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September 4th 2014
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SARAH RAVEN’S CUTTING GARDEN JOURNAL

Discussing her new book, Sarah shares her beginners tips for growing your own flower cutting garden…

It’s no secret that a beautiful bunch of flowers can instantly brighten your home and create an uplifting sense of wellbeing. Even more so, when they have been hand-plucked from your own flower patch. Guiding us through her experiences with growing her own in her new book ‘Cutting Garden Journal,’ Sarah Raven documents her expert advice, from sowing seeds to arranging your seasonal displays.

 

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Month by month, Sarah’s journal discusses the wide range of plants that are perfect for growing your own blooms. Jam-packed with top notch-advice and bespoke planting plans, we especially love her monthly to-do projects. Taking time out of her busy schedule at her farm in East Sussex, we caught up with Sarah to chat about the wonderful journey of embarking on your own flower cut patch…

 

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- Growing cut flowers is one of the most rewarding things you can do. It’s very easy to fill your house with flowers from a small space if you grow the right plants. Choose annual plants which are cut-and-come-again, then you can then pick a couple of bunches on say a Friday – to make the house lovely for the weekend – and all the flowers will have grown back to pick again by the following week. It’s an ever-filling cup and the perfect sort of gardening for any optimist.

 

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- The patch needs to be in a sunny spot – in a soil with good drainage – or it could be in a series of pots on a window ledge or door step. Select plants with very long flowering seasons – such as Cosmos ‘Purity’, the sunflower ‘Vanilla Ice’, or the beautiful pincushion plant, Scabiosa atropurpurea and remember to grow foliage plants too, so you can make beautiful mixed arrangements. I love Euphorbia oblongata  cerinthe (or honeywort) and the sage,  Salvia viridis ‘Blue’.

 

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- When you’re picking flowers, follow this order and everything will last as long as it can – first pick, then condition by searing the stem ends in boiling water for 15 seconds, then store the flowers in deep water overnight, cool and dark, before you arrange them for scattering round your house. Put a drop of bleach or clear vinegar in the water and the flowers will last as long as they can.

 

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My favourite style of instant arrangement is in narrow necked bottles, just one or three heads in each, contrasting the colour of the vase to the colour of the flower. You can have just one as a central point, or even nicer, go for a line of five or seven in a line or a circle in the middle of your dining table. Then you can have flowers as part of your inside as well as outside life for at least nine months of the year!

 

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Feeling inspired? Why not brush up on your flower growing techniques with the launch of Sarah’s new book ‘Cutting Garden Journal’? On sale from the 4th of September and published by Francis Lincoln, take advantage of our exclusive free postage and packaging offer on the book by visiting sarahraven.com or call 0845 092 0283 quote offer code SRLAUR.

 

Offer valid until 30th September 2014, offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount and previous purchases are not valid.

 

To display your blooms, browse the Laura Ashley range of vases here.

 

September 3rd 2014
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THE PRINT WITH A PAST: COTTAGE SPRIG

Join us as we learn a little bit about our beloved print, Cottage Sprig…

Who remembers our beloved Cottage Sprig? An old classic, we feel all nostalgic looking at these pictures! Catching up with our archivist Holly, she gives us a little bit of information behind the iconic print…

 

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Images from our 1985 catalogue 

 

Holly tells us…

 

“Cottage Sprig was launched in 1981 and has remained a classic Laura Ashley design ever since. It has appeared on wallpaper, wall tiles, tea sets, stationary and even a doll! Cottage Sprig has been recoloured at least six times, ranging from poppy to china blue to rose! It is believed to have been first found in an old children’s book, Cox and Box. The design was found and redrawn by Brian Jones, who worked for Laura Ashley from 1972 for 26 years.”

 

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The original inspiration for Cottage Sprig: Cox and Box

 

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Patchwork quilt featuring Cottage Sprig

 

Perfect for all seasons, our Cottage Sprig print is simple and versatile and creates a homely atmosphere in almost any room. Recently popular with children’s rooms, this cute pattern makes an ideal statement wall in a young ladies room, or to line stationary drawers! We even found an old blue print on our Social Media Assistant’s kitchen wall, how lovely does it look? Especially when paired with this vintage china…

 

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Fancy getting your hands on some Cottage Sprig? These pretty pieces are currently NEW and now available on the site. Throw this fleece on the end of a kids bed for a extra cosy layer for when the nights get cooler, or display all your favourite jewellery in this spacious pretty jewellery box…

 

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Cottage Sprig Wallpaper / Fabric / Fleece Blanket / Jewellery Box

 

We would love to see some snaps of your Cottage Sprig print, whether it be on your wall or just on a small accessory in the home, do share! What other print would you like to learn about?

September 1st 2014
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HOW TO: DECORATING A TEEN BOY’S BEDROOM

Design the perfect bedroom for your teen with ease using our top tips..

Transforming your little boy’s bedroom into a teenage hideaway can be tricky business. A space of their own to relax and sleep, to entertain friends and study hard – choosing a decor style that you both agree on can be a difficult process, but one that can be achieved. With a helping hand from our interior designer Georgina, lets take a peek at what you should consider when decorating your teen’s bedroom….

 

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Teenagers’ bedrooms are often the most challenging in the house. They can be very particular about what they want, but quietly we know that they are developing all the time so black walls and ceilings may be a passing fad ! I think it’s really important to reflect your teen’s personality in the room without going for anything that feels too permanent, so it is a great opportunity to be eclectic in your designs and be a bit more daring.

 

- Make sure to involve your teen in every step of the design process, that way you can create a cool interior style that you can both agree on.

 

- My top tip would be to invest in good quality furniture, that way it will stand the test of time and can be used in the future when they have flown the family nest. Paint, wallpaper and decorative accessories are all inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, so go to town with these items instead to add style and flare.

 

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- Think about what the room is likely to be used for in the future. A guest bedroom or an office? If an office, consider a day bed which can be used for either occasion. If a guest room, choose a king sized bed and headboard.

 

-Wallpaper can be inexpensively changed, so choose one wall (usually the headboard wall) to paper in a fun print. Pick out two or three colours from the wallpaper to use in your accessories and keep the other walls neutral.

 

- Try and divide the room into two areas, so they have a separate space to study and sleep.

 

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- In the study area you can put your creativity to the test, by making a feature above the desk. Install shelves which can house their favourite personal belongs, an upholstered pin board and a fun coloured lamp like the Portland Bedside Lamp.

 

- When dressing the bed, it is a perfect opportunity to mix different patterns, textures and tones to create a fun inviting space. Mix geometric prints and stripes, with blocks of colour.

 

- Storage is really important. Try and de-clutter, and make a charity box with all the old toys and books. Then organise the essentials into storage boxes. Vintage trunks look great stacked in the corner of the room or the Milton Storage Units hide away a multitude of sins.

 

What are your top tips for decorating a teen’s bedroom? We love the nod to the nautical in our Salcome range and our chalkboard paint calls for a creative touch…

 

Browse our kid’s range of decor here.

 

August 29th 2014
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FRUITY FIZZ MOCKTAIL FROM THE LITTLEST BAKEHOUSE

Serving up a treat, we invited blogger Hannah to share her favourite Mocktail recipe…

With the summer coming to an end (boo!) we’re holding on to the last ounce of the warmer weather. One thing we will miss is alfresco dining – from fruity drinks to posh picnics, we’ve been all about good food and drink this summer. To mark the end of the season,  we’re bringing you one more yummy recipe from The Littlest Bakehouse. Perfect for the end of the long evenings, this fizzy mocktail is the ideal accompaniment to a pretty sunset and a outdoors feast…

 

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Rattan Tray | Drink Dispenser (available in store)

 

We’ve all been there – the end of summer is nearing and your calendar features more barbecues than it does weekdays beginning with S as us Brits clamber to get the last of the rays before they disappear for another six months. Caught up in the traditions, with the drinks and refreshments flowing, this mocktail recipe would fit in nicely with your alfresco plans, and it means not having to make do with warm lemonade hastily dug out from the back of a cupboard.

 

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This country garden fizz is a punchy mocktail, with each sip, the flavours hop around your mouth – sweet apple hits first, followed by the sharpness of the lemon and lime, and ending with the more mellow, quintessentially English, elderflower. Now, who’s next for a hotdog?

 

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Ingredients

 

Serves 10

 

5 limes, juice 4, slice 1
225ml elderflower cordial (9 shots)
750ml pure apple juice
850ml good quality lemonade

 

Method
Juice 4 of the 5 limes, for about 125ml (5 shots) of juice, and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve.

Slice the remaining lime.

Transfer the juice to a large jug, add the other ingredients, and stir.

Serve with ice and lime slices.

 

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Many thanks to Hannah for serving up this treat for us! What’s your favourite refreshment to offer on a summers evening? Let us know…

 

August 28th 2014
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MEET THE LAURA ASHLEY INTERIOR DESIGNER: GEORGINA

Answering all our decor conundrums, we shine the spotlight on our interior designer Georgina…

When faced with an interior dilemma or decorating woe, we call on our resident interior designer Georgina to fix all. Sharing her expert advice non-stop on the blog (you can brush up on her top tips here and here), we thought it was finally time to meet Georgina and find out more about her role in the Design Service and what inspires her love of interiors…

 

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Tell us a little about the Laura Ashley Design Service… 

 

The Design Service provides home consultations for any design project, this can vary from two rooms to whole house projects! We manage the whole project from initial concept to completion, and sourcing any decorators and curtain fitters to carry out the work. We bring all the fabric swatches, paints and wallpapers to your home, then create a scheme which is both beautiful and practical; tailored to the individual’s taste and lifestyle. We then place the entire order for the customer so they can sit back and look forward to their new rooms.

 

How do you get your ideas for a new project?

 
Laura Ashley launch amazing new products every 6 months, so it isn’t hard to find inspiration and get fresh ideas! The design service is really about making a space personal to the individual person or family, so every project is so different. I get a lot of ideas from magazines, Pinterest and visiting hotels.

 

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What inspires you?

 
Inspiration can come from absolutely anything. Whenever I go away, I am always picking up ideas from hotels, and just architecture in general. I also subscribe to 5 different monthly interior magazines, so I love to get inspiration from there. My partner will confirm that I get very excited when they arrive through the post box every month! I’m also guilty of watching all the home renovation TV shows.

 

What has been your favourite project to date? 

 
I was lucky enough to work on an amazing holiday let, last year. The farmhouse lies within a 200 acre estate and it was such a pleasure work in such beautiful surroundings. The farmhouse itself was full of English character and the couple really wanted to keep the true classic country farmhouse look, which is so quintessentially Laura Ashley.

 

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What’s the most common query/ problem have when decorating your house?

 
I think most people have a real difficulty with the furniture layout. It is so vital to get this right. You may have the most beautiful colour scheme in mind with an incredible array of fabrics, but a poor layout can really let the room down. I often mark the furniture shapes with tape on the floor so the client can really get an idea of how much floor space the furniture will take up, but also to decide how well the layout logistically works. In a long narrow room, it is sometimes best to divide the space into two separate areas to make full use of the space. Another common issue is having trouble suitably accessorising the space. It is the lighting, cushions and individual pieces which really bring personality in the room and without the final touches, a room looks unfinished.
 

Where do you start when decorating a room?

 
It depends on the specific project, some clients will have a special chair or piece of furniture which they have sentimental attachment to, which makes it much easier to start. Often the colour, or style of this item is very specific so the rest of the scheme can follow. Other projects will be completely ‘Carte Blanche’, perhaps even a building site so you have much more free rein here and consequently it can actually be more difficult to start. Although there are exceptions, I would generally start with the window treatments, as this is normally a focal point in the room.

 

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What is your own personal style, in your own home?

 
I love many different styles of design from very contemporary Italian design through to English classic. I live in a Grade 2 Listed cottage, so I wanted to make the most of the original features and have gone for a classic, sophisticated look. The house takes on a grey palette, as the main base and then I have introduced different accents in each room.

 

My sitting room is painted in Cobblestone, with charcoal grey Lynden sofas and accents of plum and aubergine in the cushions. I have gone for a much softer pallet in the Master Bedroom combining Flint, a more subtle grey paint on the walls with pure white bed linen. I have used lots of lovely crushed linens and velvets to give the very fresh palette, texture and life.

 

What’s your top pick of the new collections?

 
I absolutely love the new Abinger Tripod Floor lamp, I think it is really on trend and a fabulous statement piece for a family room office. I think the new Hunterhill Patterned wallpaper, a country dog design is a really fun wallpaper which would look super in a hallway or downstairs bathroom. I also really like the new Berry coloured drape fabrics. A deep, rich vibrant colour which is new to our colour palettes at Laura Ashley.

 

A wonderful insight into the world of interior design, if you fancy meeting Georgina or one of the other talented Design Service decorators, click here to read more.

August 27th 2014
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A PAMPERING TREAT FOR YOU: FREE GIFT WHEN YOU SPEND £75* OR MORE

Receive a free pampering gift set when you spend £75* or more in-store on Thursday 28th…

Save the date! As part of our new season launch and to say a little thank you to our loyal customers, we are delighted to offer you a pampering treat. Simply pop into any Laura Ashley store on Thursday evening and not only will you receive one of our hand wash and lotion gift sets for free if you spend £75*, you will also receive 10% off on the night! Whether you’re looking to refresh your home interiors or invest in your new season wardrobe, now is the time to indulge…

 

 

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Rhubarb and Vanilla Gift Set / Fresh Linen and Jasmine Gift Set / Citrus Blossom and Nectarine Gift Set

 

Taking pride of place in your bathroom, offer a warm welcome into your abode with our three pampering gift sets. Capturing three of Laura Ashley’s quintessential fragrances, take your pick from the fresh and delicate scent of the Fresh Linen & Jasmine, the sweet and tempting allure of the Rhubarb and Vanilla or the warm zesty notes in the Citrus and Nectarine Blossom. All wrapped up in our luxurious gift wrap, each set contains a moisture rich hand wash and lotion to both soften and soothe. A wonderful gift for a loved one or friend.. or even for yourself!

 

We hope you enjoy your pampering treat and discount, be sure to tweet us at @LauraAshleyUK and tell us which scent you picked!

 

Terms and Conditions: When you spend £75* or more in our UK and ROI Laura Ashley stores and concessions (not available online) you will be able to pick one free gift set of your choosing, whilst stocks last. We recommend hot-footing it down to your local Laura Ashley store earlier rather than later to avoid disappointment. The free gift offer will run on Thursday the 28th of August 2014 between the hours of 5-9pm during our new season launch evening. To find out where your nearest store is please check here. Customers will receive an extra 10% off everything on the night, on top of existing offers.

August 26th 2014
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BRIGHT BUYS: LIGHTING GUIDE

Light up your home with our guide to all things bright…

Choosing the lighting for your home can be a daunting task, but one that should be taken with careful consideration. An essential part of your home decor, choosing the perfect lighting will enhance your space with little effort. Instantly improving or changing the atmosphere of  your home, lighting is also a great way to highlight key interior features. Brightening up your home couldn’t be easier with our helpful guide, putting the spotlight on everything you need to know..

 

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Lighting Schemes

 

Whether you’re looking to create a cosy setting or the illusion of a brighter living space, each room will require different types of lighting to achieve a particular mood or atmosphere. Layering a mixture of lighting styles in your space will add depth and texture to your home, the three different styles to consider are…

 

- Ambient lighting is the most general form, mimicking the effects of natural light. It creates a relaxing setting, radiating enough light to fill the room without being too specific.

 

- Task lighting provides a bright fixed positioning of light, helping you perform certain duties such as reading, cooking or studying.

 

- Accent lighting is used to highlight an interior feature such as statement artwork or attractive fireplace, mostly through the use of wall mounted light fixtures or spotlights.

 

Room Schemes

 

With every room that you decorate each will have different lighting needs that call on different shapes and styles to both compliment and brighten your home. With comfort, style and functionality being our top priorities, lets discuss what lighting will be needed where:

 

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- A living room is where the family come together to spend quality time, from watching films to playing board games, the room will need a layering system of lighting. The main focal point of lighting will be a ceiling light to project practical everyday illumination, whether you opt for a stylish pendant light or add a dramatic statement with a chandelier, don’t be afraid to branch out with your lighting fixtures to work with your decor tastes. Task lighting is not to be overlooked, for reading purposes choose floor lamps that can add focus lighting, however make sure to weigh up the size and shape in consideration to the room.

 

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- Spotlights are the ideal option for the kitchen, they offer a bright focus on work surface areas. In the dining room, have a play around with low rise pendants hanging over the table. Keep the lighting focus on the table, however create a soft back drop in the room with subtle wall lighting.

 

- Create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in your hallway with a statement pendant piece for general lighting, then layer a lower level of lighting with table lamps. If your hallway is narrow then wall lights are the ideal space-saving option, reflect the light with mirrors and give the illusion of  a bigger space.

 

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- Bedside lighting should be your first consideration for the bedroom, choose a stylish option to dress the room, mixing and matching shades and bases to create your own unique look. Also make sure that the light is no higher than your eye level and pick the same lamps on either side of the bed to create a symmetrical look. For a central lighting, choose a ceiling light with a dimmer switch to create a warm glow come evening.

 

Lighting Trends and Tips

 

Brush up your lighting know-how with our expert advice from the Laura Ashley lighting buyer Shona:

 

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- Ceramics are a big trend for the next season, our Hascombe Artichoke Lamp base is an interesting yet classic shape, that can be used with a natural shade or something a little more fun with our made to order drum shade in Thistlewood Truffle, as seen above.

 

-  This season we have added more lighting accessories to the Laura Ashley range, such as the rose gold Chantilly faceted stacked glass flex. Our ceiling fixture Sienna gives an elegant touch to a home that may no longer have original period features and also provides a sophisticated edge to any standard ceiling pendants.

 

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- Our decorative Ockley glass pendant offers a more contemporary feel for a bespoke look. As seen in the trends for A/W14, by hanging the glass lights low over your dining tables it will create a fresh modern look and cosy atmosphere. Don’t be afraid to hang the Ockley in multiples for a statement cluster of lights!

 

- One of our best selling lights, our Marina Jar lamp invites you to store your favourite treasures inside and add lots of your character to your interior.

 

- Embrace the autumnal hues this season by updating your home with our extensive shade collection, for a pop of colour both apple and cyclamen are these seasons big hits! For a more unique look, our Made-To-Order handmade shade collection features a variety of shapes and sizes, available in over 100 fabrics.

 

For more information on bulb types and our nifty energy saving tips, read the Laura Ashley website lighting guide here.

 

Browse the extensive range of Laura Ashley lighting here.

August 22nd 2014
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BAKE WITH LIV: MINI VICTORIA SPONGE CAKES

Bringing to the table her GBBO inspired star bake, Olivia shares her spin on the traditional Victoria Sponge cake…

Inspired by the Great British Bake Off, (we’re smitten with Norman) this bank holiday we’re planning on baking up a storm! What better place to start than a classic Victoria sponge? A scrumptious crowd pleaser with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, it pairs perfectly with a cup of tea come afternoon.

 

Putting a spin on the traditional recipe, the wonderful Olivia (blogger at What Olivia Did) is here to kindly share her recipe for mini victoria sponge cupcakes. Perfect for a tea party or a tempting treat, they are (almost) too pretty to eat…

 

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Ingredients 

 

For the cake:

 

- 100g self raising flour

- 1 pinch of baking powder

- 100g unsalted butter at room temperature

- 100g caster sugar

- 2 eggs

- strawberry jam

- big cupcake/muffin cases

 

For the topping:

 

- 300ml double cream

- 2 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar

- chopped strawberries

- icing sugar

 

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Method:

 

1. Before you start, pop your oven on 180 degrees (fan assisted) and get going!

 

2. Crack the eggs into your bowl, and add the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter into a bowl and mix until light, fluffy and well combined. Be careful not to over mix though- just until combined is usually best, or until the mix easily drops off of a spoon.

 

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3. Prepare your cupcake cases in a baking tray, and spoon a tablespoon of cake mix into each case. Follow by a teaspoon of jam (or a wee bit less) and then follow with a final spoon of cake mix to cover the jam, like a sandwich.

 

4. Once complete, pop the cakes in the oven for about 20-25 minutes- checking regularly after 20 minutes. Once the cupcakes are golden, and a skewer comes out clean when removed- take your cakes out and leave them to cool completely.

 

5. Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, pour your double cream into a bowl and begin whisking (preferably using an electric mixer, or handheld whisk) until it begins to thicken. Gradually add your tablespoons of sugar until peaks form and the mix becomes thick and a little durable.

 

6. Once the cakes have cooled- pipe, spread or spoon your whipped cream onto the top of each cake (I piped them using a simple kit from the supermarket) and then chop your strawberries to go on top of that. Finish with a sprinkling of icing sugar- and enjoy!

 

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How delicious do Olivia’s mini victoria sponge cakes look? We could certainly polish off one (or three) with a cup of tea! Hand’s up who thinks Olivia should enter next years GBBO – we think she would definitely score a star bake. Keep up to date with her latest recipes on her blog What Olivia Did and keep an eye on her twitter and the hashtag #bakewithliv for an exciting competition that will be happening over the weekend…

 

Why not try your hand at creating your own strawberry jam with our tried and tested recipe here.

 

Browse the NEW Laura Ashley range of bakeware here.

August 19th 2014
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MAKELIGHT’S SURPRISE INDOOR PICNIC

Keep the spirit of summer alive with Emily’s surprise indoor picnic…

Come rain or shine, August for us is the month of picnics galore. There is nothing quite like sitting down with family and friends to a delicious spread of home made sarnies, cakes and nibbles in the great outdoors. Alas, faced with the unpredictable Blighty weather, blogger Emily (Makelight) took matters into her own hands and created the perfect indoor picnic with her children, sharing with us her snaps and ideas, let’s tuck in to her scrummy feast…

 

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The school Summer holidays are whizzing by and although we have been blessed with so many beautiful days full of sunshine this week has been a little unpredictable. My plans for a fun afternoon picnic in our new garden weren’t looking good to I had another idea instead…

 

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Kubu Picnic Hamper / Sophie Check Blanket / Vintage Bottle Caddy 

 

While the children were eating their dinner I sneaked upstairs and created a little indoor garden with faux flowers, fairy lights and paper decorations. I laid out a mini picnic with this adorable Kubu picnic hamper and soft, cosy check blanket. The pretty plates, cups and napkins provided a perfect summery feel and the vintage style bottle caddy was perfect for filling with summer drinks and more flowers. I added some of our favourite biscuits with mini cakes and called the children upstairs. They were so excited to find the surprise picnic in my daughter’s bedroom. “Wow our very own surprise party!”

 

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Mayflower Paper Plates / May Flower Paper Cups / May Flower Napkins

 

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May Flower Storage Tubs

 

The children and I all really love these gorgeous flower storage tubs.

 

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The summer holidays can often feel like they are going to last forever and it can be hard to think of new and exciting things to do each day, especially if it starts raining. This surprise indoor picnic was easy to put together but made four children very happy and added some more happy memories to their summer!

 

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What a wonderful way to keep the summer spirit alive in the miserable weather, who will be taking inspiration from Emily’s indoor picnic?

Don’t forget to bookmark Emily’s blog Makelight to keep up to date with her latest adventures.

 

Find all of Emily’s picnic pieces in-store now.

View our kid’s range here.

August 18th 2014
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WIN A £5,000 ROOM MAKEOVER

You could win a £5,000 room makeover thanks to our partners Thomas Sanderson…

 

With the summer coming to an end, our thoughts turn to redecorating our homes for the colder months, and we’re giving one lucky winner the chance to do just that! Transform your favourite room into a stylish and luxurious living space with our room makeover competition brought to you by our partners Thomas Sanderson…

 

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To be in with a chance of winning, simply follow the link HERE and fill in your details (terms and conditions apply). The winner will receive £2,500 worth of stunning window shutters from Thomas Sanderson’s exclusive Laura Ashley collection, £2000 worth of luxurious carpet from Brintons Laura Ashley range and a £500 Laura Ashley gift card to spend on some of our fabulous accessories. PLUS all entrants will receive a £250 Thomas Sanderson discount voucher on a minimum spend of £1,000.

 

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The Thomas Sanderson Laura Ashley collection features an exquisite range of bespoke handcrafted window shutters made in the UK guaranteed to compliment your newly decorated room, and the Brintons Laura Ashley collection features stunning soft and welcoming carpets of 80% wool and 20% nylon to finish your room in style.

 

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The competition will run for 4 weeks from 18th August to 15th September. Closing date is Monday 15th September 2014 and we’ll publish the winner’s before and after shots in the blog! Good luck!

Terms and conditions apply