Having previously written about the absolutely lovely danish concept of hygge (pronounced hue-gah!), I thought I’d start a series of posts on how to achieve those qualities of life we all aspire to – warmth, cosiness, peace, tranquility, togetherness and contentment.
Today I want to focus on an inexpensive and very easy way to achieve a little hygge cosiness in your home this autumn – candles!
For the Danish hygge lighting and design are especially important, lights (including candlelight) are used to make spaces feel relaxed and warm, and the Danes have fully embraced the trend of low-slung hanging lamps in kitchens and over dining tables! Candlelight in particular is very flattering, bringing a warm peachy glow to a room – and everyone in it!
Scented candles add another dimension, creating an extra layer of warmth and cosiness in any room in your home. I know many Danes work with a scented candle on their desks. They change the scents to improve their productivity by encouraging creativity, clearer focus or even to de-stress – what a great idea!
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to receive some candles from Shearer Candles – they are a complete joy to behold, and smell!
Founded in 1897 by Mr Shearer and Mr Harvey on the outskirts of Glasgow, Shearer Candles is the UK’s longest established lifestyle candle company. Their best-selling Amber Noir candle is amazing, and reminds me of a lovely Caron perfume I used to wear! It contains the essence of tuberose, violets and amber, and is warm, sensual and mysterious. Hygge in a jar! The packaging is luxurious and will add a splash of dramatic colour to any interior!
Amber Noir – My favourite!
I also love their Cranberry and Ginger tea lights – perfect for winter hygge, and I’m sure they’ll be finding a place in a few Christmas gift bags this year! Think festive red berries with a splash of orange liqueur and a hint of fiery ginger spice…
Cranberry & Ginger Tealights
So, if you want to give yourself or your friends a little winter hygge treat, why not pop over to the Shearer Candles website, it’s filled with tempting purchases to create candlelit hygge!
Where did September go?! Wow, the summer holidays seem to be a distant memory, and the familiar school routines are well and truly embedded! I’d forgotten how hectic the autumn routine can be, so apologies for a much later than planned summary of #thisperfectmoment images from September 2016.
It is lovely to see even more of my Instagram friends and followers starting to use my hashtag with me, not to mention some new and gorgeous accounts which have been a revelation to me! How I love Instagram!
I must admit I found the sheer variety of images amazing this month, but that also brought with it a few challenges, as there were so many themes I could have gone with!
This Perfect Moment Hashtag September 2016
For September I opted for a stunning image by Wendy Cook of @modernandvintage – I loved it, a beautiful yet simple styled image! It reminded me that I need to get back to styling a few flatlays, and I loved the theme as my working week is so busy at present (not entirely through choice) that I really do identify with ‘that Friday feeling’…
Wendy has a gorgeous bright pastels feed and I love her photography style. If you want to follow her you can find her on instagram here.
We’re now truly in one of my favourite seasons of the year for photography, when everything is bathed in the gorgeous autumnal golden light, and lots of hygge inspired images are starting to appear to counteract the dull days which creep in every so often!
Finally, I can’t wait to see your images for October’s #thisperfectmoment, and thank you to everyone who joined in with This Perfect Moment hashtag September 2016.
There is no doubt that we have all become a little obsessed in recent years with all things Danish and Scandi, especially when it comes to home decor! The Danish seem to have an inherent sense of style and simplicity and a lifestyle which seems rooted in calmness and positivity – pretty good going for a country which has just eight hours of daylight for several months of the year!
The latest new and fascinating Danish import is a concept which you’ll hear lots about in the coming weeks – hygge (pronounced hue-gah!).
So what is ‘hygge’? Essentially it’s an approach to life which encompasses those qualities of life we all aspire to – warmth, cosiness, peace, tranquility, togetherness and contentment. It’s about creating an atmosphere and an environment where those qualities can be promoted and developed, especially in the home. It’s a way of life and of design which works all year round but seems particularly relevant as we approach winter…
Hygge is simple and easy to achieve, and I’ll be giving you some tips during the next few weeks to show you how you too can bring a little hygge into your family home over the coming months! Hygge isn’t uniquely Danish, it’s there for everyone and approaches comfort and warmth in the same way we traditionally reach for ‘a nice cup of tea’ when we need cheering up, a social time with friends, or five minutes away from our busy lives. Hygge is about living in the moment, making time, celebrating precious times and making something ordinary special, spiritual and simple. Everything about hygge is simple, gentle and achievable.
If you are as fascinated by this concept as I am, then you might find The Little Book of Hygge the perfect starting point, great for beginners and plenty of ideas! It’s currently an Amazon bestseller at only £7.99! Click on the image below to take you directly to the Amazon website!
Watch out later this week for my first hygge post, and in the meantime take a look at my hygge board on Pinterest.
Sometimes a book comes along which totally blows me away… and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is just such a book! Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wonderful and very readable picture book about women who really changed the world.
Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to just a few of the most incredible women who helped shaped the world we live in.
List of women featured: Jane Austen, Gertrude Ederle, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, Mary Anning, Mary Seacole, Amelia Earhart, Agent Fifi, Sacagawa, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks and Anne Frank.
Today I’m thrilled that Kate Pankhurst has written for Muff and Teacake about Rosa Parks, over to Kate for a fantastically fascinating story…
Rosa Parks, the Ordinary, Extraordinary Lady on the Bus
My research into the great women involved going Pinterest crazy gathering references to inform the design of each starring woman’s double page spread. I wanted every detail in their clothing, pose and setting to give readers an insight into that particular great woman’s life.
Something that struck me looking at the iconic police mugshot of Rosa Parks that was taken in 1955 after her arrest for refusing to move out of her bus seat to make way for a white passenger, was that with a small pale flower tucked in her pinned up hair and smart buttoned up coat, Rosa really didn’t look like the sort of person to get herself into trouble with the police. The point, and the remarkable thing about Rosa, is that she really wasn’t.
Rosa Parks mugshot (C)1955 Universal History Archive—UIG via Getty Images
Before working on Fantastically Great Women I didn’t know the whole story about what happened on that Montgomery Bus in 1955. I found out that Rosa was an everyday women travelling home from work until, in the split second after being told to give up her seat for a white passenger, she decided enough was enough.
What I love most about Rosa is that she didn’t shout or scream or use any sort of violence in her legendary protest. She simply refused to move, because why should she? As Rosa sat waiting for the authorities to arrive, with the eyes of the whole bus on her she could have quite easily relented. By making such a stand she wasn’t just breaking the law, she was putting herself in danger.
Making that decision in the moment made me think about the fact Rosa had no clue about how her actions would change the world or about how she would rouse thousands of other black people to boycott the buses in Montgomery. She had no idea that her actions would be a massive step towards a fairer more equal society.
More than sixty years later there’s, sadly, still a long way to go, but without ordinary people like Rosa taking that first terrifying step things can’t change for the better. It makes you think – the next person to start a change could be an ordinary person sat next to you on the bus. Or you.
Now that I look at that photo of Rosa after her arrest I can see past the sweet looking lady with a hat and glasses. There’s a definite determination in her eyes, a glimmer that she wasn’t going to take anymore nonsense from anyone, I hope my illustrative version of Rosa captures that.
(Although, had I been in her shoes on that day I’m not sure I would have been able to resist using that neat little handbag I’ve drawn her holding to take a swing at that guy who told her to move. But of course, calm protest will always achieve far more.)
Wow Kate, such a great testament to the power of peaceful protest! Thank you!
As I’m typing this we’re expecting a heatwave! It therefore seems a little odd to be writing a review today about a thrilling, wintry Nordic tale of frost giants! This is no ordinary text though – it is a thrilling wintry Nordic tale, beautifully written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell. When Bloomsbury kindly sent me this book I was completely taken away by the illustrations and astonishing front cover… They say never judge a book by its’ cover, but in this case both the cover, metallic ink illustrations and the story which lies within won’t fail to disappoint!
Odd And The Frost Giants: A Review
Odd’s luck has been against him so far. He lost his father on a Viking expedition, his foot was crushed beneath a tree, and the winter seems to be going on for ever. But when Odd flees to the woods and releases a trapped bear, his luck begins to change. The eagle, bear and fox he encounters reveal they’re actually Norse gods, trapped in animal form by the evil frost giants who have conquered Asgard, the city of the gods…Can a twelve-year-old boy reclaim Thor’s hammer, outwit the frost giants and release the gods?
This story quickly transports the reader to another world and slowly reveals a life lived bravely through a humorous and wonderfully rich narrative.
Neil Gaiman is an amazing creative talent. He is the bestselling author of Coraline and Stardust (two favourites of mine!), both of which are major films. Neil also co-wrote the script for Beowulf starring Anthony Hopkins and Angeline Jolie. He is the creator/writer of the award-winning Sandman comic series and has written several books for children. His official website now has more than one million unique visitors each month, and his online journal is syndicated to thousands of blog readers every day.
A link to buy your own copy of Odd and the Frost Giants can be found below…
Where did August go?! Wow, the summer holidays seem to have flown by, and here we are back in the familiar school routines! I’d forgotten how hectic our weekly routine can be, so apologies for a later than planned summary of #thisperfectmoment images from August 2016. It is lovely to see even more of my Instagram friends and followers starting to use my hashtag with me.
I guess that it was fairly inevitable that I”d be drawn to summary images this month. Nostalgia is clearly setting in now the holidays are over and all I want to do is turn back the clock and be back on holiday again!
This Perfect Moment Hashtag August 2016
For August I opted for a stunning summer family image by Anna – I loved it, a beautiful family, a beautiful day and a beautiful beach – I really wanted to be there enjoying it too!
Anna has a gorgeous family inspired feed, with some beautiful fashion and interiors images thrown into the Instagram mix too. I love her photography style and if you want to follow her you can find her on instagram as @blossomingbirds.
We’re now coming into one of my favourite months of the year for photography, when everything starts to be bathed in the gorgeous autumnal golden light! I can’t wait to see your images for September’s #thisperfectmoment.
Happy Instagram tagging!
I have long been a fan of Instagram, but as a person who doesn’t necessarily like change, I was somewhat sceptical about Instagram Stories. I’ve never been a fan of SnapChat – apparently the closest thing to Instagram stories online…
Why I’m Using Instagram Stories
Having said that I have been pleasantly surprised by the enjoyment to be had from viewing and uploading these stories. It can be a bit of a challenge, there is something much more spontaneous about a story. It is less ‘polished’ and pre-planned, more instant and informal! I am still trying to work out how to approach stories, and how to use them to compliment my normal Instagram feed and grow my following. However, here are a few initial thoughts…
Instagram Stories allow users to create a ‘story’ of images and videos that is automatically deleted after 24 hours. You have the option to draw on photos and videos, and add text and filters. The basic concept is to document and share pictures and videos of your daily life (usually uneventful, hence why being deleted after 24 hours isn’t a problem) without clogging up your main Instagram feed.
To view someone else’s story, just click on their profile photo, and their story will appear, showing all the stories they’ve posted in the last 24hrs. Stories are shown in chronological order from oldest to newest. You can’t like a story, or place a comment on it but if you want to comment on something you see, you can tap and send a private message to that person on Instagram Direct. As with SnapChat, you can tap to move forwards to the next story or swipe back to move to someone else’s story.
Instagram Stories for Small Businesses
This is a new way for users to post content on Instagram. For example, you can post about limited edition offers, products or services as your story disappears after 24 hours. Instagram stories also provides opportunities to post behind the scenes content at events, run takeovers or partnerships with influencers, communicate more informally and quickly on a 1:1 basis by running live, real time and completely up-to-date content.
It also provides a clever opportunity to ‘beat’ Instagram’s new Facebook style algorithm which upset so many users, helping your images and videos to be viewed instantly and chronologically!
I’m hoping to get to the point where I post at least one photo and one story per day! What’s your story? Are you using Instagram Stories? I’d love to hear from you!
Please do connect with me on my Instagram feed, I’m looking forward to seeing your stories!
I think one of the difficulties as a blogger is finding the right balance between life and blogging! As bloggers we do tend to feel guilty if we’re not blogging regularly, and always wonder what impact that will have on our followers and our ability to be noticed! Having said that life is often about balance, and as a blogger I constantly try to achieve the right balance between keeping an up-to-date blog and yet ensuring my posts are genuine and have something meaningful/relevant to say. I don’t want to write somewhat bland ‘time-filling’ pieces of possibly meaningless text.
A Blogging Break at Lake Annecy
I guess what I’m really saying is that this summer I have taken a rather spontaneous blogging break and feel so much more refreshed and focused for it! It’s surprising how when you stop trying too hard and simply relax you somehow become much clearer about your priorities and ideas for developing your blog and/or business and moving on! We have a family photography business and we have found the break has refocused us with this too, new ideas and aims seem to come naturally when you don’t try too hard! We’re even offering our wedding photography collections for Lake Annecy for 2017 and 2018!
So here are a few images from our summer holiday, it was short yet sweet and spent in one of the most beautiful areas of France – Lake Annecy. I also managed to tick something off last years birthday list too! We really were blessed with everything we wanted for a family holiday, opportunities to sightsee, time to relax by the pool, glorious hot sunny days and mountain cool mornings and evenings to refresh and re-energise! Needless to say, as two keen photographers we had to choose somewhere with lots of photo opportunities, and Lake Annecy provided them in abundance!
We hope to return (for work and pleasure!) to what has become one of our all-time favourite holiday destinations!
If you are planning a visit to Lake Annecy we’ll happily provide some recommendations, please do get in touch!
If you’re anything like us, the holidays are now half over and finding activities to keep children interested (especially if you’re trying to work from home!) can be a challenge!
Bloomsbury recently kindly sent me a copy of their new publication The Arty Book, and it’s certainly come to my rescue this week as we’re back from holiday and trying to catch up with a few work related things!
The Arty Book
Whether you are a doodler or a drawer, a colouring expert or a painter, you will find plenty in this visually stunning and very innovative art book to extend your children’s artistic imagination.
As you open the book you get to spend time with ‘Arty’, your creative buddy, who on every page will give you a starting point for simple yet extraordinary art activities. You can add stripes and spots, lumps and bumps, tape, paint, pencil and so much more to the pages of this book, to make your own ‘Arty’ creations. The colour palette for the ‘Arty’ pages is bold black and red, which provides the perfect backdrop for children to add their own colourful designs.
We took the book out for a couple of days to keep our children busy during long car journeys, and they both loved completing some of the activities. Some pages, however, require paint and glue and collage materials – so you just have to be selective about what you choose if you are out and about!
The Arty Book is simply perfect for a rainy day, for enjoying alone or with friends and family, and will supply hours of creative adventure. The book has the added benefit of Including lots of amazing Arty stickers too!
Thank you bloomsbury for a wonderful book and for saving my sanity on a number of occasions!
Despite the many changes of late, I really enjoy using Instagram and being part of the wonderful Instagram community! My own Muff and Teacake hashtag #thisperfectmoment has been going for a few months now and it is lovely to see some of my Instagram friends and followers starting to use it with me.
This hashtag was chosen because it suits my own feed, and so many of the feeds I love to follow too! Whether it’s a summer flower, a beach scene or country landscape, a special summer holiday moment with family and friends, or a project you’re working on, I hope you will use and share your summer #thisperfectmoment hashtags with me and with the Instagram community!
This Perfect Moment July 2016
For July I opted for a summery image by Andrea – I loved it, a stunning sunset and a beautiful beach – surely the ‘s’ in the sky stands for sunset, or summer, sublime…?
Andrea has a gorgeous feed, and you can find her on instagram as @capetowngirl12
She captures the true spirit of Instagram, posting pictures of her daily life, travel, flowers, texture, colour, sky, and her many loves and interests – basically anything that brings her joy!
I loved This perfect Moment July 2016, what will you submit for #thisperfectmoment in August? I can’t wait to see!
Happy Instagram tagging!
Penshurst Place is a beautiful and very historic building situated near Tonbridge in Kent. It is the ancestral home of the Sidney family (who still continue to live there), and was the birthplace of the great Elizabethan poet, courtier and soldier, Sir Philip Sidney.
The original medieval house is one of the most complete surviving examples of 14th-century domestic architecture in England. Part of the house and its gardens are open for public viewing between March and October. During the winter months the gardens are open on select weekends and during the school half-term in February.
Visiting Penshurst Place
Penshurst Place was built in 1341 and described as “the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England”. Visitors are able to take a tour of the 10 rooms open to the public including the impressive medieval Baron’s Hall. There are extensive gardens, grounds and parkland to explore, with lots of public footpaths, walking trails and a regional cycle route open all year.
Attractions for children include a huge Adventure Trail play area (very popular with my two children!), a woodland trail and a maize maze which is also a major attraction in the summer. Open in the school holidays and half terms, The Old Coach House hosts free children’s craft activities providing hours of fun for parents and children to make and create together. There is also a toy museum, where you can browse a collection of toys from Yootha Rose, stage designer, artist and royal toymaker, as well as toys from generations of the Sidney family.
The Porcupine Pantry is located next to the main Visitor Entrance and Gift Shop, serving light refreshments, it is open daily all year and free to visit. Set within the Gardens of Penshurst Place and close to the House entrance, the Garden Restaurant also offers a selection of quality home-cooked style hot and cold lunch menus during their seasonal opening hours.
If you are planning on visiting Penshurst Place in Kent, please visit their website to check opening times and for a comprehensive guide on accessibility and admission prices.
It really is a lovely place to visit during the summer holidays!
‘I’m so famishing I’m vanishing!’
The famishing vanishing mahoosive mammoth is a hairy beast who simply can’t think of anything but his tummy. So how, then, can his friend Bug distract him?
The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth: A review
The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth is a bright, bold, and completely hilarious rhyming picture book about one hairy mammoth with a ridiculously large appetite (he’s hungry all day!), and one loyal friend with a series of clever plans to help the mammoth. Essentially Bug tries different ploys to distract the mammoth, with very limited success – until he comes up with one final idea!
The author, Hollie Hughes, is clearly a talented new picture book author. Having three children of her own, she is undoubtedly tuned in to the reading habits and tastes of younger children. The Famishing Vanishing Mahoosive Mammoth is Hollie’s debut picture book with Bloomsbury Publishers, and I’m sure there’ll be lots more to look forward to! Hollie currently lives in Essex with her family.
With oodles of rhyming fun and laughter, this is the perfect picture book for all fans of similar texts written by Julia Donaldson, Neal Layton, Alex T. Smith and Lauren Child.
Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishers for sending me a copy of this lovely post!