Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Spot the chick...

Last year our kitchen was green and the eggs spotty. This year, gone the green and I doubt even the most observant among you would be able to spot any polka-dotted pleasure in the Swenglish Home.

No, this year we have a different plan.


Not entirely sure what that plan is yet, but it will come to me.



Tuesday, 30 March 2010

A spot of green nudity...


Five acres of green fabulousness, lovingly brought to life by the owners, Barbara and Ian Pollard, a k a The Naked Gardeners. 100 000 tulips (a few of them greeting us yesterday), UK's largest collection of roses (soon, soon in bloom), water features, wildlife and a garden so beautiful, so interesting, with so many rooms, stunning focal points and small still lifes I found myself nearly hyperventilating whilst photographing like a mad woman worried it - or I - would all disappear if I were not quick enough... Wow. Lots of wow.
Fancy a bit of horticultural wow, but live too far away? Try or see the book The Naked Gardeners. And yes, on certain days, expect to see Ian and Barbara in the most natural of costumes.

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Home of The Naked Gardeners...

Wow. More wow. Or as BBC's Alan Titchmarsh (gardener and host of numerous gardening programmes) once put it: "The WOW! factor is here in abundance".
I made a new aquaintance today, a twenty-five-minute drive from here: Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, also known as the Home of The Naked Gardeners. Today was not a "clothes optional day", and most bulbs still seem to suffer from a spot of stage fright, so this spectacular privately owned 5 acre garden will definitely be on the must-see list for a later date this spring or summer. To see the flowers in bloom, I mean.
What did you think?

Tomorrow, more images from this stunning former monastery garden and orchard. Fear not, most images will be perfectly decent. Except perhaps one...

Sunday, 28 March 2010

My new cushion and I...

Without some of the gorgeous Swedish blogs I frequent, I would not know that H&M (Hennes&Mauritz) have launched a Home section. Without some of my fellow bloggers, I would not have seen this gorgeous linen cushion with the Petunia writing. Without my blog sisters, I would not have been able to fish out this new textile friend from the parcel my parents brought with them from Sweden two days ago, hug it gently and introduce it to its new cushioned community.

I have got a strong feeling we are going to become very good friends, my Petunia cushion and I.

Welcome to the family.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

One happy Swede...

This weekend, the Swenglish Home has got some V I P guests brightening an otherwise rather rainy UK. My parents are here from Sweden and as if that was not enough to make us all do cartwheels of joy, they came bearing gifts... The latest issue of Vakre Hjem, the beautiful magazine so full of breathtaking images that reading it all in one go leaves me slightly intoxicated -in a good way, Lantliv (another lovely magazine) and a recently published book by the woman who makes me believe brussel sprouts actually have a purpose in this world: Minna Mercke Schmidt's "Blomstrande Idéer" ("Flourishing Ideas").

And then there was the little carrier bag from HM Home... I will show you soon what treasure it sheltered in its plastic embrace. Let's just say for now that this is one happy, excited and -purely from inspiration - inebriated Swede.

Wishing you all an equally healthy dose of intoxication this weekend. And if not, then at least a moment of tipsy giggling.

Friday, 26 March 2010

An inspired moment...

The world of interior blogs is a deep and bubbling ocean of inspiration and ideas. As much as I like soaking up page after page in my favourite magazines, peering into some of the tasteful and creatively composed bloggers' homes can be equally stimulating. Or perhaps even more inspiring, as it is more personal, feels real and very often something I feel I can relate to more than some of the incredibly flash and fancy homes that appear in the magazines.

So what can one do with a piece of wood, a band-saw, some white paint and a bit of blogged inspiration? Well, after having for a long time admired a wooden box with a handle in the kitchen of the gorgeous, I decided to have a go at making one. Not entirely straight perhaps, but a few flaws can be covered up with a sprawling basil, maybe? Kitchen roll holder, heart and small stars on string were soon conceived in the same saw dust frenzy, inspired by products by Elisabeth Berg, ebcountrydesign in Västerås, Sweden.

The ivy rests in a tall glass vase covered in twigs from the garden, an idea actually born without my having sought enlightenment elsewhere. Yes, I think I may simply have had an uninspired inspired moment...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

From Russia with love...

This stunning tin box arrived in the Swenglish household a few years ago, from a friend who, at the time, was residing in Azerbadjan. My Russian is a little bit rusty, shall we say, but I think it is a tin that once, a hundred years ago or so, contained chocolates.

A little scruffy, sadly devoid of chocolate, but with a vintage factor so high it almost makes up for the lack of chocolate.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Bling bling...Who's there?

I never really wore pink and purple growing up. Or maybe I did, but I cannot remember being a particularly pink-type-kind-of-girl. Now, grown-up and mother of two lovely, but very blokey boys, my need for pink and purple has sent most of my wardrobe into lilac overdrive. As I found myself with a surprising lack of matching jewellery and with a creative curiosity about the popular trend to make your own, well, you can guess the rest. It was a lot more fiddly than I had expected, and as my creative patience does not match up to its curious counterpart, I do confess to a hint of frustration being baked into this basic bling bling.

Perhaps I could grow fond of the fiddling, or perhaps I shall just resolve to stay in my purple phase with accomplished neck decoration until the fiddled frustration has fallen into oblivion and I am ready to throw myself into my next home-fiddled beaded bling-type-thing...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Just outside the glazed doors in the dining area, some of the newly planted pensees and violets form a nice little circle of potted friends, and we spend the days playing peek-a-boo with each other through the different panes of the door.

Some cousins, rather untamed and with a penchant for living a little on the wild side, peer at us from underneath a garden bench, and there are moments where I am quite convinced they arch their backs just a little bit extra to show off their natural beauty and rub their freedom in the noses of the manicured but restricted potted lot.

Oh, the colour of this little beauty, the perfectly rounded petals, the little face in the middle, giving it that shy and innocent look... Ah, Mummy Nature, you did well on this one!

And now to something completely different. Try as I might, I could not find a catchy - or in fact any link at all that did not seem grotesquely contrived -from the violet to this, my latest second-hand shop find. It is probably not as old as I would like to imagine it is, and I am not sure how I feel about the painted design, but with considerable contemplation, perhaps I could find a place or purpose for it. Any suggestions for a small still life featuring black kitchen scales, anyone?

Monday, 22 March 2010

A plastered Swede...

And so it was that there was a rushed Swede on a fly-by visit to Stockholm in September 2007. The Casa Cor exhibition had just started and I had about 15 minutes to spare. With ca 40 architects and interior designers having created a wild and wacky home for an imaginary family, those 15 minutes were going to be jam-packed with impressions and inspiration, and I did not intend to miss a thing.
In one room hung some art work that caught my eye and made me think, like so often when I see something I can't afford, " What if I could try to make that myself?"

And so it was that a stubborn Swede returned to the UK carrying a baby in arms, whilst ushering a three-year-old along, pushing a pram and pulling a suitcase... and carrying two big buckets of Swedish plaster ("spackel"). After having searched everywhere in vain for English plaster behaving like the Swedish grainy, sandy kind, and refusing to give up on my experiment, this seemed a very natural solution to me. Needless to say, some other family members expressed some concern about my sanity and were quietly mocking my madness.

As much as I loathe working with MDF, this seemed like the best material for the square and the circle, which were then screwed together and covered in a thick layer of plaster. With the back end of an art paint brush, I made the lines to give it the texture I had in mind, and painted it with a matt gold and matt blackboard paint. As I did not have a picture of the art work that had inspired me, I had to try to recreate it from memory.

The result? A round golden wallthingamajig that seems to work rather well in our Oriental-inspired bedroom. Mocking family members mock no longer.

So, did it in the end ressemble the real deal? The picture to the left below is from Casa Cor. Conclusion: Same, same, but different.

Photo from a blog called "Living in Andyland".

Sunday, 21 March 2010

My darling...

That is how my great grandfather's letter to my great grandmother starts, "Älskade vännen -My darling". The year was 1916 and the letter is filled with warmth, with the longing to be together again - as my great grandmother had had to go away for a little while to, I think, take care of some relatives - and the sharing of everyday details of family life with the children at home.

When I was given this letter, together with a few others my grandmother had kept, I instinctively felt that I did not want them to just float around in a box somewhere, soon to be forgotten and possibly even lost. Just like the photo of my grandparents transfered onto a linen cushion, my great grandparents are invited to peer into the life of their descendants, anno 2010, from a framed version of the letter, from a candle, and since a few days ago also from an Easter egg.

Some people may find it strange or even inappropriate to use old photos and letters from family members like this. To me, it feels like an OK thing to do. In fact, more than OK. It is a lovely family reunion, where no one has to leave.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The tale of the runny egg...

Once upon a time...

... there was an egg, blue and boisterous, born on a nest of
moss in a Swenglish house somewhere far, far away.

Resting on its eggbows, it turned its egghead this
way and that, and decided to go exploring a little.

Poached, forgive me, perched on a ladder,
it enjoyed the view for a moment,
but its restless egg soul soon yearned
for more exciting views.

Sensing it might become the victim of
the local 'egg and bacon for breakfast'-fans,
it tried on some camouflage...

... but soon came to the conclusion that the only way
to avoid ending its days cuddling pigs,
or as a tipsy toddy, was to run, run, run for freedom.

So if you see this egg thump by,
you may feel inclined to yell "Scramble!"
But you won't need to.
Because you know what they say:
Eggs can be runny, but they can't hide...