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"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
Spring break
18 April 2014


Up with the lark. 4.30am actually. Ring at the door bell. Dog barks loudly and wakes me from dream where a shoot is submerging the house in folds of paper. Stagger downstairs and peer through the knobbly glass door panel. Vague outline of  man in motorbike helmet. Panic. It`s a smash and grab raid?  "Who is it ?". ``Pizza". "Pizza, pizza who? "  I say.  "It`s paid for " he says, and hands over  a box from a thermal bag. "  " It`s 4.30, I didn`t order this, and it`s stone cold"  I say, and stagger upstairs.  Someone has messed up at pizza HQ.

Wish  the  `instant` of nocturnal fast food delivery , could be applied to building work.   One thing leading to another is what building is all about. The  attic bathroom project would have been  done and dusted but for this week`s discovery of a wasps` nest,  parts missing,  and paint colour  mixed with the wrong base. Plus the soggy fallout from the unfortunate incident in  the downstairs bathroom when X and X removed the lavatory as part of the panelling job, and flooded the ceiling below. `You`ll have to get in your plumber` they try.  Hmmmm. "You did say X and X  were competent at removing bathroom fittings" I remind the contractor.  And on, and on  it goes.

Oh well. There`s always the garden. My touchstone of sanity. Spring is at least a  month earlier than last year and we are  soaking up the scents of bluebells and frothy blossom like  parched drinkers.  Best job of the week has been raking  bag of grave  in the relining of  the pathways between the parterre beds.  They look refreshed, almost like clean linen. 













  Unsurprisingly, I`m longing for the weekend. I think that spring lamb will be on the menu for our  Easter feast. This recipe with roasted artichokes and spring greens is  from my book .




Tags: spring, colour, garden, homecooking,


Pure Style Competition
17 April 2014

Take a photo of your favourite Pure Style-inspired spring feast.


Upload to Instagram (@janecumberbatch) , Facebook or Twitter and tag @purestyleonline with #springfeast

The winner will get a signed copy of my book Recipes for Every Day

Happy Feasting!

PS: Closing date on the 6th May 2014

Tags: competition, spring, recipes for every day, home cooking, simple design


Birthday tea
01 April 2014


Spring is springing and the first tulips are blasting colour in the garden. The snail and slugs are in retreat and all is well. 

 Party of the year in Battersea Park for Bertie`s sweet 16 walk and birthday tea.  Everyone was there.  Regrets were sent from Khan who was  sad because the vet  said he must rest his leg. He sent love. The weather  was perfect. There was  much frolicking and ball playing. For the most part the guests behaved impeccably, apart from Rosie who  slurped melting ice  from the champagne bucket and Lola the black pug who ate too much birthday cake and delivered it back on the rug. The party boy managed to stay the course and tottered home  happily across the grass as the sun dipped beneath the great  chimneys of Battersea Power Station .


Justify Left


Much to be inspired by in the coming season of blossom and light evenings.  I have my eyes on Gallery   Libby sellers  for  eye provoking  design in a  curated environment;  Ben  and Winifred Nicholson`s very domestic take on early  20C art and life at  Kettles Yard ;  creamy Welsh goats`  cheese logs  from Mootown sold at Sunday market in Herne Hill; and my first bath in the new attic bathroom which will be opened for shoots as soon as the last lick of paint has dried.

Here are pictures of the latest blasts of colour in my  garden, shot this morning soon after the fairy mist had lifted and the sun  had broken through.








Tags: tulips, spring, colour, garden,


In the pink
17 March 2014


This is a  brief  Pure Style update as  much sorting and clearing for  new bathroom in the attic. And I`ve been weed bashing  outside for many a happy hour in the soft bird twittering spring air. 

Colour combination of the  week is a bedside  gorgeous pink rose left over from shoot in a turquoise coffee cup.
 And look, more fabulous  pink in a floaty wrap around dream skirt made for me from birthday present fabric by Tessa Brown.






Daughter, Georgie is taking over the kitchen in a very pleasing way with  delicacies like this Paul Young sea salt chocolate and pecan tart. A comforting slice or two much needed after car break down on the M3 and subsequent lightening of purse .




Tags: Pink, spring, home cooking, chocolate


The garden beckons
25 February 2014


There`s fun in a workout  with  fork and spade in the fresh air . As good as a punch bag (it has been one of those weeks) .Happily ,weeds growing super fast in the warmth, and infesting snails are at the receiving end of my energies.
 I  dig and  thoughts come, like how there is sanity in the unpredictability  of nature.  Give me this  violet (above) pinging with unseasonal  colour and  vigour over a mush diet of commercial uniformity.  Bring on the super green alliums bursting with early green shoots  and,  over there , a  radical  forget met not,  glowing with delicate  cobalt blue flowers  And even though  I canít tame nature  I can attempt to work with her.





 The hazel hurdles are up. Easy to mount the stakes in the boggy soil and they should  make a good backdrop  for  garden shoots this spring.  Iíve recycled the worn out willows ones and put them in the vegetable patch (see below).   Theyíll look good with sweet peas curling up  in summer.





  I am planning a new shoot bathroom in the attic and to line the downstairs bathroom in  tongue and groove mdf cladding.  Iíve my eye on a cast iron bath with feet for the top room  and  Pigeon  dark grey  to give it warmth and contrast  to my mostly white house. 

 On the fabric side of things, I  have recently seen luscious  colours in sleek contract textures  designed by  fashion designer Raf  Simons for   Kvadrat . And there  are interesting retro prints   in Heals` first fabric collection since the seventies`.




I seem to need more raw food at this time of year, something to do with winter depleting our bodiesí stocks of nutrients maybe, or simply a desire for crunch and colour. Here Ďs a simple winter salad, from my  recipe book that you might like to put together
2 or three carrots, peeled and sliced into thin sticks.
200g red cabbage finely sliced
1 head of chicory finely sliced
handful of pomegranate seeds
handful of chopped mixed nuts
few mints leaves, to garnish ( my local Turkish shop has a steady supply all through the year)
for the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2tbsp Seville orange juice or lemon juice
 1garlic clove finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the vegetables, pomegranate seeds and nuts in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk the olive oil and orange or lemon juice until amalgamated. Add the garlic and season. Add the dressing to the salad, mix and garnish with mint.

Tags: winter. home cooking, garden, colour,


Hearts and colour
14 February 2014


I am still  married to my rubber boots  even though the sun is spilling through the windows on a rare dry  break in the deluge.
Cat and dog laid out in the warming rays as they spread across the newly made bed and decorate it with the finest of cat  and dog  fur.
After my rant last week, I must say that the upsides of shoots outweigh the occasional down moments.  This week we feasted on  leftovers: coffee and walnut cake.etc.,  made by a young, and starting out cook Charlotte Gardelis, who  expertly fed and watered the team in the main shoot space.





Munching the last slice of  cake and  reading Vogue, I see that my investment in  a lightweight mint coloured  puffa from Uniclo has been given the fashion bible`s stamp of approval, too.  I`m not a puffa person but this is a great colour to go with my pink bits   and is really  warm which  is what really counts.




Dodged  the showers  and tube strike to see  Beckett`s  Happy Days at the Young Vic. It  wasn`t the most uplifting play to go to with a young person at the start of life and full of fluttery hopes, but Juliet Stephenson `s  Winnie showed the female capacity for  looking on the bright side when it isn`t ,and she has great hand movements.

  Happier days, are spent fielding packets of lovely fabric samples, that drop through the letter box for  the new book I`m working on. My heart sings when I come across colours in  embroidery like this from Pierre Frey , above.  Must tell you too that I`m pleased my borders are part of the collection curated by Silvanna de Soissons in her new foodie bugle online shop.

 Days getting a little longer... the garden is beginning to beckon for spring. I am looking forward to replacing worn out and wind damaged willow fences at the  bottom of the garden with  3 freshly woven hazel ones that arrived by courier yesterday.




Tags: pink, valentine, cak, e home cooking ,


A rose, cake and colour
05 February 2014

Daughter can`t get to job and  assistant stuck on bus for two hours. Poor show, striking Tube people and your big brother  boss B.Crow last seen sunning hairy belly on Rio Beach.  But this, and ongoing flood/mud/rain/wind/gloom story  brightened by lone survivor of my  roses, a brilliant John Clare bloom. Also, cheering thoughts of  the  toasted pistachio gorgonzola tagliatelle taste sensation at Zucca a few weeks ago and, look here, chocolate brownies baked by middle daughter for her younger sister`s` birthday tomorrow.  (From Felicity Cloak`s Perfect, and they do taste, just that).




  Inspired by a yellow  Habitat chair on a shoot a couple of months ago , I  thought you`d like to see my  paint update on a chipped and worn chair in my office.    Off I  go  to the paint shop to see if I  can recreate the same  lime green/acid yellow colour  that reminds me of  all things springlike  e.g see  the   angelica flower head I  shot in an Algarve meadow last year. I pick `Tarragon Glory` from Dulux  and it works well. I cheated and bought quick drying emulsion  which, of course won`t wear as well as an oil based eggshell, but I do rather prefer matt painted finishes all round.

















Tags: roses, , winter, paint, spring, yellow , home cooking


Winter whites
21 January 2014


The cat and dog  look at me hard  as I shut the door to the kitchen.   I read their  stares as  `what is she doing,  denying us access to  FOOD ? ` But  I don`t want them decorating the freshly painted white floor which is wet and drying  slowly slowly because it is oil based . The long drying time is worth it because the result is hard wearing, like enamel. And this is good for repelling the assault by the heavy  boot wearers and furniture draggers of the shoot world.  The  chalk-on-blackboard screech as a bed or sofa is grated  across the boards  propels me out of my hidey office hole like nothing else. Thankfully most people are brilliant and careful when they come to use the house.

It`s as if I`ve gone on holiday to a fresh new space . I`m inspired to invest in a a new steam cleaner to keep it looking that way. Quite sceptical about housey gadgets but this is rather wonderful like a steam iron-with-pad on astick.  The thing works well if I apply a firm pressure - in the manner of mowing the lawn. Rather meditative, too,  as  no interruptions for rinsing like you have to do with a traditional mop and bucket.
 PS Cat and dog food bowls  relocated so they don`t go hungry.




I also update the central island units with a coat of  water based  `diamond` eggshell,  which does do what it says on the tin but obviously wouldn`t be up to  something like a floor painting job.




Number one unreliable gadget, the car won`t start.  Into garage and the blissful engine hands of Panos.  Bicycle main form of transport  and so I wobble off with dog on lead tied to handlebars.  I am multitasking:dog gets walk in park and I can get to the market to load up with birthday party ingredients for son turning 25.

 As ever, Herne Hill Market is a  treasure trove of edible delights : rock oysters from Poole in Dorset and leafy greens to start with. Bicycle basket filling up , but I can`t resist retro jug above, and green retro Pyrex glass below.  Makes up for the vintage olive oil  jugs I backed out of  at Fuseta market the other week. The last stop turns out to be the west country cheese man, whose extra mature cheddar is mouthwatering. I feel the dog  tugging and sniffing , trying to get under the stall. Bike , dog and me, almost a heap on ground, when west country cheese man shouts,`  `Oi its  got my lunch`  and bends down to retrieve a  half finished carton of curry. Wishing I wasn`t there, I offer replacement  and buy an extra slice of goats` cheese . Time to leave.





Incident free on the ride home.   I bake  a birthday cake  involving much chocolate and caramel sauce.  The canine,  not chastened of course , lurks by my feet waiting for a tasty crumb to drop.  .... I  have to  admire  her dogged persistence.



Tags: winter simple decoration white retro vintage, white paint,


Winter recipe from my book
13 January 2014

I`m warding off the incursion of the 5:2 diet in our household with a hearty steamed pudding from Pure Style Recipes for Everyday.
You, blog readers will enjoy it too, if you`re faint from more  New Year  diet nonsense.

Marmalade steamed pudding
(makes 4 small puddings)

This is a delicous combination of the bitter flavour of the orange and the sweetness of the sponge. Substitute the marmalade with golden syrup for an even stickier and sweet comfort pudding.

100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
100g self-raising flour
8 tbsp marmalade

Inn a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the beaten eggs. Fold in the flour. Grease 4 individual pudding moulds and put a tablespoon of marmalade at the bottom of each.
Add the mixture and cover with greaseproof paper lids tied with string, or a piece of foil fitted tightly. Stand in 2.5cm of water in a roasting tin and place in an oven preheated to 180C for 50 minutes , until risen. Turn out the puddings into serving bowls.

Heat the remaining marmalade in a pan, pour a tablespoonful over the top of each pudding and serve.

Tags: winter, home cooking, orange,


New colour new year
06 January 2014

 Today I will squeeze into trainers and have a quick jog to the seafront and back.   New year, new promises and fabulous colour in Christmas earrings and new green cotton t shirt.   Small splashes of colour can be as dramatic as an all out colour assault whether it`s in the wardrobe or for decorating a room.



  A trip along the coast. Down cobbled steps fringed by tumbling purple convovulus  and  cactus plants with paddle  shaped limbs  green succulent, and deadly spiked.  Eating springy bread  buns with hunks of sweet  tomato and  goats`s cheese on the  grey  wind and rain  spattered  beach is more  Bognor regis than the Eastern Algarve, but  we are  also feeling  the whirling effects of the UK`s fierce winter storm.

  I am glad to be off major cooking duties for a few days. But it was hugely satsifying over Christmas to produce  Elizabeth David`s, Carbonade Nimoise and La Daube de Boeuf Provencale from  French Provinical Cooking.  Both essentially hearty stews cooked long and slow, the former involves  lamb  and potatoes with a typical southern taste and smell , and the latter  beef with more  rich  southern  juices  flavoured with orange peel and herbs .







At the Saturday market  there are mounds of cabbages and greens -  rich in winter nutrients and fibre for little more than a few centimos. Wish I could carry back furry quinces for membrillo,  but would be at expense of reading matter . No I don`t have a Kindle, but maybe I should for  the
quince`s  sake.













Sunday, and it`s Fuzeta  fleamarket.  No I don`t want a bucket of golf balls or a  bobbled polyester dressing gown,  but I do have my eye on a couple of retro aluminium jugs for olive oil. Five euros each. Not bad I think, but do I really need them?  But do we really need most of the stuff we have.  Buy them,  says the daughter  and dedicated shopper of her generation in my head   I go back and have a another shifty  look. No. I`ll save my money.  In  the car on the way home. Regret. I  should have bought them. So useful and such great shapes.





Anyone for a hammer?




Pots , pans , simple china and utilitarian junk like these mesh filing trays  are what make Fuzeta a rich source of pickings  on a sunny Sunday morning.





Tags: winter, colour, Olhao


Some ideas for christmas
14 December 2013

 I have escaped  the Christmas hysteria for a long weekend in Olhao. Bathed in  warm sun the Saturday market is a rich source of edible seasonal goodies. I can only look  and sigh at the honey- it wouldn`t make it past the xray scanner  but I load up on  piri piri peppers, nuts and figs for simple stocking fillers.




Two small girls are selling chestnuts  with their brothers from a barrow with a basic charcoal oven and a box of sea salt for flavouring.  They keep their wares   tucked up  like dolls in  a blanket of  sacking. I buy a bag for 2 euros and the nutty burnt flavours  evoke the  Christmases  we spent in  the Andalucian sierra.






Over coffee and a pastel de nata I consider more ideas, some practical, some  fanciful for my Pure Style Christmas wish list:

A scented rambling rose for summer blooms.
A pile of warm wool welsh blankets
 Cashmere socks
A cataplana for making Portuguese fish and rice stew.
Anything from Labour and Wait, especially a pot mat a stout work apron and a shiny new saucepan;
More kitchen knives.
A substantial linen tablecloth
Something simple in pottery
Just about any Aesop products but especially my favourite moisturiser
A new project like this one
The true version of this table rather than my Ikea rip off
A subscription to  visual inspiration at the Royal Academy.
A year`s supply of Bendicks  bittermints

Tags: Christmas, natural, colour, winter


Bulbs in
02 December 2013



Leaves are strewn like golden paper plates  over the garden. Summer`s die back is a challenge and I need to chop, weed and clear to make space for bulb planting.  Past four pm and the day is closed and so it is easy to ignore the untidy goings on in the garden.
I have a gardener friend, Simon ,who says  Jane your task is to get all those beds weeded, and then the job`s done.  So I  take his advice and do it . He does the  heavy stuff and is ace at pruning and keeping many other  local flowering spots neat and under control.
 You know my Label hate, but I need a new pair of wellies and the pigeon  grey Hunters at  TKMaxx are cheapish at £40.00 (they`re seconds ) compared to  £79 up the road at Morleys.  I don`t  even feel comfortable at spending this on a boring pair of rubber boots, but I have to say they fit like a glove and  as with  my favourite rake and spade, it`s good to have practical functional items with which to garden. I suppose I`ll be hiding them from the festival goer next summer.



Away from the screen,  solicitor`s  letters , leaking  sink pipe, and   the general  impermanence  of things,  I  feel contentment  digging snug earth beds for the alliums, and tulips.  The afternoon is quiet , blue wash  sky going into pink  and a blackbird on the fence. 




Cradling each bulb ,laying it down in its nest bed I think  optimistic pleasing thoughts.  I think about the garden in spring decorated with fluffy allium balls,  a sea of purple and pink.. I think of the summer grass  warm and herby and the  sun setting behind the apple tree




The whole thing of putting Christmas together is great, I love to do it for my family  but what I do rage over is the  commercial relentlessness  which began somewhere back in September with  cut price  chocolate snowmen on sale at the Co-op.  Out in the garden there`s none of that  and I am grateful to all the growing things for that





Good things are also cooking in the kitchen to keep the household stoked up because  I`m being frugal with heating. My daughter and I went went on a morning`s quest for pigs trotters, ingredients for  pork pies.  Herne Hill market saved the day when  there wasn`t a pigs trotter to be had between Pecham and Streatham.  She worked from the recipe in  Pie  a brilliant book, and no doubt why said pies won lst prize at the  classroom staff bake off. I`ve  been having fun with mackerel fillets coated in oats and fried in a little olive oil great brain food tasty and economical . I also  bought silvery and fresh wild sea bass to be baked with herbs`s from  wonderful fishmonger,Pauline . Sadly she is moving on  because greedy greedy shortsighted landlord wants to get fatter and fatter and lease to another betting shop or pawnbroker.




Tags: Tulips, alliums, autumn, baking, colour ,


More fruitfulness
11 November 2013

 
One red onion is beauty in itself don`t you think?   It should  should be called  purple , deep mauve , fuschia even, anything but red. I bring a paper bagful home from the market to make an edible autumn display on the table. This  depletes over the week with glossy fried onions for gravy with sausage and mash,  stirfry with   crunchy sticks of carrot and white cabbage and Sunday`s last beef slivers.  I`m addicted to Sharpham Park pearled spelt, and it is just the thing for making a risotto with chopped red onion,  beetroot  and goats cheese. 





  Lido blue sky, Jerk chicken on the breeze ,  and through the park gates a  fluttering  gold horizon on the hill , Sunday in Brixton is just as freeing and refreshing as a walk  in country woods. I am a country girl in my  heart but for all the delights of  rural  beauty and peace  my  head soon  tires of  petrol hikes to the shops and  sinister ice on winter lanes.  Give me the people life of  urban encounters:  a  late night war story  from an Eritrean  minicab driver, fellow dog walkers  smiling in four legged connection;  a close  friend and glass of fizz  one road crossing away; or Antonia and Casey at  Beamish and Mcglue who dispense good coffee  and local chat.   And from the spreading rash  of betting shops in the high street to a potential  feast of films in a new Picture House cinema, these are  all elements of my village life in the city.

 It`s  been a good week for  exhibitions: : Whistler`s  fog scenes on the river at Battersea; more  colour at Tate Modern with  Paul Klee and  then to Albermarle Street and       Tim Wright`s   powerful  painted  figures .

GARDEN NOTE : Apart from a  few floppy pink rose heads. colour is leaching from the garden beds. But the sycamore is flaming and the grass  thick and rich green, a last growth spurt before winter draws it  back into the earth to wait for Spring.   Boxes of tulip and allium bulbs are packed in the cool of the larder.I have a weekend earmarked for planting them and  putting the garden to bed. NB see great pictures by   Caroline Arbour`s  in a  new book  on Virginia Wolf`s garden .





  Inspirational autumn  colours in the park  above,  and pink  Cosmos,  below, growing in the Community  greenhouses, below.




 QUINCE JELLY:   I simmer  the  dentist`s quinces  in  water for a couple of hours  and let the cooked  fruit  drip pink juice  through muslin into the pan.   I add 500ml  juice to 600ml of sugar and stir  the mixture over the heat until setting point .The hot jelly cools and sets in jars by the fridge. The dog sniffs but doesn`t touch,  too  hot.  I  plan to  share the jelly  out to foodies  at Christmas. It`s so good to eat with roast meat or to stir into gravies.














Tags: onions, autumn, colour, market


Striped style
29 October 2013


Our Pure Style paper borders are the best things to decorate your life inside, and out.  They come in 8  modern colourways and to fix, require little more than a spirit level and a few dabs with the glue brush. We`re  selling to clients who want to  cheer up  kitchens and hallways  or give a new look to a bedroom.   Great for more temporary nests, too:  students  can get away with decorating their  Cell Block X accommodation, just as easily as any  other renter,  since the borders  can  be stripped off at the end of term or lease.   Buy one... or two or three... NOW!

See Fennel border , above





Cornflower border



Toast border



Quince border





Duck Egg border





Rose Petal border





Pure Style borders are available online in our shop

Tags: colour, simple update, paper borders, simple decoration


Things I Like this week
18 October 2013


More local finds at Herne Hill market on Sunday: hand dyed green vintage  Witney blanket from a stall laden with  blankets and throws (every other week )in great colours; a flagon of cider delicious. aromatic and alcoholic   from  Core Fruits 01227 730589  to go with a brace of pheasants  I roasted from the next door but one stall; just round the corner is Lowie, with great handknits and vintage rails  amused to see Lady Di -style  frilled high - neck Laura Ashley frocks






Cheered by  vibrant pink, whether its lipstick or roses (see the  last of  the John Clares in the garden  ) I like the idea that  warm coats in pink sorbet colours are fashion themes this winter. Which reminds me, you should go to   Vanessa de Lisle`s blog for some of the best fashion wisdom in the business.





It`s good to  see the Pure Style borders featured in this month`s copy of the World of Interiors




  Simple idea: nature lamps from Dan, who`s looking for stockists. Contact Danartland@yahoo.co.uk.





Simple pleasures: the dentist`s quinces look so beautiful I don`t want to cook them. And I`m reading  Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells    where the   `fundamental question ` of wellbeing is  happiness equals reality minus expectations. Cool!



Tags: blankets colour texture roses


 
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