light meal at 4pm didn’t become popular until almost two hundred years later.

In 1840, Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, found that between lunch and the fashionable hour of 8pm for dinner, she’d start to get a little hungry.

She began to take a light meal, consisting of tea, bread, butter and cake, in her room, and began to invite friends to join her for a chat over the tea table.

The meal filled a gap in the middle of the fashionable day, and soon society introduced the idea of ‘tea gowns’, to be worn when visiting smart upper class drawing rooms in the late afternoon.

Image: Pixabay

The components of afternoon tea vary a little, but traditional elements include scones with jam, small sandwiches cut into fingers, slices of cake such as  Victoria sponge and smaller cakes like maids of honour or fairy cakes.

Part of the enjoyment of afternoon tea is the ceremony, so tea should be served in a pot and milk in a separate jug. Tea should be made with loose leaves and poured through a strainer – teabags are definitely infra dig!

Cream teas with scones and clotted cream are popular in the south west of England, and at a Scottish meal you might find drop scones or bannock cake. Afternoon tea at a smart London hotel can cost up to £100 per person, but will prove a truly decadent experience for a treat.

If you’d rather treat yourself to a meal to home, here are a couple of our Cosy Home favourites.

Traditional scones

Scones are the backbone of afternoon tea, and are simpler to make than you might think. Here’s our tried and tested recipe:
  • 60g butter or margerine, softened
  • 450g self raising flour, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 120g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • milk
  • 120g dried fruit – sultanas are traditional, but experiment with chopped apricots, dates or cranberries as well

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Put the butter or margarine in a large bowl, and add the flour. Rub the fat into the flour with the tips of your fingers until it’s all absorbed and there are no large lumps of fat.

Stir in the sugar and the dried fruit. Break the egg into a measuring jug, and add enough milk to bring the total amount of liquid to 150ml. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture, and work it all together until you get a soft dough (add another tiny drop of milk if you need to, but don’t let the dough get too sticky or the scones will spread outwards during cooking).

Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll it out to about 3cm thick (you should get around 8 to 10 scones). Transfer to a baking tray, and bake for around 15 to 20 minutes until pale gold on top. Transfer to a wire cooling rack until just warm, then serve with jam (preferably homemade), and cream. These scones freeze very well if there are any left!

Date, apricot and banana muffins

Not as traditional as scones, these moist, sticky muffins still make a delicious teatime treat. Note, though, that you need to start it a couple of hours beforehand, or even the night before.

  • 200g of self raising flour
  • 175g sunflower oil
  • 125g soft light brown sugar
  • extra tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 2 small ripe bananas
  • 200g plain yoghurt or creme fraiche
  • 200g chopped dates and dried apricots,mixed
  • 100ml boiling water

What to do:

A couple of hours before you start baking, put the chopped dried fruit in a heatproof bowl and add 100ml boiling water. Leave to soak.

When the fruit is plump and hydrated, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius then put the bananas into a large mixing bowl and mash them with a fork.

Add the flour, oil, sugar, eggs and creme fraiche and mix everything together thoroughly. Add the dried fruit and any remaining liquid, and mix it up again.

Spoon into a muffin tin lined with paper cases, and sprinkle the tops with a little brown sugar. Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes until well risen and golden, and serve warm. Makes around 10 muffins.

By Sara Walker

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