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The Perfect Autumn Jazz Playlist

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Autumn Jazz Playlist

Whenever we host a party we always spend time before hand trying to make sure the music is just right! Sometimes you can find the perfect playlist but sometimes you need to make your own. This is what we have done here, we have gone through our favourite jazz artists to create a nostalgic and sentimental playlist perfect for a cosy autumn soiree. Put on some candles, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy! You can follow this Autumn Jazz Playlist on Spotify here

Autumn Jazz Playlist

Autumn Jazz Playlist

Autumn Jazz Playlist
30th September 2016

How to host a British Tea Party

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British Tea Party

We make no bones about this, we are very proud to be British! This year marked The Queen’s 90th Birthday which was cause for celebration. Also, Team GB did amazingly well at the Olympics.  If we gloss over the mess that is politics it is a good year to be a Brit! With a patriotic spring in our step, we decided to celebrate with British tea party!

British Tea Party

Traditionally tea would include sandwiches and scones, but we decided to head straight for the good stuff, cake! We made a Victoria Sponge with blackberry and blueberry jam. Our second cake was a batch of lemon and poppy seed mini bundt cakes (using this awesome Nordic Ware cake tin). Finishing off our trio of cakes was the Hummingbird Bakery recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes.

To set the table we used a mix match of red white and blue crockery. Our blue crockery is the willow pattern, we found a set at a charity shop and we love them. (The white plates are the Arv series from Ikea and the red plates are part of the Bosa range from Argos in case you were interested?).  We have some lovely willow pattern cups and saucers, and we borrowed Rich mum’s teapot and cake stand in all their old-school glory.

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2nd September 2016

Creating a Summer Blue Table Theme

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Summer Blue Table Theme

We’ve got the summertime blues! Well we’ve got a gorgeous summer blue table theme, which is actually much better!

We recently celebrated Calum’s Birthday with a french themed dinner party for a dozen of our friends. I know it seems like we were celebrating his birthday for the whole of August, but we don’t see a problem with that, do you? Calum did a great job of being the chef for the evening, and Rich got on with laying the table and creating the vibe! We’ve got a good division of labour going on.

For our french inspired dinner, we decided to go with a Summer Blue Table Theme. We have a lot of blue and white bits and pieces about the place so it works well.

With 12 people for dinner, we had to borrow a couple of trestle tables to fit everyone in.  These ugly tables are hidden under crisp white linens. To add interest we laid a beautiful blue ikat table runner down the centre, we picked this up from Sainsbury’s during our weekly shop, you wouldn’t believe it, would you?  The table was set with mismatch crockery, mixing up blue willow pattern plates and a basic white plate. The napkins were a mixture of a white linen set and some repurposed tea towels from Ikea.  The glassware is all a bit of a mix, we only have sets for up to eight people so we had to improvise with whatever odd glasses we can find about the house. Add in a couple of blue water bottles and we are halfway there.

For the flowers Rich ask his mum, a retired florist, to make up half a dozen small posies to run down the centre of the table, we mixed this in with some of our collection of blue and white ceramics.  We found some vintage candle stick holders to give the scene a bit of elegance. A word of warning about using candles outdoors, dinner candles like this can only be used on the stillest of days, as soon a the wind gets up you will end up with the candles being blow out, and getting wax everywhere!

Lastly, Rich likes to print out a nice menu and do place settings. He is a Graphic designer by vocations so enjoys doing things like this. We strung up some fairy lights and had a soundtrack of Edith Piaf and some gypsy swing.  This all adds to the atmosphere for a lovely evening with friends, we had a great time.

So there we have our Summer blue table theme, It was mainly improvised using things we had around the house, but we think it worked out really well.  What do you think?

Summer Blues Table ThemeSummer Blues Table Theme Summer Blues Table Theme Summer Blue Table ThemeSummer Blue Table ThemeSummer Blue Table Theme

Summer Blues

Summer Blue Table Theme

26th August 2016

How to host a Brazilian Barbeque Party

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Brazilian Brabeque Party

Over the two weeks in August 2016, the Olympics were hosted in Rio de Janeiro.  The city hosted 207 nations with 11,500 athletes competing for just over 800 medals.  We both love the Olympics, the sport and the Olympic spirit that brings a positive force of friendship. The  great herculean efforts by the athletes competing reminded us of the 2012 Olympics in London. With this Olympics coming to an end, we decided what better way to celebrate than to have a Brazilian Barbeque! Surely nothing says Olympics better than eating?

To start, we poured ourselves the first (of a few) caipirinha.  It is always best to start with the cocktail! For the BBQ, we prepared some chicken a few days before to mature in a marinade.  To do this, we added a cup of rum, two crushed limes (including the rind), 4 cloves of crushed garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch or two of chilli flakes to a bag and added 6 chicken thighs.  We then froze it before allowing it to thaw on the day we had the BBQ.

Brazilian Barbeque - 13

We added some sides to the meal including prawn skewers, using an easy recipe from Morrison’s that can be found here. A Brazilian rice dish that we found on Life in the Lofthouse blog found here. This rice will become a staple for any tropical themed meal we have in future. Lastly, a great zingy Salsa Verde we found here on Olivia’s Cuisine.

To finish, we put some pineapple on the BBQ, yes, you did read that correctly!  It is really easy to do by chopping the pineapple into large chunks, sprinkling a good dose of cinnamon on them as they cook.  You need to BBQ both sides for about four minutes or until they start to char before pouring on about a tablespoon of toffee sauce.

After setting the table, and with a few more caipirinha flowing we tucked into the food.  The food combination tasted wonderfully of lime and the flavours in the prawns and salsa enhanced the flavours. Our Brazilian Barbeque made a great accompaniment to watching the last of the Olympics and the fantastic performance from all the athletes.

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24th August 2016

How to Create a Botanical Table Theme

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How to style a Botanical Table Theme

We are still feeling inspired by our current favourite interior design book Botanical Style by Selina Lake. So when it came to setting the table for an Italian dinner party we had we knew we wanted a botanical table theme. We host frequently so mixing up the styles is fun way of adding a new dimension to each event.

For our botanical table theme we started by heading to our local garden centre to by some gorgeous green houseplants. We picked up a sword fern, a couple of maidenhair ferns and a couple of mind-your-own-business.  You can read more about these plants here. We find that using plants can be a great alternative to cut flowers for creating the perfect table centre. More often than not it works out cheaper than buying cut flowers, and you get the added bonus of new plants to keep, or to give to your guests at the end of the eventing for presents.

We placed the plants a mixture of rustic containers that we had collected over the years and mixed these in with some green glass lantern and some vintage glass bottles.  We also made some tea light holders in some washed out glass yoghurt pots with a bit of garden twine tied around the rim, economical and very effective.

We’d managed to borrow some collapsible tables to create a big enough dinner table to confirmable sit eight people.  These tables are not the most attractive so to hide them we used a crisp white tablecloth. We broke this up with a natural coloured table runner and similar coloured napkins to keep the theme grounded.  To continue the green from the plants we uses some green water glasses (purchased from ikea for 50p each). And Rich designed the menus and place names using a green palm leave motif.

Botanical Table Theme was perfect for our evenings festivities. We had a wonderful time!

Botanical Table Theme Botanical Table ThemeBotanical Table Theme Botanical Table ThemeBotanical Table Theme

How to style a Botanical Table ThemeBotanical table theme with ferns
17th August 2016

How to Style an Al Fresco Bar

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How to Style an Al Fresco Bar

During the summer we love nothing more than hosting garden parties, and what do parties need? A bar of course! Last year we created a bar from pallets for our Tiki Bar, read more about out Tiki Party here. This year we are using an old potting beach to create a rustic bar for a series of summer parties we are having. Here our our key tips for an al fresco bar:

How to Style an Al Fresco Bar

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3rd August 2016

Swedish Crayfish Party

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Last summer we turned our hand at hosting a Swedish Crayfish Party (Kräftskiva), a traditional party to celebrate the start of the crayfish season (find out more on the Swedish National Website).  Hosting a kräftskiva was a bit of a challenge seeing as neither of us have ever been to one, or had even eaten Crayfish, but we thought we’d give it a go anyway… if it all went wrong we’d just drink plenty of Akvavit.

Scandi culture is becoming ubiquitous nowadays, so with a between IkeaScandinavian Kitchen (we love this place!) and The Stockholm Deli we could find nearly everything we needed: Crayfish, Akvavit, crispbreads, cheeses, garlands & lanterns.  We decided against the funny hats, a decision we later regretted, as apparently this is all part of the tradition!  The only thing we couldn’t find is Dill Crowns which seem to be a key part, a bit of a shame but we survived without.

We started with Gravdlax on rye bread, not sure how traditional this is but it’s my favourite so we went with it! We then downed our first shot of ice cold Akvavit before getting onto the main event; plenty of crayfish accompanied with several salads, cheese pies, crispbreads and some herby mayonnaise.   Not being experience in eating crayfish, they took some getting used to, they are a bit fiddly but once you get in they are delicious.  But be warned they do make quite a mess, some sort of bib is a must!

To follow we had a Blackberry and Almond cake, we found the recipe in Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats.  A good book and a very simple and tasty cake! To finish off we found a selection of Swedish cheeses… and lastly for good measure we had some Daim bars!

We’d read that one of the keys to a successful kräftskiva are the drinking songs.  After a bit of research we found a simple enough tune for us to learn, Helan går, Luckily we also found the Phonetic transliteration, so fortified with some more Akvavit with gave it our best shot… not sure how successful this was (and apologies to our neighbours!)

 All in all it was a very fun evening, not entirely sure how authentic our Crayfish Party was, but we all had a great time!

 Take a look at some more images from the party below.

Crayfish Party 7Crayfish Party 9 Read more…

13th July 2016

How to host a Swedish Midsummer Dinner

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Last year we went of a break to Stockholm and instantly fell in love with the city and the country. One thing we learnt about on our trip was the Swedish traditions surrounding Midsummer.  On our return home we decided that it would be fun to have a go at a Swedish Midsummer party ourselves. We had our first attempt last year and we enjoyed it so much we did it again this year. This is how we created our perfect Swedish midsummer dinner:


Midsummer’s Eve is the traditional holiday to mark the start of the short Swedish summer season, involving getting back to nature and celebrating the countryside. It is one of the lightest nights of the year and was thought to be magical.  Although summer solstace falls on the 20th or 21st of June, the ever-organised Swedes celebrate on friday between 19th and 25th June. It is a public holiday and most take the opportunity to get our of the city and get back to nature.  Traditional activities involve creating and dancing around a maypole, collecting wild flowers and eating the first strawberries of the season. Traditionally unmarried girls would go out and collect seven varieties of wild flowers, it was said that if they slept with these under their pillows they’d dream of their future husbands.


A Swedish party needs Swedish food.  Not having developed a taste for the traditional pickled herring we opted to go for a meal of gravadlax followed but meatballs. Gravadlax is salmon, cured in salt and dill, we served this with a mustard and dill sauce and some rye bread. For the main course Calum made Scandinavian style meatballs from scratch and served with a potatoes salad, a beetroot salad and a cucumber salad. We had some lingonberry jam and a cream sauce gravy.

For desert Calum made a Strawberry Cream Cake. This is a midsummer classic that includes layers of sponge, strawberries and cream. We followed this recipe but there are plenty of variations to choose from. After the gorgeous cake we had a selection of nordic cheeses including Herrgardsost, Ädelost and Prästost severed with some Scandinavian style crisp breads.


A bit of researched suggested that Sweden is more of a beer drinking country than a wine one so we served up ice cold larger.  But after a bit more further research and talking to the good people at the Swedish grocery store we decided we needed some Aquavit.  We opted to go with a bottle of Lysholm Linie Aquavit (which we subsequently discovered was Norwegian, but we’ll gloss over that fact). This aquavit is fascinating, after the potato based spirit is distilled and flavoured with some herbs and spices it is placed in old sherry casts.  These casts are then loaded onto the back of a ship and go for a trip around the world, crossing the equator twice. Each bottle has a code on it so you can see where your bottle stopped off on the way.  To accompany our aquavit we tried our hand at some Swedish drinking songs, with limited success!


In Sweden they create garlands and raise a floral maypole (despite midsummer falling in June) whist we didn’t go full out and create our own maypole we did pay honour with filling old jars full of flowers. We got some Ammi visage from our local florist, it has very similar flowers to Cow Parsley and looked great with our blue and white scheme.  We got our plates, glasses, lanterns and napkin (repurposed tea towels) from Ikea, and found some vintage cutlery and a lace table runner to complete the scheme.


We loved hosting these dinners and we had a great time both this year and last. We now think this Swedish midsummer tradition will become one we keep up in the years to come. Do you think of this summer celebration, let us know your thoughts in then comments.

Top Five | MidsommarSwedish Midsummer Swedish Midsummer

Orchard Blog | Swedish Midsummer
29th June 2016

Top Five | Midsummer

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Top Five

We have reached Midsummer and the year seems to be whizzing past too quickly! Lets have a look at this week’s top five:


Top five | International Giraffe Day

It was the International Giraffe Day on the 21st June. Interesting fact, the Swahili word for Giraffe is Twigga (pronounced Twee-ga), which Calum knows as he grew up calling them that! Giraffes are such graceful animals and to have a day that promotes and celebrates them is a great thing!


Top Five | National Garden Scheme

Each year, Rich’s parents open their garden for the National Garden Scheme.  This charity donates all the proceeds from people opening their gardens for visitors to various charities. There are three houses in Horsell that open their gardens and the local allotments open to visitors as well.  Tea and Cake is also served for people to enjoy in the surrounds of the garden.  The week before is usually a hive of activity whilst Rich’s parents prepared the garden for the day.  Thankfully, we had a good day (no rain) and a good number of people came to visit.


Top Five | Deck Chairs

As we are in-between our own property at the minute, we are trying not to buy anything that could change the type of property we buy.  However, we have been eyeing up some deck chairs in Sainsbury’s for a while and on Saturday bought a pair. We love the look of them and hope that the garden we get will do them justice.


Top Five | Nordicana

As you might have noticed, we like a bit of Scandinavian style!  For Rich’s birthday, Calum bought a copy of the Nordicana Book.  It is a great book to start understanding the Nordic culture, history and traditions.


Top Five | Midsommar

25th June was Midsommar in Sweden and we celebrated this as best we could (not being Swedish).  We will go more into this in a blog post later this week.  It is traditionally the start of the holiday period in Sweden and the Country effectively shuts to celebrate.  We invited our friends Ben and Lauren over to celebrate and enjoy some much needed fun and happiness.

27th June 2016

How to Throw a Tiki Party

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How to Throw a Tiki Party

For Calum’s Birthday in August 2015 we celebrated by hosting a Tiki party in Rich’s folks garden. Calum hasn’t had a proper birthday party since he was a kid so we decided to go all out and we set to planning our slice of Polynesia in Surrey, England. This is what we got up to:


Tiki Party - 01

First things first, you can’t have a party without guests so Rich quickly got on with designing some invites (we will seize on any excuse to do proper invites)! After a bit of research into Tiki design, he chose bright tropical colours, tiki god graphics and 1950s style typefaces to give a mid-century tiki bar vibe.  To match the invites, Rich designed a bar menu, food menu and a ‘tiki bar’ sign.  In for a penny……

Tiki Bar

Tiki Party - 13Tiki Party Pallet Bar

What would a tiki party be without a tiki bar? After a bit of searching we found a source of free used pallets (thanks to Rich’s Dad), we then spent an afternoon pulling them apart and reusing the wood to make our bar, the centrepiece for our garden decorations.  Not bad for the price of a few nails and a couple of hours?

Essentially the bar is made up of three pallets, one across the front, and two half pallets on either side, with the extra wood used where needed.  We made sure the bar was sturdy enough and even had the forethought to put in a shelf under the bar to hide all the extra bottle and juice cartons out of sight.


Tiki Party - 08

How do you turn an English country garden into a slice of Polynesia? Well Pineapples are a must, and we searched local charity shops for anything that was remotely tropical! We then added in some brightly coloured ceramics (including some awesome tiki mugs we found on amazon). We found some paper honeycomb pineapples, and some paper garlands from Tiger – a brilliant source for party supplies and low cost homewares – finally adding in some other bits and pieces we already had to complete the look.

One thing that can really add atmosphere in a evening party is the right lighting.  We found some cool Tiki Lanterns to place around the garden for that Luau feel, and hung some low cost paper lanterns with LED lights for the trees and around the bar.  For a tropical scent we placed a dozen of Yankee Candles’ Pineapple Cilantro scented tea lights around the garden in jam jars. We recently invested in some festoon lighting from Lights4Fun, and finished off with getting some Christmas lights out of storage and stringing these across the garden. Once the sun set the whole effect was something quite magical!


Tiki Party - 05

For us it isn’t a party if you don’t have a signature cocktails or two (or in this case 4). We had a couple of drinks dispensers to make life easier, who wants to spend the whole evening mixing cocktails? But we did get to use my cool mason jar style cocktail mixer for Hema (a bargain at just £3) to mix a couple of Blue Hawaiians just to get the party started!  Calum came up with a Polynesian Punch of his own invention, and we also found a recipe for an appropriately tiki sounding cocktail ‘The Voodoo” – Dark rum, red vermouth, fresh lime and apple juice. We severed Pineapple Lemonade as a non-alcoholic option.

Tiki Party - 07

As much as we love a cocktails or two, they are not for everyone.  To make sure the beer drinkers amongst our friends didn’t feel left out we got in some Kona Brewing Company beers all the way from Hawaii. We had Fire Rock Pale Ale, Big Wave Golden Ale and Longboard Island Lager to choose from.


Tiki Party - 22

The menu was Calum’s doing, and what a good job he did! We had plenty of Sushi (bought in, we’re not stupid!), Hawaiian sliders (mini burger with a pineapple on top), a prawn platter, cheese and pineapple and his pièce de résistance – 24 hour cooked Pulled Pork in a BBQ sauce.

Tiki Party - 23

Lastly it wouldn’t be a birthday party if there wasn’t cake, we are very grateful to our friend and Neighbour MJ for his Tiki cake extravaganza (there are no other words for it apart from extravaganza) The cake was ridiculously awesome and tasted delicious too! Thanks MJ!

We had an amazing evening and thank you to all our friends that came along, it was great to catch up.  A couple of sore heads the next day, but we are already planning our next party!

This tiki party blog originally appeared in Rich’s graphic design blog, but we though it is more in keeping here!

Orchard Blog | Tiki PartyHow to Throw a Tiki Party, great ideas!
25th May 2016