New Year Revolutions
By Linda Parker
We’ve just done the after-Xmas sort out, getting rid of all the surplus groceries, half-eaten boxes of chocs and biscuits, and are in the process of putting away all the decorations and left over Christmas wrapping paper, cards and tags. In all honestly, I over-purchased on all fronts and have enough Christmas stationery left for next year too …
On the food front, we’ve all had enough roast dinners to last a good few months, so the annual flurry of healthy eating advice is most welcome. I watched some Hugh Fearnley -Whittingstall episodes in the run up to Christmas, with the intention of revising my cooking repertoire to add some warming New Year interest. Winter salads are always good idea, and are usually quick and speedy after the marathon of Xmas slow-roasting. His recipe for Artichoke and Hazelnut salad is easy and delicious. For further HFW artichoke recipes, go to www.rivercottage.net/recipes/white-beans-with-artichokes just the thing for a winter evening, and if you have the energy to bake your own bread, a perfect excuse for supper on a tray. If you’re really in the frame of mind for a healthy-eating blitz, I’m pretty inspired by Davina’s Smart Carbs, buy the book here on Amazon It might seem a bit of a chore to follow the advice for every meal every day, but if you struggle with over-indulging on carbohydrates, there is a lot of good advice there. But as ever, most ‘diets’ boil down to four simple words. Eat less, move more.
Of course, clearing the house of all the festivities means everything looks rather forlorn and bare. I can hardly wait to tackle my lock-up storage space, and get everything out to put into the new house, but in the meantime I’ve been tempted by several sale bargains, particularly lighting. The big thing at the moment is pendant lights, which is fabulous for several reasons, the main one being that pendant shades are usually quite easy to swap around to perk up a scheme. Copper and metallic finishes are the way to go to add an ultra-fab luxurious look. I picked up one or two bargains in the Next sale, which by the time this is published, will alas be over, but do make a note of it for next time the sales come around, their lighting is excellent. Another site I’ve recently bought from is Within, who also have good sales! However, if you want to shop now, look at the designs from Jim Lawrence, which work with contemporary and period homes, and Out There Interiors, which will add a quirky flourish and sense of cheerfulness to retro-modern interior schemes.
Trend-wise, I’ve been searching through lots of my local second-hand/antique/junk shops, and I’m now warming to the idea of introducing some retro 1960s pieces of furniture to the new house. This time last year I thought I’d be furnishing a 16th Century house in the middle of town, that purchase didn’t happen and now we’re on the verge of moving into pretty much the complete opposite – a 1960s detached house on the edge of town. The previous owner left several items of furniture, one of which, a G-Plan teak cabinet has been used by the builders for the last four months as their kitchen station. I’ve now cleaned it down, need to buy some scratch repair crayons, will remove the legs and intend as a wall-mounted desk-cabinet in the snug. If mid-century is your thing, now is the time to pick up a bargain, my local salvage places are full of the stuff … Team stand-alone pieces with pale flooring, geometric patterned rugs, appropriately styled drum lamp shades and colourful studio glass vases for an individual and colourful retro look.
Gadget-wise, I’m going to have a bit of a cull within the next few weeks. Whilst we’re on the winter salad and soup binge, all that’s needed are super-sharp knives and a good hand blender. My big thing at the moment is freezer storage; I’ll be looking forward to filling up a new American-style fridge-freezer, but will be looking to invest in some jolly storage containers that will work in a tall, thin freezer. At the moment, Home Bargains is one of the best places ever for budget ideas, but I think I’ll upgrade to more long-lasting and perhaps colourful containers, so a visit to Lakeland will be in order, no doubt. www.lakeland.co.uk for their colourful stack-a-boxes, which are suitable for ‘nesting’ when empty and stacking when full, and which can transfer between microwave, freezer and dishwasher.
If the New Year is prompting a decision regarding a new kitchen, consider the all-singing, all-dancing boiling water Aquataps from Heatrae Sadia. Boiling water taps are definitely one of the pricier items on a new kitchen wish-list, but I’ve yet to meet anyone who has regrets about pushing that particular boat out! The Aquatap range includes a boiling water only model, a boiling and chilled option, and a boiling and ambient option. Each has a 5 litre capacity tank. As far as kitchen chairs are concerned, there are rich pickings to be had, especially if you’ve got an eye on the budget and need to buy several. Have a look at affordable designs from Cult Furniture, £55 each, and Design 55 Interiors, £91, and create a playful look with mix and match styles and colours.
And finally, my latest new house purchase. The ‘Press’ sign. It had to be done!
Next time …. Appetising ideas for Spring menus and colourful ideas for new interiors