Tuesday, 14 March 2017


MOTHER'S DAY TREATS...


ALL PHOTOS: VIA 'THE WHITE COMPANY'



    Mother's Day is just over ten days away, and my thoughts have turned to what to get my own lovely mother, to show her how much I love and appreciate her.  We are actually taking her skiing with all the family next week, and shall be celebrating a day early on the Saturday on our last day up the slopes.  It will be a lovely treat for me too, as all our grown up children and 'extended family' will be with us too. 

The ever gorgeous 'White Company' is usually where I turn to find lovely gifts, and especially for deliciously scented candles and bath products.  Their fabulous range of ideal gifts is growing, especially with the introduction of skincare and jewellery and accessories, and if you haven't seen their new products, you are in for a treat.

Here is some inspiration for mother's day gifts, which will be sure to make any Mum feel special....I know I would be thrilled to receive any of them! (maybe my lovely brood are reading this post?!)





What a sweet idea to give a 'friendship' bracelet. After all, most Mums are our best friends too...




I just fell in love with these gorgeous fur pom-pom slippers....so pretty and cosy too!




With tassels and pom-poms so on trend this season, this scarf is just lovely....



I just love the simplicity of this beautiful makeup bag...in fact it would be useful for so many things. Perfect for sunglasses too...





The sweetest love heart charm necklace...




With a beautiful heart shaped box to keep those dressing table bits and pieces in.




Maybe something from their irresistible Spa range for some well deserved pampering?





Or a fabulous serum from their new skincare range?





So many gorgeous candles to choose from, but this new Spring one is just perfect for the season...

...along with this delicous smelling reed diffuser.





And lastly, this stylish photo frame caught my eye, for those precious family photos that mean so much.

I shall certainly be taking a special photo this year, of my lovely mother with me and all the family on top of that mountain.  Giving thanks and creating special memories.


Sophia xxx

Ps.  Inspired by some of these lovelies from The White Company?  Just click on their link in the right hand side bar for all these and many more gorgeous products.  There are some rather special offers too!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

THE OPTIMISM OF SPRING...


ALL PHOTOS: SOPHIA HOME



This morning the sun came out, and although a little chilly, there was a definite change in the air.  Birds singing, bulbs popping through, and a freshness in the atmosphere. It was a treat to be outside for a morning, before returning to my desk.


Spring is such a positive and optimistic season of new beginnings.   A time to clear out the debris of Winter both inside and out.  A good Spring clean in our homes is called for, and what a joy it is to fling open those windows and let in that fresh new air.  










The garden is our main focus at this time of the year.  A busy time of weeding and mulching, greenhouse cleaning and seed sewing.  An investment of time and effort which pays back in abundance when everything is in full summer bloom and the kitchen garden is rewarding us with delicious organic vegetables and fruit. 


Days are getting longer, and thoughts turn to a change in routine.  I love the early evening ritual of watering my greenhouse and watching for new life.  




Seed and plant buying is always exciting.  This 
year I plan to add greatly to last year's planting of Dahlia tubers, and also Ranunculus in my cutting garden.  So lovely to have bunches and bunches of beautiful blooms to fill the house with all summer long until the first frosts.






Not just lighter days, but also the craving for lighter food, and trying some delicious new springtime recipes...









Lastly let's not forget lighter clothes too. (British weather permitting!)  As much as I love my cosy winter boots and jumpers, the opportunity for bare ankles and lightweight dresses and tops is so welcome!

What are you particularly enjoying at the start of this gorgeous fresh new Spring season?  I would love to hear....

Sophia xx

***

Ps.  I certainly didn't want to dwell on anything negative for this optimistic Spring post, but I just wanted to say a huge heartfelt thank you to so many of you who sent lovely messages to me with regards to the recent hacking of my Instagram.  The long and short of it is that both mine and Delilah my puppy's accounts were taken over, bombarded with obscene images and have now been removed by Instagram who inspite of numerous messages, have not responded.  I lost several years of a precious visual diary and over 6,000 followers.  I have no idea why this happened?  I like to think it was nothing personal and just for audience numbers and I may have been one of many who had our emails hacked.  What was a harmless, happy, creative place for me, my family and lovely like minded followers, was obscenely violated. 

To end on a positive (it is Spring after all!) I have taken a deep breath and started again.  Everyone has been so lovely and supportive, and as I say, this is so appreciated!  The little corner of Instagram that I know and love is incredibly kind and supportive and so full of talent and inspiration and I shall certainly not be giving up, just because there are such horrible low life people out there. I have now set up new Instagram accounts (with a very slight change in name) for myself and Delilah, and you can find them here if you would like to follow:

@sophiahomeandlifestyle
@delilahtheminidaxie

Wishing you a very happy rest of the week...

xxx








Sunday, 26 February 2017

INSTAGRAM....A WARNING!


Hello everyone,
Just a quick message to say that sadly and shockingly, my Instagram profile has been hacked and has been taken over and @sophiahomelifestyle is no longer available.  If you are one of my regular followers, you may have noticed this already?  Please ignore any unsuitable future instagram posts on my account as they are beyond my control.  I have taken this up with Instagram and hope to hear back from them shortly to resolve this very upsetting and worrying problem.  I do not know how this has happened, but would advise all of you with Instagram accounts to please check your settings and security.   

Thank you,

Sophia xx

Thursday, 23 February 2017




A NEW SIMPLE PLEASURE....

Anyone who read my post on 'Beating the January Blues' may recall me mentioning that I was keen to take up a couple of new creative hobbies at the start of this year, and one of those was candle making?  Well, I'm pleased to say that I have tried it, I have REALLY enjoyed it, and I don't think that after my fourth batch, it is going to be one of those passing fads (unlike other whims in the past!?)

It is my new 'Simple Pleasure'...




We all love candles don't we?  A simple pleasure, and yet the power of even a few tea lights has the ability to transform a room from soulless to warm, inviting and calming.

Growing up in the 70's here in England, with a Scandinavian mother, I grew up with lit candles being a big part of every day.  Candles were always lit at the table, even at breakfast on a school day, and this must have subconsciously instilled in me that need for a calm and special start to the day, whatever it held.  It always surprised me to learn at the time that most other people only used candles on 'high days and holidays' or a special meal, or otherwise as a practicality in the frequent power cuts in the 70's!  This was quite a foreign concept in our 'Swenglish' family home.

Then of course, the candle love spread in this country and steadily grew over time, to be the huge business that it is today!

Qualities as we know vary enormously.  From the cheap, overpoweringly scented variety (not to be touched in my opinion!) through to the beautiful quality of candles such as Diptique, Cire Trudon and Jo Malone which are just a few of my favourites.  They may cost more than cheaper versions, but their burn time and quality of scent make it so worth it.

Putting these above lovelies on one side, I have been keen for some time to try to recreate some of their lovely quality in my own home made candles.  So, after quite a bit of research, a bit of 'candle supplies' shopping and finding myself with a nice clear Saturday morning, my new little project began.  

Firstly, my research taught me the difference between different wax qualities.  I decided on a natural soya wax as opposed to a cheaper petroleum based wax.  Soya does not emit carbon so therefore much healthier for us in our homes, as well as for the environment.  It came in flake form which was easy to handle and use.




Then I chose which fragrance to use.  Wanting to make a top quality product, I chose pure essential oils for my candles.  I made half of them using Grapefruit and the other with Peppermint, both uplifting fresh scents and especially nice in a kitchen or bathroom.  I have since experimented with a gorgeous mix of 'Lavender, Chamomile and Vanilla' which is especially lovely in a bedroom and also 'Lime, Basil and Mandarin' which seems to appeal to most people and is so fresh and invigorating.




The wax was then heated in a double boiler.  I used a large jug that I bought especially for this purpose and stood this to melt in a large pan of boiling water.  When completely melted, the wax was allowed to cool very slightly before adding my chosen essential oils.  It is hard to say how much one needs, and advice varies, but experimenting and using you nose helps!  A good few shakes for a volume this size did the trick, and made the kitchen smell amazing!




Wicks with attached metal discs are the easy option (as opposed to long lengths of wick on rolls which you assemble yourself) and these were attached to my chosen candle jars with little glue dots especially for this purpose.  They come in different lengths, so choose the right length for the size of container you are using.  Choosing the containers is the really fun part.  Virtually any heatproof container can be made in to a candle.  I bought a variety of sizes of glass container, my favourite being these goreous larger ones which take three wicks.

Making sure the wicks were securely stuck to the base of the candle jar, I gently poured the melted wax in.  Kebab sticks or something similar can be used, to keep the wicks upright while the wax is hardening.  You will be able to remove these after about an hour.  Then let the wax fully harden for 24 hours.




Lovely silver, gold and bronze lids are not necessary, but complete the look of the finished candle, and protect it from dust when not in use.




I am so enjoying giving these away as gifts....as well as enjoying burning a number of them around the house too.




Many of you will know this already, but it is very important to burn any candle long enough for the first time, for the entire surface to pool with wax.  This helps the candle to burn evenly and to avoid 'tunneling' around the wick.

The Soya wax burns beautifully, and without any sooty vapour that cheaper alternatives create.  

The pure essential oils also smell wonderful! 




In all, a very satisfying new creative hobbie which I shall certainly be continuing.  I am looking forward to experimenting with new containers and scents and look forward to sharing those with you in the future.

If you have been inspired to have a go at making your own candles, then there are many candle material suppliers out there.  I found these two to be very helpful for both their supplies and advice:

Supplies4candles (click for link)

Candle Shack (click for link)


***

Wishing you a very happy end to the week,

Sophia xx


Tuesday, 14 February 2017


 PUPPY LOVE...








Any of you who have been following my Instagram @sophiahomelifestyle over the last week will know that our new little member of the family has arrived!  A special early Valentine's present to me from Mr. W which has caused great excitement in the 'Sophia Home' household!





I collected 'Delilah' our nine week old miniature smooth haired Dachshund last Friday,  just in time for the weekend, with all our brood home (often difficult to engineer at times, but funnily enough it happened this weekend?!) 






After a bit of a cry from her basket going down the motorway, she then fell in to a deep sleep.  Think it must have been the soothing tones of the satnav woman's voice that lulled her in to slumber!






Cuddles on tap once home...



...but unsurprisingly, not from our other two dogs!
Rocco appears to be laughing and playing with her in this picture, but trust me, that didn't last for long!





Decidedly unimpressed, once they realised that this little bundle of fun was here to stay, Rocco our Lab and Kiki our Cockerspaniel decamped down to the other end of the house...Delilah jumping in their bed did not go down that well!



 Poor little thing....she is trying SO hard to be friends!  I think it is going to take some time before these two old pensioners are going to accept her.  Early days!





She's a confident little thing, and unbelievably affectionate.  She also seems to have a love of 'Netflix'....or is it a nice excuse for a cuddle with new big bro?





Today the sun came out, and it was time to explore the garden for the first time.  No walks out in public yet for Delilah, until she has had her final vaccinations in a couple of weeks....





...but hitching a ride around the fields on the morning walk gets her out safely for now...and certainly all that fresh air makes her sleep well!






It's been a full on week with tackling the house training, and having to be ever vigilant and keeping the peace between this little monkey and her pensioner canine friends, but I have to say I think we are getting somewhere....all be it slowly!  She really is proving to be a very sweet and loving little dog, with such a lovely nature as well as being rather brave and feisty.

We are all most definitely smitten!

***

Wishing you all a happy rest of the week...

Sophia xx

Monday, 23 January 2017

BANISH THOSE JANUARY WINTER BLUES...


January for many, can be the most depressing month of the year.  After the excitement of Christmas and New year, January can be a bit of a let down...back to work for most, short daylight hours, usually cold and damp, recovering from the expense of Christmas, along with any new diet  and non drinking resolutions?  
Not great really!

IMAGE CREDIT: PINTEREST

Now I'm no psychologist, and true depression is a different matter which needs to be treated properly and professionally, but if you are just struggling a little with these early weeks of the year, then I do believe a different mindset and a few little tweaks and above all, being kind to oneself, can make all the difference.  


It is our homes, more than ever at this time of year, that are so important.  For me, the organised running of and relaxed and happy atmosphere in our home is of paramount importance to me.  It is something I strive to create for myself and my family and visiting friends every day.  Not just a roof over our heads, our homes should be a complete sanctuary. A place to feel totally safe and relaxed, to switch off from the outside world, as well as an inspiring and happy place to be.  

Why not take advantage of being inside more at this time of year?  I know that once the warmer weather is here, I shall be spending far more time outside and concentrating on our garden, so here are a few simple things that I like to do at home in January, to keep things upbeat:


  Have a good clear out!
Even the most 'neat freakish' amongst us will probably benefit from a bit of a clear out?  We all know our weak points...whether it's wardrobes, kitchen cupboards, or the cupboard under the stairs, we can all benefit from a bit of a clutter clear!

Clothes to begin with...you know the rule, apart from only a few special exceptions, if you haven't worn it for a year then you probably won't again, so either donate, sell or bin it!  As I get older, I am more sure of my own sense of style and am pleased to say, rarely feel that I make a disastrous purchase.  Quality over quantity becomes more important, and I like to wear and enjoy what I have and not just look at it in the wardrobe!  Over time, I am purging far less things on my annual wardrobe sort out, which is a good feeling.  It's amazingly energising to get this done, and to open your wardrobe and know that you love everything in it, and it fits and suits you, and the life you are living.


My second big sort out after the long Christmas/new year break is the fridge and larder. If you are on a bit of a new year health kick this is a must...leftover 'naughties' can go!  Out of date items are binned and stocks replenished.  This helps me think straight and start planning some new fresh recipe inspiration.  


Cook something delicious:

I'm not one for fad diets and strict regimes, believing instead that by just cooking with good healthy, wholesome, organic (wherever possible) ingredients from scratch, (no labels!) combined with plenty of exercise is the answer.  January especially really is not the time for deprivation, so 'moderation'  in my book is a far gentler and kinder option!  There are plenty of delicious, comforting yet healthy things to cook.  An hour or so in the kitchen trying something new can be fun and relaxing, given the time, and I am especially enjoying trying some new recipes this month.  

One particular inspiration is in Mimi Thorisson's beautiful book 'A Kitchen in France'  (click for link) which many of you will know and love.  My youngest son gave me this gorgeous book for Christmas, and being a fan of delicious, simple, french country cooking, I am so enjoying creating some of her mouthwatering recipes.   The whole roast chicken cooked in creme fraĆ®che and herbs will leave you never wanting to roast a chicken again in any other way!





Next on my wishlist is her latest book 'French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a village in the Vineyards' (click for link), which like her first book, promises to be just as lovely, with stunning photography too.



Flowers and bulbs:

Fresh flowers in the house has to be one of life's simple pleasures, and one of the most inexpensive and easiest ways to light up a room and give days of enjoyment.   It doesn't have to be elaborate, just a small bunch from the supermarket, costing a couple of pounds can make all the difference.  All my indoor Christmas Hyacinths have finished flowering now, so new ones are called for, along with mini narcissi baskets from our Friday flower market which will have us optimistic and dreaming of Spring, which really is only just around the corner!




Pamper:

Who doesn't love a long, hot soak in the bath?  
Jo Malone's beautiful bath oils are my big indulgence, turning bathtime in to a real treat.  So many gorgeous fragrances, but I'm so loving the Red roses oil, and indulgent body cream at the moment.  



 It certainly makes winter pampering extra special. The scent is heavenly and it leaves the bathroom smelling amazing!  


BATHROOM: SOPHIA HOME





 Candles:

Year round, candles are essential aren't they?  Don't just save them to the evening.  A beautiful scented candle burning on the kitchen side or on my desk during the day, certainly lifts my spirits. 

My favourite scents at this time of year are fresh, clean zesty fragrances, and the recent 'Lime and Bay' addition from 'The White Company' is so uplifting....







Take up a new hobby:


New year....new interests?  
I decided that I wanted to try my hand at a couple of new skills this new year, and have taken up embroidery and candle making.  Early days with the embroidery, but the candle making so far has been so much fun and could become a little addictive?  I shall report back on both soon!
Have you taken up any new hobbies?  I would love to hear.



Hygge:

Unless any of you have been living in a cave for the last few months, you will not have missed the 'Hygge' trend taking the world by storm? Scandinavians have been naturally practising 'Hygge' (pronounces 'hoo-ga') for ever, and this appreciation of cosiness, kinship and appreciation of the simple pleasures in life, whether in quiet conviviality around the fire indoors, or out enjoying nature, has obviously contributed to the Nordic countries being rated as amongst the happiest nations.  If you need a little inspiration, then I can highly recommend Signe Johansen's lovely recent book 'How to Hygge' (click for link) which includes some delicious recipes too.






So let's try to embrace these darker months before the Spring arrives and turn to our homes to enjoy this precious time...it certainly looks like Kiki my Cockerspaniel has got it all worked out?  



PHOTO: SOPHIA HOME



Wishing you all a very happy week...

Sophia xx

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


PUPPY LOVE...


Happy Tuesday everyone, and I hope your week is going well?

Firstly I have to say that today's little post comes with a warning....it contains rather an overdose of doggie cuteness!

ALL PHOTOS: SOPHIA HOME


Followers of this blog, will know that there are two important members of our household, namely Rocco our 14.5 year old Labrador and Kiki our 13 year old Cocker Spaniel.  Both quite elderly now, but pleased to say, still in reasonably good health and enjoying life.


We have been toying with the idea of getting a new little addition to our canine family for a while, and somehow now seems the right time.  Quite what our doggie pensioners will think of a puppy in the house, well who knows?  Hopefully after the initial shock, they will grow to love her? Fingers crossed!
A miniature smooth haired Dachsund was our choice.  Small, manageable and loyal with big personalities and the energy to enjoy long walks in the countryside seemed the perfect characteristics. Stubborn with training also cropped up...but ask me again in a few weeks!  

What we hadn't appreciated, was just how fashionable these little dogs are, and a combination of being very particular on breeder and litter, proved an intensive search and we had to be vigilant to available puppies being advertised. The Kennel Club came up trumps though, and I would recommend to anyone, to always go down this route when choosing a pedigree puppy.


ALL PHOTOS: SOPHIA HOME


So here is where our search took us....to these gorgeous little bundles of joy.  Two chocolate and tan girls and three black and tan boys, just five weeks old.  I think you can tell that daughter Georgie and I were fairly besotted to say the least!







We were particularly impressed with 'Mum' Rosie...such a sweet, friendly temperament and she seemed only too happy to show off her beautiful babies to us.  This along with the background and conscientiousness of the lovely breeder Lyndsey,  made us all the more happy about this particular litter.  All very important factors to take in to account when choosing a new puppy.


What wasn't quite so easy, was actually choosing which puppy?
  Quite honestly, we could have very happily taken them all home with us!








Here she is though....this is little 'Delilah', who will be coming home to live with us in just three weeks time.   



Such a sweetie, and we can hardly wait to welcome her.  No doubt you will be seeing plenty of her in the future!

***


Have a lovely rest of the week...

Sophia xx