Jeska of blog Lobster & Swan styles up her cosy reading corner with Laura Ashley
So, just a few weeks into September and the air has definitely changed, a slight chill leads me to believe I’m to call it a day for my summer dresses and start hunting out cosy tights and sweaters. Switch salads for warming soups, add a dash of chilli heat to my favourite brownie recipe and a pinch of cinnamon to my hot chocolate. I always find at this time of year in our house we focus more on home and what it means to us, so it’s the perfect time for indoor projects and changes. The things I like to do most at this time of year apart from cooking, is cosying down to read, learn, write and create.
Left dizzy after the carnival of colour and excitement of this summer and it’s many weddings, parties and picnics, I have decided to lean towards delicate muted colours mixed with soft textures. White walls display vintage frames filled with collages for inspiration and stacked high on the shelves are piles of my favourite books and magazines.
Fictional, recipe, interior design and craft books, magazines, blogs, hand written letters, idea journals and inspiration binders all jostle for my attention. My collection is ever growing and slowly taking over every table in the house. With this (and the husbands sanity) in mind I have dedicated a corner of our living room to just these things, repainting (paint colour ideas below) a junk shop table and giving a chair a makeover, gathering together all my most treasured reading things and adding some new Laura Ashley pieces to pull it all together…
Elsham Knitted Cushion, Emslie Natural Stripe Cushion, Curved Glass and Metal Hurricane Lamp, Pussy Willow Floral Linen/Cotton Natural Fabric, Plain Pillar Candle, Water Based Paint, Pale French Grey, Water Based Paint, Truffle, Water Based Paint, Mink
Old family photos are displayed and treasured vintage books kept safe between Starburst photo book ends. In the evenings, just enough cosy candle light glimmers from a curved glass hurricane lamp, for writing letters or last minute lists of tomorrows tasks and things to remember.
My favourite item from the new Laura Ashley collection is the Pussy willow linen and cotton fabric, I am so in love with this delicate pattern featuring my dearest spring blooms, I know it will give me a sweet reminder every day that Spring is our reward after the colder months. I gave a metre to my lovely Local upholsterer Paul Norris, to complete the beautiful renovation of my old Lloyd loom chair, and to soften against that wicker chair back a cosy knitted Elsham cushion. When Autumn gives way to winter I will add an extra layer with this super soft Emslie striped cotton throw, used as blanket, wrap, cloak and more, I must try not to let those kitties of mine get their paws on it. As you can see they are already intrigued by this new corner of our home…
To complete an evening or afternoon of reading, a stack of dark chocolate, or a batch of Chilli brownies (below) and mug of something hot to drink. This red spotted cup is also a Laura Ashley favourite from quite a few seasons ago!
Autumn Brownie recipe
185 g soft unsalted butter
185 g best green and blacks dark chocolate
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chilli oil (more if you like it super spicy)
250 g caster sugar 112 g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes for sprinkling
1 Preheat oven to 180°C.
2 Line an 8” square brownie pan with baking parchment.
3 Melt the butter, chilli oil and chocolate together in a large heavy based saucepan stir until melted then let cool.
4 beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl.
5 Measure flour and salt into a separate bowl.
6 When the chocolate mixture has cooled, beat in the eggs and sugar mixture, and then stir in flour until well combined.
7 pour mixture into the lined brownie pan and sprinkle with chilli flakes.
8 Bake for about 20 minutes. When its’s ready, the top should be set with a paler brown flake, but the middle still dense and fudgey.
9 Leave to cool in pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Best eaten warm with vanilla ice cream.
Chair re‑upholstered by Paul T Norris Tel 01424‑812129