Brightening up December

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Now that it is December and there is precious little left in the garden ( although I am impressed by the few hardy plants that are still flowering ) I thought it was a good time to finally hang up the second Ixxi that I had made while I was in Holland.

I showed the other one I made a while back – which was of pictures from a “Leiden Year”. This second one is of flower images taken throughout a year. As with a lot of things that you leave for a while and come back to , there are changes that you would make second time around, but I still enjoy the reminder of all these flowers that have crossed my path. Some were taken out and about in Holland , others on my favourite Scottish windowsill and yet others are wildflowers from the meadows of Transylvania.

Even if you don’t live in the Netherlands you can use Ixxi to create a design for you, or you can also select something from their own collection.

If you’d like to know a bit more about the “behind the scenes” and get tipped off about my regular subscriber bonus you can make sure you get the studio newsletter by subscribing here . There should be one coming along quite soon.

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Zuider Zee Museum Enkhuizen

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A little more catching up from the Dutch trip a few weeks ago. The Zuiderzee Museum is somewhere I’d visited about 10 years ago and always wanted to go back to. I’d thought that really it would be easier to visit by car but in fact it is perfectly feasible with public transport as a day trip from Amsterdam. It’s worth setting off early enough in the morning though, because you will need plenty time to do the museum justice. The best way to approach the museum is to take the train to Enkhuizen and then look for the ferry that will take you over to the musuem. You can get there on foot but arriving by water adds to the atmosphere.

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(If you have a museum card you will get in free. And even if you are not resident in the Netherlands , if you are there for more than a couple of days and plan some intensive museum visiting, the card will pay for itself very quickly. All the big musuems are included – you can get one on the spot at most museums. ) One other tip – the whole museum is only open during the warmer half of the year, so save your visit until then.

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I didn’t realise that it was only established in the 60s – it feels much older than that. Houses have been brought here lock stock and barrel from various places around the Zuider Zee ,including from an island that became land locked once the Ijselmeer was completed. There are photos showing some of the complete houses being wheeled along on trucks or winched off ferrys. They are laid out in little clusters to represent an island community or a town centre around a church. The special charm is reinforced by the costumed characters who do a very good job of staying in their role even under quite thorough questioning.

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This time it was the interiors that struck me particulary. Probably as I was still in an interior design kind of mood after visiting the Woonbeurs/ Home Show. I noticed a lot of deep greens as well as the bright blues that pop up in many early decorating styles. I had a vague memory that the blue served a particular purpose and one of the costumed “locals” told me that the colour came from the addition of laundry blue and was considered mildly antibacterial. Also, with out our masses of modern “stuff” there is a simplicity to many of the interiors which is very calming. I know life was hard in that era and many of our modern possessions make life easier,but still, I think we can take a leaf out of their book in terms of simplicity and functionality.

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There were also a few locations within the museum where contemporary craftspeople and artists had been invited to create work. One example of this was a room that had been decorated entirely in the style of Delft tiles – the walls and even the radiator. This little side table also got the tile treatment – that would be a fun project to have a go at !

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VTWONEN & Jurianne Matter Instagram Contest

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Another follow on from Meet The Blogger in Amsterdam – we were lucky enough to get rather lovely goodie bags at the end of the event. There were a lot of fun or useful items in there , but I was especially delighted to get one of Jurianne Matter’s new paper garlands. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time (and have written about her work before here ) – so this was a real treat.

In addition VTWonen decided to run an Instagram contest to see how this range could be photographed. Well, that was a challenge I couldn’t resist and I submitted the three images here. Lucky me, they chose the first picture as one of their five winners. Thank you VTwonen – you were already one of my favourite magazines – now I like you even more !

If you use Instagram you can find me at @rhiannonmc – you can also follow what VTwonen post at @vtwonen.

You can find out more about Jurianne at her website – and if you are in the UK then the amazing lighting shop Radiance is one place to find her work.

And today is the last day to take advantage of the free shipping on my new cushion range. There some already waiting to go to the post office.

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Amsterdam Woonbeurs 2013 – Meet the Blogger Part 2

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The Meet The Blogger event was deliberately timed to allow us to visit the Woonbeurs on the second day and I think that made the trip even more interesting for those of us who had travelled some distance. This big interior fair which is also open to the public is hosted by Sanoma media who are the publishers of most of the well loved Dutch interior magazines.

As a kind of "press" in the modern world the bloggers were allowed to attend the press launch and hear what the organiser of the fair had to say about current trends and the ways in which the consumer finds out about these things in this digital age.

After that we were off to the VTWonen space as they were one of the main sponsors of Meet The Blogger.

Regular readers of each magazine would have found it quite easy to identify which magazine had created which space inside the fair as they did stay quite true to their print personas.

Of all the magazines VTWonen had made the most ambitious use of their space, creating a huge shaker inspired barn – in only 4 days. It was not so much a liveable space as a hive of activity, with the kitchen area set up to make pizzas, the bath room area turned into an old fashioned barbershop and also an artisanal workshop area. I was very impressed with the girls who were casting ceramic items and even firing them in an onsite kiln. They really embraced the shaker custom of using a lot of pegs and hanging items.

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101 Woonideen had a very brightly coloured area with lots of little alcoves and details. As well as a huge table for some hands on cutting and pasting of moodboards.

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Ariadne at Home is a magazine I read less frequently as I find it just a tiny wee bit too pastel tinted for my taste -but I have to say that their house was a very calming and relaxed space. I could definitely imagine moving in there – so time to review some of my thoughts about interior colours.
Alongside these structures many of the well known Dutch brands had stands showing their latest designs or colours and it was good to get an impression of what is current in the Netherlands.

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All in all it was a very enjoyable day rounding off Meet The Blogger and a good way to get a taste of Dutch interior trends .

August Break Day 22 – Instagram Fun

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A while ago I submitted a few Instagram pictures to a contest that the Dutch interior magazine 101 Woonideen were holding. The idea was to send pictures that showed colour in the home. I was delighted to see that one of them was chosen and here you can see it featured in the magazine. It’s a favourite magazine of mine , so that was a lovely surprise.

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And just a wee tip off – I know my birthday is on Sunday, but since that is not a great day for online goings on I am holding my annual 50% off day on Friday ( tomorrow). Although I do a few different offers over a year I only ever do the 50% off day once – the offer will run for 24 hours. To take advantage of it use the code HAPPYDAY – please let me know if you have any problems with it.

All Roads Lead to Leiden

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Oh the Internet is a funny and tangled place. A day or so ago Ama an Etsy friend from Leiden posted a picture that a local blogger, Louise, had taken of her market stand during one of Leiden’s many festive weekends. Of course, I had to pop over to the blog to read the review and reminisce over attending the same event last summer. On reading a bit further I discovered that the same blogger had just been featured by Tina,a London blogging friend who has a regular challenge post. And the challenge this time was for each of them to make a video about their respective towns, Leiden and London. So hop over here to see both of their videos.

In the meantime I have finally felt like piecing together this Ixxi that I designed with images from ” A Leiden Year”. I know it sounds a bit soppy, but I felt too sad about the end of the Dutch adventure to pin it up before now. It really felt that I was reconnecting to a part of my heritage again , only to see it come to a halt. Well, there are good sides to every change, of course, but I do plan to hang on to those strengthened Dutch ties with more regular visits – and with a bit of luck there will be another period over there in the future.

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Day 16 – Out and About in Utrecht

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One of the nice things about the Netherlands is how acessible many cities are – with just an hour or so by train . I am trying to cram a lot into a week , so today I jumped on the train to Utrecht. That’s the thing about visiting instead of living there – the temptation is strong to scoot about at a bit of a pace .

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Anyway , today was the turn of Utrecht . The Dom Tower is a very prominent landmark – a little bit of googling has verified that it is , in fact , the tallest church tower in the Netherlands. ( More info here Alongside is one of the oldest canals , the Oude Gracht. Once the water level was made stable in the middle ages they were able to create permanent storage on the wharfs .Many of these are now cafes which creates a lively atmosphere .

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I stopped off for coffee and a very delicious cake at a cafe that my Auntie took me to on a previous trip , Bond and Smolders –find a review here If you are visiting Leiden it is worth trying out – the cakes are exquisite .

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