Tag Archives: living

T&T 33 | Historical Fiction with Hannah Kent

Tea & Tattle Podcast Interview With Bestselling Author Hannah Kent

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

Today on Tea & Tattle podcast, I’m joined by the bestselling author, Hannah Kent, to discuss Hannah’s books Burial Rites and The Good People. Her debut novel, Burial Rites, has received international acclaim and is one of my favourite novels published within the last few years. The Good People, which was released in the UK at the start of the year, is equally gripping and also showcases Hannah’s mastery in evoking a sense of place, as well as her poetic writing style.

Tea & Tattle Podcast Interview With Bestselling Author Hannah Kent

In my chat with Hannah, I questioned her about how her love for Icelandic culture and history began, the research process behind her books, what was most surprising in learning about Irish folklore and so much more. It was such an honour to speak with Hannah, and I hope you enjoy her compelling conversation as much as I did.

Tea & Tattle Podcast Interview With Bestselling Author Hannah Kent

Listen to hear Hannah Kent’s fascinating insights into writing her historical novels, Burial Rites and The Good People.

T&T 32 | Wedding Etiquette Tips

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

Today on Tea & Tattle, Sophie and I are discussing our tips for navigating wedding season. We’re sharing our thoughts on appropriate etiquette for wedding guests, as well as voicing our opinions on the +1 debate. We’d love to hear what you think about this issue too!

Sophie and I also had a mutual ‘Jump for Joy’ this week: our trip to Berkshire together, to stay at The Great House in Sonning. We went for riverside walks, enjoyed wine at the local pub and had plenty of tea & tattle time in the gorgeous hotel. It was so fun to take a mini trip together, and we’re already planning the next – I’m hoping to join Sophie in Oxford in July, once we’re both through our teaching commitments.

In Culture Corner, Sophie shares a book series she recently discovered and is loving, and I talk about the fantastic audiobook that’s currently making my photo-editing process a lot less tedious.

Listen to hear our best tips to guide you through wedding season.  

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

The Curated Month | June 2017

Welcome June!

Happy start of June everyone! London is feeling very summery at the moment; the sun is shining and roses are blooming, and I’m having a hard time resisting the urge to spend all of half-term reading in a park.

I’ve got plenty of fun coming up this month, which I’m excited about! I’m taking my Mum to the Cotswolds later in the month, when we’ll be celebrating her birthday, and this weekend I’m off to stay at The Great House in Berkshire. I’m taking my Tea & Tattle co-host, Sophie, along with me, and I’m really looking forward to having an unrecorded catch-up! June is such a glorious time of year to explore more of the UK, so I’m pleased about taking a little time away from London.

June’s Theme Word: Bloom

An abundance of flowers bloom in June, so what better month to celebrate one of my very favourite photography subjects. I’ll be sharing some floral related content over the next few weeks, including my top tips on how to take dozens of pretty photos from a single bouquet of flowers.

A List for June

sit in a rose garden
play tennis
have a spontaneous picnic
walk barefoot on the beach
go foraging
eat breakfast outside
pick strawberries
start a nature journal

The Londoner’s List

1/ The Night Market is a fun food festival starting in London and running from June 7th-18th, so take advantage of the light evenings and pop along to enjoy the fabulous food stalls.

2/ If you’re an aspiring author, this event featuring talks and advice from debut novelists sounds worth attending.

3/ The Stoke Newington Literary Festival runs this weekend (2nd-4th June), with a great line-up of events.  An upcoming Tea & Tattle guest, Lopè Ariyo, is speaking tomorrow about the African Food Revolution.

4/ As you may remember from this post, I adore the fashion designer Anna Sui, so I’m keen to get to this exhibition, showcasing more than 100 looks from the Anna Sui archive, at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

5/ The Typing Room looks like it would be a great place to take my Mum for her birthday this year.

The Book

My book choice for this month is Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim. Witty and charming, this is a delightful summer read (and I fully empathise with Elizabeth’s love for flowers).

The Podcast

I really enjoyed this interview with the London shop owner and instagrammer Annabel on the Small and Mighty Podcast. I recently discovered Annabel’s instagram account, which is lovely, and it was so interesting to hear her story about launching an online shop.

 

The Creative

My very favourite floral-inspired instagram account is @floretflower. This flower farm in America is incredible – I can’t get enough of the photos of flower filled trucks and enormous bouquets!

The Song

JONES, image via here

JONES is a fairly new discovery for me, and I’ve been really enjoying her latest album NEW SKIN. Her voice is smooth and effortless and makes easy summer listening. Hoops is a particular favourite of mine, followed by Melt.

The Great Buy

I’m obsessed with the gorgeous Wedgwood china I spotted at the Wedgwood pop-up in Peter Jones, Chelsea, the other day (as a warning: the pop-up tea conservatory is very pretty, but my cream tea left me a little underwhelmed with dry scones. The afternoon tea isn’t cheap, and to be honest, I’m doubtful it would be worth the expense, sadly.). The china collection really is stunning, though, and the apple blossom set in particular is calling my name.

The Wild Card

I recently got this dress from one of my favourite London based designers, Cabbages & Roses, and I want to wear it all day, everyday. It’s light as a feather, easy to wear and so summery! Pair with ballet flats or plimsolls and a straw bag for a sweet, fresh look.

What’s on your list for June?

T&T 29 | Creativity Chat with Sara Tasker (Me & Orla)

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

This Tuesday, I’m chatting with the Queen of Instagram, Sara Tasker, otherwise known as @me_and_orla. I’ve been a fan of Sara’s gorgeous photography and engaging personality from before I started blogging, so it was a real joy to have her on the show for a fabulous talk about creativity and social media.

Sara discussed the start of her Instagram journey, when she gained 10s of 1000s of followers in a few months, and how she kept true to herself and her creative vision, despite the pressure of a huge following. I was also keen to ask Sara for her tips on avoiding the ‘comparison trap’ on social media and how to regain a sense of community within Instagram, after the changes introduced by the new algorithm. As always, Sara had so much wisdom to share, so this is great episode to listen to if you’ve been struggling with some of the changes to Instagram lately.

We also chatted about the nature of creativity, how Sara came to start her own podcast, Hashtag Authentic, her experience starting her first novel and so much more.

Listen for an insightful discussion on creativity and social media. 

Note: Above images courtesy Sara Tasker.

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Curated Month | May, 2017

Having a bit of time away from the blog as my shoulder healed was initially extremely frustrating, but then I began to appreciate it as an opportunity to regroup and think through fresh ideas. I realised I was finding the Book Club too stressful; even reading the books was difficult for me, as I’m having to read so much more in preparation for Tea & Tattle interviews now. So although there will no longer be an official monthly read, I will be introducing more book-related content into this site, but in a more manageable way.

I also thought about my ‘Fun Things To See and Do’ lists that I’ve been writing every month for about the last year and a half, and I realised that I love these lists, but I wanted to breathe fresh life into them. I hope you enjoy this new format!

The Curated Month | May, 2017

May’s Theme Word: Travel

As the long days of summer are just around the corner, with many people looking forward to holidaying away from home, I thought it appropriate to dedicate this month to travel. You can expect some travel tips from Sophie and me coming on Tea & Tattle podcast soon, guest posts about places outside of London, and of course lots of content from me, including posts about my recent holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. I’d also love to hear from you – do you like to travel? What emotions or images does the word conjure up for you?

A List for May:

stop and smell the lilacs
learn a new yoga pose
create a space that’s all your own
sketch a bunch of Lily of the Valley
read a poem
plant some seeds
bake scones

The Curated Month | May, 2017

The Londoners’ List:

1/ The Affordable Art Fair is in Hampstead 11th-14th May.
2/ I loved seeing the Vanessa Bell exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery, and the Bloomsbury Art & Design show at the Courtauld is next on my list.
3/ The Garden Museum is re-opening after extensive renovations on 22nd May, and looks a must-visit.
4/ Set in the former Midland Bank building in the heart of the City, The Ned is London’s hottest new hotel, and it’s worth getting a drink in the bar to experience the beautiful setting.
5/ The Northern Ballet returns to Sadler’s Wells with Casanova, 9th-13th May.
6/ Pick up a plant – or even book a workshop – at one of London’s fabulous florists, like Grace & Thorn.

The Book

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier is released on 11th May, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! New Boy is a reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello, set in a 1970s suburban schoolyard in Washington, and sounds completely gripping. I’m a big fan of Chevalier’s writing so I’ve been eagerly awaiting her latest novel.

The Podcast

My dad recently sent a family email round recommending The New Yorker Poetry Podcast as his favourite podcast – (quickly followed by an email correcting it to his second favourite – glad he remembered Tea & Tattle!) – and I can see why. This is a brilliant podcast for those who appreciate poetry, the English language, or just great conversation. I found the episode on the process of fact-checking poems particularly fascinating.

The Creative

The Curated Month | May, 2017Image via @andotheradventuresco

I’m battling post-algorithm instagram fatigue by finding people who really inspire me on this platform and celebrating them.  I absolutely love the beautiful embroidery that @andotheradventuresco features on her account, which is encouraging me to get my needle and thread out again.

The Song

I recently discovered the French artist Jain, and have had her album, Zanaka, on repeat for a while. Makeba is one of my favourite songs from the album, and its joyous, upbeat tune is perfect for the warmer months.

The Great Buy

I adore these Paris postcards illustrated by Emily Sutton. They’re perfect to send to fellow Paris lovers!

The Wild Card

Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura is terrific value and offers a fabulous change from prosecco. A bottle of this fizz would be the perfect picnic accompaniment (or just to celebrate the start of the weekend…).

What’s on your list for May? 

T&T 26 | Reflecting on Our Goals for 2017

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

It’s super to have Sophie back on the podcast today, especially as we’re celebrating the 6 month anniversary of Tea & Tattle! We’re having a general catch-up on the podcast today, and Sophie explains why she’s been so busy lately. We’re also reflecting on our theme words that we set at the start of the year in Episode 10. Sophie chose ‘openness’ as a word to frame what she wanted to achieve in 2017, and I chose ‘consistency.’ As we said in January, we want to regularly check in with each other (and with our listeners!) to see how we’re getting on with our goals, and so this episode is devoted to reflecting on our progress through the year so far.

Listen to hear our reflections on the year so far and how much we’ve managed to keep to our theme words of ‘consistency’ and ‘openness.’ 

What are your reflections on the year so far? Are you happy with your progress in 2017? Is there anything that’s working particularly well for you in helping you to attain goals, or is there something you need to change?

Happy Listening!

T&T 21 | Murder Most Unladylike

 

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

In today’s episode, I’m joined by the lovely Robin Stevens, to discuss her wonderful children’s book series, Murder Most Unladylike, which are hugely popular with children and adults alike. A delightful mix of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton, the Murder Most Unladylike books are set in the 1930s and tell the story of two boarding school girls, Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong, who discover they have a remarkable knack for solving crime. The girls set up their own secret Detective Society and prove how capable they are at outwitting the adults around them, triumphantly solving case after baffling case.

Born in California, before moving to Oxford and attending Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Robin shares how her own background and school life influence her writing. We talk about Robin’s favourite Golden Age mystery writers, such as Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey, as well as her research process in recreating 1930s England and – for her next book – Hong Kong. I also questioned Robin on her most recently published book, Cream Buns and Crime, which has only just been released, and is a charming series companion to the Murder Most Unladylike novels. Robin explains how Cream Buns and Crime gave her an opportunity to broaden the reader’s experience of Daisy and Hazel’s world, and why ‘Bun Break’ is so important to her characters (lots of tasty sounding recipes feature in the new book!).

I was curious, too, to learn more about how the first Murder Most Unladylike book began as a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, when Robin finished the first draft within a month to successfully complete the challenge. It was interesting to hear Robin’s perspective on the benefits of taking part in NaNoWriMo, as well as how she managed to subsequently procure an agent and publisher for her book.

Listen for a fascinating discussion on Robin Stevens’ writing process and inspiration. 

P.S. Apologies for the lack of blog posts lately; I’ve been struggling with a neck injury and have only been able to keep up with the podcast. Thankfully, I’m beginning to feel better, so regular posting will be resuming shortly. Thanks for your patience!

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