Delicious, Floral & Gardens, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

How do you like dem apples?

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Last week, the night before Hallowe’en, I took a walk around a friends farm – the Autumn mists were down so I can’t show you the sea views this handsome new herd has but I am sure you can imagine. When leaving, Teresa handed me a bag of apples – there are only so many apple tarts she can make she said.

I fancied making something that will last, something that doesn’t involve pastry (a moment on the lips….. ) and something I can’t get readily in the supermarket.

I decided an apple jelly was just the thing – I had a feeling it might be trickier than jam but worth it I reckoned. I have a couple of scented geraniums in the garden and thought I might involve them before its too late in the year so looked up a recipe with those combined ingredients. Darina Allen of Ballymaloe came to the rescue as I found her recipe here

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I gathered all my jam jars, the ingredients from the recipe & some fresh clean muslin. (which incidently, you can sterilise by ironing on the hottest setting – who knew)

Right, apples into the water – I used lemon scented geranium leaves here instead of lemon zest. All good so far…..

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A comedy of errors ensued. I tried to create a contraption to house my muslin filter for the scalding hot pulp using an up-turned stool and many many pegs – I needed this to be left overnight in order to get every last drop of sticky juice from the cooked apples. Soon realising that the ginormous bowl I had wedged into the legs to receive this mixture was going to fill up well before the pulp had emptied. I tried to tilt it in to another sterilised bowl, it got jammed, slipped and poured all over my right thigh and kitchen floor. I scream, Dinny decides to come in and check out what the hell is going on, I run upstairs whipping off clothes to get cold water on my leg and then spend the next hour mopping up the sticky mess.

I attempt to try again – there is still plenty of pulp that hasn’t drained, this then spills and another hour is spent mopping the floor over and over again. I then leave the rest of the pulp to drain overnight. I sit down to watch a scary movie – it is Hallowe’en weekend afterall. One of the light bulbs in the kitchen decides to pop. Movie is indeed scary. Everytime I jump, Dinny awakes and starts barking, the light in the stairwell flickers every time I go upstairs, film get scarier, pulp keeps dripping. I am stuck on the couch afraid to put my feet on the floor .

Next morning I manage to make my apple jelly with rose scented geranium leaf – far less than there would have been had most of it not ended up on the floor. It is a little more runny as well as I think the majority of all that pectin didn’t make it to the pot either….

BUT the good news is, it tastes deeeelish. *wipes brow*

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Inspiration, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

Colourful Copenhagen

I am just home from a busy and inspirational trip to Denmark.

My sister, Alva is based there at the moment living in a very privileged situation 

– right in the centre of the old part of Copenhagen, Nyhavn2016-08-26 10.23.48The exterior of the building is a beautiful pink.2016-08-26 18.43.58But once you are through the doors it leads to courtyard where the walls are an ochre lime render – a colour I have been researching lately for another project. 2016-08-25 10.24.30

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I had the opportunity to meet lots of interesting Danes during the visit. We chatted about the use of the Danish flag in interiors. The Danes see the use of their flag to mean ‘hooray lets party!’ rather than a huge nationalistic pride. You have to admit it is a good looking graphic and makes great bunting.

There were swims to be had around the corner at the newly built Ofelia Plads. Lots of people had the same idea…. sandwiches, chilled Rosé, Danish flag napkins and a towel…sorted.

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We visited the Stunning Rosenborg Castle – a 17th Century Palace in Copenhagen built by Christian IV. It was filled with atmosphere, partly thanks to its very clever lighting akin to candlelight. I think they even had ‘Hygge’ in those days, as my friend Helen Russell will tell you

It reminded us both of Ham House in Surrey.

One of the highlights of the trip was a naughty afternoon spent drinking fizz in the sun in one of my favourite places in the world!  Nyboder is a district Copenhagen made up of rows of purpose built Naval Barracks built in the mid 18th century, currently embarking on full and faithful restoration  – as with most old buildings in Denmark. Henriette, our wonderful host explained that the building would have housed the wives and children of the sailors and they very much shared their homes and gardens and supporting eachother for the months while their husbands were at sea.

It is still mostly inhabited by the Danish navy, army and airforce and their is definitely a distinct feeling there. The colour of the render is known as Nyboder yellow. If ever a colour lifted the soul!

 

On our last day we went sailing in Roskilde Fjord. The reason Alva came to Denmark was to sail on the Sea Stallion, a working replica of a viking longship unearthed in Roskilde, which tests revealed the wood it was built with grew in our own Glendalough in County Wicklow! Read more about Alva’s adventures on the ship here. There is fabulous working museum there – worth a trip.  We went sailing on a replica of a Norwegian fishing boat. It was, shall we say, a very exciting and a bit hairy at times due to unforecast winds that came from nowhere.

Love the colour of the sails  – and the boat was painted white, pink, orange and green.

I have returned home with a heart full of inspiration fueling my love of colour. I met some fantastic people, notedly strong women who work hard and like a good laugh. There was thoughtful design everywhere I looked. Older buildings are cherished and lived in and maintained, therefore are surviving. I am seeing quite a lot of refurbishment on a few of the projects I am working on here in Ireland. I think we are getting better at being faithful to our heritage and being a bit more gutsy in our own use of colour. I would encourage you to consider using it somewhere outside as well as inside. Even on a dull rainy day it can be uplifting!

 

p.s. It is great to come home to this little fellow and race up to the cliffs where it is evident the Season is achanging. I’m ready…

 

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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, DIY, Interior Style

From moodboard to moody room….

In my head I came up with an idea for a ‘rustic ambient dining room inspired by the Wicklow Mountains in Autumn.

I visualised all my ideas here: http://www.pinterest.com/niamhmacgowan/rustic-dining-space/

and when it came to creating the space from a white 12sqM box at the Colortrend Interior Design Forum last weekend here are lots of shots of how it manifested itself…..

Imagea stunning landscape by Robert Russell and intricate etching by Jean Bardon are picked up by the ambient light

 

Imagethe pop of orange from the handmade cushion that I bought on etsy is echoed in the nasturtiums painting by Brien Vahey

 

Imagea string of lights set off the wall colour beautifully and I painted out my granny’s old kitchen shelves to really display the antique bits and bobs and rows of houses on them

 

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The table was set for an Autumn supper, with rustic ceramics by Crannmor Pottery and place mats made especially by James Carroll teamed with antique wine glasses dating back to 1870 from my antique dealer on the hill in Enniskerry Village – more about him in a later post!. The handblown glasses were engraved with ferns – a detail following trough from all the nods to nature elsewhere on the set…

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An antique décanter housed some port ready for supping from some of my vintage glasses all set off by an old lace cloth that belonged to my Mum that I brought to life again by dyeing it an antique grey.

 

ImageMy framers made this mirror with pretty detail, here it reflects the oil landscape by Brien Vahey

 

Imagemy antique dealer had some old fallow deer antlers which sat very neatly with this new mirror

 

Imageso I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of what happens when ideas from the drawing board come to life …..

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The hedgerows keep giving

Ivy is in flower and I love the shapes!! and the simplicity of colour.

Floral & Gardens, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

The hedgerows keep giving

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a little Autumnal posy

I was out foraging in the hedgerows by the beach today. I picked some ivy and rose hips (just a few – left the rest for the birds!). I popped them in one of my trusty Rosemarie Durr vases with one of my dahlias et voila! Here they are on a shelf in my dark and moody bedroom.

Floral & Gardens, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast, Uncategorized

a little Autumnal posy

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Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

Autumn Hues

I was passing through the Wicklow Mountains last weekend and even though there was a gale blowing, I couldn’t resist taking a few snaps

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All those colours are so stunning.

Nature is one of my main starting points for colours and even just seasonal adornment. Below are lots of images to inspire……..

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Golden hues recall harvest time

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It can be as simple as adding shots of colour with tea towels!

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Warm walls   image by: Sharon Cairns

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Terracotta hues in the bricks at Ham House

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Eclectic & cosy living at Arne Maynard’s house image: The Interior Archives

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Subtle textures and earthy tones with terracotta bricks with walls the colour of mud

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image via: Country living.com

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image via: linenandlavender.com

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String your nature finds together to create a garland!

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Oh rust & ruby velvets – how stunning!    image: Astier de Villatte

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My throws on the couch for extra comfort on nights in

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image: via Atelier A.M. | Mark D. | b r o w n s

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Textures – image bodie& fou

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oh so beautiful!

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Faded blooms reflect Autumn

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Atmospheric grey walls make a feature of the leather couch

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Texture & colour injection with rugs – image by toast

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Cosmos at the herbacious border in Mount Usher gardens

Time to light the fire and enjoy those cosy evenings….

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Delicious, Nature & the Coast

recipe for Sloe Gin

Its that time of the year again….

Here is the recipe for my (in)famous sloe gin!Image

makes 1 bottle

Preparation time: a year or more

450g (1lb) sloes

225-450g (8oz- 1lb) organic caster sugar

580ml (1 pint) gin

2  kilner jars

Wash and prick the sloes all over with a clean needle. Alternatively you can freeze them overnight in order to pierce the skin.

Feed them in to a large sterilised jar (I find Kilner jars are best). Pour the sugar over the sloes – how much depends on how sweet you like your liqueur. Finally add the gin. Seal tightly and give it a shake. Store in a cool dark cupboard. Shake it every other day for the first week and then every week for a couple of months. The sloes stop doing their flavouring after about 3 months so you can then strain and bottle your liqueur. The colour lightens and the flavour improves with age.

It is delicious served neat in a vintage liqueur glass or as a kir with some fizz in a champagne glass.

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So get thee to the hedgerows and gather…. for in the Winter months this will keep you warm!

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