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April 9th  

Cosy home baking accessories: Decorative measuring cups

When it comes to baking accessories, I have a decidedly soft spot for pretty measuring cups.

They’re useful to have for recipes that denote ingredients in cups and can double up as handy little bowls to put ingredients in when you’re baking. Plus, when they’re not in use, they look decorative left out on display on a shelf or kitchen cupboard.

These four sets of china and stoneware measuring cups certainly come up trumps in terms of prettiness, but will be useful too. What do you think?

1. Okuno measuring cups, £32 from Anthropologie

2. Polly’s Pantry measuring cups, £18 from John Lewis

3. Churchill Made with Love set of three measuring cups, £16.99 fromLakeland

4. Set of four vintage botanical measuring cups, £19.99 from Mollie & Fred

April 7th  

After a long, wet winter it looks like the bad weather is finally drawing to a close, and the Spring flowers are are sprouting up in gardens and hedgerows all over the country. Banish the last of the grey skies and brighten up your home with our pick of these cheerful floral accessories.

1. Porcelain primroses, Dee Puddy Interiors

Spring flowers such as snowdrops, crocuses and primroses are stunning and make a real splash of colour outside, but they’re too fragile to last long when brought into the house. Compromise with these beautiful, lifelike porcelain flowers, £12 for a set of three from Dee Puddy Interiors – they’re also available as snowdrops, harebells and daisies for the ultimate Spring bouquet.

2. Flower seed primroses, Wildflower Favours

These paper primroses from Wildflower Favours are flowers with a difference. They’re packed with wild flower and cottage garden seeds such as daisies and wallflowers, and can be planted whole and left to grow. £14.99 for a pack of 40, they’re perfect for party favours or presents.

3. Hyacinth glass vases, Oscar and Eve

These clear glass vases in jewel colours will add a touch of brightness to any windowsill. Perfect for growing hyacinth bulbs or holding a single longstemmed flower or two, they cost £9.95 each from Oscar and Eve.

4. Felt daffodil wreath, the Contemporary Home

Probably the most cheerful of all the Spring flowers, daffodils are the inspiration for this colourful felt wreath. Hang on your door or wall to celebrate Easter, Mothers’ Day or just the arrival of the better weather. £17 from the Contemporary Home

5. Daffodil cushion, Zaida

Handmade in Kashmir, this cheerful cushion is handmade in Kashmir in the new English Garden Daffodils design which also includes a rug and other cushion designs. The design is chain-stitched by hand in wool onto a cotton backing, giving the colours a wonderful depth and texture. Priced at £45 from iapetus.

6. Daffodil wallpaper mural, Digitex Home

Make a real statement in your kitchen or conservatory with this daffodil mural. Supplied in sections to make it easy to apply, it’ll bring a touch of sunshine to your home all year round. Currently reduced to £79, available from Digitex Home.

7. Tulip egg cups, Giselda Graham

How cute are these tulip egg cups? In four pastel-and-polka-dot shades, they’re guaranteed to help you start your morning with a smile. As well as the breakfast egg, why not use them to hold a small chocolate egg as an Easter morning treat?  £5 each, available from the Contemporary Home.

8. Fancy flowers garland, the Oak Room

These paper flowers come in kit form, ready for assembly into a garland or bouquet. You can build the flower centres, petals and leaves up in anyway you want to create a unique result, then use them to decorate your home for a bright and cheerful result. Priced at £8.99 and available from the Oak Room.

9. Daisies jug, Laura Lee Designs

We know daisies aren’t strictly Spring flowers – but this handpainted jug is so fresh and sunny we couldn’t resist. inspired by the beautiful fields surrounding the artist Laura Lee’s studio, the jug is made from bone china and costs £35 from Laura Lee Designs.

10. Bee and daisy cushion, Karen Hilton Designs

You can almost hear the bumble bee droning his way lazily through the daisies on this pretty cushion. Handmade from cotton and wool fabrics, this cushion will bring a splash of sunshine into your home. Priced at £59 and available from Swanky Maison.

April 2nd  

Binky Cosy Home pet

Here at Cosy Home we think a pet adds to the cosy atmosphere of any house, and we’re delighted that 1st April to 5th May 2014 is National Pet Month. Now in its 25th year, the event aims to promote responsible pet ownership, help pet charities and generally enjoy life with our furry, feathered and finny friends.

This year’s theme is ‘Celebrating our Pets’, and there are fun days, open days and competitions being held all over the country for you to join in with.

Pets are good for people

If you’re already a pet owner you won’t need any convincing, but both scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that pets can help reduce loneliness, ease stress, promote social interaction and could even help you live longer.

As a pet owner, you’re also less to suffer from depression, have lower blood pressure, reduced muscle tension and a lower heart rate. If your pet is a dog, you’ve also got all the health benefits of fresh air and extra exercise.

No pet? No problem

If you’re an animal lover but can’t have a pet due to work or other restrictions, how about offering a couple of regular evening or weekend hours to volunteer at a charity or animal shelter?

Both large charities such as the Dogs’ Trust and the RSPCA and small local organisations are usually keen for an extra pair of hands to give the animals some personal care and attention, and you could find yourself doing anything from dog walking to helping rehabilitate injured birds. Alternatively, you could offer to take out a friend or neighbour’s dog for a bit of much-appreciated extra exercise.

If you don’t have time to volunteer, April is also a great month to look after the wildlife in your garden. It’s coming up to nesting and breeding season, so birds, hedgehogs and insects will all appreciate some extra food and a safe shelter.

Treat your pet for National Pet Month

Your pet may be pampered all the time, but we think National Pet Month is the ideal occasion for a little extra treat. Here’s our pick of the best pet presents.

1. Stylish dog collar, Pet Gift Buddy

Leather dog collar

This smart collar means you and your best friend can step out in style. The mint-green collar features gunmetal grey detailing, an engraved charm and sturdy and D-ring for lead attachment. Suitable for dogs with a neck measuring 11 to 14 inches, it’s available from Pet Gift Buddy and priced at £21.99.

2. Cute cat collar, Bellomania

Cat collar

As cats like to be out on their own at night, a reflective collar is a great way of helping to keep them safe. This cute and practical collar features a safety catch, which will release in an emergency, a removable bell and reflective seams for safety. It fits cats with a neck size of 8 to 12 inches and costs £10.99 from the delightfully-named Aristopaws.

3. Fish hotel, Umbra

Fish hotel

We couldn’t resist this quirky creation from designer Teddy Luong. The outer case offers shade from the light, while the inner glass cube lifts out for easy cleaning, and the contemporary styling of this ‘fish hotel’  is a cut above the traditional round glass bowl. £33, available from Red Candy.

4. Wild bird feeder, Bohera

Eva bird feeder

We love this beautiful wild bird feeder from Belgium company Bohero, who ship to the UK. Made from hand-blown glass, the ball-shaped feeder is both decorative and practical, and will look good in your garden all year round. Designed to hang from a tree branch in a sheltered place, the feeder costs £37.20 from Bohero.

 

March 31st  

 

Easter decorations

Are you planning on decorating your home for Easter?

There are lots of inspiring ideas in the shops for decorations, from Easter trees and mini hanging eggs, to Easter wreaths and table decorations. Although it’s good to be creative and make your own – and there are plenty of easy Easter crafts you can try – supplementing your decorations with ready made purchases can help ease some of the stress in the run up to Easter Day.

Don’t leave thinking about what you’ll do this year until the last minute, as the nicest buys may well have sold out (as we’ve found out before). Here are some ideas for decorating your home this Easter.

Left hand column, from top to bottom:

Fabric Easter eggs, £3.50

Wooden Easter tree, £13.50

Easter cracker kit, £18.50

Easter tree decorative eggs, £14

Centre:

Spring blossom and pastel Easter egg wreath, £29

Right hand column, from top to bottom:

Set of 12 speckled egg decorations, £16

Wool and wood standing rooster decoration, £15

Easter rabbit napkin holder, £7.50

Spring glory flower bottles, £29.99

For more Easter home ideas, check out our curated Easter Home collection on eBay.

Part of the Love Chic Living #LoveYourHome Linky:

Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

March 25th  

Mothering Sunday in the UK is the fourth Sunday of Lent, so the date changes from year to year as it follows the Church calendar. In 2014, Mothering Sunday (now better known as Mother’s Day, in line with the US festival) falls on the 30th March.

Traditionally, it’s a time for children to honour and celebrate their mothers, usually with a gift, card or treat of some kind, to thank them for their care throughout the year. The history of the festival is unclear, but it could have been an adoption of a Roman Spring festival celebrating the Mother Goddess. There are records dating back 400 years of people making a special effort on this date to visit the church where they’d been baptised, their ‘Mother Church’, a custom which was known as ‘going a mothering’.

Later, it became the tradition for boys and girls in service around the country to have Mothering Sunday off as a day to visit their families, and were often allowed to take gifts of flowers or home baking. As servants boarded free of charge, they were paid only a small salary and often couldn’t afford to visit their families without a helping hand from their employers.

Mothering Sunday has also been known as ‘Simnel Sunday’, as the Simnel cake was made on that day and stored, ready for Easter and the end of the Lent fast. Simnel cakes are still popular today, and consist of fruit cake covered with marzipan with an iced middle. Eleven marzipan balls are arranged round the edge of the cake, to represent the twelve apostles with the exception of Judas Iscariot, Jesus’s betrayer.

The traditional flowers of Mothering Sunday are daffodils, as they’re normally coming into bloom at the right time of year. Here’s our pick of this year’s best Mother’s Day gifts:

1. Wooden planter crate, Plantabox

Wooden planter box

This cute little wooden crate can be personalised with a name and message of up to 18 characters per line, then planted with Spring bulbs for a show of bright colour. Priced at £22.95, it’s available in a range of colours and comes complete with a planter liner. Available from Plantabox.

2. Daffodil Mother’s Day card, Honey Tree Bespoke

Daffodil Mother’s Day card

These pretty cards from unique stationery company Honey Tree Bespoke come in a wide range of designs, including geranium, hyacinth, delphiniums and fuchsia plus non-floral options. Cards can also be personalised with your choice of message, and cost £3.90 each. For more information, visit Honey Tree Bespoke.

3. Embroidered notebooks, Karenza and Co

Karenza notebooks

These beautiful notebooks from Karenza and Co feature embroidered flowers on a toning fabric background, contain plain pages, and fasten with a ribbon tie. They’re available in a choice of designs, including hydrangea, pansy and magnolia, and cost £9.50 each.

4. Enamel heart, Delightful Living

Enamel Mother’s Day heart

For an unusual twist on the traditional card, what about this enamel heart? It comes in two different designs and eleven colours, and can be printed with your own choice of message. Great to hang from a drawer handle or cupboard door, it’ll give pleasure for years and years, unlike a paper card. Priced at £15 from Delightful Living.

5. Family cushion, Zoe Corney

Personalised cushion

This wonderful cushion is handmade by designer Zoe Corney, and features your own family immortalised in felt! Working from a brief description, Zoe appliques the characters, including any family pets, to the cushion fabric before adding embroidered names. Priced at £45, this is a quirky, unique gift your mum won’t forget. For more information, visit the Swanky Maison website.

 

March 24th  

Official LEGO Movie home product

Sometimes it’s hard to keep your home tidy and organised, especially when you’ve got young children who like to spread their toys around on the floor. Getting organised and encouraging them to pick things up after they’ve played with them, and tidy them away at the end of the day, is a good habit to try and bestow, and having good storage solutions available to help with this task makes life easier.

There are various good children’s storage products available, but one that we think really captures children’s imaginations, and appeals to adults too, are the LEGO storage bricks.

To coincide with the recent release of the LEGO Movie, a range of limited edition storage brick boxes, officially licensed by LEGO, have been released.

Limited edition LEGO Movie storage

 

The storage boxes are available in a choice of four bold colours – red, black, orange and blue – and as four size options – large, medium, small and extra small.

We were sent a square red medium sized storage box to test and review and are impressed with the size, storage capability and robust design. It looks just like a giant sized version of the famous Lego building bricks, with LEGO branding on the ‘knobs’ of the brick. The lid lifts off to reveal plenty of storage inside. If you have more than one box, you can even get creative and stack them together – just like building with real LEGO.

In terms of getting children to pack away their toys, the look of the brick box is appealing and can make tidying up more fun. They’re perfect for using in children’s rooms, playrooms or nurseries, but would also look quite funky left out in the corner of your living room. It’s storage that you’ll find acceptable too.

Whether you’re a fan of LEGO, or just want to get organised, the bricks are a good option for a cosy family home.

The large storage brick is £22.95, the medium £13.95, the small £9.95 and the extra small – which is the right size for using on a desk – is just £6.95. All are available from STORE.

Discover more about the LEGO storage boxes at www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk

March 21st  

From occupational therapist to fabric seller may not be a conventional career path, but for Cheshire-based Debbie Waterhouse it turned out to be just the move she needed.

“I worked in the public sector as an occupational therapist for many years before going independent,” says Debbie. “While I was still with the NHS, I met fellow occupational therapist Sophie Marks, and we’ve remained great friends. Just over a year ago, Sophie and I decided we were both interested in exploring other career options, seeing what else was out there.

Debbie (right) with Sophie

“We’re both keen crafters – Sophie sews, I make paper crafts – but we felt there were already a lot of very talented people selling their wares, and it would be difficult to compete in this marketplace.”

The Bumbleberry range

The pair came up with the idea of selling fabrics and haberdashery rather than finished crafts, and embarked on some thorough market research to see if the idea was viable.

“At the beginning of 2013, we went to a textile show in nearby Nantwich aimed at quilters.  We found that locally there was a gap in the market for beautiful, quirky, unusual fabrics and haberdashery  like ric rac, lace, buttons and ribbons,” says Debbie.

The pair wrote their business plan, then collected many fabric samples to find the prints and range of fabric they wanted to stock.

“We took the samples to local sewing circles to get a feel for the type of fabric people wanted, then looked around for suppliers who could fill our need for retro patterns, vintage-style fabrics and unusual designs.

Clarke and Clarke ‘daisies and dots’ fabric

Finally, Bumbleberry Fabrics was born.

“Sophie came up with the name – it took us ages!” explains Debbie. “We love those deep, rich, autumnal berry colour tones, so to have ‘berry’ in the name seemed appropriate, and we hope our final choice is memorable and evokes our country, quirky image.”

Currently in stock is the beautiful Tilda range by Scandinavian designer, Tone Finnanger, Clarke and Clarke fabric which offers a contemporary, country style and a range of American quirky and floral prints from producers such as Michael Miller and Riley Blake, among others.

Ribbons and bows

“We’ve also got a great range of pretty buttons and some lovely grosgrain ribbons, all chosen to complement our fabrics,” says Debbie. “We’re adding new things to the range all the time, and we sell everything in small quantities to suit crafters.

“We’ve even run our own sewing group, with the help of a sewing teacher from Chester. Our first two six week courses were very popular, and a sewing group has now been formed in Tarvin. We hope to extend these groups to other areas.

Sewing and crafting are more popular now than they have been for decades, and business is booming for this new startup business.

Retro, vintage and quirky fabrics are a speciality

“I think TV programmes like the Great British Sewing Bee and Kirstie’s Homemade Home have really helped to bring crafting into the mainstream,” says Debbie. “If you make something yourself, it’s completely unique and you’ll get the fun of making it. There’s definitely been a shift in attitudes – whereas ‘homemade’ used to be seen as rather naff, it’s now chic and trendy.

“This year, we saw quite a few mums with daughters of about 11 or 12 buying our fabric “easy to sew” kits for Christmas presents, to go with the sewing machines that’d been on Christmas lists. That was really lovely.”

This January, Debbie and Sophie went back to the textile show in Nantwich, but this time as exhibitors.

“We had some lovely feedback, from crafters who’d been attending for years and thought our range was a bit different,” says Debbie. “It was great to hear we’d achieved what we were aiming for!”

For more information or to buy online, please visit www.bumbleberryfabrics.com. You can also visit Bumbleberry Fabrics to view their stock near Chester by appointment only.

March 15th  

Cosy Home Blog on eBay

A few months ago, Cosy Home was invited to take part in a campaign to help launch eBay’s new ‘collections’ feature in the UK. As an avid fan of eBay and a very regular eBay purchaser, it was like a match made in heaven!

Introducing eBay Collections

The idea behind the new eBay collections tool is that it provides you with a simple and easy way of gathering together your ideas and passions – from furniture you’ve got your eye on, to clothing, crafty goodies, collectables or wallpaper ideas. It’s a bit Pinterest-esque in style and provides a visual pin board where you can collect together shopping inspiration.

Although eBay already has the ability to let you watch individual items and follow sellers, it’s now much easier to be able to compare ideas and different products when you can see them alongside each other on your collections boards. If you’ve got a particular decorating theme or colour scheme you’re working towards, it’s great to be able to see how items might look if used together. Plus, as you can choose to make your collections public, it’s also easier to be able to share your passions and ideas with friends, family or anyone using the site.

The eBay UK Collections tool officially launched last week, so we’re excited to be able to finally share our collections with you. As our passion is interior design, our collections are of course all based around ideas for our home. We’ve created a dozen collections so far, which you can see in full here, and will be updating them regularly and adding more ideas in the months to come.

To whet your appetite, here’s some insight into a few of the collections we’ve created:

Create a Cosy Home

How to create a cosy home

It was only natural that one of our collections should focus on creating a cosy home! This one has proved particularly popular and has been trending on the eBay collections homepage this week. It’s full of ideas for making your home cosy, from warm bedding and soft rugs, to cosy fires, flickering candles and knitted cushions.

Beautiful Shabby Chic

Shabby chic ideas for your home

As you know, we love all things shabby chic. eBay is a great place to search for shabby chic home bargains, as we found whilst creating this collection. The Beautiful Shabby Chic collection includes ideas for homely wallpaper, unique furniture, ornate mirrors, pretty storage and finishing touches to help you make your house a home.

The Joy of Driftwood

Add the rustic charm of driftwood into your home

We think there’s something special about driftwood. The way it’s been tossed and turned, carved and worn through its journey in the sea. Used in the home, it can add a special air of rustic charm. Amongst the many sellers on eBay are craftspeople, who create beautiful homeware pieces and objects d’art from reclaimed driftwood. Our Joy of Driftwood collection celebrates the uniqueness of driftwood and offers plenty of ideas for items you can buy and add to a special place in your home.

The collection includes cleverly designed clocks, candle holders, mirrors, fruit bowls and coat hooks, to name but a few. And if you fancy creating your own individual piece from driftwood, but don’t live near a beach, you could even buy a bundle of raw driftwood pieces!

These are just a handful of our curated collections – some of our others include Classic Cath Kidston, Pretty Pastels, Crafty Homeware Kits, Perfect Patchwork and Heartfelt Home Decor. So head over to eBay now to check them all out. Don’t forget to follow Cosy Home Blog on eBay too, to keep up-to-date with our new finds and bargain buys!

We’ve loved collating our collections, so hope you do too.

***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with eBay***

March 13th  

One of the most picturesque and classically beautiful counties in England, Surrey is the perfect place to set up a cosy and comfortable home for you and your family.

With quintessentially English market towns and villages dotting the rolling hills and pleasant landscape, Surrey’s open spaces make it a great place for an outdoor lifestyle too.

Also, with a plethora of developments, new homes in Surrey are providing more opportunities for people to build their lives here.

Town and countryside

The small city of Guildford sits in heart of the county. Its old-fashioned cobbled high street and Georgian architecture have remained unchanged for decades, and with plenty of great shopping, it’s a bustling place to be at weekends.

County and market towns like Farnham and Godalming ooze with charm and give you a glimpse of what life has been like here for centuries.

Then, of course, there is the countryside. The rolling North Downs traverse the county providing some stunning walking territory. The heathlands in the south of the county are some of the last remaining in the UK.

The chalky landscape and centuries old agricultural industry have shaped the land, and on a spring or summer’s day there is not a more beautiful place on earth.

Urban access

Of course, all of this is found within an hour from London too, with good rail and road facilities to the capital. Many people choose to set up their homes in Surrey and simply commute to work in the city. With a range of housing to choose from, from classical cottages to town houses and newer developments, whatever kind of property you’re looking for, you should be able to find it in Surrey.

A place with everything

If you’re looking for a place to live that has character and charm, somewhere that gives you the space to enjoy life but that’s not too far away from the major employment centres and the best jobs, then Surrey is about as good as it gets. Create your perfect home in the county and you’ll see that you really do get the best of all possible worlds here.

With your own little slice of Surrey, you can set up home in one of the most high demand places in the UK, and with new homes being built all the time, the prices are realistic too.

***This  guest post is in association with Linden Homes***

March 10th  

There’s something very soothing about a fish motif. Instead of the more obvious places such as bathroom tiles, why not try a few ocean-themed accessories in the kitchen, dining room or living room? Here are our top picks:

Fish inspired accessories for a cosy home

 

Top row, from left:

Fish serving spoons, £19.99 from The Nautical Company. Made from stainless steel, these spoons are perfect for doling out a salade nicoise, or a seafood platter.

Designed to look like a botanist’s illustration, this beautiful antique-style fish print will work for any room in the house. Complete with a shabby chic grey frame, it costs £42 from Artisanti.

This classic, simple apron, decorated with a printed seabream, will appeal to serious cooks and ocean lovers alike. Made in Britain by Thornback and Peel, it’s made from heavy, hardwearing cotton and it costs £24 from Annabel James.

Middle row (from left):

This Thermos flask, with its realistic illustrations of fish, is a bit different. Ideal for the fisherman in your life, but also great for taking to work, picnics, or packing in the rucksack for a wintery walk. £17 from The Great Gift Company.

These little wooden fish pegs are so cute. They’re perfect for holding notes, shopping lists and messages, and come in a pack of six in different suitably fishy colours. £5 for a pack, from Very Nice Things.

This Finnish designed oven mitt features a Scandinavian style pike, and is part of the range of Hauki (pike) accessories. Featuring the fish’s head on the front and the tail on the back, it’s available from Scandinavian importers Cloudberry Living, priced at £19.50.

Bottom row (from left)

Create your very own beach hut atmosphere (without the smell) by hanging up these funky metal fish. Great as a wall ornament, you could also use them outside as an impromptu wind chime. £3.99 for the shoal, from Mollie and Fred.

The term ‘herringbone design’ doesn’t normally involve real fish, but in this case it does! This clever design features pretty blue fish, arranged into the famous herringbone pattern. The fish are screenprinted onto Scottish linen, and the cushion costs £35 from Oscar and Eve.

The beauty of these tealight lanterns is that when you light the candle, shadowy shoals of fish appear floating round the room! Available in grey or blue, they’re shaped to look like a lighthouse to carry on the seaside theme. £5 each by Gisela Graham, available from The Contemporary Home.

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