Malmo & Moss House: Bringing Scandi Back

As regular readers of the blog will know, we spent our Summer holiday this year in Denmark visiting both Copenhagen and Tisvildleje on the Danish Coast. It was a dream of a trip for a Scandophile like me.  I came home more convinced than ever before that I am in fact a Danish Girl trapped in a Geordie Girl's body (Danish girl in the sense of a female from Denmark rather than the Eddie Redmayne man wanting to be a woman film sense).  Unfortunately my actual body returned home looking less Helena Christensen and more Danny Devito owing to my excessive consumption of kanelsnegles.  Whilst I am waiting for Nationality realignment surgery to become available on the NHS I thought I would share with you some of the fresh Danish interiors inspiration for the kitchen and garden that I picked up on the trip and how I have been translating it into the Malmo & Moss house now I am home.

Let's Go Outside.....

Whilst staying in Tisvildleje we stumbled upon a cafe somebody had set up on their front garden to sell their own home brewed slow drip coffee.  The contrast with our own front garden couldn't have been greater.  There wasn't a wheelie bin or fox poo in sight.  What they had instead, which I fell more than a little bit in love with, was a garden seating area constructed out of palletts.  It was totally inexpensive but looked amazing and I loved the seating cushions they had made to fit it which were a mix of muted greys and monochrome and looked great against the backdrop of abundant lavender, mint and rosemary growing in the planters.  

I had already seen pallets used in other Scandi gardens on pinterest and loved them so when I got home I started scanning skips in search of some I could use to recreate the look.  Luckily @vintagecuratorinteriors came up trumps before I had to go full #StigOfTheSkip.  My long term plan for them is to create a coffee table on wheels but it has been a busy Summer and any time I have started the sentence "could you just pop to B&Q to get some castors" Mr Malmo has given me the kind of look that suggests I have got more chance of getting him to go on a crochet blanket making course with out 75 yr old neighbour Margery.  But for now I kind of like the way the look just stacked one on top of the other.

I have also added an extra shot of Scandi to my outdoor seating area through the purchase of some new cushions and a rug.  All in a mixture of patterns and textures but sticking to a monochrome palette.  I sourced some of the cushions from two of my favourite independent stores for Scandi homeware, Grey September Store and Jo & Co Home, but also picked up a cushion and the rug from B&Q who, in amongst the endless drill bits and polyfiller supplies actually have some really great soft furnishings at bargain prices (this is not a sponsored blog either!).  The large zig zag cushion was just £7 and the rug a mere £15. 

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Now that Autumn is upon us, I have also borrowed another trick from the Danes and introduced a shot of hygge to the garden with a gorgeous rusty firepit from Cox & Cox.  I did a lot of research before choosing this one #firepitbore.   You can easily spend hundreds of pounds but this one is just £80 and is super lightweight and easy to move around the garden.  We gave it a debut burn at our tenth wedding anniversary party in October which was themed around recreating a mini version of the Woodstock festival in our garden.  

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Unfortunately as we are only amateur urban arsonists we did not dry our hastily purchased petrol station logs before chucking them on the fire.  Therefore, instead of creating a warm blaze around which people could huddle, drink hot chocolate and chat, we instead had a smoking inferno on our hands that sent people running inside for a drink of water.  I have since discovered that you can actually buy smokeless logs from Tesco should anybody else find themselves hosting a middle class party and not have twenty four hours to dry their wood out in advance. 

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Bringing Scandi to the Kitchen Table

I follow lots of beautiful Scandinavian instagram accounts for inspiration but my all time favourite has to be that of Signe Bay, a photographer and stylist based in Copenhagen.  Her feed often features of two of my greatest Danish loves: cinnamon buns and ceramics.  Our Summer holiday featured lots of both.  I could have piled the car high with pottery but the reality of going away on holiday when you have 3 children is that you have to travel with essentially all of your possessions so slipping a small dinner service into the footwell was sadly not an option.  

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When we got home I started looking for places I could source some of the beautiful ceramics I had seen on holiday here in the UK.  My inner Signe lit up when I came across Feather & Marble,  a small independent business set up by Emily & Ollie in 2016 after they too visited Copenhagen and fell under the Danish spell.  They now stock over 1000 handpicked items from Danish brands including the beautiful tableware of Broste Copenhagen whose Salt cup and saucer is my new favourite mug and believe me I don't bandy that title around lightly.   It takes quite a cup to come along and turn my tea drinking head.

Taking a tea break with my new favourite mug. Gorgeous calligraphy label made for me by the very talented Kate of  Oysterbridge & Co

Taking a tea break with my new favourite mug. Gorgeous calligraphy label made for me by the very talented Kate of Oysterbridge & Co

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This beautiful bluey bowl from  Feather & Marble  reminded me of the sea in Tisvileje

This beautiful bluey bowl from Feather & Marble reminded me of the sea in Tisvileje

Having secured ceramics fit for a flat lay, I started researching cinnamon bun recipes so I had something #suitablysigne to serve up on my Danish table.  I am not, by nature, a patient baker.  If a recipe features more than 5 steps I tend to turn over.  This BBC Good Food recipe for "simple cinnamon rolls" has, therefore, proved perfect for me.   If I had to sum it up in 4 simple steps it would be mix dry and wet ingredients together to make a dough, roll out into a rectangle, smear huge ammounts of melted brown sugar, butter and cinnamon on said rectangle, roll up and cut into segments like a swiss roll, cook for 30 mins then cram into your mouth fresh from the oven.  The slightly more detailed version is set out below should you be the kind of person who likes to know actual quantiies of ingredients, cooking times and the like.

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I made them on the morning of the Occasional Home Store Autumn Fair for our stallholders and they got hoovered up very quickly.  I have had a few mishaps along the way witht them though.  For example, if you add more cinnamon to the dough than the recipe dictates because you don't think they will be cinnamony enough all you will achieve is giving your buns an off brown appearance that is reminiscent of a pair of corduroy trosuers  your dad might wear in.  Leaving them in too long/cooking them at too high a temperature has also caused me problems as then the sugar filling bubbles out and goes black leaving you with buns that look more like lumps of coal than kanalsnegle.  But other than those two small glitsches I would say they are pretty much fool proof and I would love to know how you get on with making them.

Simple Cinnamon Bun served on beautiful Broste side plates from  Feather & Marble

Simple Cinnamon Bun served on beautiful Broste side plates from Feather & Marble

Simple Cinnamon Buns

Ingredients

  • Rolls:

  • 350g/12oz self raising flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2tbsp caster sugar

  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

  • 100g/3.5oz butter, melted and extra for greasing

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 200ml/7 fl oz milk, extra for glazing

  • Filling:

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 55g/2oz brown sugar

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

  • Icing:

  • 125g/4.5 oz icing sugar, sifted

  • 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened

  • 1 tbsp butter, softened

  • about 2 tbsp boiling water

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

  1. Grease a 20-cm/8-inch round tin and line the bottom with baking parchment.

  2. Mix the flour, salt, caster sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Whisk the butter, egg yolks and milk together and combine the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a large piece of waxed paper, lightly sprinkled with flour, and roll out to a rectangle 30 x 25cm/12 x 10 inches.

  3. To make the filling mix the ingredients together, spread evenly over the dough and roll up, Swiss-roll style to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 even-sized slices and pack into the prepared tin. Brush gently with extra milk and bake in a preheated oven, 180C/350F, for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

  4. Sift icing sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Place the cream cheese and butter in the centre, pour over the water and stir to mix. Add extra boiling water, a few drops at a time, until the frosting coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the vanilla essence, then drizzle the icing over the rolls. Serve warm or cold.

Recipe reproduced from BBC Good Food.

 

Malmo and Moss Meets: Littlewood Life

My best friend at University was Northern Irish so, in between discovering that if you put Baileys into Sambuca it creates a drink that tastes a lot like vomit suspended in petrol, I heard a lot of tales of Finn McCool and the Giants Causeway.  My dad's family are actually all Northern Irish but my Grandma Phoebe was the family Black Sheep so we didn't go back to Belfast when I was growing up.   Although that didn't stop me alluding to relatives off the Shankill Road if I was trying to sound a bit gangsta at high school (which wasn't really required that much growing up in a small market town in Northumberland).   Whereas at one time Eamon Holmes represented the pinnacle of Northern Irish totty, these days Jamie Dornan has a new generation of ladies rushing to storm Stormont.  However, since joining Instagram I have discovered that as well cuddly news presenters and sexy TV pyschopaths, Northern Ireland also has a strong stock of stylish lifestyle bloggers of which my absolute favourite is Emma of @littlewoodlife.

It was this picture that first made me click follow on Emma's instagram, I am a sucker for a suspended twig

It was this picture that first made me click follow on Emma's instagram, I am a sucker for a suspended twig

Emma's fireplace has me dreaming of using brickslips to add a bit of texture into our house

Emma's fireplace has me dreaming of using brickslips to add a bit of texture into our house

Emma grew up not far from where she lives now with husband Andrew and their three kids although, as Emma points out, nowhere is too far away from anywhere else in Northern Ireland. Where Northern Ireland is definitely far away from if you don't use a plane to get there is London.   13 hours away to be precise.  I discovered this 10 years ago after my irrational aviation fear lead me to elect to travel to a wedding in Belfast by a combination of Megabus and ferry.  5 minutes after pulling out of Victoria Coach Station a large Balkan man in the seat behind me whispered through the gap in the seats "You look nice"  causing me to spend approximately 12 hrs and 48 mins of the journey wondering whether i would be able to use my doors keys as numchucks should he try and abduct me when we stopped at the services in Stoke-on-Trent.  

An indoor tree tha thrives, I need to know Emma's secret

An indoor tree tha thrives, I need to know Emma's secret

Having taught in a fairly gritty secondary school for some years before becoming a blogger am fairly sure Emma would have had my Balkan Bus Pervert sorted out in no time.  Think Michelle Pfieffer in Dangerous Minds and Mrs McCluskey from Grange Hill all rolled into one feisty Northern Irish package.  Sticking teaching out long enough for husband Andrew to qualify as an architect, the Pfieffer McCluskey years also helped the couple get on the property ladder.  First with a little semi which was then traded in for a detached house doer uper. Having gained a taste for renovation, Emma and Andrew seized the opportunity to build their own home when a plot of family land came up.  I really need to encourage my mum and dad to become more expansive land owners, my dad hasn't even succeeded in securing a coveted council alottment yet because, in his own words, not enough people are dying in their local area. 

Ernie the Dachshund adding to the kerb appeal

Ernie the Dachshund adding to the kerb appeal

Although it does not sound like building a house is a walk in the park from Emma's description of a build that took place amid redundancy, sick children, a bout of pneumonia and the death of a rabbit.  It sounds a bit like an episode of Grand Designs set in Watership Down! Project managing the build themselves meant forging close relationships with tradesmen working on the job.  A little closer than Emma would have liked in the case of Neil the decorator who plastered whilst providing blow by blow updates on the condition of his prostate as well as criticising the work of any and all other tradesmen working on the job (including Andrew).  An obssessive aversion to mess meant he did at least dry clean his dust sheets although was arguably in the wrong profession if he didn't like getting his hands dirty

The parquet flooring was reclaimed from Fleet Street

The parquet flooring was reclaimed from Fleet Street

Adding some serious sophistication to cocktail hour

Adding some serious sophistication to cocktail hour

After one update too many on his enlarged prostrate Emma paid him off and employed a decorator with no interest in sharing the details of his down below affairs with her.The end result is, however,  a gorgeous, warm and inviting family home which Emma has decorated in a style I am going to coin "Scandi Classic Cotswold Farmhouse Luxe" (trips off the the tongue I think you will agree!).  Whites and creams create a great backdrop to show off features that add personality and texture to their home such as the parquet flooring in the hallway that was reclaimed from a newspaper office in Fleet Street ( if that floor could talk!), a stunning exposed Belfast brick wall in the living room and gorgeous old cast iron radiators throughout.

They also have the woodburner of my dreams in their Living Room which is on my house wishlist if I can just stop buying cushions long enough to save up for one.  Should M15 ever discover that the key to defeating ISIS lies in smothering them in soft furnishings then I would be the lynchpin of the Cushion Counter Terrorism Strategy.  Or maybe i will just have to find a woodburner that can burn both logs and cushions. 

Emma's dressing table was one of my favourite corner's of her home

Emma's dressing table was one of my favourite corner's of her home

Emma's inspiration for the soft, luxe interior comes from reading lots of US based lifestyle blogs with Gal Meets Glam, Barefoot Blonde, Love Taza and Somewhere Slower being particular favourites.  If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in a Pink Clapboard house in Charelston with one of those wraparound verandas then Gal Meets Glam is the blog for you.  Be warned, you will come away with serious pastel home and swooshy hair envy.

Although their house is located in the beautiful Northern Irish countryside, it is actually only 20 minutes from Belfast which, over the last 5 years, has benefited from huge amounts of regeneration and is now a buzzy, lively little city with beautiful parks and plenty going on. Those there to Dornan spot (or Eammon spot if you prefer your men chunkier and with greater experience in presenting news items about telepathic dogs) should also take time to visit the University area for quirky coffee shops and brunch stops or the Cathedral quarter for bars and restaurants.   Belfast is also home to the Titanic exhibition which was recently voted the number one tourist attraction in the world.  I still can't watch the film starring Leonardo de Caprio and Kate Winslet after going to see it with my then boyfriend age 17 who cried through the final third whilst I remained uncharacteristically dry eyed and ended up being offered tissues by a woman in the row in front.  Nobody wants another woman to have to mop up their man with Kleenex.   

I dream of the boys wardrobe looking like this instead of a screenshot of a bring and buy sale

I dream of the boys wardrobe looking like this instead of a screenshot of a bring and buy sale

With her parents having been savvy enough to invest in a holiday home in the South of France  the Littlewoods often swap County Amagh for the Cote D'Azur, although Lake Como is giving La Croisette a run for it's money after Emma fell in love with it's stunning scenery and laid back vibe last Summer.  When in France, favourite places to eat include Angelina in Paris (which, elasticated trousers alert, serves white hot chocolate to die for), or Les Garcons in VilleFrance for delicious dinners in a courtyard surrounded by jasmine. Slightly less French (but right up my fatty treat street) is Emma's favourite bakery back home called Donuts from the Pocket opposite the QUB in Belfast.  Having checked out some of their amazing specialities online, I think it would have to be renamed "All the Donuts In my Mouth" if i got within 25 metres of it. 

I love this idea of using a suspended branch to display Noah's zoo animals

I love this idea of using a suspended branch to display Noah's zoo animals

Emma and I share another love beside donuts: Ryan Gosling.  Although, Emma would complete her celebrity threesome by inviting Hugh Jackman to join her and Ryan, whereas I would be asking the Gosling to budge up to make room for Lovejoy.  Give me a dubious mullet and a penchant for fencing Ming Vases over all those werewolf issues any day. Although Hugh would find himself out in the cold if Emma's other celebrity male crush came rocking into town.  Yep, it turns out that having once sold merchandise at his concerts, Emma also has a little soft spot for thigh slapping guitar wielding country music star Garth Brooks.  A man with a mullet even Lovejoy could not compete with.  On that bombshell I will leave you to go follow Emma's instagram or read her blog  for further peeks inside her gorgeous home (and slightly dodgy CD collection).