Delicious, DIY, Floral & Gardens, Inspiration, Interior Style, Lifestyle, Nature & the Coast

A Country Christmas at Hunter’s

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I’m so excited about next months two Inspiration Masterclasses.  The events are a fine opportunity to get in the mood, with friends, for the festive season while gleaning tips and ideas on how to decorate your own home with an emphasis on using Nature & the Garden as your resource.

The afternoon will be filled with creative ideas for decorative detail around your home from myself and this will be followed by a demonstration of creating your own seasonal harvest and tonic drinks with Glenealy based local Courtney Tyler of Hips & Haws Wildcrafts. Courtney will show us how to create our own healthy wildcrafted tonic drinks using foraged wild berries such as elderberries, blackberries and rose hips. She will concentrate on cordials, shrubs, sodas and fruit wines.

The event which is now an annual tradition for many regular attendees, takes place in the cosy, atmospheric surroundings of Ireland’s oldest coaching inn, Hunter’s Hotel, County Wicklow.

My aim is for everyone to leave with a warm glow and full of inspiration for decorating your own home for the festive season and through the Winter until Spring. Ticket price includes Hunter’s renowned homemade afternoon tea (complete with deelish sambos, scones & cake) and a glass of fizz by the fire.

The events take place on Saturday 3rd October & Saturday 10th October

Places are limited so early booking is advisable. You can book on either of the dates here

Niamh Mac Gowan Interior Stylist  http://niamhmacgowan.com/

Courtney Tyler http://www.hipsandhaws.com/

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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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Antiques & Antiquing, Art, Inspiration, Interior Style, Nature & the Coast

The Natural Showhome – part 2

On we go upstairs – a large scale antique patchwork wall hanging in the stairwell is contemporary while also bringing texture and gravitas to the space.

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The stairway leads up to one of my favourite places in the house – the spacious landing.

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I commissioned fellow Wicklow based craftsman James Carroll to make a bench for this particular space. The seat has been made from Elm, the legs from Ash with inset details in Walnut – all grown in Wicklow.

Glimpse in to one of the rooms leading off here and we see a gorgeous little etching / aquatint called ‘Cloud: Half formed’ by Niamh Flanagan.

 

In to the first bedroom which has a balcony looking out to the hills.

There is crisp white linen, a felt wool upholstered headboard, a quilted cotton bedspread and herringbone throw all set off by the restful blue of the walls. Loving the seagulls flying above the bed.

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Next we have the family bathroom – the wall tiles here remind me of distressed metal. They are warmed up by the solid oak bathroom accessories. It is all very simple in here. As with all the bathrooms in the house, there are lots of clean lines and plenty of places to put everything, be it decorative or functional.

There are charcoal linen blinds and concrete floor tiles setting off the paler grey of the tile. 2016-04-09 10.45.10

 

Down the passageway to two more bedrooms..

 

 

We are now in the guest bedroom with en-suite, a room that I think could easily be an alternative master bedroom.

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Across the hallway a door leads in to the twin room.

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I think twin beds are really versatile in a home. I spent a lot of time in other peoples’ homes and I am increasingly finding that children love sharing a room with their siblings – creating a lifelong bond. I was also thinking of the house being full of visitors and twin beds in a guest room is so much more versatile for overnight guests.

 

Right, off in to the master bedroom

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This is a very serene and opulent room with dusty pink velvets and linens, inspired by the botanic etching on the wall by Marta Wakula-Mac.

 

 

There is a walk thru wardrobe in a fantastic finish resembling the tones in wet cement. Here there is a dramatic mirror reflecting the light from the bedroom window

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A stunning etching by Maev Lenaghan ‘La Vie en Rose’ sits beautifully in the dressing room.

All the artworks in the house were acquired through my Home Curation Service and were intrinsic to the colours and feel of every room.

 

This atmospheric vestibule leads through to the most fabulous en-suite, it feels like this room goes on forever. Here the porcelain tiles resemble slate, creating a rich contrast with the oak and white. LOVE it.

 

Thus concludes the tour of Cluain Mara nestled in the hill above the beautiful harbour town of Kinsale. I have hugely enjoyed being given free reign to create a home that is rich in atmosphere and decorative detail, inspired by the colours and textures of its surrounds.

 

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Art, Nature & the Coast

Wicklow Hills

For my latest etching, I went up to the nearby hills and sat in a very old graveyard, where I could get the best view and sketched away what quickly crept on to the next page of my panoramic sketchbook. I wanted to capture the gentle slopes of the hills, dotted with livestock while the farm below nestled in the dip before the undulations, while in the distance the faint hills and glimpse of the bay were a reminder of where you were.

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In order to achieve the myriad tones on the plate I spent many hours in the basement of the Graphic Studio aquatinting and etching with the acid ….

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Here is the result, a panoramic landscape complete with a tumultuous sky!

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‘Wicklow Hills’

etching & aquatint

edition of 125

plate size 70mm x 340mm

paper size 220mm x 490mm

 

Feel free to contact me if you would like to buy one.

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Art, Lifestyle

Coliemore Harbour

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I love that this tiny little harbour located in County Dublin. It has remained untouched by the bustling world around it. It is a favourite place of mine to stop and look out over Dublin Bay and Dalkey Island – preferably with an ice cream! The sea in the harbour is always translucent  but the hues change – sometimes turquoise sometimes teal, sometimes a deep indigo…. such inspirational colours….

 

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