Food: Turnip and Sage Soup

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Christmas has passed and we’re all beginning to feel the pinch, either in the wallet or around the top button of the jeans! So why not treat yourself to some cheap, easy to make and heartily nutritious soup? Here’s a recipe for a cockle warming Turnip soup.

You’ll need:

  • 5 – 6 small turnips,

  • 1 – 2 potatoes,

  • 1 onion,

  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard,

  • Sage (fresh, naturally),

  • 500ml – 1 Litre of water,

  • Rapeseed oil,

Garnish:

  • 3 – 6 fried sage leaves

Begin by roasting the turnips (skin on) in a bit of oil and a crunch or two of salt. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (fan) and cook for at least half an hour, checking after 20 minutes and tossing around so they get equal coverage. When they’re done they should be soft enough to run a knife through with little to no resistance. The skins should have browned a bit too. At this point you can allow them to cool a bit while you get on with the base of the soup.

Using a Le Creuset or similar cast iron pan, chop the onion and fry in a little rapeseed oil until soft. Cube the potatoes (skin on or off, depending on how smooth you want the soup to be) and add to the pot. Add the mustard, then the turnips and let them get coated before adding the water. Pour the water (I like to pre-boil the water in the kettle) over until the vegetables are covered and bring to a gentle boil. You’ll want to keep the soup on a medium heat rather than boil it to death.

As the turnips were roasted with a little salt be careful with the seasoning at this point. Season with plenty of black pepper, roughly chop a handful of sage leaves and stir those in too. Leave to simmer for twenty minutes or so, until the potatoes are cooked. When they’re done remove from the heat and whizz the whole thing up with a stick blender until smooth.

For the garnish, simply fry the sage leaves in a little oil until dark green and crispy.

I served it with a Nøgne Ø pale ale and a hearty, dense loaf of seeded rye from Brød, Cardiff.

Enjoy!

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Design: Styling Christmas

Foregoing the British festive decorative tradition of “more is more” in favour of the Scandinavian monochrome look, our Christmases might look tame in comparison with others. To others they may look sparse, cold or even un-Christmassy. But where an abundance of light and colour can overload the senses, a more selective approach to decorating at Christmas can yield equally cosy results. Here’s a quick look at how I’ve styled our home for Christmas.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone reading this that Scandinavia is the primary source of my inspiration for the interior of my home: full stop. Monochrome interiors, stark whites, shades of grey and coal black touches here and there typify the genre of interior design. You’d think an abundance of black, white and grey would create a cold environment, but you’ve got to remember that this design ethos comes from cultures who are used to the cold and the darkness of winter. They even have words for cosiness that transcend what we take for granted in its meaning. In fact entire books have been written on the subject of hygge and mys that they’ve passed into the subconscious of coffee table discussion.

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There is no more hyggelig a time of year than Christmas and an  absence of abundant colour does not mean an absence of warmth. This year in fact I decided to incorporate the teal of our Made.com Jonah sofa and armchair (last year I had them temporarily upholstered in black for the Christmas period). Colour is unavoidable – there’s the inevitable green of whatever tree or greenery you’re introducing, but then there are the inevitable colours of your furniture. It’s all about arranging what you have to create the mood or atmosphere that you want.

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On the coffee table I decided to create a winter forest of candles with Kähler hammershøi candle holders, my white tree from Flying Tiger, the tree candles I got from Denmark last October, the numerous tea light holders I got from H&M home and the Ittala Kivi. Dotted among the “trees” is a little plywood Moomin from Lovi, a stag and some DIY nisse I picked up from Søstrene Grene. The composition is designed to echo the “forest” of Ittala Festivo candle holders sitting resplendent on the sideboard. When the whole thing is lit the effect is extremely hyggelig.

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Our tree is a simple five footer decorated with home-made Himmeli made from black and white paper straws, the idea for these came from Nalle’s house. We’ve also made baubles from black and white patterns printed on card and formed into shape with wire (also from Nalle’s house). A single set of 6 wooden baubles break up the pattern white one set of 100 lights bring light to the tree. Sitting above the tree is our silver star decoration that we got from Home Bargains (of all places!). Clearly intended as a free hanging decoration, the star makes a perfect tree topper to complete the look.

The trick when styling monochrome is to balance heavy and light tones. The easiest way of doing this is by combining tea lights such as glass votives like the Snowballs from Kosta Boda, with a repeated thematic focal point like the himmeli decorations on the tree, which then tie in with the geometric artwork on the walls like the print from Emerybloom, the Kubus candle holder or the Kähler Omaggio vase in the corner. Humour can be used tastefully throughout the arrangement too. As I mentioned in a previous article, the santa hat for the Kay Bojesen monkey was an absolute must while the presence of the white Hoptimist by designer Gustav Ehrenreich gives a breath of life to the stark colour palette. From the opposite side of the room from the tree, the piercing eyes of our Olle Eksell print gaze out across the room, while in the corner sits the Normann Copenhagen tray table, which I’ve mentioned about styling here.

The monochrome shades of the pillows on the sofa and armchair sit beautifully against the teal. I’ve used the combination of a simple grey throw and plain grey cushions from IKEA’s GURLI range, a cushion that we recently picked up from Copenhagen (only 60 Kr!) and my Fine Little Day Gran cushion which keys in with the other patterns, holding the arrangement together. You’ll often find when styling a space that one or two pieces go on to influence a look for a space. The armchair sports a cute mountain cushion from Lagerhaus and the cross cushion from Zana Products.

Monochrome doesn’t have to be oppressive or joyless. In fact I would strongly argue that it’s a smart and surprisingly dynamic avenue to pursue precisely because it runs counter to common consensus. The only drawback is that currently the UK doesn’t really offer much in the way of readily available monochrome ornaments or decorative pieces. Over here black is always paired with gold and silver with white and there the creativity ends. As such, much of my collection has been sourced from abroad. I hope you’ve found some form of inspiration to try something new next year. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and regularly begin sourcing pieces in advance. Be daring, take the plunge and go monochrome.

 

Design: Normann Copenhagen in Homesense

On Monday evening, perusing around Homesense with Tom, I came across this treasure trove of Scandinavian design. They had boxes and boxes of Normann Copenhagen design. I couldn’t believe my luck!

Agnes Vases in all different shapes & sizes from the mini up to the 32cm one & the fat  ‘plant pot ‘ looking one, all priced from £3.99 up to £7.99, (Which is an absolute bargain considering they usually start at £10 and can go up to as much as Seventy quid!)

The Agnes Vase, designed by Agnes Fries uses Handmade Chinese porcelain from Jingdezhen and combines & contrasts it with a top of black hand-painted brush strokes. Its subtle yet striking, graphic and perfect for a monochrome/ Scandinavian styled interior.

I decided to go for the 20cm vase, a Goldilocks among the rest in my opinion. Being ‘Not too big, not too small’ it doesn’t get swallowed up by a room, but it isn’t also too large to be a centrepiece on my small dining table, and at £6.99 instead of £39.99 I just had to get it!

They also had the Floe tealight holder there in so many shades & hues. I picked up two considering they were £3.99 each in coral and dark green, perfect for both my Spring/Summer  & my Autumn/Winter looks! Designed by the Spanish designer Ramírez i Carrillo to echo a traditional antique oil lamp, it gives a small but impacting atmosphere when styled into your interior.

When I got home I immediately had to take them out of the boxes and incorporate into my Winter décor.

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the Agnes Vase looked perfect on my Normann Copenhagen Block Table, rubbing shoulders with some succulents & my Yule candle from Flying Tiger Copenhagen & Menu X Stokke Austad candle holder. I used a branch, that we had lying around from last christmas and adorned it with some of our homemade baubles & himmeli.

I followed this tutorial by Nalle’s House to make the ornaments. It all fits so well together, with the vase completing the look. Not too ‘out there’ & Kitschy Christmassy. Monochrome, just festive enough & classy!

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The Floe fits perfectly on my IKEA side table keeping my little Tomte company. It looks great with the Sanna Annukka illustrated ‘The Fir Tree’ by Hans Christian Andersen underneath, strengthening the green and it also works well with the Iittala Aalto pieces, all creating a nice harmonious look.

Let’s hope some Normann design is at your local Homesense store, but get it quick as it will vanish fast!

Design & Food: Nordic Berlin: The Nordic influence on the German Capital

Recently I went on a cultural exchange trip to Berlin with University, funded by DAAD. Whilst there I noticed the Nordic influence on the city. Whether it’s my Scandi-obsessed mind I don’t know, but I found many influences from the Northern lands on the German Capital.

Architecture

 

 

It is possible to see the Nordic influence within Berlin,with some of its architectural destinations.

 

The Hansaviertel complex, near the Tiergarten has some of the best examples of mid 20th century architecture in the country, Interbau, a competition devised in 1957, for the world’s best architects to come up with a building each, within the complex. Here, you’ll find buildings from the Scandinavian masters of functionalism; Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen and Kay Fisker, along with other international tour-de-forces such as Oscar Niemeyer, Le Corbusier and the famous Bauhaus school founder, Walter Gropius. In recent years, they have uncovered- and restored, a mural on the pavilion of the Aalto building. This mural, is a wave of sinuous, organic lines, that references his famous piece of design, the Savoy vase- now produced by Iittala.

 

Built in 1999, the Nordic Embassies in Berlin house all the diplomatic buildings of the Nordic countries, shoulder to shoulder. Devised by architects Alfred Berger and Tina Parkkinen, the embassies,- all designed by teams of different architects have been arranged geographically, each one reflecting the qualities of each nation. For instance the use of Milk glass in the Norwegian Embassy, references the glaciers of the Norwegian landscape. The Swedish and Danish Embassies proudly display the materials of their homelands, with the Swedish Embassy using white Gotland limestone, and the Danish Embassy highlighting its use of warm wood, and contrasting cold steel- its trademark materials, made famous internationally. The Icelandic Embassy, features a floor, paved with large lava tiles, which are illuminated below with a red light- giving the impression of the stark, volcanic landscape of the country. The Finnish Embassy, even includes two saunas- a nod to the compulsory national past-time of Finnish life. At the heart of the building complex is the Felleshus, or the Pan Nordic Building- which combines a space for exhibition, conference rooms, canteen, auditoriums- for all of the Embassies- and the general public, too. Using a mixture of Nordic materials, this building, expresses the unity of the Nordic countries.

 

The Nordic influence on Berlin can even be seen in the most German of all buildings; The Reichstag Building, housing the Bundestag. Along with the amazing architecture of Norman Foster, the Danish architect Per Arnoldi designed the concept of all the doors and the protocol room.

 

 

 

Shopping

 

Being a capital, Berlin is a shopping haven. The Scandinavian influence shines no less here, with so many Nordic brands to choose from. If you’re looking for clothes shops, stores such as H&M, COS, ECCO, Monki and Marimekko are for you. Design lover? You’re spoilt for choice with stores such as Scandinavian Objects, Iittala, Bolia and Bo Concept. Not forgetting that the big department store,

KaDeWe, stocking the Scandi favourites such as Normann Copenhagen, HAY, Ferm Living, Design House Stockholm and Georg Jensen.

 

 

 

Food & Drink

If you’re fed up with currywurst and pommes and looking for something a bit more Northern in flavour, then the restaurant Munch’s Haus on Bülowstraße is worth a shout. Serving up Norwegian traditional fair, with a twist, I’d recommend a visit!

 

A place that is equally popular in Berlin, as they are in the Nordic countries, is the humble liquorice shop. Loved by Northern Euopeans alike, these small confectionary shops are where you go for your fix of the black gold, or rather salty, black gold- flavoured with Salmiak ( an ammonium salt). In Berlin, Kadó, is where you go. An institution for 18 years, they stock a variety of liquorice products, from subtle Italian stuff, to the punchy (and tongue numbing) Icelandic and Finnish liquorice.

 

Just fancy something light with a coffee? Then look no further than the Oslo Kaffe Bar, at the Nordic Embassies. Wether you’d like to have a ‘kaffee pause’,‘kaffe og kaker’,‘fika’ or ‘kaffee og kage’, the act of having something small, with a coffee (or tea) and an opportunity to catchup with friends is an institution all over Northern Europe. The Oslo Kaffe Bar is a great place to do it too! Sip a well made latte, and eat buttery, cinnamon filled pastries amongst great pieces of design, such as Jacobsen’s iconic Swan chairs. There’s nothing better, I dare you!
 

 

Miscellaneous

 

A few more Nordic influenced perusings on this trip:

 

When the group and I had an opportunity to bake for students at a school, I noticed their cupboards stocked with Rosti Mepal cookware. They seem to be very popular here. Once two brands, Danish Rosti and Dutch Mepal, the companies were combined in 1976. In 1950 the Swedish Sigvard Bernadotte and the Danish Acton Bjørn designed the Margrethe bowl. This stackable mixing bowl, named Margethe after the queen of Denmark, is now in many homes across Northern Europe and Berlin and is a Design classic.

At the U-bahn station in the Gesundbrunnen district, you’ll find a beguiling sight. Osloer Straße isn’t just named after the Norwegian capital, as architect Rainer G. Rümmler designed the station emblazoned with the Norwegian flag, since its conception in 1973.

 

 

DESIGN & FOOD: OUR TRIP TO COPENHAGEN PART II (II)

Continuing from my previous post on Louisiana, the Entry fee was surprisingly cheap at only 115 DKK (£11.50) for Adults and 100 DKK (£10) for me, a student. It lets you into any of the exhibitions and the numerous permanent collections. One thing I am unsure of is whether you can see the permanent pieces for free – but to see Kusama, it’s well worth it.

I’ve known about Kusama’s work for ages, but it wasn’t until a documentary last year on BBC4 about her & the Pop art scene had I really started to tune in with her and her work. The documentary was both brilliant and harrowing. I hadn’t realised that her life is governed by these polkadots, a symptom of her depersonalization syndrome, which made seeing it in real life all the more poignant and thought provoking.

The exhibition follows Kusama’s life work and the development of her life from her beginnings in a conservative, restrictive Japan, to her revolutionary body of work and performances in New York, to the work she has created from the hospital that she resides in in Tokyo.

 

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One of the installations in the exhibition is a red room lined with mirrors, with big statues of red spheres all festooned with Kusama’s dots. It truly is a sight to see and experience. The exhibition is on until the 24th of January, so if you’re in the area I’d urge you to see it!

At the time there was also an exhibition looking at Lucien Freud’s sketches. Accustomed to his vast paintings, this exhibition gave an insight on the artist, his process and made me appreciate him more than I already did (which is hard).

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Louisiana itself has amazing pieces of its own right from famed Danish artists like Asger Jorn, Karl Isakson and Richard Mortensen to International artists like Giaccometti, Klein, Warhol, Oldenburg to name a few. The place is chock full of great pieces such as their sculpture Garden, which features works by  Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder & Max Ernst.

 

 

 

I was in art heaven! I hadn’t been this close to a piece of Giaccometti’s work before. After studying his use of forms in my life drawing classes, I could see every contour in the sculpture. It was great! It had made my day, and it was only the early afternoon! It was also great to see a school, out on a trip sketching and studying the sculptures.

Before we set off again (with some new art books in tow) we just marvelled at the view from the building. It was a glorious day and I swear you could see Skåne/ or a part of Sweden across the crystal blue water.

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We made our way back on the train southward. It was past 2pm by this point and the breakfast had long vanished. I was ravenous. When we got back into the bustling capital, leaving the quiet suburbs behind, I had to grab something to eat. That was where the famous and trusty Danish hotdog stand or Pølsevogn came in handy.

Say hej to the famous Rødpolse. A hotdog sausage by nature, this foodstuff is something that Danes hold close to their hearts, and I would too. You can have it on its own, in a bun or ‘french style’, which is in a baguette style bun with a hole cut in the middle. Then come the toppings. The Danes love their toppings! You can have crispy onions, raw onions, mustard, ketchup (although different from Heinz), a Danish condiment called remoulade (is something else close to the Danish hearts) which tastes creamy with mayo and tart with a pickly bite. Or do as the Danes do and have them all or ‘alle’. It costs under 50 DKK, which makes it the cheapest form of fast food (considering the likes of McDonalds and Burger King are far more expensive than here in the UK) you can see how its a revered symbol of Denmark in the same way that wurst is a symbol of Germany.

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With the motor up and running again, we dropped back our stuff at our host’s apartment then it was back out again. Since Copenhagen is the city of bikes – seriously like everyone cycles – it’s weird seeing hundreds of bikes outside office buildings, essentially the equivalent of a car park. We just had to give it a go. We had a plan of moseying on down to the Normann Copenhagen store on Østerbrogade, and whilst we were at it we’d soak in some of the scenery. Now bear in mind, other than exercise bikes, my feet hadn’t touched bike pedals since I was 14. We rented out some of the city bikes which weren’t too bad a price 25 DKK per hour, but I definitely know it is cheaper (and probably better) to rent a bike from a bike shop, as they were damn heavy. Heavy and cumbersome to move, they definitely weren’t getting stolen any time soon xD As I mentioned, being inexperienced I was a bit wobbly at first but I soon found a steady rhythm (my hands hardly moving  away from the brakes and always behind Tom.) It really is a nice city to ride in, very scenic as you pass the lakes. Before long we had arrived at our destination.

 

The flagship Normann was huge and beautiful. Situated in a building that used to be an old theatre and water distillery, it is 1700 m2 of pure Scandi, stripped back design. I was loving it! All of my favourite Normann Copenhagen products were set in amazing geometric displays. They even had the beautifully designed (but hard to find in the UK) Normann Tea range. What I loved the most were the little Form Chair  miniatures peppered throughout the space, it gave it a sense of fun and whimsy. Like finding a hiding Little My from the Moomins. With some chai tea, in a beautiful citrine tin and a Skandinavisk KOTO candle (co designed by my favourite little Irishman Mr Walnut Grey, as part of the Design Bloggers United) . Now, somehow we had to get it all back and it was rush hour. Err, we hadn’t really thought this through. Tom being the hero that he is managed to carry the bag on his arm and cycle. This is nothing compared to the Danes though, being so used to cycling you see people having a morning chat, carrying a baby, carrying groceries all whilst cycling. From having little/ no confidence at the beginning, I was starting to become a bit cocky. I wanted to chat side by side with Tom, but in practice it was a distaster. Forgetting that they also use the lane to overtake and in rush hour, here was me going a nice steady pace chatting away with my partner before being sworn off the road by an angry Dane. The Danish are a lovely people but don’t be stupid and mess around with their cycling IN RUSH HOUR!

Finally getting back to the apartment, we chilled for a few hours before heading off for my birthday feast with my childhood friend, Rhianwen (IG @adashofplants) and her partner, Trine  (IG @milkingalmonds) who runs the amazing vegan food hub that is Milking almonds. I couldn’t wait! Reading their blogs had got me into food blogging myself plus I hadn’t seen Rhianwen in years, I just knew it was going to be amazing.

We started off with a simple dressed bean & chilli squash salad with raw onion to give it some bite. That made way for the main event… Pulled jackfruit tacos with more chilli spiced squash, a piquant creamy sauce, vanilla infused pickled onions and plenty of fresh coriander. All washed down with a number of Cuba libres and bottles of Corona. It was off the scale tasty and jackfruit is such a convincing meat alternative, that an omnivore (albeit I like to embrace many plant based recipes in my diet)  I could not tell the difference. Either that or it’s the cooking 😉

We finished the night off with some cinnamony sweet churros with a deep, dark and really spicy chocolate dipping sauce. It was the best birthday present ever, thanks/tak/diolch!!

Full and slightly tipsy from the rum, it was time to say goodbye and head home back to the apartment.

 

 

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Design: Christmas top 10

With Christmas around the corner it’s important that you get your place primed and ready for the holiday. Often, people fall victim to the surplus of kitsch that fills the high street and overload their interiors with seasonal items that leave a lot to be desired.

(Not saying that we all can’t do with a bit of kitsch, sometimes 😉 )

Here is my top 10 pieces of design that will make your interior pop this Christmas:

1. Kubus by Lassen

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Geometric, simple and timeless, this piece by architect Mogens Lassen was designed in 1962, for his colleagues and family, now available for all. Its sharp lines have made it the design classic that it is today. It would be great to use as a centrepiece at the Christmas dinner, or as an advent candle. It’s still produced in Denmark. Available here 

 2. Kay Bojesen Santa

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A bit of fun! Designed by Kay Bojesen in the 1940s this little figure in solid beech will bring joy to every festive period with his little sack and his walking stick. He is sure to be a treasured family heirloom for generations to come.  Available here.

3. Advent candle by Normann Copenhagen

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Nothing says a Danish Christmas, or ‘Jul’ like an advent candle. Normann have brought the Scandinavian tradition right into the 21st century with their advent candle. Its use of the trademark  Scandinavian monochrome palate and minimalism that Nordic design is famous for. Designed by Anne Lehmann, this years candle features the numbers in rows and the ’24’ in an enlarged font on the bottom, so that you can see how many days are left till Christmas from every angle. Available here (but sold out from Normann Copenhagen’s website)

4. Rudolph print by Emerybloom

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This Christmas you can have a great, limited edition piece of design and help those in need too!

With this print  (a limited edition of 50)  from the Welsh/Swedish duo Emerybloom 100% of the profit made will be donated to charities helping refugee children this Christmas.

Order before 12th December from here, to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas!

5.  Moomin Hibernation mug by Arabia Finland

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With a new Moomin mug out every winter, it would make the perfect gift idea. This collectable mug using the form of the Kartio mug, a design classic from Finnish Designer Kaj Franck, displays the original drawings by Tove Jansson at their best. Plus it’s adorable! Available here.

6. Sarjaton glasses by Iittala

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These crystal glasses, designed by Finnish designers Harri Koskinnen and Aleksi Koukka are a part of Iittala’s Sarjaton collection. Evoking elements from Finnish traditional crafts. Sarjaton, meaning ‘without series’ brought six designers from different fields together for this collection. The shapely curves of the glass, make it a pleasure to hold and the pattern on the glass reminds me of the Finnish forests – very apt for the festive period! Available here.

7. Angel mobile by  Flensted mobiles

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The name Flensted is synonymous with great quality. Based on the Danish island of Funen, this company has been making mobiles since 1953.  This mobile is a great example of Scandinavian minimalism, combining a simple, monochrome silhouette with a traditional seasonal image, 6 angels playing their instruments.  I couldn’t believe it last year, when I managed to find this in my local charity shop for 64p! Available here.

8. Skandinavisk Christmas by Skandinavisk

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This candle set by the Anglo-Scandinavian brand, Skandinavisk combines their SKOG, SNÖ & JUL scented candles into a lovely festive triptych. Perfect if, like me,  you can’t decide which candle is your favourite- so have three! Available here.

9. Felt classic slipper by Pia Wallén

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Designed in 1992, this unisex  wool slipper was inspired by the use of wool linings in boots across Scandinavia, to combat the bitter and cold winters. These slippers are a perfect minimalist addition to your wardrobe and just imagine wearing these keeping your feet toasty and warm on Christmas morning! Available here.

10. Cranberry & Frankincense large soy candle by Eastwick

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The London based brand, Eastwick  have brought a new addition to their premium range of soy candles. A mix of sweet cranberry and warm frankincense, along with notes of bergamot, orange and a touch of spiced apple, this candle is sure to get everyone in festive spirit. Limited edition, only available through winter. Available here.