A Styling Shoot with Simple Shape

26 May 2016

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A couple of week’s ago, I spent a really lovely day with Helen Osgerby, founder of the beautifully curated online store Simple Shape.

I met Helen last year sometime, I can’t remember when exactly, but we had a cuppa and a chat, I already knew that I loved the products Helen selects so carefully for Simple Shape, but I really warmed to her too.  We met to discuss a plan that didn’t end up coming to fruition, but I think despite this we both knew that we wanted to work together somehow.  And so after a few emails we arranged a telephone meeting; we discussed the pieces that Helen has in the Simple Shape collection, and my love of floral styling and photography, and how we could combine the two.  When it dawned on us, that a table set for a meal would be the ideal showcase, even better than that, an al-fresco (ish, well you can never trust the British climate) dining scene would be perfect.

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I thought it might be interesting if I shared my process leading up to the actual day, as a kind of behind the scenes look at preparing for a styling job.  After we decided that we would be going for an outdoor (but covered) eating scene, I set up a private Pinterest board that both Helen and I could pin images too.  This was a great way of ensuring that we both were thinking along the same lines and for me to get a really good understanding of the kind of feel Helen would like.  We both pinned images of al-fresco meal scenes, along with inspirational photos showing colour schemes and lifestyle shots.

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Next we set about finding the perfect venue.  As I have already mentioned we thought it best to find somewhere with cover, which was very wise as it turned out, because there was a massive downpour half way through the day!  So after a bit of research, we really did find the perfect spot, a gorgeous old out building/barn at Upper Lodge in Sussex.

Helen and I had one final telephone conversation, whilst Dottie painted me and the entire room in blue paint (perhaps paint isn’t the best distraction to give your 3 year old when you want to make a telephone call)!  We talked over all the finer details, the images we had pinned and why we liked them, roughly decided on flowers, a colour scheme, what Helen would need to bring in terms of products and also any extra props.

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During that conversation, we talked about using cow parsley as it is in season currently, and also of having some kind of flower installation to add interest and give height to the scene.  Shortly after our chat, I spotted a big cluster of it by the road, this gave me the idea to hang it from the beams, creating a cow parsley cloud.   We had also agreed that peonies would be a beautiful addition, so I ordered them along with the fox gloves for the vases in the centre of the table.

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On the day, Helen and I snuck up to Devils Dyke near my home for a bit of flower foraging first thing, and then headed up to Upper Lodge.  When we arrived, we started with the cow parsley installation, I simply tied linen string around each stem, and Helen very kindly balanced on top of a wobbly ladder to hang it from the beams.  I then arranged the remaining flowers in the vases, and placed them along the table before we set it.

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Quite a few photos later, (it’s hard to stop when everything looks so gorgeous), we dismantled the scene and I styled a few other shots using various different products that Helen had brought with her.

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It would be almost impossible to style the hand-crafted items that Simple Shape stocks badly, Helen has a great eye, but I have to say I was pretty pleased with the results. Everything came together beautifully, the location was lovely, the stock was perfect, and the flowers were, well pretty as a picture!

Helen also took a few photos during the day, including some of me in action I believe, if you fancy seeing them pop over to the Simple Shape blog.  Whilst you are there, make sure you look at the films in some of her early posts, they are really inspiring.

Emma x

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Tears

19 May 2016

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I’ve cried a lot lately; cried because of loss, cried because of pain, cried because I don’t have the answers, but mostly I’ve cried because of fear.  I’m scared so much of the time, having strange stuff happening to your body does that to you.  I’ve turned in to a huge hypochondriac too for the same reason.  The doctors might not have found anything yet, but I know that the way I feel isn’t right, a person isn’t supposed to feel like this.  Of course, I keep all this to myself, it is bad enough feeling like a total burden to your family without mentioning that you think you have some life threatening illness every day.

But what I haven’t been able to do is hide the tears from them too.   I do a pretty good job at painting a smile on for the outside world, but not my family, which means I have been doing something I hate doing, and that’s crying in front of my children.  I’m not talking about crying in front of them in mourning, I think letting them see that kind of emotion is absolutely fine, crying occasionally for other reasons too, us parents are human too after all.  And I think our kids seeing that is no bad thing, showing a bit of vulnerability from time to time, surely that can’t do any harm.

But crying because of fear that’s a different matter isn’t it?  Doesn’t that just make them scared too? It’s not Dottie really, she doesn’t seem to notice, but Elvia is a different matter, it worries me so much. The impact it is having on her.  I hide it when I can, but sometimes the tears just start to flow and she ends up comforting me, my nine year old daughter comforting me, that’s the wrong way round, it’s my job to comfort her.

I still cling on to the fact, that soon I will find the answers and it won’t be like this forever, it’s just a blip, and it will be forgotten.  I hope so, not just so I can feel like a normal person again, but for her sake, my Elvia’s, these aren’t the memories I wanted to give her.

Emma x

Nut Butter Cup Recipe

14 May 2016

I have a ridiculously sweet tooth, it is so bad that my capacity for chocolate and cake is often cause for ridicule and amusement to some of my family members!  But as you know if you are a regular reader, I am no longer eating sugar, which is definitely not that funny, well not in my book anyway.

So, how am I coping?  I’ll tell you how, by constantly looking for and making dairy, gluten and sugar free but sweet recipes that I find on Pinterest.  I have to admit, some are more successful than others, but there is one that I can’t stop making, and that is almond butter cups.

If you search for them, I am pretty sure you will find hundreds of versions, but here is mine, adapted from a few, to reach what for me is chocolate and nut heaven:

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You will need:

  • About 1/4 jar nut butter (or 12 tablespoons) of your choice (I use almond but peanut is delicious, and I’m planning on trying hazelnut too)
  • 120 ml coconut oil
  • 50g raw cacao powder
  • 60 ml maple syrup
  • a pinch of salt (optional)
  • fairy cake or yorkshire pudding tin
  • Makes approximately 12
  1. Melt the coconut oil, maple syrup, cacao powder and salt in a saucepan over a gentle heat.
  2. Once it has melted, make sure it is all mixed together and pour approximately half the chocolate mixture, into the cake tin moulds.  Each one will be a couple of millimetres deep.
  3. Put the cake tin in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  4. When you are ready, remove the tin from the freezer, and place a spoonful of nut butter on top of the chocolate in each mould, spread it out evenly.
  5. Pour the remaining chocolate mixture over the nut butter.
  6. Put back in the freezer until set, this takes about an hour.
  7. Once they are set, I tend to remove them from the cake tin, and place in a freezer bag before putting them back in the freezer, ready to eat whenever I fancy.

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I can’t tell you how long they will last in the freezer, because I’ve never managed to save them for longer than a few days!  But I am sure they would be fine for a few weeks at least.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Emma x