Tag Archives: home_garden

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

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 | Hygge Essentials

Miranda Loves | Hygge Essentials

I’m really not surprised that everyone is jumping on board the current hygge craze, embodying as it does cosy happiness blended with Scandi cool. I went into one of my favourite Scandi design shops, Skandium, the other day and as usual swooned over everything they had in stock. The plethora of pretty cushions, throws and candles inspired me to put together my Top Ten list of Hygge Essentials.

1/ I am such a big fan Signe Johansen and pre-ordered this latest book of hers months ago. It’s being released tomorrow, and I can’t wait for it to arrive.

2/ I’m increasingly drawn to metallics, which I think are especially lovely for autumn and winter, and the glimmering gold of this candle holder is so pretty.

3/ Whenever I get home after work, the first thing I rush to do is to change into something warm and comfy (if it’s been a particularly bad day, then I head straight for my pjs). This Marc Jacobs jumper is the ultimate blend of cosy, yet sophisticated.

4/ I love snoods, indoors and out, and I’d love to wear this one to ward off chills as I work in my office at home, or when I get inspired by the Scandi-style deep appreciation for nature and go for a brisk walk on Hampstead Heath.

5/ I think this Marimekko cushion is perfect for the run up to Christmas. I’m also keen on the all grey version.

6/ Lighting candles, making a warming drink and writing in my gratitude journal are parts of my evening routine that help me to unwind the most and are all very hygge.

7/ Apparently this highly appropriately named scent diffuser has echoes of brewed tea and baked strawberry cake, rose petals and wild mint. Want! 

8/ Some of my throws are starting to look a little careworn, and I’ve got my eye on this Scandi-designed blanket.

9/ I adore chai tea, but rarely make it at home. I think it’s time I started, and I love T2’s range of Chai mixes. The ‘chill out‘ one sounds the most hygge, but I’d like to try the others too.

10/ Catherine Tough is the queen of adorable knitwear, and these lambswool socks are as sweet as they are cosy.

Are you embracing the art of hygge this autumn too? What are your favourites from the list?

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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?

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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!

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Miranda Loves: Current Favourite Music Albums

Miranda Loves: Current Favourite Music Albums

Before I completely give myself over to Christmas Carols, I thought I’d share some of the albums I’ve been listening to all the time over the past few weeks. I love music and almost always have a selection of tunes playing in the background (and I’m very serious about my workout playlist), so it’s a delight every time I discover a new artist I like. Here are my top 4 album picks:

Know-It-All / Alessia Cara

I discovered Alessia Cara through her hit single Here, but I absolutely love the entire album. Alessia has a terrific voice, and it’s clear to see why her first album is already such a hit.

When to Play It: I like to listen to this album all the time, but it’s great for working out, as well as background music for a laid-back dinner party.

Favourite songs: Here, My Song, Scars To Your Beautiful

Get a taste:

25 / Adele

A pretty obvious choice, I know, but who can’t love the latest Adele album?

When to Play It: in the evenings, when you want to unwind and you’re pouring a glass of wine.

Favourite songs: Hello, When We Were Young, Send My Love (To Your New Lover)

Get a taste:

Revival / Selena Gomez

Ok, so I do feel far too old to be putting a Selena Gomez album on my list, but I do really love her latest album. I haven’t listened to a lot of her previous music, but this album seems more mature and sounds as though she is truly coming into her own as an artist.

When to Play It: whilst working out, or having a girl’s night with pizza and ice-cream.

Favourite songs:  Same Old Love; Me & My Girls; Kill Em With Kindness

Get a taste:

Same Trailer Different Park / Kacey Musgraves

My Dad introduced me to Kacey Musgraves, and I’m glad he did! I love her mix of humour and realism and the way she pokes fun at country cliches and life in the South. Although I love the song Biscuits from her newest album, overall I feel Same Trailer Different Park is much stronger, and it’s the one I’m playing the most at moment.

When to Play It: great to get you up and going in the mornings.

Favourite songs: Stupid, Merry Go ‘Round, Blowin’ Smoke, Follow Your Arrow

Get a taste:

What tunes are you currently playing on a loop?

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Miranda Loves: Gemma Orkin Ceramics

Gemma Orkin Ceramics

I recently discovered Gemma Orkin‘s gorgeous ceramics, having been unable to resist the above poodle plate which I spotted for sale at Skittle Alley Coffee & Pantry. Gemma’s handmade ceramics feature her quirky designs and reflect a love of flowers, animals and domesticity. I’ve selected a few of my favourites below (you can see more here):

Gemma Orkin Ceramics Gemma Orkin CeramicsGemma Orkin Ceramics

Which are your favourite Gemma Orkin designs? Do you have as big a weakness for pretty tableware as I do?!

++ Every Wednesday I share something I love. View more Miranda Loves posts here. ++

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Miranda Loves: Only Roses

Miranda Loves: Only Roses

On Sunday, I found myself in Earl’s Court with some time to spare, after attending an event at the Hotel Indigo, so  I decided to  have a mooch around the area. I happened to walk by the florist Only Roses and was instantly mesmerised by the spectacular window display and gorgeous interior. I couldn’t resist popping in and picking up a little posy of peachy-pink roses with frilly petals.

As you can guess, Only Roses sells…only roses, and the most gorgeous ones at that. All the flowers are grown in Ecuador and shipped to their shops around the world. The Earl’s Court branch is really a thing of beauty, and I loved the displays of stunning bouquets and their infinite roses, which are dyed different colours and last up to a year (they would make a very special wedding or baby shower gift).

onlyroses_4 onlyroses_2 onlyroses_3rose2

Have you ever been to Only Roses? Which are your favourite florists in London?

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