I think we’d all agree that a crucial part of being ‘a blogger’ is to, erm, ‘blog’. So, apologies for my absence lately. I’ve been very naughty. In my defence, I’ve been really busy working on the Ideal Home Christmas issue (it’s going to be a corker!), compiling our lovely Christmas gift guide, and having a holiday – but enough excuses. Let’s crack on and never speak of this again. Today’s HOT SHOP is a new venture from Passementerie blogger Sarah Lidwell-Durnin. The shop’s called Natural History, and I think you’re going to like it. A lot.

Ooh, I do love a chemistry flask as a vase. The ones above start at £10 from Natural History. The people at Rockett St George like them, too. (This next off-piste-but-lovely pic is from them)…

…but my ‘OH’ (groan) – not so much. He’s a teacher so I tried to persuade him to sneak into the school lab, and swipe a few of the older flasks that I imagine are just knocking around, not being appreciated in a design sense. But no such luck. Apparently, it’s stealing. And resources are limited etc in Lambeth. Sigh. Those pupils are so selfish. Any road, back to Natural History, which is so lovely, a little beetle appears in the URL bar when you visit the site. Sigh again.

Ever since my Etsy guest post, I’ve had a bit of a thang for coral. So, these lovely linen cushions with coral designs are definitely my cup of tea. And you know how I feel about insects and beetles in particular, so I’m VERY excited about these new Entomology notebooks, too:

And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a lovely collection of antique German grain sack cushions. Say. No. More.

Before you beetle off to place an order, you might want to check out the lovely silk coral design dressing gown in the ‘robes’ section, too. It’s FAB. – Ellie

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Like Valentines Day, I can’t help feeling that Halloween has got a bit commercial these days. When it comes to plastic fangs, rubber rats and glittery skulls (BTW this is possibly the most hilarious ‘crafting idea’ ever from the mighty Martha. Simply dig up a grave…) you can count me out. Having said that, I’m all for a bit of pumpkin soup, some beautiful autumnal leaves scattered on a tablecloth, rustic party decorations, and cute Halloween crafting ideas – just not the whole plastic bat, plastic tat thing.

SweetsI love these pretty sweetie cones made from origami paper and tied with rustic twine. Beautiful – and a great idea for wedding confetti, too. Of course, in reality, any children trick-or-treating at my house on Saturday night are more likely to get a fun-size (what’s ‘fun’ about small?) Mars bar thrust into their sticky paws than a carefully crafted country-style cone, the aesthetic beauty of which would probably be wasted on the greedy little monkeys anyway. But it’s nice to dream.

halloween2If you’re artistic and clever (not sure if I attempted this that it would be a success!) you could carve lovely leaf shapes into pumpkins – much more classy than an evil face but, I admit, not so much fun lantern-wise. There’s nothing like a spot of apple bobbing to spoil guests’ carefully applied face paints – this idea of turning the bucket into a decoration itself is easy and it looks lovely. Float little candles among rosy apples, and choose a rustic metal pail (as opposed to a plastic washing-up bowl), for a gorgeous look.

hallAnother alternative to a scary face on a pumpkin is to cut small circular holes and create an elegant lantern look. By the way, if you’re having pumpkin trouble, the lovely people at House to Home have created a great ‘how-to carve a pumpkin’ video which might help! Check it out. I like these fab painted pumpkins from American Country Living magazine, too:

painted-pumpkin-1009-deSo many lovely ideas! And not a plastic bat in sight. I’m going to a Halloween party this weekend, but as the theme is ‘dead celebrities’, I’m not sure it’s going to be a classy, gorgeously-styled affair sadly… – Ellie