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T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle podcast here or on iTunes.

This week on Tea & Tattle podcast, I’m in conversation with the charming Rosebie Morton, horticulturalist and founder of The Real Flower Company. In this episode, Rosebie tells me about the farm that she runs in Hampshire with her husband, and how she went from raising sheep to getting an idea to grow a few scented roses….

Rosebie Morton at her flower farm in Hampshire

It was so inspiring to learn how Rosebie’s idea of growing some roses gradually grew into what The Real Flower Company is today. Now with flowers grown on farms in the UK, as well as in Kenya during the off-season, The Real Flower Company delivers award-winning, luxurious blooms, with a focus on scented flowers. I love popping by their pretty shop in West London.

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

On the podcast, Rosebie tells me more about her company’s ethos in growing flowers as sustainably and ethically as possible. She also gives advice to anyone thinking of becoming a florist, or starting their own business, and explains how she found the courage to keeping going with her dream, even though the odds seemed very much against her.

T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton T&T 53 | A Chat With Rosebie Morton

I also questioned Rosebie about her favourite ways to use flowers to decorate the home, particularly for a winter dinner party, and she gave me some fantastic ideas.

Listen to learn about building a successful flower business and ideas for decorating your winter holiday table. 

All images provided by The Real Flower Company.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56, Penzance

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, CornwallCarole Elsworth at her shop, No.56 in Penzance, Cornwall. Photo courtesy Natalie Coe.

With this post, I’m introducing a new series on Miranda’s Notebook, ‘Talking Shop,’ where I share interviews with owners of my most-loved independent shops, in London and beyond.

One of my very favourite shops in Penzance is No.56 on Chapel Street. Founded by Carole Elsworth, No.56 is a shopper’s haven filled with all manner of useful and beautiful items. I love the shop for its notebooks, handmade soaps, pretty linens and stylish enamelware, and I definitely blame No.56 for a much heavier suitcase whenever I return to London from Cornwall!

I was so pleased when Carole agreed to answer my questions about her tasteful and elegant shop.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, CornwallTalking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

***

MN: Would you tell me a little about yourself? What did you do before opening No.56?

CE: My training and background is in mens and womenswear design – but immediately before opening No.56 I ran a very small artisan bakery. I enjoy the making process so this isn’t as odd as it seems!

MN: What made you want to run your own shop, and what first brought you to Penzance?

CE: Since moving to Cornwall, I have been steadily moving further west – more by accident than design really – eventually arriving in Penzance which I really love.

I opened No.56 four years ago – I felt there was a gap in Penzance for the type of products I like to use and decided creating such a store would bring together all the elements I really enjoy – design, presentation etc.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

MN: What do you love most about living in Cornwall?

CE: I lived by the sea until I went away to college, and always feel a sense of belonging by the coast. Cornwall itself is just beautiful – I love it here.

MN: How would you sum up the ethos behind No.56?

CE: Simply that well designed, beautiful objects can add pleasure to the everyday.

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, CornwallTalking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

MN: How do you pick the products that feature in your shop?

CE: It is a very personal choice. On the whole items need to serve a purpose rather than being purely decorative (with occasional exceptions that I can’t resist!), and then I ask the question “does it make my heart sing ?” and go with that…

MN: Would you share one of your favourite pieces for autumn?

CE: All items are favourites of course, but I’m particularly pleased with the mohair throws from Ireland at the moment. Lovely colours and so cosy. (see all throws available from the No. 56 online shop here)

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

MN: What does a typical day look like for you?

CE: I do try to get off to an early start – I design and produce a small range of womenswear for the store under the HANDWORKED label, so I like to work on that first thing.
Then, I’m usually in the shop serving customers, placing orders etc – all the usual shopkeeping duties.

MN: Finally, what’s next for No. 56?

CE: Having moved to larger shop premises last year, it feels as if we are just settling in here, making small adjustments and constantly working to keep things fresh. We are now adding more products to the website and have plans to collaborate on a few items exclusive to No.56 – can’t say more than that …

***

Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall Talking Shop | Carole Elsworth of No.56 Penzance, Cornwall

I’m definitely intrigued by those upcoming collaborations! Thank you so much to Carole for taking the time to answer my questions. Isn’t her shop delightful? I always want to buy everything in it whenever I visit! Fortunately, there is an online shop for No.56, so you don’t have to be in Penzance to get your hands on much of Carole’s gorgeous stock.

Follow No.56 on: instagram, facebook, pinterest.

Which shops in the UK would you like to see me visit?

Where I Write: My Office Tour

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

{This post is written as part of September’s theme word of ‘work’ on Miranda’s Notebook.}

A woman must have…a room of her own if she is to write fiction. – Virginia Woolf

Last weekend, I did my first Instagram live chat (so much fun!), showing how I’d recently made a few changes to a tiny box room in my flat to transform it into a snug, pleasant little office where I love to work. I had so many messages from people after the chat saying how much they’d enjoyed getting a glimpse of my workplace, that I thought I would share a bit more detail about my office on Miranda’s Notebook.

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

Although I’d been using this room as a work space for a while, I was dissatisfied with how I’d initially set up the space, and the few shelves I had were full to bursting with books, spilling onto piles on the floor, stacked up by my radiator. As someone who prefers a tidy, calm environment in which to work, the messy piles of books were getting on my nerves, and I didn’t feel my office, sparsely furnished and somewhat haphazardly decorated as it was, best reflected my personality. It was time for a change!

Here are the steps and shopping lists I used to transform my workspace:

Making the Most of a Small Budget

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

Having a very small budget with which to work, IKEA was my destination of choice for picking up bookcases and a few other key pieces. The only furniture I already had was my desk, a pretty old-fashioned writing table I’d picked up at a closing down sale a few years ago when I was living in Kingston, as well as a matching chair. I knew I wanted a small armchair to fit by the window, a cosy rug and a few other things to make the room more attractive.

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

Here’s my shopping list with everything I bought from IKEA:

  • Billy Bookcases. I chose white ones, as I like to keep everything light and bright in a small space.
  • Small Rattan Chair. This was the smallest chair in IKEA, and fit perfectly in the space.
  • Cushion Cover. I liked the very pale pink
  • Sheepskin Rug. So cosy!
  • Stool. This works perfectly as a little side-table.
  • Rubbish Bin (actually a plant pot, but works well as a little bin!).
  • Net Curtains. I’m lucky to have a large window, but the view is far from attractive, so some white net curtains added a welcome dainty touch.
  • Curtain Rod. Happily very easy to put up!
Luxurious Details

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

Rather than spending much money on furnishing the room, instead I wanted to invest in a few small luxury pieces that would make my workplace more cosy and inviting. My office has now become my favourite room in the flat, despite its diminutive size, and this is partly because I’ve placed some of the things I love best in it and have taken care over details.

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration! My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration! My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

A gorgeous scented candle, fresh flowers, a snuggly shawl: these were the little details that elevated the space and made it my own. Here’s my list:

  • Diptyque Londres Candle (sadly only available in shops, but they have a lovely range of other candles you can view online). I also have this stunning Rifle Paper Co candle on my desk (and think it will be make a lovely vase or pen pot once I’ve finished the candle).
  • Emma Lacey everyday mugs – my favourite to use whilst drinking tea at my desk!
  • Bloom & Wild bouquets (mine is Woodland Walk). I love Bloom & Wild flowers because they get delivered in a box that fits through your mailbox, so you don’t have to worry about being in when they arrive.
  • Storage Basket (currently sold out, but I like these ones a lot) for keeping current magazines.
  • Ceramic Magpie’s pretty range – perfect for small plants or for storing trinkets and jewellery (her shop is updated with new things often, so keep an eye out!).
  • Brora cashmere poncho. I have mine on hand, hung on a peg on the wall, and I reach for it whenever it gets a little chilly.
  • Liberty bias binding (the pink one I got isn’t left online, but there are a couple other pretty ones), used for tying back my white net curtains.
  • Mini pom-pom baskets by Bohemia Design (so pretty that make a nice display on top of my bookcases).
Showcasing My Personality

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

Whenever I go to someone’s house, I make a beeline for their bookcases, as I always find the books people keep offer such a fascinating insight into their personality. I thought hard about the types of books I wanted to have to hand in my office, and finally settled on the following categories: classic fiction in my most attractive editions, childhood favourites and reference.

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

‘Reference’ encompasses a good deal, as I get the majority of my inspiration from books and magazines. Generally, it includes my favourite poetry books, writings on the natural world, memoir, biography and back issues of magazines. I also keep to hand any books I’m reading at the moment for upcoming interviews on Tea & Tattle Podcast or Miranda’s Notebook.

My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

Besides lining my walls with books, my other favourite way to showcase my personality is to hang artwork on any leftover wall space. Even when decorating an exceedingly small space, don’t feel you can’t hang a statement art piece. I have a large Emily Sutton print hanging over my desk, and far from dwarfing the room, it adds some very welcome colour and beauty.

I also put up some favourite photographs: one of Grace Kelly, a heroine of mine, and another of a dancer leaping into the air. All you see are her extremely muscular legs taking flight and the skirts of her tutu flying out, but I love this picture because it reminds me that in order to jump for the stars, you have to have built the strength and technique that only comes from hours and hours of hard work and a disciplined, focused mind. This is the photo I look at when I’m at my desk, feeling overwhelmed or disheartened.

***

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of my office, and I’d love to know how you decorate your own workspace.

P.S. I’ll be doing live Instagram chats about various topics regularly from now on (next in line are my favourite stationery staples and a behind-the-scenes of how I run Tea & Tattle Podcast). If you’d like to receive advance notice of when these chats will be, as well as follow up notes with links and details about everything I’ve mentioned, you can sign up here.

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My Office Tour: see how I transformed a tiny box room into a cosy workplace, using basic furniture and the odd luxe detail - perfect office inspiration!

T&T 35 | Gardening in a Small Space With Laetitia Maklouf

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle here or on iTunes.

In today’s Tea & Tattle episode, I’m continuing the botanical theme from last week and am chatting with Laetitia Maklouf, an expert in horticulture and author of The Virgin Gardenerand Sweet Peas for Summer. In the interview, Laetitia talks about how she discovered her passion for gardening in her late 20s, which led her to quit her job and enrol in a horticulture course at The Chelsea Physic Garden, London. She never looked back!

Only having a small balcony and some windowsills to work with, Laetitia quickly became an expert at gardening in a small space. Her first book, The Virgin Gardener, is full of tips and accessible projects for the beginner gardener who may not have much ground to work with, or who prefers to start small. Sweet Peas for Summer describes Laetitia’s move to a home with a proper garden and is a great resource for larger-scale gardeners (see the show notes for some photos of what Laetitia’s garden looks like today!).

In my discussion with Laetitia, I asked her advice on growing my own house-plants and what to do with a small patio. Laetitia also explained her 5 Minute Gardening instagram project and shared some of her favourite London gardens and nurseries (we bonded over a mutual love for Petersham Nurseries!).

Listen to hear some fabulous tips for growing plants in a small space.

 

T&T 34 | Botanical Inspiration

Tea and Tattle Podcast | Botanical Inspiration for the Home

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

This week, Sophie and I are chatting about botanical inspiration for the home, as well as how flowers inspire our creative processes. Botanicals are huge at the moment, and we chat about why their timeless style is so appealing, as well as how flowers and foliage feature in our homes.

In today’s episode, we also make two important announcements: the first involves our plans for the podcast over the summer, and the second is a new PDF downloadable document (like our Hygge guide) that I’m currently working on, and which I hope you’ll find useful for the summer (listen to the episode to hear all the details on both these announcements).

Sophie also shares a particularly exciting Jump for Joy this week (many congratulations to her again), and as usual we exchange a favourite cultural recommendation in our Culture Corner section. It really is all go in this episode, so be sure to tune in to catch up on the latest news!

Listen to hear our ideas for botanical style in the home and how flowers feed creativity.

Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Last week, I joined a group of bloggers at the Artist Residence hotel in London for tea and croissants in the morning, before being bundled into Land Rovers and whisked to the new Artist Residence sister hotel in Oxfordshire, for lunch in the garden and a Dutch flower workshop with Bloom and Wild.

It was the perfect day for an outing, with bright blue skies and a pleasant breeze. The car journey seemed to take no time at all as I chatted with Milly (you may remember her from my Cornwall interview). We arrived just before lunch and were offered a glass of rosé and the chance to explore the hotel, which only opened in May.

I was charmed by the decor, especially the floral House of Hackney wallpaper that was such a striking feature. Some lovely ladies from Bloom and Wild, who were giving us a flower workshop in the afternoon, had set up a gorgeous display of blooms that made my flower loving heart very happy.

Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, OxfordshireBloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I also got to peep into one of the bedrooms, which was gorgeous and looked extremely comfortable. I would have enjoyed lingering in the tub in the light, airy bathroom and writing postcards at the vintage desk.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

After having a look around and taking a million photos between us, we headed out into the garden for lunch, our appetites whetted by the fantastic sounding menu that had been emailed round the day before.

Al Fresco Dining

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Doesn’t that look a delightful table? I felt summer had truly arrived as I took my seat and was offered some more rosé. The outdoor dining area overlooked the hotel’s lawn and vegetable garden, and I was delighted to learn that many of the vegetables and salad leaves served for our lunch were freshly picked from the garden.

The hotel had cooked up a fabulous feast for us. To start, we were given sharing platters of crispy whitebait with garlic sauce; mozzarella, pea, broad bean and mint salad; heritage tomato salad with ewes curd and olives; and scotch eggs served alongside homemade brown sauce.

The main course was lamb wellington, with buttered Cornish potatoes, a green salad (from the garden!), barbecued radishes (also from the garden) and violet artichokes. I was beginning to seriously doubt whether I could manage dessert (strawberries with toasted marshmallows, lime curd and strawberry sorbet), but when it arrived it looked so delicious I couldn’t resist.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

The food was all absolutely incredible, and it was glorious to enjoy it outside on a lovely day in excellent company.

Dutch Flower Workshop

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

After our meal, we went back into the cool, shady interior of the hotel for our Dutch flower painting inspired workshop. I was particularly excited for this workshop, as I love Dutch floral still life pictures, and there was a glorious selection of flowers awaiting us to help feed our inspiration.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, OxfordshireBloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

Rowan, pictured above, talked us through the process of arranging our flowers, making it look incredibly easy as she finished her lovely floral display in about 10 minutes flat.

I settled down with a cup of chamomile tea and set to work, choosing a selection of blooms I liked best, and trying to create a loose, tumbling arrangement, featuring the striking colours that I often admire in my favourite Dutch floral artworks.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I sat next to the charming Briony from A Girl A Style, and we bonded over our mutual love for books, flowers and pretty teacups.

After a hair-raising moment when my display threatened to topple over, and I had to pop in a few dahlias to balance it out, I pronounced mine finished.

Bloom and Wild Dutch Flower Workshop at Artist Residence, Oxfordshire

I don’t think I’ll be setting up as a florist any time soon, but I was still pleased with my result.

On being told it was time to leave, we were kindly showered with leftover blooms to take back home with us (I got some funny looks later on the tube as I maneuvered my way along platforms, weighted down by my spoils!).

It really was the most perfect English summer day, and I’m now contemplating buying some florist foam so I can have a go at some more flower arranging – practice makes perfect, as they say!

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

One of my favourite things about June is the abundance of peonies. Evoking romance and early summer, these beautiful, billowy blooms are often sweetly scented and come in a variety of charming colours: white, pink, red, yellow and coral. Understandably, peonies are enormously popular on Instagram, as it’s hard to resist liking a snapshot of fluffy pink petals, and they’re a delightful flower to photograph.

Unfortunately, though, peonies are notoriously pricey, so whenever I buy a bunch, I like to think I can make the most out of my money. I work hard on photographing a variety of different shots to showcase my blooms, without (hopefully!) boring my audience, and I also take care of my peonies so that they last as long as possible.

In celebration of June’s theme word, bloom, on Miranda’s Notebook, I thought I’d share my tips and ideas for getting the most photos out of your peonies.

1/ SOURCE YOUR PEONIES

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ June is the height of peony season and is the best month for buying them. I especially like to buy my blooms from flower markets, where good deals are offered. Columbia Road Flower Market generally sell three bunches of peonies for £20 – just make sure to get there early to avoid the overwhelming crowds! It’s also a good idea to check your local farmers’ market; I recently picked up four bunches of peonies that were going for a great price at my market in West Hampstead.

++ An important tip to remember when buying peonies is to go for bunches where the buds are already starting to open slightly. Peonies should be harvested when the buds are at the ‘marshmallow’ stage – they should feel soft and spongy to the touch. I’ve learnt that very tight, hard buds often never open, which is a disappointing waste of my flower budget. When I know that I want to photograph my peonies very quickly, I’ll go for ones that are, for the most part, fully opened. These blooms won’t have such a long vase life, but they’re great for when I’m in a rush to get photographs.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook || Scarlet and Violet Florist, London

++ If you’d like to treat yourself to more unusual peonies in a wider variety of colours, then it’s sensible to fork out for special ones at a good quality florist. So far, I’ve found that the standard pink and red varieties are easily found at markets, but for more unusual blooms, I head to my nearest first-rate florist: Scarlet & Violet. Some gorgeous varieties to look out for are: Coral Charm, Raspberry Sundae, Bowl of Beauty, Fairy’s Petticoat and Duchesse de Nemours (aren’t the names delightful?!).

2/ TAKE CARE OF YOUR BLOOMS

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Peonies have a good vase life and – if well cared for – should last a week or two. On returning home with your flowers, cut their stems straight away, as this helps them to take up the water. Remove excess leaves and any below the water line. Regularly (every other day) recut the stems and add fresh water. You shouldn’t put too much water in your vase, as you should be replenishing with fresh often anyway.

++ If you don’t want to use your peonies straight away, then it is supposedly possible to store your buds for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. Simply remove all leaves and put your stems into a plastic bag, lined with paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Check every few days and discard any that show signs of mould. When you’re ready to use them, pop them into warm water with some flower food. I’m keen to try out this method myself sometime! I’ve also heard that you can preserve any heads of flowers you snip off in tupperware in the fridge for a few weeks, so I want to give that a try too.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++If your peonies are taking a while to fully open, then try holding them over hot, steaming water (I’ve had mixed success with this, but it’s worth a try if you’ve got some very stubborn ones!).

++ Apparently a splash of lemonade mixed in with water encourages flowers to bloom quicker (I’ve yet to try this and am keen to find out if it works!).

++ It’s always a good idea to keep some flower food to hand, but if you run out, then ½ a teaspoon of sugar and a drop of bleach in the water will do the trick.

3/ PLAN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Planning is arguably the most important step in my photography process. I have a strict weekly budget on flowers (I don’t usually spend more than £10 on average), and yet I use blooms in every single flat lay I photograph, so I need to make sure that I get a range of images from every bouquet I buy. Whenever I buy peonies, which are a more expensive purchase, I’m especially careful about the planning stage in my photography.

++ Most weekends, I set aside a photography morning or afternoon and snap the majority of my indoor shots featuring flowers. I generally buy my flowers the evening before or on the same day, so I photograph them at their freshest, although I’ll also take the odd picture during the rest of the week too.

++ Although I’m often inspired by the flowers I buy each week and the props I have at home, I’ll also research possible shots by spending time browsing Pinterest or the books I collect that feature exceptional floral photography. Taking time to seek inspiration helps feed my own creativity and keeps my ideas feeling fresh.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ I also take time to think about upcoming blog posts I have planned, or products that I want to feature, and what types of floral photographs I’ll need for them. For instance, I knew I wanted to get a photograph of the lovely book, Paris in Bloom, alongside a bunch of peonies, as I thought the matching pinks would look lovely. Also, I regularly use floral backgrounds that I photograph myself for the imagery on Tea & Tattle, so I try as often as possible to get suitable photos for the podcast, especially when I buy peonies, as they look particularly pretty as backdrops (like this one).

4/ TAKE A VARIETY OF PICTURES

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ A great way to get the most out of your peonies is to tell the whole story of your purchase. Photograph the market stand or shop where you bought your flowers; the peonies at your feet in an attractive market basket (perhaps with some other market purchases too); you walking along a pretty street with a big bouquet over your shoulder; the peonies laid out on a table at home, as you trim the stems; and finally arranged in a beautiful vase. Even if you don’t use all of these images on your instagram grid, they’re perfect to share on stories.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++Try to photograph each stage of your peonies too: first in bud; then as they blossom and  colours change and fade; and finally the petals dropping from the vase.

++ Take photos from different angles and focus in on details or zoom out. You can photograph the bouquet as a whole, but  also zoom in to snap individual flowers.

++ If you’ve bought a bouquet featuring lots of different kinds of flowers, then after photographing the bouquet as a whole, separate out the flowers and photograph them  individually, or as smaller posies.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ Finally, once your flowers start to fade a little, snip the heads off to use as a pretty feature in your flat lays.

5/ KEEP IT FUN 

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

++ As they’re so popular, peony shots can occasionally border on the cliché. There’s nothing wrong with the familiar, but try not to just snap your bouquet next to some macarons and Love X Style X Life by Garance Dore. Instead, get creative and think of ways to add an element of fun and surprise to your images. Thinking a little more outside of the box is a skill I’m trying to develop in my own photography at the moment, and I had fun playing around with the above peony ‘ice-cream’ shot last weekend.

5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you’re inspired by this post to photograph some peonies, then do please let me know – I’d love to see what you come up with.

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5 Helpful Tips for Photographing Peonies || How to Photograph Peonies Guide on Miranda's Notebook

T&T 20 | Marie Kondo and Dominique Loreau

Listen to the latest episode of Tea & Tattle here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, Sophie and I are in conversation about the best-selling books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and L’Art de la Simplicité : How to Live More With Less  by Dominique Loreau. Both books have had phenomenal success and developed a cult following, and Sophie and I were curious to read them to see how much we agreed with their principles and to what extent we found them applicable to our own lives.

In this episode, we’re having a frank discussion about our initial reactions to both books, what we found useful and thought-provoking about Kondo and Loreau’s ideas, and also what we did not enjoy.  We round up our chat with some actionable steps we’re already putting into practice from both books.

Marie Kondo and Dominique Loreau | Tea & Tattle Podcast

As always, too, Sophie and I are sharing what happy moments have made us ‘Jump for Joy’ lately, as well as some of the comments, useful suggestions and feedback from you, our listeners. Don’t miss my book suggestion in this week’s ‘Culture Corner’ section, as well as Sophie’s tip for if you happen to find yourself in the King’s Cross (London) area.

Listen to hear our thoughts on the internationally best-selling books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and L’Art de la Simplicité: How to Live More With Less by Dominique Loreau.

T&T 18 | The Art of Home-Making

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode on The Art of Home-Making here or on iTunes.

In this episode, Sophie and I are turning our thoughts to our homes. With Spring in the air, we’re sharing our best tips for making your home a pleasant, comfortable place, even when struggling with the limitations of a small space. As we’ve both lived in flats for the majority of our adult lives, and in a variety of situations – sharing with university friends, boyfriends, family, as well as living alone – we feel that by now we’ve got fairly adept at creating a home wherever we are.

Explaining how William Morris’ philosophy on possessions influences us both, and how we like to consider our senses when creating a comfortable space, Sophie and I chat about the kinds of environments that suit us best and that we find most conducive to happiness and creativity.

Listen to hear our tips on making an inviting and comfortable home in a small space.

If you enjoy our podcast, please do leave a rating and review on iTunes! It’s a great way to help other people to find and enjoy Tea & Tattle, and Sophie and I would be very grateful!

Happy Listening!

Miranda xxx

5 Step Guide to Building A Capsule Wardrobe

signs of spring – this month’s blog theme – a reminder of our book club title – spring cleaning and sorting -capsule wardrobe guide

Welcome to March! I’m thrilled to see the first few hints of Spring in London; the tree opposite my flat is burgeoning into blossom, and I look out for the golden piles of daffodils at the florist next to my local tube station every morning.

With the start of Spring, there’s always a feeling of freshness and renewal in the air. It’s a time to sweep away the physical, as well as metaphorical, cobwebs; to take stock of your home and fill it with a renewed sense of energy after the inertia of winter. Although I’m no minimalist, I do think March is a good time of year to consider your surroundings and have a thorough declutter. This month’s theme on the blog, then, is devoted to home-making, and you can expect some related posts and podcast episodes centred around domesticity in the weeks to come.

Also, don’t forget this month’s Book Club choice is Longbourn by Jo Baker, which is also in keeping with the domestic theme. Longbourn tells the story of Jane Austen’s fictitious Bennet family from the point of view of their servants. I’ve started it and am thoroughly enjoying it already, so please do read along if you can as I’d love to hear your thoughts on it too.

For the first post of March, I thought I’d offer a guide to starting a capsule wardrobe. It always feels good to have a thorough sorting at the start of Spring, and these are the steps I used myself when I had a huge closet clear-out in January. I hope you find them useful if you’re inspired to take stock of your own wardrobe and make time for a bit of Spring sorting and cleaning.

1/ Make sure a finely-honed wardrobe is what you want.

This is key. If your heart isn’t really in it, then no matter how much you think your closet should be neater, you’ll never be willing to be ruthless in your sorting. Check in with yourself and make sure that a pared down, simpler wardrobe and style is really what you want. It’s ok if you are happier with a lot more choice and a full-to-the-brim closet (we can’t all be Marie Kondo, after all), but then you have to move on and realise a capsule wardrobe probably isn’t for you.

If you feel that a thorough sorting of your clothes is just what’s needed, though, then here are some great resources to get you fired up and reaching for the bin bags:

++The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Definitely a little eccentric (I consider it part of the charm!), but I love how Marie Kondo encourages a no-guilt attitude to letting go of your possessions.

++ L’Art de la Simplicite by Dominique Loreau. This book will make you want to make everything in your life a little (or a lot) simpler.

++ Dominique Davis’ e-guide to building a capsule wardrobe. Dominique does a great job holding your hand through what can be quite a traumatic process, and she feels like a friendly big sister by your side, urging you on with practical advice. Of course, you can also listen to my Tea & Tattle interview with Dominique for some capsule wardrobe inspiration as well.

++ Un-fancy blog. This blog is perfect for inspiration on making the most out of every item in your closet and re-mixing and matching pieces to create great looking outfits.

2/ Define your personal style.

Before starting the clear-out, it’s essential that you’ve a clear idea of your personal style and what types of items you want in your capsule wardrobe. It makes the sorting process much easier, as you’ll be far less likely to be tempted to keep clothes that clearly fall outside of your capsule wardrobe parameters.

When refining your personal style, I think it’s a good idea to create a Pinterest board (it doesn’t have to be public – mine is currently private!) and to start to build up a collection of images that match the type of style you’d like to develop. Also key to this process, is to think about your lifestyle: do you realistically ever iron those cotton blouses? How many party dresses do you actually need, or, alternatively, do you in fact use any of your ‘loungewear’? I, for instance, realised that I love to wear comfortable, practical clothing a lot of the time, so I kept a lot of my jumpers, denim shirts, breton tops, jeans and trousers. These are the kinds of clothes I like to wear when I’m working from home, but I also realised that I needed slightly different outfits for when I’m teaching in schools and also for when I attend blog events or go out in the evening. This realisation brings me to the next tip….

3/ Think about the different types of capsule wardrobes you need.

This suggestion was one of the most useful hints I took away from my interview with Dominique. She said to think about having more than one capsule wardrobe, depending on your lifestyle. So, for instance, you may want a capsule wardrobe for work as well as weekend wear (and adjust the size of each according to what you wear most).

As I said, I have 3 capsule wardrobe categories: teaching, home and blog / evening wear. Thinking about the type of clothes I wear and use the most really helped me to be especially strict about not keeping too many clothes, like evening dresses, that I wear only a few times a month. I have to admit, I’m currently not too fussed about sticking to an exact number of items in each capsule collection; I’m just happy that now all seasons of my clothes fit together in my wardrobes and drawers. As long as that continues to be the case, I consider that I have the right amount of clothing for me.

4/ Set aside two whole days and get someone (non-judgemental) to help you.

It’s surprising how long a thorough sorting of your closet can take. Make sure you clear a weekend from any other distractions, and (so you won’t drive yourself insane debating whether you really do need one more black top, or if you’ll regret getting rid of it later) make sure to ask someone close to you to help and who won’t raise any judgemental eyebrows at the number of ballet flats you happen to own (cough).

5/ Plan what to do with the clothes once you’re finished sorting.

It’s to easy to pile everything you don’t want into bags, feeling virtuous at how much you’ve managed to wean out of your closet, but then promptly forget about it all and never quite manage to get to the charity shop for a drop-off. Make sure you don’t fall into this trap by carefully planning how and when you’ll get rid of your discarded clothes and try to clear everything out of your home as quickly as possible.

Will you be doing any Spring cleaning this March? Are you tempted to pare down your closet and create a capsule wardrobe? I’d love to hear how you get on if so!