I have a confession to make……I like Valentines Day! I realise that probably puts me in an exclusive club of which only me, Barbara Cartland (RIP Babs) and Dolly Parton are members but I can’t help it. I love a bit of regulated romance. Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with the V-Day haters when they say that romance should be about little acts of love all year round rather than the emphasis falling on one day. But the reality is, when you both have jobs and 3 kids to parent, you are more likely to be reciting daily sonnets about whose turn it is to take the bins out than comparing each other to a summer’s day. However, whilst I like Valentines Day, I am not really a massive fan of going out somewhere to celebrate. Mainly because it is extremely difficult to find a teenage babysitter who is willing to give up an evening snogging her Enfield equivalent of Justin Bieber to look after our boys for the night. So i thought I would share some inspiration for creating a rustic romantic retreat at home instead, with lots of tips that you can put into action at anytime of the year.
Cupid Loves to Cook
They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well the way to this woman’s heart is by creating an amazing flower cloud installation “Signe Bay” style over the dining table. This amazing creation, setting the scene for romance chez Malmo & Moss this February, was the work of the super talented Your London Florist. The base is a ball of chicken wire suspended by a couple of hooks drilled into the ceiling. The main elements of “The Cloud” are magnolia branches, natural foliage and dried flowers which means that this is a cloud which doesn’t have to blow away after the 14th of February. It can stay on and be adapted for Easter, spring and beyond. I also love that Your London Florist used tulips and roses in it which were older and might otherwise have gone to waste because they are perfect for turning the petals out on to create this great trumpet shape.
If you are staying in for Valentines Day and have lost the number for the local Chinese then, having set your tablescape, can I suggest that you try wooing your man/woman with my favourite “I am trying to impress you by cooking something more tricksy than a Chicken Kiev” menu. I always find that when I try and cook three courses simultaneously either 1) we end up eating at 11:47pm after I burn and have to recook at least one of the courses or 2) I forget to include a critical element of one of the dishes and it is usually the one that gives it flavour/a consistency that is not like gruel. With that in mind I am going to recommend ditching a starter in favour of popping open a tub of Pringles and focusing instead on the main course which is a Lorraine Pascale’s Roast Beef with Parma ham wrapped green beans . It is almost impossible to fuck up (unless you have to clean up an overflowing potty incident shortly after putting it in the oven and forget to set a timer).
For pudding why not try my go-to easy pudding: Gingernut, Lemon Curd and Blackberry Cheesecakes. You can make them in advance to reduce the amount of courses you have to juggle. It is my own creation so I will have to describe how to make it rather than linking you to a recipe so bear with me.
1/2 packet of Gingernuts, 20g Butter, I jar of Lemon Curd, 1 tub of Creme Fraiche, 2 Tablespoons of Icing Sugar, 2 Handfuls of Blackberries, Mint to Garnish.
Put the gingernuts in a bag and pound to pieces with a rolling pin. Melt the butter in a pan and then add the gingerbread crumbs, stir until the crumbs start to come together. Take off the heat and pat the crumbs into the base of a glass tumbler. Then spoon lemon curd in to cover the biscuit base. Stir the incing sugar into the creme fraiche and then spoon on top of the lemon curd before adding the blackberries on top. Pop into the fridge to chill and set. Get them out of the fridge about an hour before you are ready to eat them otherwise the biscuit base tends to be even more impenetrable than Hilda Ogden’s knickers.
Romance in the Rolltop
Hands up anyone who has a husband who actually enjoys a relaxing bubble bath? It is my go-to way to unwind but on the rare occasions when I have been able to persuade Mr Malmo to join me he has looked about as relaxed as a man about to partake in a threesome with Toyah Wilcox and Dot Cotton and constantly fretted about the water temperature burning his balls. He would, in his own words, rather go to a Simply Red concert and plait Mick Hucknall’s hair than slip into a bubble bath. However, I personally enjoy nothing more than romancing myself in the bathroom (that is not a euphemism for masturbation by the way) by lighting all the candles sprinkling some rose petals in and pouring myself a glass of proseco.
The bathroom ready for romance rose petals and all
Our bathroom used to be a whole lot less romantic as, when we moved in, it was a third smaller and host to a very tired bathroom suite and some tiles decorated in a range of tile stickers that even Laurence Llewellyn Bowen would refuse to put his name to. We lived with it like that for a couple of years whilst we concentrated on renovating downstairs and then saved up enough to make it bigger by stealing a bit of space from the spare bedroom. That allowed us to separate the shower out from the bath and invest in the roll top of my dreams. I say invest but it is actually my best ever e-bay bargain at £25. It came with silver taps but I asked my builder to have a go at recreating some copper ones I had seen in a kitchen in Living Etc which just involved some copper piping and a bit of clever welding. The dark paint on the walls is Dulux Bowler Hat and the wall and floor tiles were both inexpensively sourced from Walls & Floors Ltd. It is definitely a far more romantic place to linger now
The copper taps that were made by my builder after I saw and fell in love with some in Living Etc
If you are with me on enjoying a bit of tubtime then why not try my playlist for romance this Valentines to listen to whilst you are having a soak.
1. Extreme: More Than Words
2. The National: I Need My Girl
3. Radiohead: No Surprises
4. Cat Power: Wild is the Wind
5. Michael Kwanaka: Home
6. Jeff Buckley: You Should Have Come Over
7. The Beatles: Blackbird
8. Lana Del Rey: Video Games
9. Lauryn Hill: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
10. Bon Iver: Skinny Lover
Let’s Take This Upstairs
Whilst I may not have much luck getting Mr Malmo in the bath it is, unsurprisngly, much easier to persuade him to join me in the bedroom. To be honest, as parents of three young boys, it is usually just to sleep and we are more often than not also joined by a Pre School Camilla Parker Bowles at some point in the night. But regardless of the omnipresence of a junior third wheel, I still love my bedroom so much after it’s rustic makeover (read about that here) that it is my favourite place to retreat to in the house.
This Valentines Day I may have upped the romance factor a notch or two by adding a gorgeous rustic wreath above the bed created by Your London Florist. If you fancy having a go at recreating, then source some bendy type twigs, some sprigs of your favourite natural foliage (eucalyptus is mine) and make them into a roughly circular shape and secure with floristry wire. I always think it is nice to leave some sprigs and twigs loose for a wilder feel. I am really enjoying using dried flowers at the moment because it means you can create things which last longer than a week and won’t drop petals on you as you sleep. Your London Florist used some lovely dried grasses in this one which they had sprayed a pale pink.
If you don’t fancy a rustic wreath above your bed (because you are worried about suffering a #ModernRusticConcussion if it drops on you during the night) then why not add romance with lots of cosy sheepskins, candles and fairylights instead. Or still have flowers but maybe just a smaller posy style arrangement in a jam jar or similar by the bed.
Rather unromantically I have been letting Mr Malmo read a lot of porn at bedtime lately.,….Cabin Porn that is. Our big project for 2019 is installing a garden room/cabin at the end of the garden so I have been buying him lots of rustic outhouse and shed inspo books to get his creative and carpentry juices flowing. Although ultimately I think this is a job which may prove slightly beyond his joinery paygrade. If you have built your own garden room or have sourced one from somewhere else that cost less than a small terraced house I would love to know about it.
So there you have it, my recipe for creating romance with your interiors. May 2019 bring you lots of love and, in my case, the #ScandiShed of my dreams. Many thanks to Your London Florist for collaborating with me on this blog post by gifting their services and the beautiful flowers.