Absolutely Nothing To Wear on holiday….

Simple. Take a Tallulah and Hope kaftan or pareo and that’s just about all you need. I wore this long “Strongshark” silk dress more than anything else in my suitcase and I absolutely love it.

Am very honoured to have this picture included on their lovely blog too. They are very clever ladies indeed and I think T&H could well be my new fashion addiction.

Another wonderful week doing Absolutely Nothing…

It’s been quite a crafty sort of week on Absolutely Nothing. We’ve made pom poms, grown tomatoes, made soup, continued our love of peonies and claimed a little space at the top of the house from where I will be bringing you even more of Absolutely Nothing.


Absolutely Nothing To Do : DIY or get someone else to DIFY by Mel Moss

Absolutely Nothing To Grow : I say tomato…. by Micki Myers

Absolutely Nothing To Buy : Cologne and Cotton by Mel Moss

Absolutely Nothing To Smile About : Pink flowers everywhere by David Loftus

Absolutely Nothing To Smile About : In continued appreciation of the peonies by David Loftus

Absolutely Nothing To Make : Peony pom poms by Samantha Taylor

Absolutely Nothing To Cook : Some Summery soups by Mel Moss


DIY or get someone else to DIFY

I love Saturdays. I love them even more since having children because the absence of a lie in also means the wonderful absence of a hangover. You have to look on the bright side afterall. All manner of things can be achieved on a Saturday and often all before we’ve even begun to think about lunch. Today is such a Saturday and – having been up since 5.45 – I now have a brand new, interior designed (by me) home office at the top of the house, which last night didn’t even exist.

I’ve been throwing regular tantrums about needing my “own space” for a couple of years now. I wasn’t really sure what I needed it for but I was determined that I definitely wanted it. My husband, an artist and collector of things I can’t even begin to list, has a vast 3000 sq ft studio at a nearby farm where he tethers his dinosaurs and plays with his Mclaren airfix kit. He can escape there at any given moment citing “important work” leaving me grumpily at the kitchen table, tapping away on my lap top feeling like a terribly inattentive mother.

So now at long last my idea for a home office in the eaves of a rather badly used landing space, has suddenly and miraculously become his very clever idea and has materialised in less that 24 hours. It’s lovely and I know that all kinds of important writing and clever PR’ing will come from this very desk.

I’m not sure what tip I’m trying to give, maybe that planting a good idea and patiently waiting for it to grow in someone elses head, will eventually give you what you asked for without having to do it yourself.


Absolutely Nothing To Grow – I say tomato….

For a gardener, the culinary year begins long before the fruits of their labor show up on a plate. In the dead of winter, seed catalogues arrive in the mail, and with them the dream of a garden so large it can contain all the cornucopia of riches you’d like to grow. Writing up your order list is rather like packing for a holiday; you put in everything you need then take out two-thirds. Especially if you only have a small garden. I always order Brandywine tomatoes — an heirloom variety that produces big beefsteak tomatoes that are perfect for slicing. They have a well-deserved reputation for being the best-tasting, too. They come in red, yellow, pink and black and look beautiful on a plate.

The packets arrive in the first week of February in a teeny-tiny cardboard box hardly bigger than a seed packet itself. A moist mixture of potting soil, sphagnum moss and peat gets packed into trays, and in go the seeds. A light mist of water and on with the clear plastic lid. They sit in the basement until the little green shoots appear, then it’s upstairs on any surface near a window I can find. I always overdo it and end up with a couple of hundred plants and have to give them away to anyone willing to take them. By late March they are ready to be hardened off outside during the day, and brought in at night. Meanwhile, as soon as the earth is pliable, I dig in compost and manure. This needs to be done a couple of weeks before you put the plants in or the rich nutrients will “burn” them.

Once the baby plants are put in the ground it looks like you’ve left far too much space and could pack several more in, but this is just a illusion; by June it’s a jungle so thick you have to start cutting them back or be overrun. Tomatoes are vines, so given the chance they will grow and grow and not stop growing. I end up tying mine up to the nearest immovable object so they don’t fall over, but they still top out at six or seven feet.

And then…they appear — light green at first, but turning bigger, softer, redder….

By late July, when the heat is beating down, you finally get to slice one still warm from the sun. Drizzle on a little olive oil, a pinch of Malden Salt, and voila: perfection.

Absolutely Nothing To Buy – Cologne and Cotton

Anyone who follows this blog will know that I’ve a bit of thing for online shopping. It’s nothing to be concerned about, I don’t have bedrooms and cupboards full of online acquisitions, but for the most part it’s my preferred form of shopping. I think I like the packages arriving at my door more than anything else really and today is one of those days.

As well as having a bit of a thing for online I also have a bit of a thing for bed linen and all things which make me feel like a real life home maker and grown up. The last time I really indulged in any kind of bedroom linen stuffs was when we were married and other than the odd pillow case here and there, I haven’t treated myself for ages – really truly. Have you seen the prices of duvet covers these days?! Blimey. So I’ve been saving and waiting for the Cologne and Cotton sale and am now the proud owner of a MATCHING set. It’s the little things which make me smile on a Friday.

It’s white and cotton and lovely and will guarantee me the perfect full 8 hours of restful sleep. And when I’ve made my tissue peony pom poms to hang from the beams, my boudoir will be complete and my husband may never forgive me.

And Pink Flowers Everywhere…

In continued appreciation of the peonies…..

Absolutely Nothing To Make – Peony Pom Poms by Samantha Taylor

I came late to the pom pom party. In fact had I not been drooling regularly over kids’ room tours on ohdeedoh and various style blogs, they may yet have passed me by. But slowly I noticed these ethereal tissue paper bundles floating in some very chic nurseries and once I’d ascertained exactly what they were, and how to get them, I was on a mission.  It seems that i’ve missed a trick because they have, in fact, become something of a phenomenon in crafty circles since their ‘invention’ by Martha Stewart some time around 2006. Whether or not this is entirely true, Her Royal Homeliness does have a knack for taking a craft trend and giving it a contemporary spin and if the images on the MS website don’t tempt you then you will probably never be a convert (you can buy them via the MSL Amazon store here)

They’re surprisingly easy to make too. You can follow her little tutorial here:

You need a pack of tissue paper (12 sheets should give you nice full poms), some florist’s wire and monofilament or ribbon to hang.

1. Stack your tissue. Fold the tissue, accordion style, in 1 1/2″ wide folds, creasing the folds.
2. Fold a length of florist’s wire in half. Slip over middle of folded tissue, twist. Trim the ends of the tissue (rounded or pointed depending on preference).
3. Turn on side and pull a layer at a time up and out, pulling away from centre.
4. Tie monofilament to wire for hanging

Of course,  I realise any DIY bride, party and wedding planner worth their salt can whip up a roomful of these frothy little beauties blindfolded, but I wanted a more permanent reason to use them. So, as I’m a sucker for anything that will give the decor in my blah rented apartment in Hong Kong a bit of oomph without a) spending too much and b) infuriating the landlord, I determined that I needed to work them in to my own home. Hubby quickly vetoed any area he uses regularly (‘but surely they would look more masculine in monochrome shades?!’) So that left the kids’ rooms and the perfect opportunity to indulge my pom pom fixation, because they are both still at the age where MUMMY DEAREST KNOWS BEST mwah ha ha. So the baby (boy) got the pom poms and all my husband could say to the contrary was “you DO know he’s a boy, right?”. Pah.

Here they are in situ:

I realise my primping leaves a lot to be desired but this would be a pretty dull corner of the room without the poms don’t you think? Not too girly?

More pom pom loveliness (not mine by the way):

There are plenty of online stores devoted to poms (try Etsy) and many have a wide selection of sizes and colours and you generally choose between rounded or pointed petal ends. The more layers of tissue, the fuller your finished poms. They come folded and ‘unbloomed’ with wire, or ribbon, for hanging. It will probably take you a tad longer than you expect to get the knack (my tip: don’t pull too gently, be confident – fast and random is better) but I can assure you; a fully bloomed and primped pom pom is a very, VERY satisfying thing to behold. Just beware of primp fever. Once you start, it’s really very difficult to stop.

I purchased my Pom Poms from I Have Ribbon (U.S) Visit their Etsy store here (they ship internationally).

Check out this great little ‘pom blooming’ tutorial on You Tube from Paperwhite Pom-Poms.

Absolutely Nothing To Cook – some Summery soups

After gorging ourselves on bread and cheese and rose for the past 2 weeks, we’re being tastefully frugal and enjoying evening meals of soups and salads. Soups are the easiest things in the world to make and really quite satisfying in both the concocting and consuming. So being rather proud of my last 2 evenings effort, I thought I’d share them…..in the absence of a longer and more interesting post about all the things I should be writing about. They will come soon, promise.

So, soup number 1 was cold beetroot soup which is up there as one of my very favourites. Here’s what I did – you can add all kinds of other things like spices and herbs (cumin is lovely when added at the onion stage and chopped parsley or chives are delicious thrown in at the end) but this is a basic easy start :

I used cooked beetroot which is much quicker and just as healthy as the raw version which needs cooking and boiling for hours. This recipe serves 2 as a main and 3 or 4 as a starter.

1 pack cooked beetroot (usually contains about 4 or 5)

1 red onion

1 large clove garlic

750 ml chicken stock

Balsamic vinegar – 2 tbsps I think

Olive oil and butter for cooking

Coconut milk or cream (about 150ml depending on taste)

Plain yoghurt and shelled crushed pistachios to serve

Chop the onion finely and crush the garlic. Heat a knob of butter and a glug of olive oil in a large pan and add the onion and garlic until soft but not coloured – do I sound like a cookery book yet – only take about 5 minutes most.

Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for further couple of minutes until it most is absorbed. Don’t have the heat too high for all this.

Quarter the beetroot and add, cook for a couple of minutes and then cover with the chicken stock (or you can use vegetable). Cook just for 5 minutes or so, the beetroot is already cooked so it’s really just to get all the flavours mixed up together.

Blend until nice and smooth and then put back in to the pan. Add the coconut milk or cream – to taste – and more stock if it’s too thick. You don’t want it too runny though. Season to taste.

Allow to chill for a couple of hours. You can always put it in the freezer to speed things up a bit towards the end.

Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle some chopped greek basil (the little leaves are really good with this) and some crushed shelled pistachios and a drizzle of olive oil.

Looks pretty as a picture.

Soup number 2 was butternut squash – which actually followed pretty much exactly the same recipe as the beetroot but here it is anyway.

1 butternut squash – I peeled it but apparently you don’t need to. I’ve never really been sure.

1 onion

750 ml chicken stock

Balsamic vinegar – 2 tbsps

Coconut milk / cream – 150ml or more to taste

Olive oil and butter for cooking

So, sweat the chopped onion as before and when they’re soft add the balsamic…..just as before. De-seed and peel the butternut squash and cut it in to small chunks – cooks faster that way. Cook with the onions and balsamic for a few minutes and then add the stock to cover. Simmer until the squash is soft. Blend until smooth and then return to pan and add the coconut milk and season to taste.

Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped basil or corriander and a dollop or yoghurt if you like.

And there you go. 2 soups with pretty much exactly the same ingredients but totally and utterly differently delicious.

This photo was taken at the brilliant restaurant Le Tracteur where we enjoyed a fabulous beetroot soup complete with croutons and chopped chives.


Another wonderful week doing Absolutely Nothing

It’s been a wonderful week of travel and children and work and all sorts….which hasn’t left much time for doing Absolutely Nothing but these few posts are some of our very best so far. AND we’ve reached over 3000 views since we started so that must mean someone out there is enjoying it.

We also now have a Facebook Page and Twitter feed (@ANTW) you can follow to keep up to date with new posts and anything else we can think of writing.

So here they are, enjoy.

Absolutely Nothing To Wear when you’re pregnant by Mel Moss

Absolutely Nothing To Smile About : The Tale Of Monsieur Lapin by Micki Myers

Absolutely Nothing To Wear : Uzes, a style all of its very own by Mel Moss

Absolutely Nothing To Buy : Bespoke Fine Art Prints by Samantha Taylor

We also have an updated Contributors Page where you can learn a bit about just some of the people writing for Absolutely Nothing To Wear.