Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Mad Hatter's New Year's Eve Party!

I always feel that there's something magical in the air on New Year's Eve, filled with the hope that from tomorrow, this could be the best year yet! And so with magic in mind I decided on an 'Alice in Wonderland' theme for our 2014 New Year's Eve dinner party. Come and enter our very own 'Wonderland' for tips and tricks on how to create your very own Mad Hatter's party...

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year!!

A new year, a new post! I'd like to welcome you all back to Design!Style!Beauty! and apologise for my very much longer than anticipated absence. I must admit that I have been rather swept up in my maternity leave, or what we've started to refer to in our home as 'Maternity Ever After'! However, I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it (well almost every minute!) and have saved up some goodies to blog about in the coming months. 

So all that's left for me to do is to wish you a very very happy 2014! And on with the blog, as they say (not quite as catchy as 'on with the show' but never mind)!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Confessions of a Cabinet Neat Freak ...

I have to confess that I am undoubtedly a cabinet neat freak. The pleasure I feel upon opening a cabinet door to reveal its perfectly arranged contents is so satisfying that I can spend hours rearranging cupboards, drawers and cabinets throughout my home. Unfortunately, this neatness does not always extend to the rest of the house and I have an awful habit of leaving things strewn about wherever I last used them - but when they do eventually find their way back to their cupboard, they are placed there with the utmost reverence! 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Be My Valentine...?

I have to admit that since getting married, my husband and I have left Valentine's Day to languish on the sidelines while we got on with married life. The first year we celebrated by continuing with decorating our home late into the night and feasting on a romantic take-out pizza for two! And last year we managed to book a lovely restaurant, but we didn't get there until 11pm as we were totally preoccupied with prospective job applications... and I think my Valentine's Card is still tucked away in my husband's bedside table!

So this year I've decided to make a really romantic dinner for two, especially as it will be our last Valentine's before our new arrival in April! Here's my plan of action, feel free to use any of it or if you have any other suggestions please send them in to and I will add them to this post. Happy Valentine's!! xxx

Friday, 27 January 2012

Two Chicken Recipes

I always think of chicken as the 'anti-marmite' of the protein world ... nearly everybody likes it and yet no-one has particularly strong feelings towards it! However, I have found two recipes that elavate the humble chicken to a taste sensation that will have your guests declaring a renewed love for this poultry that is so often taken for granted. Simply follow the recipes below, Sweet and Sticky Chicken & Ribs and Lemon and Thyme Chicken Delight to uncover the secrets of delicious chicken main courses. And don't be put off if you're a breast lover as these chicken thighs are so tender and juicy you'll immediately forget that you're not normally a lover of dark chicken! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Lemon and Thyme Chicken Delight

 adapted from The Newlywed's Cookbook ...

This is a delicious chicken recipe that has never failed to delight my guests and always allows me to relax while entertaining, secure in the knowledge that this chicken will be sumptuously tender and delicately fragrant. This is also a great recipe for entertaining because you can leave the chicken in a hot oven to keep warm whilst plating up your accompaniments and it will not dry out. Finally, although the list of ingredients suggests that this will be a hot and spicy dish, I find it delicious and I am definitely a bit of a wimp when it comes to very spicy food!


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Three Thrilling Centrepieces Ideas

Table centrepieces are not just for weddings or extra special occasions. They can liven up any dining table and transform your entertaining into something really special. And what's even better is that they can be created for very little money and effort. Here are 3 that I regularly use as the focal point of my dining table, that you can use as inspiration for creating your own fabulous centrepieces:

 1. Pretty Little T-Lights & Roses:

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Napkin Blings!!

Whenever I use my fabric napkins I always adorn them with my handmade napkin rings. These delightful napkin rings are incredibly easy to make and will liven up any dining table. And what's more, they are perfectly customisable so you can make your own unique napkin rings simply by choosing your favourite colours and style of beads. 


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Trend I Love - Wallpaper...

I am absolutely delighted to confirm that wallpaper has made a huge comeback in recent years! I love wallpaper so much that I have included it in every room of my house (apart from the kitchen and bathroom). Wallpaper began its resurgence with the implementation of the 'feature wall', where one wall of a room features a striking wallpaper and the other walls of that room remain more neutral.

I used a striking, black, textured wallpaper from Graham & Brown as a feature wall in my 'Black & White' themed Home Office.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Two Winter Dessert Ideas

Check out this scrumptious Chocolate Pavlova and delicious Plum and Banana Crumble, two fantastic winter dessert ideas, featured below ...

Chocolate Heaven ... Extra Chocolatey Chocolate Pavlova

Two desserts I absolutely adore are pavlovas and anything chocolatey and this recipe combines the two (plus it even includes some fruit, so I can pretend it's good for me too!)

The Finished Product

The chocolate pavlova base is a Nigella Lawson recipe that she recommends as a summer dessert but I think that the chocolate cream I've combined with it adds a richness that will see it through the winter months also.


Yummy Plum and Banana Crumble

This crumble is absolutely delicious and so simple to make. The bananas effuse an incredible toffee-like flavour and the tartness of the plums perfectly counter-balance the sweetness of the crumble mixture - all in all this is a delightful dessert!

If I'm serving crumble to guests at a dinner party I like to make individual portions in ramekins. The ramekins bestow the crumble with an elegance that just can't be achieved when the crumble is served at the table and often ends up being dolloped onto guests dessert plates!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Incredibly Useful Weekly Meal Planner

Does the thought of deciding what to cook for dinner tonight fill you with dread? Are you struggling to make up packed lunches for your family without sending them off with the same sandwiches everyday? If so, then using a Weekly Meal Planner could be just what you're crying out for! Now, I know that the thought of weekly meal planning is not going to inspire a sense of delight in many of you, but please still read on because you can actually gain fantastic benefits from including this simple tool in your weekly schedule.

Weekly Meal Planner

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

How To Lay Your Table Perfectly


Whether dining out or hosting, we all want to avoid the 'Pretty Woman Situation' (you know, when Julia Roberts can't work out which fork to use when!) at the dinner table.

© 1990 Warner Bros

So, here is my simple guide to laying your table correctly for a four course meal consisting of Starter, Soup, Main Course & Dessert. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Some Things Are Best Kept Hidden ... How To Make Your Own Custom Screen or Room Divider

Gone are the days when each room in our home can be used for a single purpose only. In fact nowadays, unless we are fortunate to own houses large enough to include rooms for every purpose (like the gym studio I wish we could have, or the walk-in-wardrobe I covet, or to be honest, right now I'd settle for a separate playroom for our new arrival!) we instead have to create multi-purpose spaces. And this is where a Screen or Room Divider can come in very handy. For example, we use ours to hide our exercise bike in our lounge. However, a beautiful screen can be expensive to purchase so read on for a very easy way to make your own, just like this one ...

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Trend I Love - Exotic Animal Skins...

... the faux variety of course!

Stunning Cocktail & Bar Accessories by Kim Seybert

It seems that the world of interior design is still obsessed with using exotic animal skins and prints, real and fake alike, and I am definitely part of this fan club! I can't pinpoint exactly why I so adore this trend ... perhaps it's because animal skins stir up buried memories of when we were cave men and women, or maybe it's because the patterns found in nature far surpass anything we can create ourselves, or perhaps I'm simply drawn to the exotic and forbidden! Whatever the reason, this fascination with animal skin continues and this trend is definitely set to stay for at least another season.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Shopping List System that makes you go "Ahhhh!"

One of life's little frustrations has to be the moment you arrive home from the Supermarket only to realise that you've forgotten to purchase one of the most important things on your Shopping List. And almost as irritating is that phone call you receive from your other half asking you to pick up just one more item that they'd forgotten to add to the list, just as you're arriving at the check-out, or even worse as you're already loading up the car! One way to significantly reduce these moments of "grrrr" is to set up a Shopping List System whereby whenever an item is about to be finished and needs replacing, it is immediately added to your Shopping List. Sounds simple and yet so many of us rely on memory, just jot down a list right before departing for the Supermarket, or decide that wandering the aisles and choosing whatever items grab your attention is the way to go. These methods invariably lead the shopper to arrive home without obvious essentials like bin bags or even milk and to the purchase of a few non-essentials such as that DVD on special offer that you'll probably never watch or that new moisturiser that you've been meaning to try for a while even though you have one that's three-quarters full sat in your bathroom!

Another advantage to this Shopping List System is that you can categorise items to help you plan your Weekly Menu (another topic to be tackled in Monday Management) and organise your Shopping List according to the order items are stocked in the Supermarket, thus eliminating that feeling you get when you arrive at the last aisle of the store only to realise that your final item is stocked near the entrance. This method can also help you save money by encouraging you to only buy items that are on the List thus cutting down on the unnecessary items you might otherwise be tempted to buy.

You can create your own shopping list really easily in Microsoft Word or Excel, using categories that are most suitable for you and your family. Here's the list that we use, that has proven to significantly reduce our supermarket shopping stress levels! (Click the link "Grocery List" to download this Shopping List as a Word Document using Scribd - you may need to create a free Scribd account).

Grocery List

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