Category Archives: Home

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.

Pin it to Save it!

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!

T&T 06 | Party Etiquette Tips

teaandtattletemplate_partytips

Click here to listen.

In this episode, Sophie and I are getting into the festive spirit, as we discuss etiquette tips to help guide hosts and guests alike through the whirlwind of the party season. We provide our most handy hints for smooth sailing when you’re entertaining and tackle common bug-bears such as how to get people to RSVP promptly, whether it’s acceptable to ask guests to remove their shoes (assuming there’s no cultural custom to do so) and what hosts should do when a drink invariably spills.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts too!

What are your best etiquette tips for parties? Do you have any handy hints for getting people to RSVP, or how to deal with early arrivals as a host? Do you mind being asked to take off your shoes?

Happy Listening!

Miranda Loves: Baking Books

bakingbooks_1-copy

I feel I have to start this blog post with an apology that it took me SO LONG to do a second video on my favourite cookbooks (in case you missed it, you can see the first here). I find videos generally a little horrifying – the making of them, the watching them back (do I really look like that??) and then the editing. Frankly, the only editing I do is stick on an image at the front and end, add a tiny bit of music and hit the ‘amplify voice’ setting, but somehow I still find it a pain. Despite my grumpiness about it though, a part of me really does enjoy producing videos; they feel more intimate than blog posts, and it’s so nice to be able to properly show you all some of the things I especially love, like my cookbooks (and we all know how much I adore my collection…).

bakingbooks_3

In this video, I’m discussing some of my favourite baking books. In honour of those of you who share my love of baking (and because Thanksgiving is next week), I’ve also created a recipe card for my favourite pumpkin pie, which is a recipe adapted from one of the books I mention in the video, Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, by Kathleen King. If you’re already a part of the Miranda’s Notebook Newsletter, then you’ll have received the link to download the recipe in this morning’s Postcard From London (so check your email!). If you’ve yet to join, then sign up at the bottom of this post, and you’ll receive the link to download.

I do hope you enjoy the video! Click on the image below to watch it on youtube, and scroll down for links to all books mentioned.

favouritebakingbooks

Books mentioned in the video are:

Delia’s Cakes, Delia Smith

Geraldine Holt’s Cake Stall, Geraldine Holt (sadly only available secondhand)

Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, Kathleen King

Honey & Co: The Baking Book, Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer

How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Nigella Lawson

Homemade Memories, Kate Doran

Gail’s Artisan Bakery Cookbook, Roy Levy and Gail Mejia

Vintage Cakes, Jane Brocket

Fika and Hygge, Bronte Aurell

How to Hygge, Signe Johansen

Please do share what your favourite baking books are with me; I’d love to hear them.

As promised, here’s the Pumpkin Pie recipe card. Simply fill in your details to download the pdf file!

Miranda Loves | Autumnal Homeware

Miranda Loves | Autumnal Homeware

Whereas for me Summer is the season for socialising outdoors, meeting friends for picnics in parks, BBQs and drinks on a pretty terrace, Autumn marks the start of cosy evenings at home. As the nights get colder and longer, I like nothing better than lighting some candles and inviting a good friend over for a chat as I stir some warming risotto on the stove and open a bottle of wine. Increasing my time at home means I look at my living space with a more critical eye, and in the list below I’ve selected some pieces that I feel would add comfort and style to my everyday living.

1/ I’m looking for a chair to go in my office, and Cox & Cox have a great selection. Of course, I’m particularly drawn towards the ones inspired by Scandinavian design. This one is a favourite and looks straight out of Pinterest. Add a pretty cushion and a cosy throw, and I could see myself happily in this chair for hours as I write and research blog posts.

2/ I use my Wonki Ware plates all the time (they offer the perfect plain background for food shots when I publish recipe posts, but I also use them everyday anyway), and I’ll add a couple more to my collection this season.

3/ If you’re also an admirer of Scandi fashion and home decor, then the Gudrun Sjödén shop in Seven Dials, Covent Garden is a must visit. I popped in the other day and instantly fell for these apple tumblers, which I think would be perfect for serving warm apple cider or mulled wine.

4/ Although more often than not, I’m eating meals at my desk with my laptop open, I do try to make the majority of our suppers proper sit-down meals, when I can have a chat with my Mum about the day. To set a cosy mood, I like to have candles on the table, and Heal’s has the most wonderful range of colours.

5/ I’m yearning after pretty much everything on the Cloudberry website, but I’m especially taken with their new range of art photography posters. They’re seriously gorgeous, and this ballerina poster is a real favourite of mine. It’s a simple image that inspires me to aim high and jump for my goals, but also serves as a reminder that even things that look elegant and easy generally require a huge amount of strength, stamina and determination.

6/ With the mornings getting darker, a cheery mug is just what I need for my first cup of tea.

7/ I have a plain grey sofa in the living room, and I’ve been looking for some attractive cushions to add a pop of colour. I love this Boeme cushion, which has such pretty autumnal tones, and yet would go well with the pastel accents I’ve used throughout the flat.

8/ Apparently green is all the rage this autumn, and I like this plant pot in a frosty mint shade for my herbs.

9/ As I live in a tiny flat, finding floor lamps that don’t take up a lot of surface area is a must. I’ve got my eye on this floor lamp, which has a simple, pleasing design and wouldn’t take up a lot of room.

How do you like to prepare your home for Autumn? Which items are your favourites from this list?

Follow Miranda’s Notebook
Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Youtube

Miranda Loves {Video}: My Favourite Cookbooks

My Favourite Cookbooks

M Y    C O O K B O O K    C O L L E C T I O N

As was made abundantly clear by this instagram photo, I adore cookbooks and have a rather sizeable collection! My first priority, as soon as I moved into my new flat, was to get all my books on the shelves, and one of my favourite things to do is to spend time browsing through my collection, pulling out books and getting inspiration. It’s like having my own personal little library! Some people, including the lovely Melanie, asked if I could share some of my favourite cookbooks with you all, so I thought it would be fun to take you on a tour of my shelves with a little video (click here or scroll to bottom to watch it). I could honestly talk for hours about my books, but I only had time to give you the very briefest of highlights (I may do another one, though, if you’re keen!). If you don’t have time to watch the video (or prefer to read a post), then I’ve summarised it below.

My Favourite Cookbooks + Video

M Y    C O O K B O O K    C R I T E R I A

Although it may not seem like it, I am in fact very particular about which cookbooks I buy, and in general I select a cookbook based on 4 main criteria:

1/ The recipes have to be fantastic. That goes without saying, but I also tend to prefer cookbooks that focus on simple, often seasonal, ingredients with incredible flavour.

2/ The books must be visually pleasing. I’m fascinated by lifestyle and food photography, and a lot of my inspiration comes from the cookbooks I buy. For instance, I love Donna Hay’s books, not only for their recipes, but because I think the photography is always exceptionally good.

3/ Well-written, please! I find reading cookbooks one of the most soothing things I can do. If I’m having a bad day, then I find reaching for a well-loved cookery book often calms me down (currently, I’m enthralled by Seven Spoons; Tara O’Brady is one of the best food writers I’ve ever come across, and now I realise she has a blog too – yay! – I’m devouring every word of that as well.).

4/ A great personality. This is linked to the writing quality, as when I read a cookbook I like to get a real sense of who the author is and whether I think we could get along. I enjoy making recipes from people I feel share a philosophy on life and food that is similar to my own.

My Favourite Cookbooks + Video

A    F E W    O F    M Y    F A V O U R I T E S

My cookbook gurus: these are the authors I turn to time and again, and who never fail to disappoint. The Barefoot Contessa (aka Ina Garten) is one of my absolute favourites. Her recipes really are foolproof, and I appreciate her laid-back philosophy to entertaining. I rely on The Pioneer Woman (aka Ree Drummond) whenever I’m throwing a big party, as her recipes are delicious, easy to double (or quadruple!) and are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Giada de Laurentiis is my go-to for lighter, Californian-meets-Italian style cooking, and Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver are my weeknight heros.

As good as they look: for fantastic photography (and holiday planning / dreaming!), I turn to Tessa Kiros‘ books (mentioned in the video are Limoncello & Linen Water and Venezia). I also love the cookbooks Sugared Orange and Rose Petal Jam for their stunning imagery, as well as their classic Polish recipes.

Wonderfully written: My absolute favourite food memoir is Molly Wizenburg’s A Homemade Life (it also has some great recipes!).

Scandi style: I adore Scandinavian food, especially when it comes to baking! Fika is a sweet book, full of traditional recipes, and personal favourites of mine are Signe Johansen’s Scandilicious and Scandilicious Baking (the Banana Spice Cake mentioned in the video is in fact in Scandilicious Baking).

Lesser known: A cookbook I believe deserves to be much better known is French & Grace’s Kitchen & Co, which has a terrific selection of easy recipes that burst with flavour (one of my favourites is their Barley Risotto with Blue Cheese and Spinach).

For more about my favourite cookbooks, watch the video below!

What are your favourite cookbooks? Please do share your recommendations – I’d love to hear them, and let me know if you’d like a Part 2 to this video, covering a few more recommendations. Be sure to share it with a friend who loves cooking too!

Follow Miranda’s Notebook
Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Youtube

5 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Life-Long Moving

5 Lessons I've Learnt From Life-Long Moving | Miranda's Notebook

Throughout my life, I’ve moved a great deal. It often felt hard to be uprooted every few years, but it made me who I am today, and I’m thankful for all the experiences I have had. As I’m getting ready for another move now – back to North West London – I’ve been reflecting on all the lessons a life of packing and unpacking brown boxes has taught me. Here are my top 5:

1/ You experience both the good and the bad of friendship.

Moving as a child taught be some fairly tough lessons about friendship. From as young as 5, I was moving 1000s of miles away from best friends, and I learnt pretty quickly that people can get angry with the ones who leave. I remember a friend from ballet school who refused to speak to me for 6 months when she found out I was leaving California for New York, only to break down in floods of tears on my last day. Experiences like these though, tough as they are, can make you pretty invincible: I learnt to go after what I wanted, and live wherever I wanted, without worrying or being held back by what other people thought. Moving also teaches you the best of human nature, with friendships that can stand the tests of both time and distance.

2/ Home is wherever you’re living.

People who have moved around most of their life always hate the dreaded question ‘so where are you from?’ I’ve become content with the fact that I don’t really feel like I’m from anywhere in particular (although I felt a particular affinity with London the very first time I visited it at 16); instead it’s important to make ‘home’ wherever you happen to be.

3/ Possessions both do and don’t matter.

Having certain well-loved and familiar items with you goes a big way in making any house or flat feel like a home. I remember when I was younger I had my ballet posters, as well as my John William Waterhouse prints, which instantly made any new bedroom feel familiar and homey. At the same time, though, it’s also important to know when to let certain possessions go. Constantly moving means that sometimes you just need to lighten the burden!

4/ Change should always be embraced.

You can never fight change, and in general I like to view it as a good thing. It can feel scary, as well as exciting, to move somewhere new, but conquering new experiences always makes you a stronger and more interesting person.

5/ Always make the effort to make the best out of wherever you’re living.

I’ve lived in places I’ve loved and places I haven’t, but there’s good to be found wherever you’re living, and it’s important to always search it out.

Follow Miranda’s Notebook
Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Youtube

Original image via here