Tuesday, 19 August 2014



After a glorious start to summer, August has been a little disappointing don't you think?  I am sure my UK readers will sympathise anyway!  

Being a great believer in 'silver linings' though, we are grateful for the rain here at home, as it saves us hours of watering each evening, which is always welcome!  Sadly this doesn't mean we can rest on our laurels too often….as there is always much to do in the form of mowing, weeding, and picking, let alone the constant evolvement of new projects that 'Mr. SH' and I can never resist starting.

As well as all these regular garden jobs, we have the mammoth task of trimming all the box hedging, and considering our penchant (addiction?) to continually adding to this, it is turning in to a serious annual undertaking!  What can start as quite a satisfying activity, soon starts to loose its appeal and we think to ourselves 'what on earth have we started'…. 

But when we look back at the garden after a long day of clipping, the reward outweighs the hard work.  If you are a lover of topiary as I am, I am sure you will understand!

A new 'Portuguese Laurel' hedge is now planted around the kitchen deck….beautiful and evergreen, and will be a great wind break…the price we pay for our view and being on top of a hill!

Having established the shape and structure of three identical square box edged parterre beds, part of which you can see above, my aim is to inject more colour into the summer planting next year.  Something tall and blue, to contrast with the existing Alchemilla Mollis perhaps?  Salvias or Catmint?  Any suggestions would be very happily received!

New gravel beds sit at the back of our side lawn…still in their infancy but we hope they will add 'formal' interest and contrast to the rural backdrop beyond.  Box hedging in time will grow up to contain more of my beloved 'Hydrangea Annabel' which I hope next year will increase greatly in size.  These are interspersed with simple home made planters of box balls….a slightly mis shapened bargain buy, which with patience, will start to look better next year!  Beyond that are tall posts, painted in Farrow and Ball 'French Grey' (still waiting for their finials) with young 'Hornbeam' trees between, which we are pleaching to train along their wires.  A Hornbeam hedge along the fence behind is also a new planting and in time, the aim is for the gap between this and the pleaching to form 'windows' to view the beautiful view beyond. 

Between these gravel beds, we have planted three 'Weeping Pear' trees…their silvery leaves will be a lovely contrast I think, against the green of the Hornbeam hedge and the green
box hedging and balls?

The 'Agapanthus' have been gorgeous….

 Both in pots, and in the long beds at the back of the house, but sadly coming to an end now.

Then there is the kitchen garden…my special sanctuary…which has been feeding us with an array of delicious produce, particularly French Beans and of course, as my regular readers will know, courgettes…perhaps a few too many!

Gorgeous Artichoke 'Violet de Laon'...

The warmth of the greenhouse...

Rewarding us with cucumbers and aubergines…

Going back to that courgette glut, thank you so much to all you lovely readers who took the time to send me your delicious recipe suggestions! 

I leave you today with a favourite, which is from the Sarah Raven 'Garden Cookbook', and uses the beautiful flowers of the courgette plant.  A little fiddly, but so well worth the effort.  

For 8:
16 courgette flowers
200g podded peas (frozen is fine)
300g Philadelphia or other cream cheese
Salt and black pepper
small bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped 
2 tablespoon olive oil
olive oil, for frying

For the tempura batter:
225g plain flour
plenty of salt and black pepper
2 eggs
375ml cold lager 

To make the tempura batter, sift flour into a bowl with salt and pepper and make a dip in the centre.  Add the eggs and with a balloon whisk, mix in the cold lager to make a batter the thickness of double cream that is not too smooth.  Keep this in the fridge until you need it.

Shake the courgette flowers to dislodge ants and earwigs (!) and remove the stigma from the centre.  Cook the peas in plenty of salted boiling water for 3 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, combine the peas, cream cheese, salt, pepper, parsley and a little olive oil.
Although not in the original recipe, I added a little chopped chilli at this stage, which we enjoyed.

With your fingers, gently part the flower petals, leaving one finger inside to keep it open.  Take a teaspoon of the mixture and carefully stuff the flower.  The stickiness of the mixture will mean that you can seal the pointed end easily with a little twist.

Heat about 10cm of olive oil in a deep pan, making sure the oil doesn't come more than one-third of the way up the sides of the pan, until it reaches about 170 degrees C.  Deep each stuffed flower in the tempura batter, then fry them in the hot oil.
These are at their best eaten hot, sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper.


Wishing you a happy week ahead…

Sophia xx

Wednesday, 13 August 2014



Happy Wednesday everyone!
I hope this belated post finds you all well, and enjoying your summer days?
Now back from our wonderful few days in Paris, I hit the ground running this week with a current work design project and I can't believe we are half way through the week already!
There is nothing like a few days away to top up on inspiration, and of course, there is no lack of inspiration in beautiful Paris!  

Leaving my usual camera behind this trip, here are a few of my iPhone snaps, which some of you who follow me on Instagram @sophiahomelifestyle 
will recognise.  

Paris for me inspires in so many ways…..

The gorgeous patisserie, and sweet treats…

The elegant architecture….

The strolls through beautiful parks….especially the stunning Jardin du Luxembourg...

The hidden courtyards and squares….with Place des Vosges my absolute favourite.

The romance….love and padlocks on every bridge!

The delightful cafés and coffee break stops...

The refreshing mid afternoon Citron Pressé…

The wonderful restaurants….delicious french onion soup and a glass of rosé anyone?

Shopping heaven!

Endless inspiration, with beauty and style at every corner…not forgetting the stunning choice of galleries and museums.  Paris never disappoints.
A special place that I never grow tired of, and I can not wait to return for my next Parisian fix!


Look in again soon, for some kitchen garden updates and healthy summer recipes we have been enjoying here at home, that I would love to share with you!

Thank you so much for popping by 'Sophia Home' and wishing you a wonderful rest of the week, whatever you have planned...

Sophia xx

Monday, 4 August 2014


Good morning!
I do hope you have all had a wonderful weekend?

Ours was busy, fun and sociable, with a family barbecue here at home yesterday which kicked off what looks like one of several lovely celebrations to mark my husband's BIG birthday!

Tomorrow we head off, the two of us, to our favourite city….Paris!  It is where we became engaged 27 years ago, and where we try to return to as often as we can.  It is very special to us. 

With only a two hour train journey from us here in Kent, thankfully this is really so easy!  Staying in the beautiful 'Le Marais' area, for three days with no fixed agenda, other than to enjoy good food and wine, the galleries and small artisan shops in the area, explore and just 'potter'…..however many times we return, there is always something new to discover.  I can hardly wait!

Have a very happy week, and I look forward to sharing our little trip to Paris with you on my return!  In the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram to pop in to the delights that Paris has to offer, over the next few days…..@sophiahomelifestyle

Sophia xx

Thursday, 31 July 2014


Do any of you keep ducks?

My good friend Amanda does, and every time I visit her and see them, I think of how much I would love to keep some!
These gorgeous things are Campbells and Pekins….don't you just love their adorable duck house, with its cascade of rambling roses, which used to be an old outside 'privy' in the garden of Amanda's beautiful 'William and Mary' house.

Yes, I could be very tempted….we have a natural pond by our orchard…it would be perfect…and they could live in our old abandoned chicken house at night….mmm....I can feel a plan coming together!

Wishing you all a very happy Thursday!

Sophia xx

Friday, 25 July 2014



In spite of great intentions each year to reign in my over the top planting schedule, I always seem to grow enough vegetables to feed an army….but hey…all the more to share with family and friends!

My 'glorious glut' at the moment, like many over enthusiastic gardeners, is an abundance of delicious courgettes (or 'zucchini' as my American readers would say).  Thank goodness we have a house full to feed this weekend!

Both yellow and green….

I am having to challenge myself and put my mind to a variety of ways to use them up! 
Roasted in the oven or grilled on the barbecue and then topped with mint and feta cheese is a favourite….along with this delicious creamy courgette and basil soup, which is equally good served chilled or warm.

Simply fry onions, garlic, chilli and courgettes and cover with chicken or vegetable stock and simmer until tender.  Add a large handful of fresh basil and salt and pepper.  Whizz up in a blender and add a dash of cream and a freshly grated parmesan….easy and so delicious!


Do you have any top tips and recipes for courgettes?  I am need of some further inspiration!

Wishing you all a very happy weekend….

Sophia xx

Monday, 21 July 2014


Today I am taking a day off…..no work projects, no mad list of job….no pressures.

You'll find me at the beach!
My mother's gorgeous beach hut to be precise….a special place I shall share with you soon.

Have a lovely day….whether at work or at play!

Sophia xx

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


Well, I have to agree with Frank!
I never used to though…. 

Orange was never a colour that I embraced that much….until now.
Working so much with colour for my client projects, in contrast I usually prefer to keep my own home, wardrobe and even my garden for much of the year (with the exception of Spring!) in calm and neutral shades most of the time….

….although this summer things have changed just a tiny bit.  Orange, and particularly burnt orange, has started creeping in to my life!  

Shoes and accessories….and even 'wellies'...who can resist this perfect pop of colour to a neutral wardrobe.

A bright and polished manicure essential for the summer...

Beautiful home highlights too, from chic to fun….

…and a delicious treat!


Happy orange….happy Tuesday!

Sophia xx