Make Your Own Mini Felt Bunting

BUNTING MAIN

Bunting, like wine, makes things better.

Just look at that storage chest above and tell us it doesn’t.

And as you can see, mini bunting needn’t be Cath Kidston-twee. For example, you could make this with dastardly skull and cross bones-patterned felt if the fancy so took you.

And you can hang it anywhere. On your trunk, a la us. On your kid’s bedroom door. On a gallery wall. On a drinks trolley. From the mantlepiece. A kitchen book shelf. Above your bed. Diagonally above your desk like a hipster blogger. Up to you.

The best thing is: it’s SUPER easy to make.

So if you’re on the market for a bit of quick and easy mini bunting making, check out this how-to.

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1. For a strip of mini bunting like this, you will need: about a meter of bias binding and your own selection of squares of coloured felt – buy from any good online or in store haberdashery.

Or just Amazon it, if you must. Plus, scissors (fabric ones, ideally), thin cardboard, pencil, ruler, needle, pins and thread. Oh, and an iron.

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2. Make a triangle template. Using your ruler, draw a 4-inch horizontal line. Measure 2 inches in and then draw a 4-inch vertical line. Then fill in your triangle sides. Easy, right.

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3. Now pin your triangle to your felt and cut around the bugger. Continue like this until you have 7 triangles.

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4. Now fold your length of bias binding in half and press with iron.

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5. Next, tuck a felt triangle into the pressed binding, a few inches in, and pin it in place. Leave about an inch and pin your next one. And so on, until you’ve tucked in all your triangles (aw).BUNTING 11

6. Now it’s time to unleash the needle and thread – and your primary school sewing skills – and start sewing that bad boy.

Don’t worry too much if you’re crap. You can get away with a lot with white thread on white binding. OR, if you’re a whizz on a sewing machine then do it that way.

7. Give it all another little press with the iron once you’re done – et voila, easy mini bunting for your place

As a side note, obvz if you’re feeling confident you can get longer bias binding and more felt and turn your mini bunting into big bunting that you hang from your ceiling and your walls like in Bake Off. Or something cooler. Being little, we thought we’d start small.

Are you a fan of crafting? Bunting? We’d love to get your feedback/tips!

Ooh and feel free to visit our shop if you fancy – we have lots of nice craft-y things in there if you don’t feel like making things yourself.

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STRICTLY SUNDAY

STRICTLY GROUP

And welcome to another gratuitous Strictly post.

The countdown to Christmas is now on. Don’t shy away from that fact. If you’re based in the UK or Ireland, embrace ‘Strictly Season’ – formerly known as autumn and winter – and all the sequins and spray tans that come with.

This double bill had it all: stilted limbs, shimmery tassels, caught-on-camera bitching judges and real-life glowering looks from Danny Dyer. Craig Revel Horwood, don’t innuendo-cize him, please!

And what with this being the first proper week and the judges not wanting to be too forthcoming with their marks, there were also a heck of a lot of 7s on the go. 

So in the spirit of Len Goodman, we’re going to sum up each Strictly couple in precisely ‘Sev-ern’ words!

Kellie and Kevin: Fab. Gotta (upper) hand it to her.

Anthony and Oti: Forever be remembered as Trouser Split-Gate.

The moment the trousers went?
The moment the trousers went?
Helen and Aljaz: So sweet, like dancing marzipan cake toppers.

Carol and Pacha: Storm ahead. Two ways of reading that.

Dancing marzipan cake toppers
Dancing marzipan cake toppers
Kristina and Daniel: Sex-free but Irish eyes still smiling.

Anita and Gleb: Saucy. Remember though, Gleb is happily married.

Jay and Aliona: Nerves never did stop good body roll.

Kirsty and Brendan: Power couple sadly looked a tad shaky.

Was Jeremy on stilts?
Was Jeremy on stilts?
Jeremy and Karen: Impressive dad dancing on stilts. Stilts, right?

Georgia and Giovanni: G-whizz. This cute pair got fizz.

Ainsley and Natalie: Cooking puns are served. Next week: salsa.

Katie and Anton: Prom-ises to be good ‘un for Anton.

Iwan and Ola: More lumpy-pumpy than sex on legs.

Jamelia and Tristan: Mind the gap. Between your feet, Jamz.

Strutting it in cerise
Strutting it in cerise
Peter and Janette. Majestic in cerise. Snake hips next week!

Needless to say, Peter Andre ended up on top of the leaderboard with poor Carol from BBC brekkie propping everyone else up, at the bottom. And there we have it. Until next week, Keeeeeeep dancing. (Soz)
Are you a Strictly fan? Who are your faves? Indulge us, go on, and let us know in the comments.

But first… Coffee, cake, croissants, toasties…

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Never is coffee more important than on a Monday morning. A little bit of much-needed rocket fuel to chase the post-weekend blues away and make the boss’s demands a little more bearable.

And while we definitely don’t turn our noses up at a Nero’s cappuccino, there’s nothing better than finding a quirky little independent coffee shop, that does a rich, strong bean (with a flourish), to put a spring in your step.

We’re going to be reviewing indie coffee places whenever we come across a good ‘un. First it’s independent family-run Coffee Circus in Crouch End, nestled down a little side street, like a secret – within sniffing distance of Costa and Starbucks, but a world away.

If you come early in the morning you’ll find a long queue snaking its way out of the door but if you come mid-morning or afternoon, you’ll get a bit more space to explore a menu boasting blends and beans from all over the world – sourced by artisan roasters, BeanWanders.

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You can slurp your way through flat whites, French press, long blacks and skinny caps, macchiatos and ristrettos or really live it up and try an affogato – rich, dark espresso poured over creamy vanilla ice cream and served in a cup. There’s a loose tea list for brew lovers too.

There are homemade cakes – all gluten-free – plus a range of superior toasties and melt-in-your-mouth pastries. We’ve been a few times and not encountered a stale crust yet.

Local artists’ work adorns the walls; there’s a book shelf with tatty old reads for anyone who really has a day to while away but for anyone else there’s free wi-fi so you can come and work here. Though it’s not the kind of place to be a table hogger. Nip across the road to Starbucks for that.

And if you like what you drink, you can buy it. All the teas and coffee beans are for sale too. Open 8-6 during the week and 9-6 at weekends, this place is a little haven worthy of your attention if you ever find yourself in the locale. There are two adorable little Coffee Circus takeaway places in Camden Lock and Stables, too.

Do you have a favourite indie coffee hangout? Let us know.

Coffee Circus, 136 Crouch Hill, London, N8 9DX

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Things we love this autumn

TREND BOARD

Brrr.

There’s no denying it. Summer is dead.

Fortunately, here follows the cosiest season of all. (Let’s not think about what happens after that.)

And here are just a few of the things that are putting a smile on our faces. Things we’ve fallen for. Fallen for.

1. Pumpkin Spice latte Whether you love Starbucks or want it removed from your neighbourhood, you’ve gotta admit there’s something about their Pumpkin Spice lattes – back in store now! – that make you feel all warm and toasty inside. How can anything bad happen when you’re sipping on this potent mix of sugar and dreams? From all the Starbucks in the world.

2. Kiko Glass Frame We’re loving these vintage-meets-modern glass picture frames with a choice of zinc, copper or brass frames. We’re liking them even more piled on the wall en masse. £19.95 Notonthehighstreet.com

3. Zara Jacquard Scarf Wind? Rain? Pah! None of you are a match for this big, thick rug-like scarf from Zara. Could also double as a blanket on the night bus home. £22.99, Zara.com

4. Atterley Road Kaleidoscope Asymmetric dress All the style mags are full of Atterley Road’s boho 70s-style midi dress. We prefer this non-nostalgic asymmetric number. £65, AtterleyRoad.com

5. Tinsel garland We’re going to be spending a lot of time indoors. Time to get a Confetti System-style glitzy garland above the bed. In autumnal golds and bronzes, naturally. We’ll be making our own soon and giving you a how-to on the blog.

6. Topshop Hijack fringe ankle boot Ticks all the trend boxes for the new seas’. Suede. Tassled. Chunky-heeled. Like. £69, Topshop.com

7. Cosy Camel Because a longline camel coat never goes out of style, like this one modelled by Atlantic Pacific, a fashion blogger we like.

8. Biker Sheepskin biker jacket? See above. (This one is from Fitzroy Boutique)

9. LSA International Tortoise Shell globe vase Leopard print vase? Give it. From £42, Johnlewis.com 

10. Blythe. Always We have a dirty secret. It’s a Blythe doll obsession. It’s the Diet Cokes ads that did it. Anyway, here she is styled up for autumn, courtesy of OhChiWaWa

11. Low-cut jumpsuit We’ll mock this cut-off culotte jumpsuit in years to come. Right now its awkwardness is where it’s at. And it’s under £30! £29.99, Zara.com

12. A messy Bardot ‘do It’s mingin’ out there. Time to let the summer top knots down and get a bit of warmth around the old lug holes. Photo courtesy of Anthropologie.com 

*NB: This trend board is pretty female-centric on the fashion front. We know. For those of a more masculine persuasion, never fear. Your time is coming.

Funky Cheese Plate Friday!

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Here’s the thing. Drinks soirees, cocktail parties, “bevvies round ours” are all greatly improved with the presence of a cheese board.

We’re not talking crusty old slabs of cheddar, triangles of something blue and a bunch of wilted grapes-cheese boards. Though still we wouldn’t turn up our noses.

These days, the hot new trend in cheese boards (yes, according to the blogosphere, that is a thing) is informal and piled-up, look-at-me-and-dive-right-in. Styled to look bright, colourful and cool as well as delicious.

Check out our tips for a funky cheese board, below the pics.

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1. Get yourself a nice big board – wood, glass, colourful, up to you

2. Position your easy-to-slice cheeses on your board to start off with. Camembert and Stilton in our case

3. Chop up your tricky-to-slice cheese into easy-to-pop-in-your-gob cubes and position on board. Good old Red Leicester and cranberry cheddar in our case

4. Fill ramekins with dips. Hummous in our case. Place on board

5. Halve cherry tomatoes, slice up fingers of pepper, cucumber and apple and place on board

6. Add piles of cheesy biscuits, crackers, oat cakes, whatever takes your fancy

7. Fill the spaces on your board with tasty little buggers like mini gherkins and stuffed olives

8. Serve with sliced French bread and booze of your choice

9. Tuck in

We did all of the above for our Aperol-infused blog launch party – and the nibbles went down almost as quickly as the cocktails.

A cheeseboard is not just for Christmas, you see. A cheese board is just as much for weekends, week nights and wet Wednesday afternoons in winter.

What would you add to yours? Let us know!

Salmon and tomato zoodles

Zoodles

Zoodles? See also: coodles. AKA, courgette-noodles. Going with the American/Oz mash-up, zoodles (zucchini-noodles), however. Because it sounds 70s and mad. A bit like ‘Zowie!’

Anyway, if you’re after a midweek munch that looks pretty and is pretty quick and easy to make, you’ll want to get your mouth around this. It’s got six ingredients: salmon, courgettes, tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. And, despite being simple, it still feels a bit complex and sophis’.

The dish really benefits from the use of a Sprializer. A contraption I got for my birthday in February and which I was too scared to get out of the box until recently.

When I plucked up the courage, however, I discovered it was actually really bloody easy to use and now I can’t get enough of it. Yay. And it made lovely-looking veggies. Unless we’re talking about the bit that’s left over at the end of the er, spriralization process, let’s call it. Which you can see below.

If you haven’t got a Spiralizer, don’t you worry at all. Just use a simple little julienne peeler to cut your courgettes into long, thin (un-curly) ribbons.

Get the recipe after the pics! SL x

Zoodles toms

Zoodles salmon

Zoodles two

To make four:

Ingredients: 4 courgettes, 6-8 fat juicy tomatoes, an utterly pluckable basil plant (or just a packet), 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you put taste over fretting about stinking people out on the bus the next morning), 4 tsbp of good olive oil, rock salt and pepper

How to:

1. Get spiralizing or julienning those courgettes. When done, put your curly courg in a big bowl, sprinkle with rock salt and leave for now…

2. Smash up/grate/slice up your garlic

3. Roughly chop up 6-8 leaves of basil then pop in a bowl with your olive oil and garlic

4. Get your salmon in the oven. You could parcel up your fillets in tinfoil, with a bit of olive oil and pepper, and leave them to cook for 13 minutes on gas mark 180. Or you could cook the salmon to your own prefs

5. Time for de-skinning the toms. Get a pan of water on the boil. Then get yourself a bowl of cold or iced water. Make criss-crosses on the bottom of your tomatoes with a sharp knife

6. Using a slatted spoon, dunk your toms, one by one, in the pan of boiling water for 30 seconds each. After each dunking, plop your toms in the cold water

4. Remove your toms from the cold water and now you’ll find it’s a doddle – doodle! – to peel off those skins. Scoop out the seeds then roughly chop your tomatoes into small cubes

5. Pour your olive oil, garlic and basil mix in a big saucepan or wok on a moderate heat. After a minute, add your toms

6. After two or three minutes, tip in your zoodles and cook for two minutes or more, depending on how al dente you’d like them. I like them al dente so I cook them for two minutes

7. Now serve your tomato and zoodle mix in 4 deeps bowls, pop your cooked salmon on top, season – et voila!

Zoodles spiralizer

Strictly Sunday

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Sparkles! Shimmer! Pink, pink, pink! We love a bit of Strictly Come Dancing. So we decided to get creative in anticipation of its first ep. And if you can’t knock up a set of sequin-clad coasters for the start of Strictly, when can you…

These unashamedly pink and scarlet babies*, with sewn-on gold and red sequins – and a bigger coaster for your bottle – really brightened up our Oyster Bay drinking. Which, as a side note, isn’t actually that hard.

We also like to think our fairy lights resemble tiny mirror balls – but we’re probably just trying to justify ourselves. We love fairy lights as we’re sure you’ll come to notice.

Anyway, on to the couples. Here’s our verdict. Please pardon the puns…

Peter and Janette: Wonder how many episodes it’ll take him to rip off his shirt and ripple his abdominals a la the “Ooo-ooooh-weeee-ooooh Mysterious Girl” vid. We give it three. Maybe even two.

Kirsty and Brendan: Power couple. Tall, dark, lean, determined, like champion racehorses.

Jamelia and Tristan: Forgone conclusion: those legs, that rhythm – she’s going to be some kind of superstar…

Kellie and Kevin: Ahh, cute. And with potential. Kev from Grimbsy won’t want to let his ‘Never done a dance off’ crown slip.

Carol and Pasha: We forecast the smiley weather woman’s legion of fans will take her at least half-way through the competition, dance prowess or no dance prowess…

Jeremy and Karen: There was a hip swivel. We’re not sure how we felt about it. Wonder how he’ll get on dancing the swing(o-meter).

Jay and Aliona: Jay looks like a kind of hunky human version of Aslan from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Whether he’ll roar into the final (…) is anyone’s guess at this nervy stage…

Daniel and Kristina: The time sexy Kristina’s powerful female pheromones were spoil-sportingly bottled up.

Ainsley and Natalie: He talks the talk but can he walk the swingy-hipped walk? Natalie smiled gamely on. As she does.

Katie and Anton: The Proms host’s dancing partner couldn’t hide his glee. Katie looks a bit like Darcy but whether she has the moves is still up in the air.

Anthony and Otlile: This pairing. Pure. Sex. Appeal. If she can make him dance, there’ll be Strictly fireworks.

Iwan and Ola: Maybe his hips were a bit stiff from a recent run…

Anita and Gleb: If she ever stops objectifying the poor boy we might find out if she can dance.

Helen and Aljaz: Barbie and Ken – in the nicest possible way. And Helen’s limbs look promisingly more fluid than plastic.

Georgia and Giovanni: Aw ‘Georganni’ – destined to be big. Even though they’re small.

Strictly Sunday will be back in three weeks. Until then we’re going to enjoy the last shreds of sunlight and pretend that the Christmas countdown is not on.

* If you like our Strictly coasters you can find them in sets of 4 and 6 in our shop.