The word clutter bothers me. Or I should say, it bothers me when directed towards my house or my life. We recently opened ourselves and our home up to the clicks of an interior magazine. A magazine I like very much called Houzz and the article was great, as were the pictures. The whole experience in fact was a very lovely and relaxed one and I even enjoyed reading the interview…albeit with a few too many exclamation marks but perhaps that’s how I talk on the phone. It probably is if I think about it. Something to work on perhaps. I can’t stand too many exclamation marks in writing or speech, makes you sound over-excited and a bit bonkers….oh wait
I never really think these things through when I agree to do them. I’m proud of our home and more importantly I’m proud of Jay Jay and how he has curated our home to be a very happy and confident place to live. It’s also very lucky indeed that we both like the same things (well mostly) and that we enjoy looking at the things which we like, which make us happy and inspire us. All our bits and pieces scattered around the house are carefully positioned and considered and have a meaning. This brings me on to the word clutter….as far as I’m concerned, the collections we have in our home are NOT clutter. To me clutter are things which are just there for the sake of being there, bits and bobs that just gather on shelves and tables without intention. Stuff you can’t be bothered to put away or give away and that just become part of the furniture without you realising. That kind of stuff I don’t understand at all and it would muddle my brain and make life very messy indeed both practically and emotionally.
So, my point is, the things in our home are not clutter. I’m not sure they really have a name,they’re just part of our lives and collectively they make our lives all the better. There were some lovely comments made at the foot of the article but typically the one citing “clutter” has stuck with me and so I just needed to have my say.
Here’s the article in its entirety, hope you like it. We all sound utterly but happily bonkers. Click the picture to go straight to Houzz.co.uk
I’ve never been terribly bothered about cakes and sweet things. I’m not the kind of person to crave chocolate or dream of cream eclairs or lust over lashings of apple pie and custard….I’d rather have a bit of cheese on a cracker. However, things seem to have changed a bit although it’s not so much the eating of them but the making of them which now gives me the most enormous pleasure. The making but most of all, the decorating.
I was told recently about Cressida Bell who is a British designer specialising in textiles and interiors but who also creates the most amazing cakes I have ever seen. After stalking her wondrous pieces of sugary art on Google images, I bought her book which is a fabulous collection of the most satisfying cake designs I’ve ever seen. I haven’t tried my own version yet but I shall……just as soon as I’ve got these wonky, over the top, layered, fruit, flower and jelly bean creations out of my system.
Above is one I made earlier and below are a few Cressida Bell made earlier – I’ve got some way to go but watch this space. My children’s birthday cakes will never be the same again.
Thank you so much to Daisy Bridgewater, Simon Brown and the Saturday Telegraph Magazine for the brilliant article this weekend! We absolutely love it and Trevor the triceratops is basking in his new-found fame.
Interiors: A Cotswolds cottage that could be part of Jurassic Park
A Cotswolds cottage feels like a film set to its occupants, an artist and his family – complete with extras from his Jurassic period. Photographs by Simon Brown. Words by Daisy Bridgewater
There was much debate, when I visited the home of the artist Jay Jay Burridge and his wife, Mel Moss, about where to put Trevor the triceratops. This surreal 7ft-tall foam dinosaur covered in sticky-backed plastic had just been taken out of storage for the summer and positioned on the lawn in front of their pretty 18th-century Cotswolds cottage. Moss was concerned Trevor would be a distraction and cause an accident in the procession of Audis that whistle past their drystone wall on the way to Waitrose. Burridge disagreed, delighting in the juxtaposition of prehistoric pop art with old-world charm.
Dinosaurs are a recurrent theme in Burridge’s work, his most recent creations decorating the walls and ceilings of Jamie Oliver’s Diner, his close friend’s latest venture in Piccadilly, London. There, a full-size allosaurus stretches over the central stairwell, while dinosaur-themed rodeo posters hang from every wall. In 2010 Burridge made 11 lifesize dinosaurs for a show, When Superstars Ruled the World, at the Lazarides Gallery in Beverly Hills, depicting them drinking tea, playing music and generally hanging out. ‘Dinosaurs have been used so well in popular culture, but what interests me is dulling them down and making them mundane,’ he told me as we eventually repositioned the disturbingly lightweight Trevor out of harm’s way on the other side of the house.
Burridge and Moss moved here from London in 2009 with their first son, Cash, now six, in tow, and Moss pregnant with their second, Carter, four. ‘London life for me was very much about working full-time,’ said Moss, a former fashion stylist, who now combines running Lucky Seven, the couple’s bespoke cap making business, with a job in fashion PR. ‘After I had Cash I tried to live the country life in London – going to farmers’ markets in Queen’s Park and buying expensive sourdough – but moving felt like the most natural thing to do.’
Knowing the Cotswolds through family connections, they were aware that buying would be difficult as much of the land where they wanted to live is divided into large private estates. ‘To get the view and the location we knew we would have to rent,’ Moss said. ‘We were incredibly lucky to find this house – it was the first one we found, and we were in nine weeks after we decided to leave London. It still feels like a film set when I look at the view.’
The couple originally rented the three-storey side of the house (the part with the tiled roof) as a semi-detached three-bedroom cottage. But when the neighbours decided to move on at the end of 2012 Burridge and Moss suggested to their landlord (the cottage is part of the Cornbury Park estate near Charlbury) that they take on the lease and knock the two dwellings into one. The landlord agreed, and in January 2013 a hole was drilled through the wall of the former cloakroom to link one house to the next.
‘The whole process only took a couple of months,’ Moss said. ‘We took out next door’s kitchen and turned it into the dining room, and built a step through the old cloakroom into the original kitchen, as the two houses are on slightly different levels.’ During the knock-through the builders found an ancient lintel in exactly the same place as the new opening, confirming Burridge’s suspicions that the property had originally been a single dwelling.
Now functioning again as a single house, it gives the family the benefit of double the amount of living space on the ground floor, while maintaining a crucial degree of privacy on the second. ‘We still have two staircases,’ Moss said, ‘and you can’t get from one side of the house to the other upstairs; handy for when friends come to stay with young children as we can calm things down at bedtime and keep everyone separate.’ Upstairs in the second cottage are two guest bedrooms and a bathroom. ‘It’s the perfect arrangement,’ she added.
Linking both spaces visually came as second nature to the couple, both avid collectors whose addictions to car boot sales and French brocantes meant that furniture and objects were not in short supply. ‘I have a little fascination with enamelware,’ Burridge said. ‘And Bakelite telephones. And pressed glass and big enamelled tin signs. Really, it is all about colour, and buying the stuff that other people are ignoring.’ Recent finds include an old church pew and a gym bench (both now in the dining room), and a collection of vintage fire buckets that hang from the ceiling filled with flowers. ‘As an artist I like repetition, so I quickly start collecting – if I find one thing I like, I will want to find another, and another.’ I caught Moss rolling her eyes. ‘Jay Jay would put a telephone in every room if he could, but we have hit a compromise. His Star Wars figures stay in his office, and the dinosaurs stay mostly in the garden.’
Kitchen dresser : Much of the china, tin, pressed glass and enamelware on the kitchen dresser (bought at the Old Pill Factory in Witney;theoldpillfactory.com) has been found in brocantes in France, where the family spend a month every year. ‘Usually by the time we get home there is no space for anyone to get into the car,’ Moss says, ‘and the boys have to put up with things piled on their laps.’ The functioning black Bakelite telephone is a classic British model from the General Post Office. The large enamel vessels at the base of the dresser are used to store tea towels, pasta and rice.
Dining Room : Before knocking through from one house to the other, kitchen units used to run the length of the wall below the window, a space now used as a dining room. The opening through to the kitchen passes through a former cloakroom, where a small step down needed to be created to compensate for the differing levels between the two dwellings. ‘I had hoped that it would all be on the same level – it would have been fun for the boys to rollerskate through – but it was impossible to tell until we knocked through,’ Burridge says. The boiler has been artfully hidden behind fabric by Cabbages & Roses. Fire buckets, hung from the ceiling, are filled with flowers. The room is painted with Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon.
Office : More Trainersaurus Rex sculptures from Burridge’s When Superstars Ruled the World show are arranged on the window ledge. An Eames lounge chair and foot rest sit in front of a neon sign depicting a dinosaur as a pole dancer, also part of the show. The Star Wars picture is an enlarged version of something that Burridge drew as a seven-year-old.
Living room : Following the knock-through the grown-ups have the pleasure of their own sitting room in the second cottage, while the children have taken over the family living room in the original house. The floral rug is from Anthropologie (anthropologie.eu). On a packing-crate coffee table sits a stainless-steel Trainersaurus Rex, one of the sculptures from Burridge’s 2010 show When Superstars Ruled the World. Modelled on Adidas trainers (the brand was one of the show’s sponsors), the shoes become dinosaur skulls with the addition of a moving set of heavily toothed jaws.
Master bedroom : A series of American railway logos printed on tin by the artist Ian Logan, Moss’s stepfather, hang above the bed.
Cash’s bedroom : The bunk bed, made by the boys’ grandfather the artist Roger Burridge, has been painted a brilliant shade of bright yellow (Dulux Sunflower Symphony 4) by Moss. Coloured paper lanterns, bought on eBay for a party, hang from the beams.
A few favourite out-takes!
After a morning spent listening anxiously to Radio 4 about the dangers of sugar, I decided to transform the remainder of the weekend into a healthy eating extravaganza. I began by googling such phrases as “a sugar free life” and “sugar free children” and “can life be fun without sugar” and once I’d found answers to all but none which I really liked, I went it alone. First stop, no more apple juice. “But I love apple juice” said my youngest, “it makes me run fast like Mo Farrah”, a small tear dripping down his cheek and bottom lip quivering. This is what I was afraid of, they are already hooked. Addicted to apple juice and not liking the sound of “cold turkey” one little bit.
So I started gently with water and the tiniest bit of my own addiction, High Juice….basically orange squash but with half the sugar, or so it claims. But it colours the water and is definitely better than the sticky liquid they so crave. I’m going to try freshly squeezed orange juice in water today – minus the bits, no one likes bits. The water worked, they like water, they drink loads of water, it’s me that buys the apple juice.
And it is also me who bakes the cakes when I can’t think of anything else to do and I’ve a bowl full of fresh eggs straight from Harriet, Henrietta et al. Baking is great as it takes up quite a bit of time, everyone can join in (if you remain calm) and there are bowls to lick out and delicious things to eat at the end of it. Everyone wins. There is also A LOT of sugar and white flour in cakes which isn’t so good and so I needed an alternative. It was raining here yesterday so after we’d built the 5th lego robot, played indoor bowling and made a camp (destroyed the sitting room) my only way out was to bake something.
Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies. Recipe found in River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. They were very easy to make – I had fresh beetroot here which I just wrapped in foil and baked for about 45 minutes and then peeled. I don’t see any reason why you can’t make these with the pre-cooked beetroot though. The recipe uses dark chocolate, very little sugar and just a sprinkling of flour so I’m telling myself it was healthier than regular brownies and a good way of sneaking in beetroot to a child’s diet.
My youngest – who generally eats nothing but avocados and pasta – absolutely loved them, my eldest was not quite so sure and managed to find a “red bit” in his which I tried to tell him was strawberry but I’d already lost him. Anyway, they’re pretty good with a cup of coffee, or hot water and lemon if you prefer, and the mixture is the most incredible colour which alone made this a very worthwhile experiment indeed.
We’re going strawberry picking today, I know fruit is seen as the devil of the sugar free world but surely strawberries don’t count?
I meant to post this weeks ago when it was published but all kinds of things have got in the way of ANTW recently. Un-forgiveable really.
Anyway, I was honoured to be interviewed by the fabulous My Baba blog and so I thought I’d share my
words of wisdom answers with my very own blog.
And here it is, you can click HERE to go to the original My Baba page too :
Lucky Seven Caps fashion label boss Mel Moss talks to My Baba this week about life as a successful working mother. Mel runs Lucky Seven Caps with her husband Jay Jay and they have two children, Cash (5 years) and Carter (3 years). The family live in the Cotswolds with one dog, two cats and six chickens. This doubles as Lucky Seven Caps’ HQ, where Jay Jay’s Dinersaurs are currently hibernating!
You own the awesome Lucky Seven Custom Made Caps, how did you come up with the concept?
Well, to be fair it was Jay Jay’s baby really and we met 10 years ago just as he’d made his first patch…ENCOM….and taken delivery of a load of trucker caps and captain’s crests. He’s an artist by trade and an ardent individual when it comes to what he wears. He hates anything with screaming logos and brash branding so Lucky Seven Caps started as the antithesis to the Von-Dutch explosion which was happening at the time. He was inspired by the fictional logos from some of his best loved films and tv shows so ENCOM is from Tron and NOSTROMO is from Alien and so on and so on. In the early days there was nothing on the cap which said “Lucky Seven” which made it a nightmare to PR but great for those who wanted to wear a brand quietly.
You work together with JayJay, what’s it like working with your husband?
We’re actually a pretty good team and although we have our own roles in the company, we make all the big decisions together. Jay Jay is head of all creative and so he’s in charge of designing the perfect caps and patches, which he does brilliantly. I look after all the PR and Marketing as well as special collaborations and partnerships, which are growing by the minute! We have a great team in the studio too who make sure that each and every custom made cap is of the highest quality. We’re not an off the shelf cap brand so each cap order is put together by hand, boxed and dispatched by a member of the L7 team. We take it all very seriously indeed!
You recently collaborated with Jamie Oliver. What was that like, working together?
Jamie is an old friend of ours and someone we have the upmost respect and love for. We have been working with him and the team on patches for his various restaurants for a long time now and have just completed some fantastic caps for Jamie’s Italian in Moscow, Singapore, Istanbul and Canberra which has been great fun. Jamie loves caps as much as Jay Jay and was one of our very first supporters so it’s really cool to be able to work with him on Lucky Seven projects. Jay Jay and Jamie also recently collaborated on The Diner, a pop-up Dinersaur restaurant in London. It’s full of Jay Jay’s artwork and sculptures and serves up the best burgers and hot dogs in town. Well worth a visit and it won’t be there forever.
Are you a huge foodie? What’s your favourite family recipe?
We absolutely love cooking and love recipe books! I’ve been stuck on my favourites, Polpo and Ottolenghi, for some time now and Jay Jay is addicted to the fabulous Pitt Cue book so we cook quite a range of things. In terms of a family recipe I think it would have to be Jay Jay’s Sunday American style pancakes with streaky wafer thin bacon and Maple Syrup. It’s become a bit of ritual in this house and the boys get thoroughly involved in both the making and the eating of it all.
What’s on top of your to-do list this week?
We’re working on a few new collaborations for Lucky Seven at the moment so this is probably top of the list this week. Although, mending my childhood Paddington Bear is also up there as I’ve promised my 5 year old he can have him and at the moment he’s in a rather sorry state!
How has life changed, since having children?
It has changed absolutely for the better. I can’t really remember what it was like before but it must have been pretty boring! We have 2 boys, Cash (5) and Carter (3) and they make me laugh every single day and I think they’re completely brilliant. I’m constantly exhausted and forever chasing my tail but secretly I love every moment. We moved out of West London when Cash was 18 months old and now live in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds so I suppose that has been the biggest change. I adore it up here, wouldn’t want to live anywhere else right now. It just works for us as a family and for the businesses too, it provides lots of space to think.
Did you children inspire you to sell kids’ hats on your website?
Yes I suppose they did really. Jay Jay always wore a cap as a kid. There isn’t a photograph of him as a boy where he isn’t wearing a baseball cap. We started the kids caps when Cash was about 2 years old and began with the cloth Kid’s Army cap before going in to the Kid’s Deluxe Trucker which is ideal for kids to teens and beyond. I have so many friends who struggled to find a hat their child would actually wear but I think if you’re able to sit with them and let them design their own online, it becomes all the more exciting and you can make it completely individual to them. We have a great and loyal young following for Lucky Seven Caps and the “Dinersaur” caps Jay Jay did when he opened The Diner with Jamie, are a particular hit with the boys!
What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?
I think it would have to be Diprobase….a strange one maybe but both my boys suffer from excema and it is just the best thing in the world when it comes to keeping skin soft and happy. We go through tons of the stuff.
Would you ever consider launching a children’s clothing line?
Yes, absolutely. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and we have all kinds of plans for the kids divisions of both Lucky Seven Caps and Supersaurs. Watch this space…
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
Happy and hard working with a touch of maternal multi-tasking anxiety.
I’ve always loved a notebook. I also love a scrapbook and when I had more time and more adventures, I used to religiously record things in scrap / notebooks of all varieties. They weren’t so much the Dear Diary kind but more a visual record of the bits and pieces I’d collected along the way and didn’t want to forget. I have recipe books of the same ilk which are stuffed full of torn out pieces of cooking inspiration. I also have a massive box of torn out pieces of cooking inspiration which have never seen a stick of glue and will probably never make it in to a book. I’m keeping them for
a rainy day when I have more time.
Along with my love of what is essentially just collecting and cutting and pasting, comes a love of Moleskine notebooks. I have lots; diaries, sketch books, journals….all sorts. I like their sturdiness and I particularly like the piece of elastic which keeps them all neat and uniform. A stack of Moleskines is a very exciting sight – to me anyway. I don’t buy them nearly as much as I used to but then I stumbled on Urban Cottage Industries which, amongst other things, has a fabulous collection of Moleskines for sale in all kinds of colours AND they personalise them with your own chosen text.
I ordered one as a Valentines experiment for Jay Jay and it’s gone down very well indeed. It’s a perfectly simple present which not only has lots of uses but also offers something bespoke which is special on any occasion.
ps. It’s my birthday on Monday…I think they do next day delivery.