local artists and lovely gardens

may is always one of my favourite months in the Stroud valleys, the hedgerows billow with clouds of cow parsley, and drifts of buttercups light up the common.  it is also the month of open studios, where artists, designers, potters and makers open their doors and welcome visitors.

Kate Loveday is one of my favourite local artists, her paintings are very popular and there is always a queue outside her door on the first day.

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Kates paintings appeal to the textile designer in me I think, the colour and composition and mark making are just beautiful.

The inspiration for Kates paintings can be seen all around her beautiful home. I have been going to Kates open studio since we fist moved here over 10 years ago and I have always been inspired by her beautiful home. Pale walls are a foil for colourful collections which appear here and there in the paintings - a spotty jug, a tile tray or a row of pebbles.

Everything about kates exhibition is a feast for the eyes,  open  the big pale green wooden gate and creep down the narrow high walled passageway  into Kates beautiful walled garden, where her lovely wisteria clad house stands with the door open to welcome you into the exhibition. Kates paintings are displayed in all of the downstairs rooms which is such a lovely way to view paintings as you can get a real sense of scale and how they look in a real room setting.

for information or directions please see the stroud open studios website here

there are a plethora of super talented artists in the stroud valleys so you could make a day of it! its the farmers market on a Saturday where you can feast on some fabulous food - my top tips are salt bakehouse pop up in the foyer of John st SVA  and the wonderful felafel people in the market  - I promise you , you won't leave hungry! happy weekend!

learn to make soft furnishings in beautiful Tetbury

Without a doubt starting this business over 10 years ago has led me on a journey. There have been ups and downs as there are with any business, but one of the best things about it has been meeting some really lovely people along the way. 

One of them is Helen Izzard who runs Helen Izzard designs in Somerset. If you are an instagrammer you can follow Helens lovely photos here. 

Helen Izzard sarah hardaker

When we bumped into each other twice in one week at the end of September Helen was telling me about the workshops she is holding in the beautiful market town of Tetbury in 2017. Perfect for anyone wanting to learn how to make their own soft furnishings. 

I asked Helen what prospective students would cover on the 2 day courses

"Students work on their own projects from start to finish, so measuring, pattern repeats and hand sewing etc etc.  Generally, we get a mixture of curtains, roman blinds and cushions, so although it says curtains and blinds, we can cover a mix, and each student will have their own ideas and I guide them through.  I try to encourage small to medium projects due to room and also so that they can achieve a lot in 2 days."

if you would like more information about the workshops please contact Helen at info@helenizzard.co.uk she can also supply a range of beautiful British fabrics for you to make into your soft furnishing project. 

Helen Izzard workshops

a little TV moment

June is such an inspiring time here in the studio, the roses in the garden are in full flower and its the time of year that we do all of our colouring for our annual trade show Decorex. 

We had a lovely visit  from Country Homes and Interiors magazine, who popped by to spend a day in the studio. We had such a fun day laughing and chatting (and eating!!) that I forgot to be nervous about making a gaffe!!  

I hope you like this lovely little film about life in the Sarah Hardaker studio.  

 

Huge thanks to the wonderful team at Country Homes and Interiors for your continued kindness and support.  

 

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foraging fun

this little post should really have been published a few weeks ago, however as always life gets in the way of doing beautiful things like blogging! 

The woodlands surrounding our house are filled with white whirls of wild garlic, 

Anyway for those of you with any wild garlic filling the woodlands around you , here are a few little weekend recipes for putting it to good use!

one of my favourites is wild garlic pesto.

i dont really measure i do it by eye! 

so you need a couple of big handfuls of wild garlic leaves - well washed and dried in a salad spinner or on a tea towel. a handful of fresh basil - stalks leaves and all, a handful of roasted almonds (cheaper than pine nuts yet just as tasty!) a handful of grated parmesan or pecorino, a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of seasalt. (NOTICE NO CLOVE OF GARLIC - THE WILD GARLIC LEAVES ARE GARLICKY ENOUGH). 

put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz together adding a dribble more oil if needed till you get a consistency you like. - I have quite a powerful processor so if yours isn't give the nuts a quick whizz first to break them down a bit.

when you've made your pesto you can use it on pasta, under the skin of a chicken before roasting, dribbled over a tomato and mozzarella salad, or in these little cheese sable biscuits.

blitz equal quantities of flour, grated cheese and butter in the processor till a ball of soft buttery dough comes together. flatten it out on to a piece of greaseproof paper and spread with your wild garlic pesto, then roll up into a sausage shape , wrap in the peer and refrigerate for at least an hour. when the dough has chilled, unwrap it and slice into discs about half a cm thick and bake in a medium oven till just golden. - BE WARNED THESE ARE SERIOUSLY ADDICTIVE!

wild garlic flowers make the most delicious fritters served with a chilled glass of wine!

mix equal quantities (i use 1/4 cup measure) of plain flour and cornflour in a roomy bowl, season and whisk in very chilled lager till you have the consistency of double cream. heat a good 3cm  sunflower oil in a small pan and deep fry your fritters a few at a time, sprinkle with a bit of seasalt and fresh ground pepper and serve with some sweet chilli sauce to dip into!

I'm sorry - i didn't get an after shot because my greedy family scoffed all of the fritters before i could photograph them!!!

 

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!!!

We've been out and about a lot over the last few weeks. Lots of quotes and schemes and meeting with clients. We did manage to squeeze in a trip to Cornwall in the camper with a bunch of great friends.  Dotty our camper van is rather fetchingly decked out in our polka dot fabric!

 

Because we are West Country based Cornwall isn't such an ordeal travel wise - like it was when we lived in Lancashire. So we were there in time for lunch at Nathan outlaws fish kitchen in a very wet and windy port Isaac - which was delicious and highly recommended. The food is a short and seasonal changing menu of interesting small plates.  We had baked Porthilly oysters with smoked bacon and cheese crumbs, pickled herrings with fennel and orange, sole with purple sprouting and brown shrimps, and the kids had fabulous sole fillet sandwiches on sourdough with shoestring fries , YUM!!

When the weather is good the British seaside is hard to beat and Cornwall has so much for offer

 from  rocky coves (Port Isaac)

to picturesque fishing harbours (Mousehole) ,

the wonderful sandy surfing beach at Polzeath

and the achingly beautiful light in St Ives.

Added to that the attraction of a chance meeting with Captain Poldark (…sigh……. !!!) its a great place for a break by the sea!! Cornwall particularly has really stepped it up a notch on the food front too (as we know food plays a huge part in the life of our family!) here are a few of my favourite locations for fab food in Cornwall.

The Gurnards Head

The Porthminster beach cafe

The Coastguard

Rick Steins chippy (try the deep fried oysters with a pot of homemade aoili)

all this talk of the seaside is making me feel distinctly nautical!  for details out our stars, semaphores, sparkle and anchors fabrics click on the links.

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this and that this week!

I honestly dont know where the weeks are going at the moment! We seem to be racing towards easter at a rate of knots!

we have been very busy getting some pretty mothers day orders out to customers.

I am hoping this year for some little succulents for mothers day this year rather than the traditional flowers. I am loving these little plants so much at the moment!

i am sure the colours of this little plant that i photographed at wild at heart in london must have inspired the colour for our new colour way of chinoiserie chalk, - watch this space lots of lovely colours to be added to the website over the next week or two!

 

Australian florist  Helen Leighton (who i had the pleasure of meeting last year) has a fabulous pinboard of succulent wedding ideas on pinterest. I love the idea of them in mixed bouquets.

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…….talking of flowers and all things mothers day, my lovely friend Paul from the fabulous florist Petal to the Metal, is popping up in Paul Smiths iconic flagship store in Londons Floral St this weekend. London followers will be able to nip into Paul Smith store and pick up a fabulous mothers day bunch. If you can 't make it to london then you can follow Paul on pinterest or instagram .

I am yearning for a bit of sunshine at the moment and keep thinking about holidays. When my lovely parents in law were alive we used to meet them in Sicily every year for a week in october, my father in law was the vicar of the anglican church in Taormina in October each year! So i really enjoyed reading Liz from the red bistro blog post about a recent trip to Sicily. Her photos really do encapsulate the unspoilt beauty of Sicily.

 

Liz is an amazing cook who lives in Malta, you can follow her blog here, its a little ray of sunshine on a wintery day!

 

Hope you all have a fun filled weekend, and a happy mothers day to all of the lovely mummies out there .

heres a little quote to end on ………




this and that this week!

Happy weekend one and all, hope you have had a good week!

We' ve been busy colouring up new designs and getting tonnes of samples out following quite a lot of mentions in the press this month. You can click here to have a gander!

We have sold loads of our scrap bags - there are still a couple left in the sale here - and we will add a few more over the next few weeks. We made this little board on pinterest for ideas of things to make with scraps of fabrics.

this week thanks to my clever friend Dr H,  I discovered a great app called feedly.com which you can use to read favourite blogs on ipad phone etc  - makes my breakfast reading nice and simple! - you can even follow is in there! - i will have to ask Helen for some instructions on how to do it though!!!!

Those of you who know me well will know that i am a hugely greedy foody!! (i do love this quote by julia child!)

I follow lots of Bristol based food people on twitter and pinterest so was thrilled to come across the work of  photographer kirsty young this week on twitter,

she does a lot of food photography for one of my favourite south west foodie magazines called crumbs she also writes a lovely blog filled with inspirational photography you can read it here.  

this months crumbs magazine has a great article about one of my favourite chefs too - Bob and his family from Made by bob in Cirencester .

enjoy your weekend and may it be filled with food and friends and family!!

 

soft and beautiful

we have been working on some lovely collaborations recently with a great lady called Hanna who owns a fabulous interiors company Stenvall interiors. Our paths crossed when we took part in the SIT open studios, and we got on straightway. 

Hanna grew up in Sweden and she restores vintage swedish and french furniture, she has a fabulous eye for detail and a love of linen that is similar to my own. (if the MD of harlequin were reading this he would groan as i was always trying to get him to print my designs on luscious natural linens when i was designing for them - i think he felt i was linen obsessed!) So its always nice to find a fellow obsessive!

Hanna has a great eye for colour and style - as can be seen in her stunning Gloucestershire home - all designed and built by herself and her husband.

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Hanna has recently finished this beautiful commission in our delfine fabric - faded pink.

This one was made in a pink linen specially sourced from belgium after an exhaustive search for a perfect greyed off pink.

 

One day last year we got chatting and it turns out that we both love embroidered fabrics and monograms, so we got our heads together to create a few bespoke pieces for her clients.

Lovely for me as i dont often get to brush off my embroidery skills. ( to the slight horror of my parents I did a degree in embroidery….back in the day!)

if you would like a monogram on one of Hannas beds or chairs you can  contact hanna here  

and watch this space for some more embroidered cushions and lampshades - since you'll seem to have loved them on instagram

this week in the studio!

Its half term holidays this week, so keeping on top of things here in the studio has been tricky!

however we have managed a bit of doodling of new designs - more on those when the samples come in!  had a little sale!  find out whats left here and grab yourself a bargain!  and revamped a few of our webpages to include our lovely  torcello linens  

torcello linen

torcello linen

and beautiful herringbone - which we can't stop adding colours to!!!

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we also had a visit from the lovely Carrie Smith from Flohr and Co, who was down here visiting her parents so popped in with her gorgeous daughter to say hi! 

We made some extra special biscuits - that are known in our house as "daddy biscuits" because my husbands mother used to make loads of them to take on their annual family camping trip! they were one of the first things my daughter Bella learned to cook. 

I have made a few alterations to the original recipe because i dont really use margarine! and i wanted to add a bit of fruit, below is the basic recipe, with my additions below!

4 0z porridge oats

3 oz plain flour

1 oz desiccated coconut (i use unsweetened)

4 oz butter

4 oz sugar - (i use unrefined caster or light muscavado)

1 tbs golden syrup (i tried this with a true tbs measure, but it wasn't enough so now i use a big old fashioned spoon! - if you are suing a tbs measure put in 2!)

i/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda dissolved in 1 desertspoon of hot water - dont miss this out its what makes the biscuits go all crinkly chewy yummy!!

additions to elevate from 70s status!

a handful of dried cranberries , or dried chopped apricots, or sultanas

a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds

a small handful dark chocolate chips

melt, butter, sugar syrup over a medium heat, mix in the dry ingredients mix in the bicarb and water mix. 

dollop walnut size balls on a baking sheet - with plenty of space in between (covering the baking sheet with a teflon liner will make cleaning up a million times easier). bake in a medium oven (about 150 - 180 degrees depending on your oven) check them after 6 mins, - they vary but need watching as they burn super quickly. when they are golden take the tray out of the oven and leave to cool on the tray till they firm up a bit, then transfer to a cooling rack to fully set.

They dont keep brilliantly - you need to keep them in a tin with greaseproof between each layer or you will have a clump like flapjack! 

Have a happy weekend everybody x

 

keeping up!

…..so as promised i am trying to catch you up on our busy days!

one of my other resolutions this year is to try and have some time off on weekends.

running your own business and managing it around the pressures of parenthood inevitably means working odd hours. it is so easy to nip into the studio on a weekend to finish the bits and bobs that dont get down in the week. So i have been trying not to. 

 

the arrival of cabbage the puppy has got us all out walking much more - to and from school and all of us as a family on weekends. 

i have also been trying to cook everything we eat from scratch - not always possible but i am having a go - I've been trying to avoid refined wheat and sugar and eat more whole grains and natural foods. - have a look at the recipes i have been collecting on my whole foods board on  pinterest. I am no angel and i should give up alcohol along with the wheat and sugar but a pub walk is a weekend necessity! 

all images are from my pinterest whole foods board and the links will take you back to original sources.

i have been enjoying the recipes from hugh fw light and easy, deliciously ella and honestly healthy 

catching up!

hello, and happy valentines day

it feels a long time since i have been here, we have had a very busy few months both work and personally! 

Anyway one of my new years resolutions was to be a better blogger - when Jo and I used to blog over at Hardaker and Pope we were really good about posting every few days! Lobster and Swan - my favourite blog is brilliant at regular posting and has hundreds of thousands of readers as a result!  so with that in mind i thought i would try and catch you up on some of the new things we have been upto - though it might take a few weeks!

I have been doing  a photography course which has been really interesting - but quite tricky on the technicals - i have been in class with 2 lovely business ladies who i know - kerrie who is the inspirational businesswoman behind pins and ribbons

and verity from rascal and roses (who knew  that a girl who creates such pretty things was in the army!!!!) I am hoping you will see some improvement in my photography skills over the coming weeks!


I have also developed an addiction to instagram - so if you are an instagrammer come and join us here. It goes hand in hand with my pinterest addiction i do love all things visual.

i have had a couple of pinterest finds lately - and have been particularly enjoying these boards 

from  quayside furniture above

and Myrtle Bank below

check back in for more new things, and also a little bit about who we have been collaborating with lately…..lots to tell!

this week in and out of the studio

Sometimes its hard juggling what feels like too many balls! we have decorex coming up in a couple of weeks and at the same time (well the week before) my daughter is doing her 11+ - its such an awful pressure for a 10 year old. We are really trying not to make her feel that it is super important and be really calm (my husband who is a teacher is much better at this than me and i have to go and have a secret panic in the studio!) so i will be glad for her when its all over in a couple of weeks! 

with this in mind i liked this quote this week - Miss B this is for you x

we have been busy working with local company Scumble Goosie on some new product and took a few photos of their chairs - they will soon be available on our website in either raw state ready for you to paint, or painted with a seat cover in one of our fabrics - we love the little baby version too!!!

i was really thrilled to learn that my good friend Julia Brendal is going to be exhibiting at Decorex this year and we will be neighbours - on the same row at the show - it will be nice to have a friendly face to chat to! Have a look at Julias website she produces the most exquisite woven fabrics and also stunning accessories - tablecloths and scarves - they are gorgeous.

I was delighted this week when not one but 2 lovely friends dropped by with big bags of plums from their garden. I have made a massive batch of chinese spiced plum sauce - i am in good company as Nigel slater is doing it in this weeks observer food.

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we have had masses of lampshade orders lately so its with great pleasure that i am handing over some of our drums to my friend louise from lolly and boo, who makes fabulous lampshades in a huge array of fabrics

 I found my old iPod case that i made for our van travels a couple of years ago, and it perfectly fits my iPhone - which i was rather thrilled about. I had forgotten how much i liked them, so i think we will add them to the website this week as part of our autumn / winter accessories collection. what would be your most favourite design/colourway ?? join our mailing list here and comment below and you could win one in a fabric/colour of your choice .

lovely little box art

while perusing pinterest last week i came across a lovely picture with art in a box. It was instantly recognisable as one of viv from Hens Teeths creations


which led me inevitably on a clickathon and i found a really lovely little board of art in boxes.

i am always inspired by unusual creative goings on so here are some pictures to inspire you too!

all of the original images can be found on my art board on pinterest and they will take you back to the original source.

this week in the studio

another busy week here in the studio while we are gearing up for decorex - a very prestigious London trade show for interiors, where we will be showcasing some new fabrics (a sneaky peek of those soon!) heres one of our new stripes in colour "damson and greengage" - quite an apt name for the distinctly autumnal feel of the moment.

Going on holiday always puts things in perspective for me and so when i saw this quote this week it made me smile, it sums up weeks when you feel like chucking in the towel but something makes you carry on!

i have had a thing about neon pink this week - especially with grey!

we seem to have been making lots of bags in the studio this week , our shoppers are still one of our most popular products, but we have done a few custom orders this week with longer handles for over your shoulder and a soft clutch bag.

our autumn winter collection of accessories have started arriving, which is always exciting!

i feel i have got my cooking mojo back a bit - i got rather lazy in france as i didn't have my huge store cupboard of exciting spices and there isn't the same vast choice as we have here (which in a way to is much more healthy to be governed by the rhythms of the season but green beans wear thin after a month!!!) so i have been making lots of yummy salads - recipes here.

clockwise from top left green bean salad from plenty by ottolenghi

chopped thai salad with sesame garlic dressing from a pinch of yum

summer slaw

rainbow salad with greek yoghurt ceasar dressing from scaling back

hope you all hd a great week!

 

back in the studio

Its always hard getting back into work mode (especially when the children are still off school!)

i have been clinging to the last vestiges of summer and reminding myself of all the yummy food in the market in ile de re - we had such delicious camping lunches

 i am inspired to keep it going now we are back with lots of salads from our garden!



and it seems as though so has everybody else has been hanging on to the last days of summer too - as our nauticals have been really popular this week.

the gorgeous  cushions in the bottom left picture are made by my friend Ceri at White Mulberry soft furnishings - have a check out of her website.  we will be featuring some more of ceri's lovely work in a forthcoming post!

I dont think any working mums find life easy - and its often difficult to get the balance right! 

so in between working this week we have been to giffords circus (a wonderful event and if you are in the cotswolds in the summer time it is well worth a visit - its a really traditional beautiful old fashioned show and i LOVE it every year!!)

However I have had design ideas pouring out of me this week, so i have been trying to get those down on paper at the same time as colouring our new designs for decorex and sorting out new product / accessories samples which have been arriving for christmas!

its nice to be back on my mac and indulge my pinterest passion!

this quote was one of my favourites of the week!