Tuesday, 27 September 2011

London Calling

London Shopper Bag from Sweet Home London

With all this mention of our capital city recently as London has become the spotlight for the design world with London Design Festival and Decorex I thought today I would turn my attention to London led design.  After the Royal Wedding earlier this year and with the Queens Silver Jubilee and the Olympics next year I am sure we are going to see alot more of the cities iconic images on homewares, accessories and even clothing over the coming months.  Trend Bible had predicted the rise of London landmarks and the union jack being used back in 2009 for their Spring/Summer trends for 2011 book.  I also wrote about this withstanding trend back in April for  The Academy in my trend predictions after the Royal Wedding.

Just imagine the fun you could have with designs including black cabs, the London Eye, Big Ben, red telephone boxes, London Bridge and of course we must not forget Buckingham Palace.  Mix this with our need for nostalgia I am sure we will see amazing products for our homes.  However I think designers will also play with iconic images of London to create modern approaches to the trend, offering perhaps the neon brights of the punk era. 

I would really love to know of your products with a London theme, maybe share a link with me on Twitter or add a link in the comments section at the end of this post.

Take care

Monday, 26 September 2011


Yesterday saw the opening of Decorex at Royal Hospital Chelsea and will run until Wednesday.  Decorex is another major date on the design calender, in particular design professionals.  This is an interior designers paradise with 300 exhibitors sharing the latest and future trends in the interiors world.

From small acorns great oaks grow and this is definately the case with Decorex.  Back in 1978 just 38 companies exhibited at the first ever Decorex in the Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London and was an instant success.  The exhibition has steadily grown over the years and is now hosted in the Royal Hospital Chelsea.  All exhibitors are hand picked to ensure that there is an eclectic mix of innovative, inspirational and high quality products, enabling interior designers, retail buyers and hotel and contract specifiers to see the very best available in the world of interiors.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to be involved in preparing for a stand at Decorex in my role as Marketing Assistant at Ramm, Son & Crocker.  Stress levels were high as we prepared items for our stand in the High Wycombe offices whilst also liasing with our design studios in Chelsea Harbour.  Yet to be involved in such a prestigious event in the interior design calender more than made up for the long days. 

To find out more about this years exhibition visit the official Decorex website www.decorex.com and also follow Andrew Dunnings posts on the Decorex blog throughout the next few days.

Take care

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

London Design Festival

Last weekend saw the start of a big event in the design calender, London Design Festival.  This is perfectly summed up on the festivals website - 'Nine amazing days of design events showcasing the UK's world-class creative community'. 

London Design Festival first started eight years ago in 2003 and is now one of the most important events within the international design world.  This September there will be hundreds of events across the design spectrum in various locations across our beautiful capital city.  There are 200 partners organising a whole host of events during the nine days and the diversity of the partners makes for an array of possibilites. 

As a cultural and commercial festival we can expect major exhibitions, trade shows, seminars, installations, talks, product launches and private viewings.  The majority of events offer free entry so many of us can indulge in learning, listening and maybe even some buying.  Funded by an eclectic mix of private and public sector sources helps add to the diverse mix that the London Design Festival offers.  The Mayor Of London's office provides grant funding and the Art's Council have been providing longstanding financial support for the project.  Over 60% of funding for the festival is provided by private sponsors. Last years London Design Festival saw over 350,000 vistiors attend throughout the nine days of events. 

The installation from Amanda Levete Architects at the entrance of the V&A

The V&A are for the third year running hosting a variety of exhibitions, talks and workshops.  They will also be hosting thirteen specially commisioned installations including the museums entrance being transformed by the award winning architects, Amanda Levete Architects, which is a majestic three dimensional  lattice work spiral made from red oak, spanning the height of the museum doors.  However it is the  'Textile Field' installation, designed by the French duo the Bouroullec Brothers, inside the V&A that sounds like lots of fun! This coloured foam and textile installation allows visitors to lounge and fully enjoy the Raphael Gallery.

Timourous Beasties at Liberty London

Another brand synominous with London and the design world is of course Liberty LondonTimorous Beasties exclusive collection, Liberty Bell, is displayed in a window of this flagship store for the duration of the festival.  House of Hackney have meanwhile taken over a corner of Liberty London with their luxurious printed furniture, wallpaper and soft furnishings. 

Obviously there are many many more venues, organisations and designers involved in London Design Festival so be sure to visit the festivals website to explore this amazing event fully. Of course if you are lukcy enough to be in London between now and Sunday be sure to visit at least one exhibition or event.


Monday, 19 September 2011

A Crisis Of Confidence

Well Kitty has been at school for two weeks now and has adapted very quickly and actually enjoys going every morning, which is such a relief.  She is tired by the time she comes home but soon recovers after half an hour of tv, a snack and a drink.  Once or twice she has said I missed you today mummy, which I quickly reply, 'I missed you too'.  And I do miss her. 

Having been at home for thirteen years with my children and working from home for the past couple of years I guess didn't realise how different life would be when all my children headed off to school.  I had wonderful plans, still do, but today I am having a little wobble, a crisis of confidence.  Perhaps I should look for a part time job to help pass some time, instead of working endlessly on ideas that never quite come to fruition.  Also I have to admit it would be lovely to get to the end of each month and know I would have earnt 'x' amount! I love the flexibility of freelancing but hate not knowing how much, if anything, that I will earn each month. At least by combining working part time as an employee and freelancing I would have a regular income.

But then who would employ me! I haven't had a 'proper' job for thirteen years. I also have lost direction a little and wouldn't know what I would want to do, not that there are many part time jobs for mothers.  My biggest problem is that I would love to do so many things! I would have been in my final year of a degree in Diagnostic Radiography this year if the university had more space for placement at our local hospital, but they only had space left for hospitals in Cambridge & Peterborough, so I declined my place.  I still wonder if I should have pursued a career in Psychology and looked into the graduate conversion course with the Open University to obtain a degree in Pyschology.  The other day I flicked through Connors Biology book and wondered if I should do an A level in Biology and apply to train to be a childrens nurse. 

I'm not sure where my obsession with the medical profession comes from as I am so clearly an Arts & Humanities girl! Maybe we all have the urge to do something completly different, to change course.  Perhaps I am having a mid life crisis a little too young, which is slightly worrying! I'm hoping somebody is now going to tell me this is perfectly normal.

Meanwhile I'll have a cup of tea and ponder a little more.

Take care

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Miles of Glossing

This weekend we will be the first anniversary of being in our little ol' house.  I can't quite believe a whole year has passed yet it also feels like we have always lived here.  We moved to our lovely village last September and were soon welcomed in to village life by some fab people who quickly became friends.  Whilst moving somewhere new, even if it's only four miles down the road, can seem quite dautning, we soon settled in to a slower and much friendlier way of life.  Our three daughters are now all at the village school at the end of our road and quickly made friends when we first moved, which was a huge relief. 

Oh how I wish my house really did look like this!!

The biggest difference living in a village has made for our children is that they have more freedom.  When we lived in a town we couldn't let Lucy, who was nine when we moved, go and call for friends as they were often the other side of town, but here we can let her call for her friends or go and meet them on the village green to paddle in the stream.  Our sons gladly pop to the village shop for a loaf of bread or milk or go off for a run or a cycle without me worrying about busy roads. 

One day!

I've spent some of this week having a big clean and tidy up after the summer hols and realised how much we still have to do!  There is literally miles of glossing left to do, nevermind venturing outside in to the gardens.  We have already cleared several trees and bushes, it seems the previous owner was good at planting giant shrubs with random abandonment!! I want to clear the front garden and cover most of it with shingle to create a bigger driveway, but with pretty borders or pots filled with lavender and an old weather worn rowing  boat propped up somewhere.  The back garden still has trees to come down and the lawn needs some serious feeding.  Our veg patch did well this year but needs constant weeding and will need to be extended ready for next year.

Well you can never have to many cushions!!

So many jobs to think about but for now I am going to turn my attention to our lounge.  The cushions are looking tired and I still haven't got around to making new curtains.  So I had a rummage in my fabric stash and have three fabrics that work well together and will make fab new cushions, which is great as there's not alot of money to splurge on new soft furnishings. I'm hoping there's enough fabric to also make a couple of matching lightly quilted throws for the chilly winter evenings.  I'll be sure to share pics when I've made them.

I wonder if the house will ever be finished as there is always something to do or needs to be updated or redecorated but I love the challenge of making our house a home however restrictive the budget!

Take care

Friday, 9 September 2011

Fabric Friday - Sewing With Children

A slightly different post for this weeks Fabric Friday as I've been busy sewing with my daughters the past few weeks.  We were very lucky to be sent a copy of 'Sewing For Children' by Emma Hardy to try out and review during the summer holidays.  My daughters love making and creating so were thrilled to  have the chance to make new things and spend some time with me sewing.  My daughters are 10, 8 and 4 and a half years old, so their sewing skills are very varied!  But this did not put us off and they had soon planned which things they wanted to make.

Sewing For Children is a fantastic book for any child wanting to start sewing.  Although the makes are aimed at girls there are some fantastic t-shirt creatures, sock monsters and finger puppets that boys would love to make.  The book is divided into five chapters, 'Animals and Other Creatures', 'Pretty Playthings', 'Fashion Fun', 'Bags, Bits and Bedroom Bits n Pieces' and 'Dressing Up Time'.  Each chapter has several projects that can easily be made following the clear instructions.  One thing we all loved about this book was that each project had plenty of photographs of the different steps so my older two daughters often used the images to work out what they needed to do next before reading the instructions to double check.  Towards the end of the book there are clear explanations of techniques and instructions for different stitches.  There are also all the patterns/templates you will need to create all the projects.

Lucy has been busy making felt flower hairbands and adapted the felt flowers on a bag to make hairclips.  She has also made a selection of felt fairy cakes for Kitty to play with in the playhouse and has plans to make drawstring bags for her bedroom.  Amber and Kitty were very excited to make the felt cat bag and Kitty wanted to try sewing it herself.  However I did sew the face for her but she then managed to sew the two main pieces together after I drew a line for her to follow.  They now have plans to make the ragdolls, complete with various sets of clothes.  All three want to make sock monsters too but Drew is concerned about socks disappearing from his sock drawer!

I will now share with you Lucy's review of the book.

I liked Sewing For Children because the instructions weren't too confusing and they didn't take too long.  The steps were easy to follow, you didn't have to read since there were pictures to follow!  There was lots of things I liked especially the bag decorations tha can make beautiful hairclips and hairbands.

Sewing For Children would make a fabulous gift for a child aswell as being a bookshelf essential for rainy chilly Sunday afternoons.  There is nothing better than spending winter afternoons cosied up sewing with my daughters.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend,

Sewing For Children by Emma Hardy
ISBN 978-1-907030-23-9

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Riot Raffle

I thought it was about time I wrote a little post about Riot Raffle.  All the prizes are now listed on the website and I am trying to get them loaded on to the Riot Raffle FB page too so it's easier to just view images of the prizes.  I did think about doing a little mosaic of prizes here but didn't want to upset anybody by only choosing 8 or ten prizes.  I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who has donated a prize and there are some amazing things to be won. Sadly I'm not allowed to buy tickets due to rules and regulations as I am the organiser, which has also led to cross children as there are many prizes my daughters especially would love to win.  Instead I have told them to write them on their Christmas lists!

So instead of sharing a pretty picture board I thought I would share with you three prizes that you must leave a comment on if you want to win them.

Logo Design donated by Easton Place Designs
This is perfect for a small business looking for a rebrand or for a business start up. 

100 Cupcakes donated by Coco Meli Artisan Bakers
This is perfect if you are busy planning a wedding, christening or a big party this year or next year.  However you will have to live in the West Midlands.

£100 Photography Voucher donated by Tony Jones Photography
This prize is for 45 minute family/child photo shoot on location (within M25), and a complimentary CD of up to 10 images (Additional images/products would be charged for).  However you must live within the M25.

Our fab grab badge was designed by Tia at Who Ate My Crayons and please feel free to copy & paste either of the above badges and link to www.riotraffle.org. Thank you.

I hope you find a moment to sit and look at all the prizes, of course with cup of tea!  And if you haven't got your tickets yet please don't leave it too late.

Take care

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Women Doing Their Own Thing

A while ago I was a subscriber to Eve, a fantastic womens glossy published by the BBC.  Sadly three years after selling to Haymarket Publishing we saw the disappearance of my my much loved Eve.  Every month it arrived I would always turn to the 'Women Doing Their Own Thing' articles first as these were always inspiring.  These articles always offered a glimmer of hope in my days filled with nappies and toddlers that there were women starting their own businesses and more importantly being sucessful too.  I still love reading about small businesses and now get my monthly fix in Country Homes & Interiors with their monthly articles, 'Work to Live, Live to Work'.

image source - The Guardian

Yet I still miss the 'Women Doing Their Own Thing' articles and have several squirreled away in a folder.  I know I am not the only one who misses these articles from several chats on Twitter.  So I thought why not make Wednesdays 'Women Doing Their Own Thing' day here on my blog.  I have spent some time thinking about this and want to feature women in creative industries aswell as retail, tourism and probably many more besides.  I want women who run B&B's by the sea, cafes on the coast, galleries, restaurants, gift or interiors shops.  I want women who have their own boutique hotels, holiday companies, whether these are cottages, campsites, walking tours or craft breaks.  I want women who are designing and making and earning a living doing this, you could be sewing, baking, growing or painting.  The list is endless and I hope some of you will be willing to share your stories.  Even if you run the business with somebody else, male or female, I still want to hear from you.  Oh and this is not just for mumprenuers, it's for every woman, with or without children

I am busy putting together questions for this, using the old Eve articles as a guide and hope to start this new feature next week.  So if you would like to be involved in 'Women Doing Their Own Thing' please send me an email zoeanddrew {at} btinternet {dot} com (I know you all know to replace the words in brackets with the symbol!).

I look forward to hearing from you and reading about your business.

Take care

Monday, 5 September 2011

New School Year & New Beginnings

Today is the last day of the school hols and I am feeling a little nervous and very excited.  I'm nervous as Kitty, my youngest child, will head to school tomorrow for her first day.  But I am also excited for her, she will start an amazing learning journey and is already trying to read, as a book worm myself I look forward to helping her learn this invaluable life skill. 

I am also very excited at the prospect of finally having the time to try out new ideas.  Whilst I could mourn the time I will no longer have being a mummy to a preschooler I am looking forward to new adventures and new beginnings.  I plan to fill my Etsy shop with fabulous partyware and home accessories. I have fantastic ideas for this blog. I want to build a website using Create for Zoe & Drew and have big ideas for this too.  I've also brought the URL for another blog that has been at the back of my mind for a while, but will be staying there a while yet!  So I won't be bored and sat stuck watching daytime tv as so many people envisage the life of a work at home mum.  I'm making plans, big plans and reading The Flourish Studios blog, Full Bloom, I know that big plans don't need to be scary, they are important in my planning. 

I will also have time, I hope to start running again.  My running ahs been a little ad hoc over the past thirteen years so I plan to get back to super fitness and enjoying that time to run and clear my head and focus.  I've also been thinking about little treats, perhaps popping to the cinema in the middle of the day, going out for lunch with friends or Drew and not having a little person pinching food off my plate!

My First Post for Les Enfants

Also today I am thrilled to share another new beginning.  I am now the Blog Editor for Les Enfants.  I was thrilled when Katie approached me when she heard I was stopping Inspired Celebration and I think together we can create the best chidlrens party blog here in ol'blighty.  There is a huge gap in the UK for a good childrens party blog and with both our expertise in this field we are going to create something fantastic.  So please join me over at Les Enfants blog three time a week for inspiration in planning chidlrens parties, from decorations to recipes, games to party clothes and much, much more.

Whislt I am expecting tears in the morning, from Kitty and myself, I also know that this is just another step, a huge one, but it's going to be a good one.  I know lots of my Twitter and blogging friends have chidlren starting school for the first time this week and I hope they all have a wonderful time and am sending you all a big hug and a pack of tissues to see you through that first day.

Take care

Friday, 2 September 2011

Fabric Friday - Designers Guild A/W11

September has arrived with a chill in the air and my thoughts have turned to warmer colours for the house.  I don't mean redecorating, so no need to panic Drew, we have plenty of glossing left to do!  No what I am thinking about is changing cushion covers and curtains to warmer shades and more luxurious fabrics. Well if you can't have velvet in winter when can you?!

With Autumn around the corner various fabric designers are busy launching new collections which can help us update our homes with the latest trends in interior design but also add that warmer tone that lends so well to the cooler time of year.

Today I thought we could take a look at the delights Designers Guild are launching as their A/W11 collections.  Obviously we should not expect muted tone and wishywashy prints as this is not Designers Guild at all.  With a richness of colour or texture in their fabrics these designers are not afraid to be bold.  I have to admit that 'Amrapali' in Peony is my favourite of the new designs for it's bold floral print in vibrant azure blues, bright pinks and hints of oranges and chartreuse.  Whilst this may not seem very autumnal I am sure 'Amrapali' would brighten the dullest of winter days. 

For a more luxurious fabric to add warmth to the cooler nights 'Kasida' offers jaquard patterned silk in a jewel palette. Perhaps you prefer the feel of velvet then 'Cesano' would be perfect with it's geometrical pattern close cropped velvet.  For a stylish finale the new 'Chevenon' trimmings are simply gorgeous, offering a selection of trimmings and tie backs, including glass and embroidered beads and fabulous fringes.

Aswell as beautiful new fabrics for projects Designers Guild also offer an array of products in their fabulous designs.  So even if you are not nimble with a needle you can still indulge in their new designs.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend
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