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September 15th 2014
chickenlaska

ON THE MENU: CHICKEN LAKSA

We share Olive Magazine’s delicious Chicken Laksa recipe…

Fans of the blog will know how much we love a good recipe (and we hope you do too!), so we decided to run a new feature titled ‘on the menu’. Every month we will share a favourite recipe with you all guaranteed to get you in the kitchen! This month we’re sharing an easy yet oh-so-yummy recipe with you from Olive magazine. Olive is the stylish, monthly magazine for food lovers with an emphasis on great value. With inspiring recipes, fantastic looking restaurants, and food from all around the world, Olive is your one stop magazine for all things delicious! You’ll find over 75 recipes in every issue, plenty of dining out recommendations and expert advice from the editor Lulu Grimes.

 

It was hard to pick just one, but we just loved the look of this Chicken Laksa. An easy to recreate recipe, this warming noodle dish is a great pick-me-up for a lazy Sunday evening.

 

CHICKEN LAKSA – SERVES 4 – EASY

 

Laksa

 

INGREDIENTS

 

4 x chicken thigh fillets, cut into cubes

2-3 tbsp laska paste

400ml chicken stock

400ml coconut milk

2 x kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

200g beansprouts

200g rice or egg noodles, cooked

1 x red chilli, finely sliced

fish sauce to season

 

METHOD

 

Put the chicken and paste in a pan and heat them gently together, turning the chicken in the paste. Stir in the chicken stock and bring everything to a simmer. Add the coconut milk and lime leaves and simmer for 5 minutes, add the beansprouts for 1 minute. Divide the noodles between 4 bowls and divide the laksa between them. Sprinkle on some chilli.

 

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Thanks to Olive Magazine for sharing this yummy recipe! Will you be trying out the dish? What would you like to see on the blog next month? The October issue is out now so don’t forget to pick up a copy!

September 8th 2014
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MONTHLY BLOGGER CRUSH: SEPTEMBER

Unveiling our latest blogger crush, The Lovely Drawer…

As the nights draw in and going out into the cold seems like a grueling task, we’ve started to take a little bit more inspiration from craft bloggers and stay indoors. Armed with all the tools, we’re finding ourselves curled up on a Sunday afternoon trawling through our favourite DIY blogs and giving some tutorials a go. Recently, we were thrilled to stumble across  The Lovely Drawer, a super crafty blog penned by the lovely Teri. Teri is a freelance designer, illustrator, and stylist, as well as blogger who’s captivating updates make us want to reach for the closest pair of scissors to try to remotely match her skills.

 

With fresh content and stunning crisp photography, The Lovely Drawer has become our one stop blog for all things creative. Not only does Teri dabble in DIY, but also lends her hand at cooking! We for one are drooling over the baked cinnamon sugar donuts and maple carrot, apple and bacon soup recipes…yum! It’s no suprise then that Teri landed this month’s title of blogger crush of the month. We sat down with the lady in question to find out all about the inspirations and history behind The Lovely Drawer…

 

£50 room makeover

 

japanese printed

 

How did The Lovely Drawer come about?

 

The Lovely Drawer came about two and a half years ago when I was hoping to create an online scrapbook to document my projects and inspirations outside of my in house design job. Very quickly I realised that I enjoyed keeping it even more than I thought I would. The practice of creating more often didn’t sap my inspiration but instead gave me so many more ideas and having the freedom to try out different things meant I was able to hone my style and eventually focus the purpose of the blog. Because it started as a bit of fun (you can tell by the terrible photos back then), with no calculated intentions, it developed quite organically until finally I started using the tag line ‘Style inspiration and DIY ideas’. This summed things up and gave me more intentionality in what I was posting. It took me a long time to think of myself as a blogger because first and foremost I’m actually a designer, however the two things have mingled quite nicely together. I’ve just kept at the blogging and near enough all my collaboration and design opportunities have come through that. I wouldn’t be a full time freelance designer now if it wasn’t for those opportunities.

 

 

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What’s your favourite part about running the blog?

 

My favourite part about running the blog is just the amount of creativity it allows me. I love dreaming up an idea or project in my head and then seeing it come to life. It’s so interesting to look back and see where my head and skills were at over the life of the blog. It also gives great freedom in realising ideas quickly. You can think up a project, execute it the next day and have the post out the following day if you felt that strongly about it. You just can’t move that quickly in most industries. There’s usually a long winded design and costing process, printing takes time and you’re always working seasons ahead. Obviously that’s necessary for those environments but I love that blogging bypasses those limitations. It’s taught me to always be ready with ideas and I’ve learnt to work at a much quicker pace.

 

cinnamon donuts

 

pineapple purse

 

What’s your favourite part about running the blog?

 

My favourite part about running the blog is just the amount of creativity it allows me. I love dreaming up an idea or project in my head and then seeing it come to life. It’s so interesting to look back and see where my head and skills were at over the life of the blog. It also gives great freedom in realising ideas quickly. You can think up a project, execute it the next day and have the post out the following day if you felt that strongly about it. You just can’t move that quickly in most industries. There’s usually a long winded design and costing process, printing takes time and you’re always working seasons ahead. Obviously that’s necessary for those environments but I love that blogging bypasses those limitations. It’s taught me to always be ready with ideas and I’ve learnt to work at a much quicker pace.

 

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What inspires you to write?

 

Everything inspires me to write posts. Sometimes something hits me and sometimes little pieces of inspiration build up to create one big idea. I’m a visual magpie so I love Pinterest and interior magazines but lots of the time I’m just looking around when I’m outside, whether that’s in nature or surrounded by shop windows. That’s often the best way to get original ideas.

 

embroidery wall art

 

winter wedding

 

 

dipped berry & pistachio shortbread

 

What are your bookmarked blogs?

 

My bookmarked blogs is a tough one as I could go one forever but number one is always Sugar and Cloth. Ashley’s DIY projects are so creative and I fall in love with her colour palettes over and over. I also love Emma Dime for her flawless aesthetic and fun mix of content. Her images never disappoint. Fall for DIY is a bookmark for beautifully slick and yet playful DIY ideas. The kind of things you genuinely do want to own! Passion Shake for amazing home and interiors inspiration. That girl must spend a whole lotta time on Pinterest but I’m more than grateful. Almost Makes Perfect for her gorgeous and yet simple DIYs in muted colour palettes that would work so well in anyones home or wardrobe. I often think, ‘I can’t believe you made that’. Paper & Stitch for all round inspiration and lovely DIY ideas. Everything Brittni touches seems to turn to gold. Finally, Oh The Lovely Things has amazing round ups collating all the best DIY projects, recipes, shop items in one place. Clemence has impeccable taste. I could go on but we’d be here all day!

 

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What’s your must have item from Laura Ashley?

 

My must have item from Laura Ashley would definitely be the Pineapple Champagne Table Lamp. It’s such a fun yet stylish piece and I love the colour. I would probably have fruit themed everything if I could.

 

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Be sure to bookmark The Lovely Drawer for crafty DIY tutorials and yummy recipes!

 

Who would you like to see as the next blogger of the month? Have you got a favourite blog we’ve overlooked? Do let us know…

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 20th 2014
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MAKE & DO: TIN CAN HANGING FLOWER POTS

Recycle your old tin cans and transform them into these decorative and tasty hanging plant pots…

Give your old tin cans a new lease of life with our DIY hanging flower pots, a great way to recycle and spruce up your kitchen. A thrifty idea indeed, and very easy to transform, we couldn’t help but add a decorative touch with our new autumn fabrics and gardening twine…

 

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You will need:

 

- Tin cans (washed and dry)

- Fabric, we chose Cranberry Summer Palace, Iron Work Scroll and Corby Check Amethyst Fabric.

- Pencil

- Gardening twine or string

- Compost

- Seeds / Herb planters

- Drill

- Scissors

- Needle and thread

- Iron

 

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How to: 

 

1) For your tin can to hang from your chosen hook, safely drill holes on either side of the tin can just below the rim – make sure they are roughly the same placing either side.

 

2) Measure how much twine you will need to hang your tin can, then loop through into the hole and double knot the string inside the can (so that it is unseen from the outside).

 

3) Take your chosen fabric and measure out how much you will need to cover the tin can. We suggest adding 1cm border to your fabric shape so that you can fold and press the fabric over to create a neat edge. You could sew the ‘seam’ around the fabric, however we ironed and pressed the fabric to ensure there were no loose threads hanging free.

 

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3) To secure your fabric covering, we hand stitched the edges together. It doesn’t have to be neat, however it must be tightly wrapped so that it doesn’t fall off!

 

4) Before you add your decorative touches, fill your tin can with compost and sprinkle with seeds. For more tips on how and what herbs to grow, read our growing guide here.

 

5) Then carefully slip over your fabric covering and garnish with a twine bow for a perfect rustic look!

 

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What a cracking way to recycle and grow your own, we currently have three hanging herb pots dedicated to pizza garnishes – delicious!

 

Will you be giving our tin-can DIY a whirl? What other ways do you like to recycle bits and pieces from around the home?

 

Browse the Laura Ashley range of fabrics here.

August 11th 2014
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MAKE & DO: CREATE A DISTRESSED WALLPAPER CABINET

Blogger Jodie gets creative with our wallpaper and paint to create a distressed cabinet…

We’re forever searching for creative ways to use our wallpaper, from creating a focus wall, to framing a piece, we love thinking of new fun ways to use the material. That being said, there’s nothing we like more than a good old fashioned up-cycle, so our thoughts turned to how to incorporate wallpaper in a new DIY project. With our creative hats on, we invited crafty blogger A Handmade Cottage to give us a step-by-step guide on how to create a distressed wallpapered cabinet…

 

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This weekend I took on a rather large up cycling project, with the help of the lovely Laura Ashley. I transformed my very dark corner cabinet into light one, using their pretty paints and wallpapers. My little victorian cottage can be rather dark at times, so transforming dark furniture is a great way brighten and create the illusion of space.

 

What you will need:

 

3 contrasting pieces of Laura Ashley wallpaper
Undercoat / primer in white
Laura Ashley Cotton White Paint
Clear Soft Wax
Fine Sandpaper
Masking Tape
PVA glue (in matt)
Paint Brush
Lint‑Free Cloth

 

Step 1:

 

Remove hinges and door knobs. (I know, it’s time consuming but it’s worth it.)

 

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Fun one - Ralphy and I

 

Step 2:

 

Sand the furniture lightly ‑ don’t strip it completely, just give it light sand to help the paint stick.

 

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Step 3:

 

Apply a coat of primer. Once the first coat is completely dry give any lumps and bumps a light sanding. If your furniture is dark you may need to apply another coat.

 

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Step 4:

 

Once the primer is dry, apply your first top coat. Give another light sanding in between to ensure a smooth finish. Then apply the second coat (and a third if necessary).

 

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Step 5:

 

Once the paint is completely dry it’s time to distress! You can use sandpaper alone or a blunt knife … there are tools designed especially for this but a knife works perfectly well.
Take hold of both ends and scrap along all the edge until you have the desired effect, then sand. I find the sandpaper alone works better on the smaller / detailed areas, while the knife / sandpaper work better on the edges.

 

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Step 6:

 

Once you’ve finished distressing give it a good dust off, and apply your wax with a soft lint free cloth. Rub it into the grain then once dry, give it a good buff.

 

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Step 7:

 

The wallpaper is the tricky part. First measure the width and length you need to cover …

 

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Step 8:

 

Then ensuring your wallpaper edge is straight to begin with, measure your wallpaper and put a mark on each edge where it needs to be cut, then fold the edge, making sure it’s straight and cut to size.

 

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Step 9:

 

Once you’ve cut out all your pieces of wallpaper make sure they all fit into the space, and make any nessesary adjustments.
Put to one side and apply your first coat of PVA glue. Having another person on hand at this point will be helpful. My mum and I applied the glue together as it dried quickly. When you’re ready to lay the paper ‑ I suggest one person holds one end, while the other person lines up the other end with one edge, then gradually lay it down lightly. Once it’s in don’t press down…

 

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Step 10:

 

Take a clean, dry cloth or tea towel and smooth out the paper from the CENTRE outwards. Do one side, then the next. If you get creases or bubbles don’t panic, you won’t even notice them and many bubbles disappear overnight. Once the wallpaper is up, then brush on a thin, even layer of PVA glue on TOP of the wallpaper.

 

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Step 11:
Give the hinges one thick coat of top coat or two thin coats. Once dry, sand‑paper the paint off all of the edges, and gently bring out the detail. I also dabbed a little paint on the top of each screw, making sure I could still get the screwdriver in.

 

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Step 12:

 

Once completely dry screw all hinges back in place.

 

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Finally:

 

Stand back and admire your hard work! Adding fairy lights inside gives the whole cabinet a sparkle. These are micro LED lights in warm white. Tada!

 

Finished close up distress

 

Finished inside cupbaord

 

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Finished with fairy lights

 

We love this creative way to use wallpaper, especially with the finishing touch of LED lights! Can you think of any creative ways to use the material? Do let us know…

 

Browse the Laura Ashley range of Wallpaper and Cabinets.

August 6th 2014
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HOME GROWN: KID’S HERB GARDEN

An exciting and flavoursome project for the summer holidays, get the kids involved and grow your own!

Make the most of the great outdoors this summer and encourage your little ones to get in tune with their green natured side. A great way to keep kids entertained over the school break, growing herbs is both a fun and educational project for big kids and little kids alike. A wonderful way for children to learn about gardening and understand how plants are grown, herbs are a fantastic starting point as they are easy to grow with little care needed for them to flourish.

 

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Chalkboard Paint 

 

Herbs have been used for thousands of years for added flavour in cooking, perfumes and even medicines. Creating your own little herb patch for your family is super simple and easy to maintain even for the busiest of families. Herbs especially, as the germination process only takes a matter of weeks, so they will quickly begin to sprout! Not only will it be a fun family project, but it also encourages little ones to care for their herbs, with regular watering and a little TLC.

 

How to get started.. 

 

Inspired to try something new and to add a burst of home grown flavour to our lunch-time salads, the team here at Laura Ashley H.Q set up their very own herb garden. Complete with our very own unique plant pots, we customised each pot with a fine coat of our excellent Chalkboard Paint and scribbled on which herb was which!

 

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With most herbs originating from a mediterranean region, your herbs will prefer a sunny position in well drained soil.  You can grow your herbs in any container, raised flower bed or dedicated veggie patch. It doesn’t matter whether you have a generous size garden or an apartment balcony, as long as the herbs have a sunny positioning in a sheltered space, it will do!

 

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Aviary Garden Tool Gift Set (Available in store) 

 

Next it’s time to choose your herbs, there are many to choose from including the very fragrant lemon balm and the flavoursome rosemary, or if you’re short of time cress germinates very quickly if you wanted a faster turn around. We chose the herbs basil, parsley and coriander, a delicious garnish come dinner time…

 

- Basil: With a sweet, strong aroma and flavour, basil can be grown all year round on a sunny windowsill but flourishes best during July and August. The perfect accomplice to pizza or tomato soup, to keep basil fresh you can always pop into the freezer.

 

- Parsley: A biennial plant, make sure to soak the seeds in warm water before you sow and then when large enough plant out, they will keep growing until the beginning of Autumn. Rich in vitamin C, it enhances the flavour of foods especially when mixed with butter for baked potatoes.

 

- Coriander: Commonly chopped and added to curries, stews and salads, coriander needs plenty of sun to grow and with regular pinching of the leaves it will continue to flourish all summer.

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Now it’s time we set to work sowing our herbs. With our plant pots at the ready, we placed a handful of fresh soil in the pots careful not to compress the soil. With a sprinkling our chosen seeds, topped with another fine layer of soil, give your plant pots a light misting of water and settle down in sunny spot. Making sure to water the plants every other day, it shouldn’t be long before you start to see the first green sprouts popping through! If the weather is as gloriously hot as it has been, be sure to snip off any browning leaves and keep them hydrated – but be careful not to drown the pots or the seeds will rot.

 

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Then when your herbs are finally grown, let the little ones snip off their garnishes and bring them into the kitchen for a cookery lesson. There’s nothing better than the satisfaction of growing something from scratch and reaping the rewards, we think DIY pizza topped with a hint of basil for an alfresco dinner feast sounds like the perfect summertime treat!

 

We would love to know if your children love to get stuck in with the gardening, or are there any other activities that keep your little ones entertained? Let us know in the comments below.

July 23rd 2014
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KIDS CORNER: CHALKBOARD CHALLENGE PT. 2

Part 2: Bloggers Michelle and Lucy get creative with our chalkboard paint…

School’s out for the summer! Hasn’t it come around fast? Now that it’s here our thoughts turn to how to keep the little ones entertained during the holidays, and what better way to have fun with them than by getting creative? Yesterday, we saw how bloggers and busy mums Kathryn and Kelle used our chalkboard paint with their kids by creating a doodle door and a surface scribble. Today, we hand over to Michelle from Eden Found and Lucy from Capture By Lucy to show us how they would use theirs…

 

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Chalkboard Paint

 

Building Blocks

 

Crafty lifestyle mummy blogger Michelle is no stranger to getting creative, often posting about her DIY constructions and thrifty finds over on Eden Found. It was no surprise then that she came up with this inspirational way to use our chalkboard paint. Let us introduce you to chalky building blocks…

 

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Michelle tells us…

 

“Every mother dreads those two little words, ‘I’m bored’ and when faced with that nugget of information you have two choices. You can choose to throw money at the problem or you can get creative. I chose to get creative and make some chalkboard building blocks.

We were given these wooden blocks when my children were small. Although they used to get played with quite often, recently my girls had fallen out of love with them, so I thought I would give them a little revamp using some Laura Ashley chalkboard paint.

 

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Painting the blocks couldn’t have been simpler. For a nice even finish I gave each block a couple coats of paint and left them to dry for a couple hours between each layer of paint. I didn’t wear gloves, so my hands were covered in paint, but as the paint washes off really easily that wasn’t a problem.

My girls loved the results. They made their own little town, complete with houses, a shopping centre, a zoo and a train station! For the price of a tin of paint, my children were well and truly entertained!

 

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At the end of the day the blocks were wiped clean and put away, ready for the next adventure. Who knows what they’ll make next?”

 

Vegetable Patch

 

Photographer, blogger and mum of two boys, Lucy is the creative force behind Capture by Lucy. Packed full of amazing photography and imaginative ideas, Capture by Lucy is your one stop for creative inspiration. For our chalkboard challenge, her two boys used our chalkboard paint to create their own unique vegetable patch…

 

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Lucy tells us…

 

“The boys are getting so excited about moving to our new house and giddy about growing our own vegetables in the vegetable patch through the gate from the “secret garden”. I love that they have already commandeered this affectionate name for the part of the garden that meanders behind the tool shed.

It’s a magical childhood memory in the making, that made us fall in love with the house the moment we viewed it…

 

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The boys understand where vegetables come from, they appreciate you need to eat healthy food to keep you big and strong and I know come rain or shine, we will be donning our wellingtons and heading to our little garden allotment to see what we can eat for dinner that week. To keep their excitement alive whilst we painfully wait for the contracts to complete in September,  thought of an easy craft idea that requires imagination and fun using the new Laura Ashley Chalk Paint. A play tray!

 

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We painted a plastic tomato plant tray with a layer of chalk paint and left it to dry. The paint is easy to apply, “not too drippy” in Sammy’s words and gives an even coverage of a rich black colour and smooth texture. We then added chalk drawn trees for the knitted apples, leaves to add to the lettuce ‘ready to pick’ and labelled our pickings with some spoon garden tags made from wooden spoons painted with a layer of chalk paint! An easy and simple idea for little ones to join in with.

 

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We love that we can just wipe it clean and start all over again, with brown chalk mud! That was Ollie’s favourite bit. As soon as we move in we are going to add our labels to all the lovely real fruits and vegetables just waiting for my mini gardeners to tend to and enjoy. You could also turn your play tray into an easy DIY car or train track too!”

 

Thanks to Kathryn, Kelle, Michelle and Lucy for taking part in our chalky challenge! Incase you missed it here’s the first instalment. Which do you find the most inspiring? We’d love to know how you would use our chalkboard paint, tell us your ideas…

July 22nd 2014
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KID’S CORNER: CHALKBOARD CHALLENGE

Part 1: We enlist four busy mums to share with us their inspiring ideas using our chalkboard paint…

It’s official – school’s out for summer! Keeping little ones entertained during the holidays however can be tricky business, so with this in mind we wanted to create a fun and exciting activity that will provide endless hours of imaginative play-time, without being too stressful for us adults. Introducing our chalky challenge, we set four busy mums the task to get creative with our new chalkboard paint, to get the little ones on board and show how they would use it!

 

Laura Ashley Chalk Paint 1

Chalkboard Paint 

 

Coming up with a number of inspiring ideas, from transforming everyday objects to making over a kids corner in their home, we were so impressed with their creative thinking we simply couldn’t wait to show you their adventurous play-time ideas…

 

Doodle Door 

 

Freelance writer Kathryn lives in her hometown of Harrogate, in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, where she pens her daily lifestyle blog Kat got the cream. Looking for a new way to update her son Charlie’s room, Kathryn reveals unique idea for the chalky challenge…

 

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Kathryn tells us…

 

‘We’re currently in the process of making over my 8 year old son’s room and I’ve been looking for a few ways to personalise it for him (as well as make it fun). Charlie loves drawing and doodling so I thought we’d create a chalkboard area on the back of his bedroom door, which he can regularly update himself. It’s really quick and easy to do, plus it blends in quite nicely with the rest of his room, which features monochrome as well as bright orange and blue. He loved the finished result!’

 

Tabletop Scribble 

 

Mother of two Kelle is a stylist and full-time blogger on her online corner Dinky and Dandy. Dedicated to sharing all things cool for little ones, both her children Hattie and Fraser got stuck into decorating her chalky table top…

 

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Kelle tells us… 

 

‘I’ve wanted to paint a chalkboard wall for the kids for ages now but because our house is now up for sale I decided to use our paint to turn an old table into a fun chalkboard instead. The kids love their new table and so far we’ve turned it into a train track, a farm, a zoo and a busy town so it’s perfect for imaginative play. I love how it’s so much easier to put away and clean than the mess painting creates and when the sun shines we can take it out in the garden. The chalkboard paint went on really easy, it took two coats to cover the table and I love the finished result. It didn’t use much of the tin either so when we buy a new house I’ll be using it to paint that chalkboard wall!’

 

Now how is that for a dose of daily interior inspiration? Transforming a kid’s corner with a lick of paint with endless fun involved? We’re in! Stay tuned for the next installment of our chalky challenge tomorrow on the blog…

 

Browse the Laura Ashley kid’s furniture and accessories here.

July 14th 2014
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MONTHLY BLOGGER CRUSH: JULY

All keen DIY-ers will love our crafty July blogger of the month…

If there’s something we love at Laura Ashley, it’s definitely a little bit of make and do. From wedding and garden craft, to handmade beauty products and how to videos, we are thrilled to introduce our very crafty July blogger of the month: Jodie from A Handmade Cottage. All keen DIY-ers should be sure to bookmark this fabulous find….

 

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How did ‘A Handmade Cottage’ come about?

 

When hubby and I moved into our little cottage we didn’t have much in the way of money, so I crafted us a cosy home by thrifty shopping and making things. I’ve always loved crafting, and last May I put it to good use because hubby and I were married, and we had a handmade wedding! We made everything ourselves, from the decorations, favours, invites, flowers, my jewellery and even my antique lace wedding dress was made from scratch ‑ all of which I’ve been sharing on the blog. I’ve been a singer songwriter all of my adult life, and on return from our honeymoon I felt my life needed a change, so I started a craft club in my town, became a craft columnist for my local Observer and started a craft and rustic lifestyle blog ‑ A Handmade Cottage. I wanted to show people that crafting cosy characterful homes (or weddings!) is a lot easier (and cheaper) than you might think.

 

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What do you enjoy most about blogging?

 

Starting this blog has made me enjoy my life a bit more. There’s so many things we’d all like to do but we often put on the back burner because there’s more pressing matters, like work / housework etc so writing a regular blog about craft and rustic living has actually encouraged me to do the things I love more often! I now make things regularly and spend more time in the garden. Sharing the things I made for our rustic handmade wedding has also been lovely, especially when I see it inspiring and helping others ‑ which is really what it’s all about. I love sharing step‑by‑step ‘how‑to’ projects, tips on up‑cycling furniture, tips on spotting thrifty finds and even natural beauty recipes.

 

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What inspires you to write?

 

Nature. I spend a lot of time in the countryside with hubby and Ralphy (our Jack Russell) it fills me with good energy and has a definite impact on how I like to live, and the style in which I live. My dream house is ‘Moles’ house from Wind in the Willows … OK well I don’t want to live underground but I’d happily live in the woods in a hobbit house! Aside from nature, crafty things inspire me, anything to do with fabric, cross stitch and patchwork. Beautiful old things with a story to tell also inspire me. I love old victorian cottons and lace, and old antique furniture … not the ornate stuff you’d find ‘upstairs’ but more the simple furniture you’d find ‘downstairs.’ I recently bought an old milking stool from a market in London which is fine, except I had to carry it all the way home to Hertfordshire on packed public transport! The things we do for love ….

 

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What are your top bookmarked blogs?

 

Dottie Angel ‑ Dottie leads a wonderfully crafty life, she has gorgeous doggies and I love her sense of style.

Mrs Carlie Lee ‑ Diary of a country house wife.  I love Carlie’s writing style, her tales of adventurous dog walks always make for a rich and entertaining read.

Poppy loves – Poppy is a good friend of mine and her lovely vibrant blog is the only thing that has me pining for my old city life.

 

What is your must‑have item from Laura Ashley?

 

Blankets. I love Laura Ashley blankets … and on more than one occasion hubby has bought me one for Christmas, which is always received with a * only dogs can hear * squeal of delight. I’ve also been looking longingly at the beautiful Torrington rug for quite some time now … it’s green, floral and just so pretty! and my birthday’s coming up …. : )

 

Don’t forget to bookmark A Handmade Cottage for your next DIY project! What would you like to see Jodie write about next?

July 8th 2014
ice cream hero

WALLFLOWER GIRL’S EARL GREY ICE CREAM RECIPE

A refreshing treat to help you keep cool this summer, Aimee shares her tempting vegan recipe….

As the temperatures soar this summer, our preferred method of keeping cool is sampling an array of delicious ice creams. It’s hard work and slightly naughty, but when the wonderful Aimee (blogger at Wallflower Girl) publishes her first recipe book jam-packed full of tempting frozen treats, it’s hard to resist! Sharing one of our favourites, Aimee shows us how to re-create her refreshing Earl Grey Tea ice cream…

 

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Now that the sun is finally out, one of the first things I want to do when the weather is hot is to make and eat ice cream! I’ve hand-picked my favourite recipes that are perfect for cooling down in the warmer weather for you to re-create at home. This Earl Grey ice cream is not only a sophisticated and delicious treat but it’s also vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and nut-free! With a creamy, subtle-tasting coconut milk base and a calming blend of Earl Grey, this ice cream really hits the spot on a hot summer’s day when a cup of tea is almost out of the question.

 

Vegan Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

 

Ingredients:

 

- 720ml / 3 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
- 4 Earl Grey tea bags
- 120ml / ½ cup maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

 

1) Mix 60ml / ¼ cup coconut milk with the arrowroot powder in a small bowl and set aside.

 

2) Pour the rest of the coconut milk into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags and leave the milk to infuse for at least 30 minutes.

 

3) Remove the tea bags. Add the maple syrup, stir and bring the mixture to a boil again. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, stir in the arrowroot mixture to thicken the liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

 

4) Chill the mixture in the fridge until cold (overnight preferably) and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Or see below for tips on making ice cream without an ice cream maker.

 

5) Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. To serve, let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften slightly. Use an ice cream scoop (I recommend the Trigger scoops) dipped in boiled water to get the cleanest scoop. Return any leftover ice cream to the freezer immediately.

 

Enjoy!

 

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Hydrangea Duck Egg Bone China Cup and Saucer 

 

 

How to make -ice cream without an ice cream maker…

 

The main benefit of using an ice cream machine is the amount of air it gets into the mixture, so we need to make sure we do the same. Firstly, make sure your mixture is chilled and transfer to a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. Leave it for 30 minutes.

 

After 30 minutes, take the container out and give it a good whisk with an electric hand-held mixer. This will break up any ice that has begun to form and incorporate some air into it. After it’s been thoroughly mixed, return it to the freezer straight away. Freeze for another 30 minutes and repeat the whisking process. Keep alternating the whisking and freezing every 30 minutes, for about 3 hours, until it’s frozen.

 

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The recipe is taken from my new book, ‘Coconut Milk Ice Cream’ which features over 80 vegan and grain-free recipes for ice creams, frozen treats and desserts. Available in paperback and Kindle via Amazon. For more information, visit Aimee’s blog Wallflower Girl.

 

If you fancy reading all about Aimee and the highly talented girl behind the blog Wallflower, make sure to check out our Q&A post – and not forgetting the scrumptious macaron recipe she whipped up for the Laura Ashley blog. What can we say? We might just be Aimee’s biggest fans!