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Monthly Archives: June 2013
  • Posted on June 25, 2013

    Introducing The True Star Of Centre Court...Celebrate With Polish You Pretty!

    It’s that time of year again, when London takes centre stage as the tennis capital of the world and players from far and wide, dressed in their best Wimbledon whites, prepare to thrash it out for the Grand Slam title. If you think the best action is confined to the parameter of Centre Court, then think again; some of the summer’s finest treats can be enjoyed off court where the Pimm’s flows endlessly and 2,000 kilos of strawberries are wolfed down everyday!

    We are celebrating the king of the berry and all of its juicy goodness! If you really want to add a burst of summer to your look and reveal just how much of a strawbophile you really are, then get painting and polish those nails pretty!

    Here’s what you need to do to get the look!

    You Will Need

    Top and base coats

    Dotting tool shown

    Nail art brush shown



    4 shades of pink

    4 shades of green


    1 Apply a base coat and when dry, paint each nail with two coats of a different shade using the brush from the bottle. Graduate from the pale pink through to the dark red. (You can paint your thumb to match your pinkie!)

    2 To add the strawberry seed effect, take the yellow polish, and using a small dotting tool, add polka dots all over each nail (we find that spacing them like a ‘5’ on a dice tends to be the best way to space them evenly). Allow to dry completely.

    3 Once the base colours and polka dots have dried completely, you can add the strawberry leaves. Use four shades of green (from light to dark) to tone with the pink to red base colours. Using a small nail art brush begin by creating a ‘U’ shape at the base of each nail. Paint long and skinny triangles to resemble leaves – you can vary both size and length for each nail if you like.

    4 Once your nail design is dry, seal it with top coat. Now you have nails so juicy you might just be tempted to take a bite!

    Polish You Pretty by Jenny Stencel & Danielle Black with photography by Terry Benson is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available here

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK

  • Posted on June 19, 2013

    Which renowned interiors photographer photographed the beautiful homes in Perfect English Farmhouse?

    Are you sleeping in your best asset?

    If you have a stylish or interesting home and would like to know how to make it pay its way, Running a Successful Location House Business could be the course for you. We have one place to give away on Bella Pringle and Nick Ivins course, run from their own location house in East Sussex as featured in our sumptuous book by Ros Byam Shaw's The Perfect English Farmhouse. They will share their knowledge on how to successfully market your home as a location house. There will be styling and photography tips; how to attract the top location agencies and their A-list clients as well as what to expect from shoot days, including keeping shoot crews happy and encouraging repeat business.

    Bella Pringle and Nick Ivins at Walnuts Farm

    From 10am to 3pm and including a delicious lunch the courses are being held on the following dates:

     Tuesday 2nd July; Thursday 4th July; Tuesday 10th September; Tuesday 17th September, Tuesday 8th and Tuesday 15th October

    There will also be a pop-up shop in the granary to ‘shop the look’.

    To be in with the chance of winning a place on this fascinating course, just follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and answer the following question correctly!

    Which renowned interiors photographer photographed the beautiful homes in Perfect English Farmhouse?

    Please email your answer to publicity@rps.co.uk

    The closing date for entries is Thursday 27th June.  Feel free to choose the course date that suits you best!

    You’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful location business owner!

    Best of luck!

    Perfect English Farmhouse By Ros Byam Shaw is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available here

    Other interiors inspirations books include :-






    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with Ros Byam-Shaw

  • Posted on June 18, 2013

    Craft your way around the globe

    A few weeks ago, we sent out a review copy of the forthcoming 'Craft it Up Around the World' to one of our favourite bloggers, Jenny Kearney (aka The Gingerbread Mum). Here's what she made of the book:

    The cold wet weather has kept us indoors the last few days. Fortunately we were sent a really fun craft book which has kept us busy and helped us explore new things. Craft It Up Around The World brings the great wide world into the home with 35 travel-inspired craft projects! The toddler and I enjoyed sitting down and looking through it together, we’ve already chosen a couple of fun projects to do.

    craft it up

    The authors, Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong have created Craft It Up Around The World to inspire children to look at the world around them in a new way. They can discover the Americas by bagging themselves a potato print tote from Argentina and painted pebbles with Colombian rainforest designs. Other projects include making a bouquet of Dutch felt tulips and creating salt dough coins fit for the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Children can celebrate the wonder of Asia with a Japanese sushi brooch and make their own Vietnamese juice box boat like the boats in Ha Long Bay. They will love creating African art by making a Ghanaian clay bead necklace, and will remember Sydney, Australia forever with their very own memory jar.

    We tried “The Mounties Always Get Their (Gingerbread) Man. I think you can probably guess that they didn’t last long enough to be iced.


    Next we made Howard’s Treasure Hunt Bottle with the treasures we picked up from the beach last weekend.


    Today we’ve been working on the Yarn Bombed “Baaaaaaa” Stool but I have to admit that both children have been looking at me like I’m mad! My toddler doesn’t quite understand about other countries but I’d like to think he’s beginning to grasp the concept of different people and cultures and this book will definitely help.

    This is such a lovely craft book. Well illustrated with clear instructions, makes it accessible for many ages. Most of the crafts can be completed with items you already have around the home which makes this a great book for all ages and abilities. It’s brilliant to have such an unusual craft book on our craft shelves, who wouldn’t want to craft their way around the globe and learn some fun facts about other cultures and countries along the way!?

    Craft It Up Around the World by Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong is published by CICO Kidz on July 11th 2013 and is available from all good bookshops or online outlets.

    About our guest blogger:

    My name is Jenny and I’ve been blogging here since 2005 about London life, crafts, baking (we love gingerbread!) and life with two children. I’m a mother of two small terrors who never sleep – Big Brother the toddler and Little Sis his baby sister. You can find me here on twitter. I love to blog and also write a parenting photoblog, a family history blog and baking blog called flour sugar eggs and butter.

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Book Reviews, News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, instagram, sushi, summer holidays, bored kids, school holidays, Libby Abadee, cico kidz

  • Posted on June 14, 2013

    Helen Graves, Author of '101 Sandwiches' on writing her first book


    So I’ve written a book. Yikes! It’s called 101 Sandwiches and is due to be published by Dog 'n' Bone Books in the Autumn. What’s that? You think sandwiches aren’t important enough to fill a whole book? Think. Again. There are some incredible sangers being eaten around the world and I’ve selected the best of them. There’s a recipe for every sandwich featured and the book will have chapters on all time classics; street food; curry and spice; summer and BBQ; ‘project sandwiches’ for when you’re feeling ambitious; well connected sandwiches; a luxe category and also some sweet tings for you strange people who like that weird sugar stuff.

    The sandwiches featured veer from the well known like the Japanese katsu sando and the American Reuben, through some you may not have heard of like the Barros Luco, the vada pav and rou jia mo, then right out to the other side to the outrageous, like the francesinha which is a Portugese beast featuring several types of meat, cheese and BEER SAUCE. Beer. Sauce. There’s even a contribution from everyone’s favourite pub landlord, Oisin Rogers of The Ship, who dreamily explains the concept of the fridge buffet.

    I thought I’d also offer a little bit of advice for anyone else who is thinking about  writing a book. So here goes…

    1. Do NOT, under any circumstances, download ‘Ninja Fishing‘ for the Iphone.

    2. Get a lot of tea in. I thought I drank a lot of tea but it turns out I knew nothing about the upper limits of normal. Nothing.

    3. Have other people around like housemates, mates, boyfriend/girlfriend so when someone says, ‘does anyone want anything from the shop?’ You can shout YES!! I would like this and this and this and TEA and this and MILK and this and this and this and on and on and on until they HATE you. Then when your book is published they will feel obliged to buy and rave about it and they will hate you even more*.

    3. Buy several new sets of pyjamas. You’ll be spending a lot of time in them.

    4. Find a comfy place to work. I’m not a freelancer, and so I’m not used to working from home. Writing a book perched on a wooden kitchen chair with an insufficiently padded cushion beneath your numb arse cheeks for 5 hours is not the way forward.

    5. Do not do a PhD at the same time as writing a book.

    6. Do not do a a 9-5 job at the same time as a PhD at the same time as writing a book.

    7. Download some proper writing software. I had a conversation with a friend that went like this:

    Him: ‘what software are you using?’

    Me: ‘say what now?’

    Him: Oh Jesus, you’re not using Word are you?’

    Me: ‘er, yeah’

    Him: ‘PAAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHA (seriously you need to download Scrivener)’

    So there we have it. Pretty profound shit I think you’ll agree. As I say, the book will be out in the autumn. At the moment someone else is doing the photography and that kind of stuff which is frankly a huge relief because the idea of ‘food styling’ makes me want to poke myself in the eye with cutlery tied together with raffia, or perhaps a piece of gingham ribbon.

     *small voice* please buy it…

    This blog post originally appeared on Helen's blog, 'Food Stories'. To read more of her writing, go to: http://helengraves.co.uk/

    Helen also has another blog - devoted entirely to the subject of sandwiches - entitled: londonreviewofsandwiches.wordpress.com

    Look out for 101 Sandwiches this Autumn...

    It will be available in all good bookshops and all the usual online outlets. It's sure to be a cause for celebration...

    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, UK, US and was tagged with kirstie allsopp, 2013, spices, street food, 101 sandwiches, bbq, tea, Helen Graves

  • Posted on June 12, 2013

    Happy Father's Day!

    Father’s Day is fast approaching and what better way to show your Dad just how much he is appreciated than by presenting him with some prime pork and the perfect craft beer accompaniment!  Taken from Smoke and Spice by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge; treats like this will ensure you are firmly secured on Dad’s good side this weekend! 

    This recipe for delectably slow-roasted pork is sure to get mouths watering. The smoky bacon helps keep the meat moist and lends a subtle smokiness all around. If in doubt, ask your butcher to butterfly the loin for you.  Make sure you cut an extra thick slice for Dad!

    Roasted bacon-wrapped pork loin with prune stuffing

    1.2-kg pork loin roast, butterflied
    1 recipe of Anise and Apple Cider Brine (see page 24)
    4 thick slices apple-smoked bacon
    120 ml apple juice or cider
    a few fresh thyme sprigs
    olive oil, for drizzling
    sea salt and cracked black pepper

    135 g dried prunes, roughly chopped
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 garlic clove, finely chopped
    2 shallots, finely diced
    1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
    a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
    80 g toasted breadcrumbs
    sea salt and cracked black pepper

    kitchen twine

    SERVES 4–6

    Put the pork loin in a large bowl and pour over the Anise and Apple Cider Brine, making sure the meat is submerged. Cover and put in the fridge for 8–24 hours.

    Put the prunes for the stuffing in a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight.

    To make the stuffing, heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, and shallots and cook until golden, then add the prunes, thyme, parsley, and breadcrumbs and stir together. Season and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely. (This can be done the day before and stored in the fridge overnight.)

    Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) Gas 5.

    Remove the pork from the fridge and drain off the brine, then rinse the loin and pat dry. Lay a piece of clingfilm on a surface and lay the bacon strips in a row next to each other. Put the pork on top with the butterfly side facing up. Spread the cooled stuffing over the pork and use the plastic wrap/clingfilm to help roll it up.  Remove the clingfilm and tie with kitchen twine. Put the rolled pork in a baking dish and pour in the apple juice. Season with salt and pepper, scatter over the thyme sprigs, and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325ºF (160ºC) Gas 3 and cook for a further 1 hour.

    Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes, then carve into thick slices and serve.

    Make sure you find the perfect complementary beer with Mark Dredge’s Flavour Wheel below.

    Have a delicious Father’s Day!


    If these don't quit tick the box, we can guarantee some other books which will put a smile on your Dad's face this Father's Day!

    For the suave dad: The Perfectly Dressed Gentleman is available here.

    For the foodie dad: The Iconoclast's Guide to Foodies is available here.

    For the musical dad: The Iconoclast's Guide to Music is available here.

    For the BBQing dad: Burgers and Sliders is available here.

    Smoke and Spice by Valierie Aikman-Smith (photography by Erin Kunkel) is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available here.

    Craft Beer World by Mark Dredge is published by Dog ‘n’ Bone and is available here.



    This post was posted in News, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, Mark Dredge, craft beer, Dad, Valerie Aikman-Smith

  • Posted on June 11, 2013

    Mid-week Chat With the Igigi Ladies!

    1. Today we are thrilled to be joined by Alex Legendre and Zoe Ellison, co-owners of the Brighton-based interiors shop Igigi and co-authors of our lovely new title, A Life Less Ordinary.

    Could you tell us a little about how you met and when you realised you had a shared interest in design and antiques?

    We met when the Igigi womenswear shop first opened and Alex came into the new  shop as a customer.  We had a coffee and Alex started working in the shop a week later! It wasn't a friendship thing initially, but then clicked into place.  Our passion for all the things we now buy and sell grew as we worked together in the early days of the general store.  Our tastes haven't changed too much and we now get to be experimental and make our own designs.

    1. Your beautiful shop, Igigi, has been at the forefront of the Brighton interiors scene for some time, can you tell us a little about how the shop came to be and how you both got involved?

    Zoe opened the General Store having fallen in love with the building and then tracking down the owner! It was a labour of love from day one.   I (Alex) moved from the womenswear shop to manage the store with Zoe and things grew from there. The store evolved when we opened the cafe a few years later.  As our partnership developed, we extended the shop into the basement and our own label of furniture and clothing soon followed.

    Some of Alex's Most Prized Possessions!
    1. Alex, do you think your background and the way you were brought up has had an impact on your passion for antiques?

    I think my background, being brought up amongst antiques, has been hugely influential with regards to the shop - it's funny because I have never really thought about the connection, as silly as that sounds! Some of my fondest childhood memories are related to the buying and selling of antiques and the appreciation of their age.  Buying and selling antiques has always been a hobby and a passion when I was young so it feels like a natural progression and I just happen [luckily] to do what I love.

    1.  How does it feel for both of you to see Igigi on the pages of your new book?

    It is amazing to see the book finally finished and we’re both very proud. I think we had such a strong image of every detail from the start, even the paper it was printed on was planned before we started shooting images!  When it all came together and we finally held the first copy, we just smiled with relief that had been translated so well.

    The beautiful Igigi!
    1. In A Life Less Ordinary you both write a lot about displaying items around the shop.  Have you any top tips for people when they are trying to organise possessions in their homes?

    Display has become a way of life for us! The shop has created this addiction - I (Alex) can happily rearrange my shelves at home for hours and I know Zoe is the same! Sad but true I'm afraid.  When you add to your existing collections, sometimes you have to swipe the shelf clean and start over - it's relaxing! I suppose we're also being creative and we reap the rewards - our favourite things are around us and they look pleasing.

    1. Both of you love to cook.  Who do you cook for and what is it about cooking that you both enjoy so much?

    Cooking is a big part of both of our lives.  We cook for most people, but I think it can easily become a chore if it's boring or repetitive. We both love to cook and EAT!
    What is nicer than creating amazing food to share with friends and family?  Simple things sometimes are the best - good, fresh ingredients and the time to enjoy!

    1. If you had to pick one object from your home to call your favourite, what would it be and why?

    Alex:  I think it would be very hard to leave so many things! My plaster spoon casts that are on the cover of our book make me smile so much it might be them, of course the dog too!

    Zoe:  Um, well that's a hard question as there are so many. I would say it's my shelf of curios ….as it has all the things I have collected on my travels and the things people have given me along the way ….

    Zoe, how did you come up with the name Igigi and what does it mean?

    The name came from a book of Mesopotamian quotations, I loved the way it sounded and it was also lovely to write...it’s always hard choosing a name for something that doesn't yet exist and 15 years later it's still the perfect name!

    Zoe, why did you decide to set up shop, quite literally, in Brighton?

     My Mum, Hazel, and I used to live in Devon. I worked in a small designer boutique in Totnes where I discovered a passion for selling clothes.  Due to family circumstances we needed to move and I persuaded my mum to move to Brighton, where my god mother lived. We had been to Brighton a few times and it felt the perfect place to open up a small boutique of our own, and so Igigi was born!

    Are there any new ventures on the horizon for yourselves and Igigi?

    That would be telling :)

     A huge thank you to you both for joining us!

     A Life Less Ordinary by Zoe Ellison and Alex Legendre is published by Cico Books and is available here

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, Interviews, Interviews, News, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with 2013, inspiration, interiors, zoe ellison

  • Posted on June 7, 2013

    The Perfect Weekend For a Picnic!

    Waiting for British summer time to arrive can sometimes seem as thankless a preoccupation as waiting for the all-elusive Godot to put in an appearance. But here at RPS Towers we err on the side of the optimistic. To this end we predict balmier days on the near horizon and with them the need to air our pasty limbs and wintery predispositions.

    So, why not pack up a hearty hamper and head for the coast!  Here are some delicious treats that you can take along for the ride!

    Banoffee Plant Pots

    I love making this dessert for the kids, who are sure to take utter delight in eating out of a flower pot! To add to the novelty you can put little edible flowers on top or sugared flowers sticking out. You could even play a game by hiding the pots around the picnic area and get the kids to hunt them out, rather like an Easter egg hunt, but a flower pot hunt! You can also make them in glasses, if you prefer.

    225 g digestive biscuits
    120 g unsalted butter
    2 x 397 g cans caramel condensed milk or dulce de leche
    300 ml double cream
    3 ripe bananas, finely sliced
    175 g chocolate (preferably plain), grated

    To decorate the pots:
    a small handful of fresh mint sprigs
    edbile flowers (such as violets or nasturtiums)

    8 x clean, 8 cm diameter, 7 cm high, terracotta plant pots or similar sized glasses

    serves 8

    Break the biscuits into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to a fine crumb. Alternatively, put them in a plastic bag and pound them with a rolling pin.

    Gently melt the butter in a large saucepan, taking off the heat as soon as it is liquid. Pour the crumbs into the saucepan and mix well with the melted butter.

    Put a small slice of banana in the bottom of the plant pot to cover the drain hole, then spoon the buttery crumb mixture evenly between the pots. Using the back of a dessertspoon, press the mixture down firmly, then pop them in the fridge for about 1 hour.

    Whip the double cream until it thickens into soft pillowy peaks.

    Divide the caramel condensed milk between the 8 pots, stopping about 2 cm below the top of the plant pot. Over the caramel, layer a good helping of sliced banana and lastly spoon in a dollop of whipped cream to fill the pots right to the top.

    This is the fun bit: use a knife to scrape the top of the cream away so it is level with the rims of the pots, then cover the top of the pots liberally with grated chocolate, which resembles earth. Garnish the tops with sprigs of mint poked into the cream to look like leaves and a sprinkling of edible flowers.

    A Perfect Day for a Picnic is published by Ryland Peters & Small and is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, UK, US, What's new and was tagged with weather, sun, picnic

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