Monday, 31 October 2011

Studio Visit: Marianne Anderson...

Back in belfast at chez a*r and we're reminiscing about our ten days in Glasgow seeing friends and family... we had a great time!

I was so glad to be able to see all my pals while I was over, and Ryan and I went along to have a chat and a cuppa at my good friend Marianne Anderson's jewellery studio... she kindly let me take some snaps in her gorgeous, inspiring studio space she shares with the equally talented jeweller, Alison Macleod, and let me share them here on our blog.

I don't know about you, but I always love a glimpse in to other creative spaces. Makes me yearn for the day when we get to build our garden studio and have a place to keep everything in one space (goodbye kitchen table!) ;)

Marianne studied Jewellery and Silversmithing at Glasgow School of Art, and graduated two years ahead of me. Her work has gone from strength to strength and she exhibits and sells her work in the top galleries around the world and teaches lucky students both one to one, and at GSA. I love her meticulous, ornate detailing - beautiful colour palette of oxidised silver, 18ct gold, garnets, and pearls or mother of pearl. Black, red, white and gold never looked so good!

Check out Marianne's portfolio site, online shop as well as following her on Twitter and Pinterest :)

Was great to see you, lovely!! Come to Belfast and see us!

xo A

Friday, 28 October 2011

Hello Korean Food...

One of the things we miss most about Glasgow (aside from friends et family, of course!) is Korean food at Shilla on Argyle Street... they have a wesbite for the Edinburgh branch, but not for Glasgow - still, it was an awesome lunch which we hugely enjoyed. If I could transport this modest little restaurant to Belfast, I would. In a flash!

Ryan and I were there with our friend Helen (of the lovely farm, fame!) and we had a yummy selection of goodies.

First off, delicious complimentary pickles (gorgeous tasty cucumber, ever so slightly sharp, wilted sesame garlicky greens and then beansprouts which were very unusual and almost tasted meaty and smokey - all good)... then starters of Ddouk Bok Yi (Mochi-type dumpling in Chilli sauce), Mo Dum Twi Jim (Tempura King Prawn and Veg!) and mains of Hoe Deop Bab (Raw salmon on sticky rice with vegetables and chilli sauce, served with miso soup), Dol Sot Bi Bim Bab (Beef with boiled rice, egg and exotic vegetables in a hot stone pot) and finally Oh Jingo Uh Bokum (stir fried squid and veg in a spicy sauce with rice)...

Each and every dish was incredibly good and we had such a good time. I may cry a little to have to sail further away from this good place come Sunday. Go if you can!!

:) A@a*r

Homes & Interiors SECC show & Julia Smith Ceramics...

We were glad to be in Glasgow while the Homes & Interiors show is on at the SECC. It started today, and we went along to look at all the lovely things on display!

Heading there, we knew we were going to see Julia Smith Ceramics, whose work we LOVE! We were lucky enough to visit her studio last year (and it's shamefully taken us this long to share the shots! But here they are... it was very inspiring.) but we have been loving the loot we bought for over a year now (a clock, cups, the cat plate above and some bowls) and it was great to see her stand today and see the progression of her work, and all the lovely new pieces she is producing from her new studio near Inverness. You can purchase her lovely pieces online, or visit her at stand between now and Sunday the 30th October and pick up something lovely there!

We also had a great chat with the lovely Niki Jones while wandering round. It was great to see her beautiful homeware in person and the stand was looking beautiful, styled to perfection with the entire range! It was VERY hard to resist taking one of everything ;)

Hope many of you will be able to make it along, or you can browse the full list of exhibitors online here and drool over their website at your leisure!

We will be back shortly with some studio visits, yummy dinners and shop tours we did while on our little Scottish trip! See you then.


Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sleepy Pup...

Oh, it's been a big few days for little Angus - a big journey on the Ferry to Scotland where he was a complete star, and constant excitement being in a new flat and playing with his Granny and Grandpa non-stop! ;)

He's a little snookered now and naps at your side given any opportunity...
I think he likes it here ;)

Happy Sunday, all. Hope yours is as sleepy as Angus's!

A@a*r xo

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Day on the Farm...

We sailed over to Scotland on Thursday to visit my parents, and yesterday, Ryan and I went to see my friend Helen, her husband Iain and their two gorgeous children, Leah and Charlie. They have the MOST amazing panoramic view of the countryside in their living room - a full wall window, it's incredible. Photo's don't do it justice!

... we had a lovely day on the farm, and Angus had a great time seeing the cows and sheep on his walk! We got to see Helen's jewellery studio where she is working on her fabulous new collection (when it's online, we will share the link) and had a lovely walk in the Autumnal country-side between showers!

Thanks so much for a lovely day Helen :))

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

New Gift Sets...

Shooting photo's for our 'soon to be in store' GIFT SETS! :)

...all eight of our tea-towels will soon be offered up in a gorgeous set, perfect for giving (to yourself, or others!!).

These are our 'new and improved' tea-towels, complete with hanging loop and can be washed up to 50 degrees now (rather than previous 40) and a new colour of pink for our Rhododendron and our Mango Dahlia is a little different, too!! We love how they all work together and hope you think they're lovely as well...

I'll let you know when they're up in the shop!


Friday, 14 October 2011

Stock has landed...

A BIG delivery of tea-towels has landed at chez a*r... watch out for gift sets landing in the shop (hopefully) next week!

... we can't wait to show you our brand new hanging loop (wootwoot!). Stay tuned :))


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

A gaggle...

...of *beautiful* Greylag Geese landed on the green in front of our house this morning! There was about twenty of them, poking around, eating some greens and I couldn't resist heading outside with my camera to get some shots.

I didn't want to go too close and scare them as they were right on the road, but they happily trotted off after a wee while to find another patch of grass and I think they will have a very nice day wandering around. :)

What a nice start to the day! Aren't their feathers stunning?

Happy Tuesday, all.


p.s. we phoned the RSPB to let them know they were here in case it was anything rare and they needed tagging or monitoring, but they assured us it's normal for this time of year so we will have to keep an eye out from now on!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The wee one is ONE!

This post calls for a collective 'Awwww' - our wee man, fluffball, and light of our lives, Angus Bell, turned ONE on the 4th of October. We got him when he was just shy of 8 weeks old last November, and we honestly can't really remember what it was like before we got him.

He has changed so much since we brought him home, just a wee small ball of dark fluff... and has grown in to a handsome creamy-coloured chap with big brown eyes, the cutest little snaggle tooth grin and HEAPS of spirit. He is never short of a kiss for Ryan and I and has a big circle of aunties and grandparents who love him to bits, too. I think he is one happy pup!

Have a little look at Angus growing up over the last year...right here.

In spite of puppy training, and now, the terrible teens, he is still the best chum two stay-at-home designers in love could ask for!

We love you Angus!
Happy Birthday,
love, Mummy & Daddy ;) xo

Monday, 3 October 2011


Tear sheets, beautiful colour combinations to inspire.

Happy Monday! :)
xo A

Best Banana Cake...

After a little Autumnal breakfast this morning, I have finally sat down and written up this recipe, as promised in the last post. Here goes!

Arrogant, maybe, but if there's one thing I know, it's cake and after a few refinements (i've baked this 3 times now) i'm pretty sure this might just be the BEST banana cake i've ever had...

Some have the needless frippery of chocolate chips, the unnecessary addition of chopped nuts, the superfluous augmentation of peanutbutter, cheesecake, raspberries, raisins, and any other number of things, but here we have it: pure bananananananananay goodness. Moist, rich and decadent enough to be a dessert (warm with a scoop of ice-cream, please...and maybe some hot fudge sauce), while still solid, and dare I say, healthy, enough to be great mid-morning with a cup of coffee.

Even better, it's dairy-free, egg-free and who says I never give you anything..??!

Here can thank me later ;)

Best Banana Cake

3 medium/large Mashed Bananas
1 Cup Light flavourless oil (we use groundnut)
1 Cup Milk (whichever kind you prefer, we use Kara because I love it)
1 Cup Oats
1 Cup Sugar
2 1/2 Cups Self raising flour
2 tsp Baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180ÂșC.

Grease and line an 8'x8' brownie tin (one about 2-3 inches deep). We use a (wonderfully) fuchsia pink silicone one, which doesn't need greasing.

Mix everything together in a big bowl until well combined.

Scrape and pour the mixture in to your tin.

Make a loose fitting tinfoil hat to protect the cake during the first part of it's cooking time.

Bake for 50 mins, then remove the tinfoil hat and bake for another 20.

Ovens do differ, so you may find you need to keep an eye on your cake during the last 20...or, even, that it takes a little longer. Just make sure that a cake tester comes out clean and that the top, although a deep golden, isn't burning.

As soon as it's out of the oven, cover the top of the cake with clingfilm and put a clean tea-towel on top of that. This ensures the golden top stays moist and delicious. Leave to cool (as long as you can- it's pretty fantastic warm!) , then serve however you wish :)