Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Duck Egg Vintage Christmas - Christmas in a Cup Recipe!


Duck Egg Designs has had a great year and was fortunate enough to appear alongside Kirstie Allsopp and Sue Timney in Kirsties Vintage Christmas on Channel 4. It was a wonderful experience, so much fun and we met so many interesting people.

Kirsties Vintage Christmas
(Making our Christmas Tree decorations)

One of the many amazing people we met was Richard Hunt (picture below), one of the UK's best chefs and 
Head Chef of the Torquay Hotel. Richard came up with a recipe for the show that we thought was so good that we wanted to share it again with you.
Richard Hunt - Chef
So without further a do... we are please to introduce to you.


Christmas in a Cup

Christmas in a Cup

(Serves 8.)

What you need:

Standard Coffee Mugs (or any mug) just not fine bone China.

Flour 300grams, butter 165grams, pinch of salt.

Add ingredients to a bowl and rub gently together keeping the mixture light and fluffy...

Cool hands and cool work surface are important here.

Add cold water to mixture 4-5 tablespoon, stir with fork.

Roll pastry into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes... in the mean time you can start on the filling.

Fry your vegetables in 50mls of vegetable oil and 2 knobs of butter.

We have: 2 chopped onions, 5 sticks of celery, 2 carrots and 1 small swede all chopped into little cubes.

While vegetables fry prepare the meat.

1 Kilogram of diced venison but beef or lamb will do.

First coat the venison in a little seasoned flour. Richard's tip is to pop your venison and flour into a plastic bag and seal then shake until the venison is covered in the flour. The flour will seal in the juices and thicken the sauce.

Once your vegetables have fried, pop them into a heavy croc pot and you can start cooking the venison.

Put the frying pan back on to the heat and get it really hot again and add some a few table spoons of oil. Then you can start to fry the venison and seal in the flavours. Fry venison until nice and brown.

Once brown, remove from the heat and add it to your vegetables.

To make the sauce:

Take 1 tablespoon of Tomato puree and then add 400mls of yummy port! Stir within a hot frying pan.

Add 5 tables spoon of cranberry sauce and the zest of 1 orange to the pan. You should really be able to smell the wonderful Christmas aromas now!

Now add you sauce to your venison and vegatables and top up with 450mls of beef stock.

For some extra flavour add thyme, bay leave and some mixed juniper berrys in a muslin cloth. Once done season with salt and pepper.

Then pop in the oven at 160c (Gas 4-5).

Leave the venison in the oven for an hour and a half and then let it cool for another hour and a half.

Once cooled, take the pastry out of the fridge and cut out circles to go over the coffee mugs.

Once the pastry is over the mugs wash with egg yolk and when you want put them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200c for the perfect Christmas in a Cup!

Christmas in a Cup - Kirsties Vintage Christmas

Christmas in a Cup - Kirsties Vintage Christmas

Christmas in a Cup - Kirsties Vintage Christmas

We can tell you they are delicious!

Ellie Harrington & Kirstie Allsopp

We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and looking forward to more adventures in the New Year. Thank you for all your support and helping Duck Egg grow and grow. We really do appreciate the community and all the support!

Christmas in a Cup - Kirsties Vintage Christmas - Ellie Harrington

Merry Christmas!

Team Duck Egg.

For more information on Duck Egg Designs contact:

Ellie at

And visit us at 

Be part of the growing Duck Egg Community at : - give it a go! x

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Duck Egg Press Release for 'Kirstie's Vintage Home'

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After stripping walls, digging up an over run garden and some painting, we were, however, stumped by what to do with our kitchen. A medley of Formica cabinets, dodgy wiring and the obligatory woodchip, the kitchen had become a a place to spend as little time in as possible. Cooking was not a joy and any more than one person and the kitchen felt crowded. It was a room where nothing fitted in the cupboards and we shut the door to it and tried to forget about it. After reading on Twitter that Kirstie Allsopp was looking for domestic disasters for her new series ‘Kirstie’s Vintage Home’, we decided this might be a great way to find inspiration for our kitchen. Our limited DIY knowledge had no solutions for a galley style kitchen, that we wanted to integrate into the dining room without any huge structural changes and have the fresh country feel of the lovely seaside cottages we have rented in Norfolk. Kirstie’s blend of vintage and the handmade coupled with her sensible approach has always appealed to me, so after a glass of wine hubby and I filled in the form with answers we thought suitably hysterical and eye catching. Oh dear. After assessing our sleep deprived application form we were less than hopeful, however somehow the production team believed we had potential and we started the whirlwind procedure of phase two of our renovation work for ‘Kirstie’s Vintage Home’! We were guided by our fantastic stylist, Chehvani Leonard and a plan of works began to materialised.

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Exiled from the disaster zone that was the ripped out kitchen, I managed (pestered) our builder and my husband remotely. Demanding updates and photographic evidence and trying not to think too much when the photos were rather slow arriving! Rewiring hiccups and beautiful tongue and groove assembled and we had the shell of our kitchen and the designing process began. It was at this stage that the wonderful Lynda from Sandford Mills kitchens collaborated with us and after some creative brainstorming we all came up with the most practical yet aesthetic layout of the kitchen. We moved the cooking unit which had perilously sat behind the back door to a unit isolated in the middle away from little hands. We also began the incredible, yet slightly daunting task of filming. Filming took place both at our house and in the gorgeous craft café set up for ‘Kirstie’s Vintage Home’. I knew we would be in safe hands with the designs for our kitchen and dining room when I saw what they had created in an old antiques shop in Portobello. Beautiful crates were attached to the wall with handcrafted blankets, a beautiful work surface had been created from school lab worktops and the whole place was inviting and special, creating a wonderful environment for the crafts for the series to take place. It was in this café that we crafted stunning willow mats with Kirstie Allsopp, although mine somehow ended up rather hole-y and my husband excelled in his! We also created plates for our dresser with the talented potter, Richard. It required some imagination both physically and verbally to craft and chat at the same time. Surrounded by the endlessly patient and enthusiastic crew, there were moments when we were rather tongue tied, but Kirstie was effortless in guiding us for answers and soon we were chatting away and pretending the cameras were not there! 

We had an indulgent and hilarious afternoon at Ray’s salvage yard in North London. After being in the wholesome air of the countryside I eagerly breathed in the fumes of  the city as I walked to this eclectic treasure trove of a salvage yard. From mirrors to basins, fridges to garden ornaments we had a a happy afternoon wandering and bartering with Ray. Kirstie had a great eye and was keen to display the different uses of the items on show. We came away with some beautiful pieces, of which my favourites were a vintage knife sharpener and some gorgeous salvaged handles to make a unique statement in our kitchen.

Inspired by the vintage pieces we had picked up, the team of specialists, builders, carpenters, plumbers and production team and the Duck Egg crew set to work on transforming the kitchen. The amazingly talented and patient Lynda came to oversee thee painting and installation of her beautiful Sandford Mills kitchen and under her watchful eye and that of her brilliant carpenter the kitchen was installed. Our Ebay finds of a butler sink and vintage looking taps at a fraction of the prices we were quoted also started to display what the overall result would be. With the warmth of the tongue and groove replacing the peeling woodchip, it was a welcoming place to be. Further transformed the production team and stylist artfully decorated with beautiful shelves, clever storage and mirrors to reflect the light in the dining room. We had always said we wanted some form of chalkboard from which to write up our business plans for Duck Egg and were astounded by the beauty of the chalkboard they created, still in line with the era, but a wonderful family noticeboard of first letters, doodles and shopping lists! In amongst this chaos, Nick still had to work and the crew still had to film. Our sitting room stored the filming equipment that was endlessly fascinating to our little toddler, a mini Steven Spielberg in the making!

We are thrilled with our makeover and the whole experience. From a Duck Egg point of view the experience has been invaluable. We have met some incredible and very talented people; crafts people who are essential to a vibrant creative Britain. Working with Kirstie was immensely fun and stimulating and reinforced how much we enjoy what we do. We have gained a beautiful kitchen and dining space and gained confidence in what we stand for; for vintage design that is always communicating with the network of artisans.
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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Duck Egg In The Press! (Interiors Section - Independent)

Duck Egg Designs first Interview

Our blog this week comes courtesy of 'The Independent'. We are so excited that the Duck Egg word is spreading and were honoured to take part in the below interview! It is always so helpful to go back to the fundamental questions of who we are, what we do and why. Everytime I answer these questions I become a little clearer of where we have come from and where we are going with our designs. I am currently revising our new prints and cannot wait to launch these. We are busy painting our bespoke toy boxes for Christmas presents for little ones and getting ready for the Christmas Fairs, and waiting with baited breath for the screening of the Kirstie Allsopp show! More of that to follow...

Article below:

Interior insider: Ellie Harrington of Duck Egg Designs

Last year Ellie Harrington was struggling to find soft furnishings for her Victorian cottage. The solution? To design her own prints. Encouraged by others, she has since set up an interiors company Duck Egg Designs selling her vintage-inspired fabrics and upcycled furniture. She will feature on the new TV show Kirstie Allsopp’s Vintage Home.

My motto is… stolen from William Morris; 'Have nothing in your home that you not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful'. I love today’s 'make do and mend' attitude.

I want to create… vintage yet fun fabrics for the family home. Our fabrics mix the rural with a gentle touch of humour.

Pattern became my passion when… I was studying History of Art at the Courtauld Institute. I have kept a sketchbook of print ideas and doodles influenced from afternoon wanderings at the V & A.

I paint in… our shed or wherever I can sneak in a new piece of furniture. My husband stoically reworks my hand-drawn designs into computer graphics and carefully watches the budget.

Rather excitingly… we are taking part in a Channel 4 interiors show presented by Kirstie Allsopp (showing in the Autumn), displaying our designs and home renovation work.

Filming with Kirstie was… great. She was fantastic and understood we wanted to create a practical yet country-style kitchen. The brilliant crew respected our style opinions and were patient with our budding thespian of a toddler.

I learnt a huge amount from… Chehvani Leonard, the stylist on Kirstie Allsopp's show.
East Sussex is… a real treasure trove of vintage finds. I have met some wonderful people who bring beautiful and unusual pieces over from France.

My vintage secret shopping place… is Rye. Not only a picturesque place, it is full of one-off finds for the garden.

My biggest design challenge… has been our first print collection and also transforming our long and narrow kitchen.

I love… the Gustavian style mixed with a little decaying French Chateau beauty. I often return to pictures from my travels to guide me.

I rely on… my husband to tell me if something is over the top. He trained in architecture so he likes clean lines and structural pieces, so it's what he doesn't say that often alerts me!

I really admire the brand of… Annie Sloan. Her paints are beautiful and give a very different finish.

I love browsing through… the fabric shops of Liberty. It is a wonderful melting pot of current design. The Cloth Shop on Portobello road could ruin me. Their vintage mangle cloths are a joy to look at.

For inspiration, I turn to… Country LivingCoast and World of Interiors magazines brilliant must have. I collect vintage maps and any books on print from second hand bookshops.

Annie Deakin is interiors writer for the Independent, sofa and interior design website

Friday, 19 October 2012

Ode to a Jam Jar- An inspirational artistic journey from our guest blogger Beatrice von Preussen

We are so excited to have a very special Guest Blogger this week. Beatrice is
an artist whose unique and original designs have us inspired and reaching for the sketchbook! Here is her wonderful story of her journey to her beautiful new range...

Ode to a Jam Jar.

Hi everyone, I am so excited to be a Guest Blogger here at Duck Egg. I met Ellie by chance and was pleased to learn that she is busy getting on with her beautiful designs not far from me near the Ashdown Forest. I too am busy designing and making here in Brighton and Ellie has kindly invited me to share my newest project with you…

Pots To Put Things In.

I have always been delighted by the mundane items of everyday life. There is nothing more appealing to me than a kitchen dresser jostling with eggcups, teapots, and toast racks. I love the way that things rated ‘special’ such as granny’s silver tea pot, once carefully displayed, over time come to take their place next to a drying wishbone, a stone from the beach, a postcard slotted behind the spout. These objects and their haphazard arrangements tell such individual tales and illustrate to me the beauty and richness of our run of the mill, domestic existence.

One of my all time favorite day to day items (possibly on a par with The Matchbox) is the humble jam jar.

A jam jar is a basic vessel, often on the stout side, yet when clean and gleaming, label removed, all trace of it’s past life scrubbed away; it is an elegant item. In my eyes full of promise, bursting with possibility, ready for anything.

You can do all sorts of clever things with jars but essentially you can put things in them. And you can stick labels on them. And I do love a label.

Which is how this happened…

Just imagine, I thought, if that label were to say ‘Sweet Peas’

And then - as sometimes it’s hard to stop just there - ‘Perfectly Pink. Personally picked for your very own perfumery pleasure.’

Or some such.

So I made this one.

With this on.

And suddenly it was a real item – a Home Ware.

I was pretty keen on this development, this pot pleased me on many levels.

So, I got to thinking, as some might say…

I stared at many jam jars, made moulds, poured clay.

Things were put in pots, things were stared at – lots of staring, thinking I like to call it - pictures drawn, glazes fired, colours sampled.

Some of this:

and some of this:

Eventually I arrived at these:

Seven different Pots To Put Things In.

This picture was taken before the final tweaks to the labels, I made some little changes such as more white in the Sticks pot and darker writing on the Shells label. You can see the whole range on my website where you can also buy your very own pot to put things in.

And remember, you don’t have to do what the label says, it’s just for fun. All these pots make beautiful and unusual vases, or chopstick storage, or magic wand holders…

So there we are. The tale of how Pots To Put Things In came to be.

They are 1 pint in volume, hand made in England, dishwasher and microwave safe and cost £32 each. Except for the Kitchen Pot, which is 2 pints – fits more stuff in – and costs £36.

I carefully wrap each one and it arrives in it’s own little box, with a bow, on your doorstep; ready to jostle up next to Granny’s silver tea pot on the dresser.

It’s been really good fun writing this and looking back over all the pictures, I hope I can come back soon to join Duck Egg Designs.

Unless otherwise state all images Copyright to Beatrice von Preussen, photographic credits to Gregory Davies.

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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Drunken Plums

The seasons are definitely turning and it is so incredible to be watching it all at such close hand. Ashdown Forest seems to sigh as Summer leaves and the heat from the chalky footpaths has evaporated into beautiful dewy mounds of bracken. It is so easy to imagine Piglet and Pooh in this setting where it was set, especially when our little Piglet is busy collecting pine cones! Perfect for a few Christmas decorations or an indulgent fire. So in the spirit of collecting the Autumn fruits and being new to this foraging lark, I persuaded my unsuspecting father into a hunter gatherer expedition and was lucky to share his abundant countryside knowledge. We were alarmed by the sloes even more determindedly hiding and very sparse on the hedgerows. So feeling a little helpless I was guided by some wonderful advisors on all things rural on twitter and led in the direction of Plum Vodka. As the plums come to the end of their season we decided that since the hedgerows seemed rather bare it might be time to reap the benefits of the Farmer's Market and kilner jar in hand I shall be filling it with plum jam and the lethal sounding plum vodka! Here our recipes for a wonderful weekend of home brewing and stewing!

Plum Vodka

Plum Vodka recipes vary, but this is the one we have chosen to follow. First things first, sterilise your jars before you set sail. In all the recipes it states add half the amount of caster sugar to plum weight. Place the halved and stoned plums in a pan. Then add 75 cl of vodka or every 500g and bring very carefully and slowly to simmer and dissolve the sugar. Other recipes state that you only need pour sugar, then vodka over the halved and stoned plums in a kilner jar and shake. It's up to you! Or try brandy instead of vodka for a different twist. Shake regularly at first and then once a week. After three months strain through muslin into a  fresh bottle and enjoy...just in time for New Year!!

Any plums left over try this delicious looking plum chutney recipe...yum!

Come and keep up to date with Duck Egg on our Facebook page with more info and soon our Christmas Fair details

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Art of Inspiration - Part III 'Weaving a story'

Our third and final part inspiration is stylistically miles apart from our Duck Egg designs, but by its very nature is woven into our fabrics. I am constantly drawn to the art of tapestry. On face value tapestry might hold nothing suitable for modern design than a decorative use for keeping our draughts should you happen to live in a medieval castle or like to collect a substantial amount of dust. For these points I beg to differ. The magic of the stories, carefully crafted and coming to life through fabric is entirely magical to me. In the incredible 'Bayeux Tapestry' the force of Halley's comet as it propels its prophesies of bad omens as it powers across the tapestry, the faces of long ago and the chaos of battle so realistically rendered, display the ability of fabric to talk, to tell stories through a medium, which by it's very nature should not allow for fluidity of narrative. Tapestry allows for something other worldly to happen. It is both decorative, yet because it is (to a certain extent) a material  it is therefore something more (or less) than a painting, it is functional and behaves like something more every day, an item of clothing, a soft furnishing. It is a conundrum and we are both detached and attached. So from these epic narratives it encouraged me to allow my designs to tell a story, a story about the countryside - the natural forms and the folk lore.

Bayeux Tapestry

At University when I was studying History of Art, I found myself on an esoteric and rather more demanding course of Medieval art of a specific and defined period in France. There were four of us. It turned out to be the most incredible chance encounter of a lifetime. Through the gentle and scholastic teachings of our guide through this time, I discovered not only the worth and beauty of art such as tapestry but also one of my favourite places in Paris, the Musee de Cluny.

Musee de Cluny

Hidden amongst ancient architecture this gem of a museum boasts amongst many others, the ethereal tapestry, 'The Lady and the Unicorn'. Decorative, evocative and skillful, it is all a hanging should be and all I aspire to when designing our blinds. It is worth a visit and I say this as someone who never thought they could meander through cabinets of mitres, husband in tow at first trailing and then finally drawn into the drama of the eras the museum discloses. It reaffirms my aspirations of decorative fabrics. Through this series on our inspirations I hope it is possible to see that whilst our designs have a more abstract narrative that all our fabric designs tell a tale.

The Lady and The Unicorn (Musee de Cluny)

For us the notion of tapestry evokes a craft created not always by one individual, but often along with the techniques of embroidery and weaving (for the Bayeux is frequently described as an embroidery) these feats are a team effort. This community of weavers and embroiderers acts as an inspiration that looks to the future, that continues to form and reform and is in inherent in the strong and supportive crafts groups that growing in social media. A notion that was as current in Medieval times as it is now.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Ahoy there! How to get that coastal look...

Gurney's Fish Shop on the beautiful Georgian market place in the Norfolk town of Burnham Market

Duck Egg is on summer holidays! However, while we are away we thought we'd deviate from our ongoing series and meander the scenic route with our new coastal ideas fresh from our sojourn on the North Norfolk coast.  We never fail to have a thoroughly good time, eat far too much and have the cobwebs well and truly blown away. Huge skies, miles of sandy beaches, which after a very keen start on a  rare sunny British summer's morning we had all to ourselves; whilst there was a moment of panic as the parasol sailed away with increasing speed across the vast expanse of sand, it was very conducive to being relaxing! It was not just the little man who loved finding crabs scuttling along the sea beds in the inlets, we were all splashing each other, jumping waves and digging endless random holes in the sand! Maybe that is why we are all so fond of coastal inspiration in the home. The fresh palette of blues and bright whites is an uplifting colour scheme. It also lends itself well to shabby chic with the gentle distressed furniture and driftwood pieces.

Coastal Colours

Try softer blues with a green hint for a more subtle take on the blue and white nautical theme, try our favourite from Farrow and Ball, 'Pale Powder' and for a more statement colour perfect for hallways is 'Lulworth Blue' with a bright white or an old white, depending on how coastal you would like the look to appear.

Colours from

Decorative Items

There are some wonderful shops in Norfolk and while I was able to restrain myself to a certain extent, the temptation for accents of coastal style was inevitable! It is possible to do this look on shoestring too, so don't let my wish list items put you off!


For full on seaside appeal we love this lamp...

Driftwood Twig Lamp

by Nautilus Driftwood Design

 For a more every day look Garden Trading have some gorgeous lights, in particular we'll be adding the aptly named 'Pendant Fishing Light'. and a stylish but understated focal seaside piece.

Seaside appeal can also be added with a distressed life ring..

Or some artfully placed fish, you could recreate this yourself and use a subtle seaside palette, perfect for the bathroom. Hang off painted peg rails amongst towels, useful and beautiful!


You can add coastal art work to your walls with your own photos. Choose vintage frames, even if they are strange colours, don't be put off and look for decoration and details which might look effective once painted. A great car boot/junk shop find! We love our vintage coastline Ordnance Survey map from the 1950's found on ebay, and put in a great frame above the bath! It cost very little to put together and a white mount sets it off perfectly, making it look much more expensive than it is! It is also my excuse for spending far too long soaking in the bath retracing our holiday steps!

We also have a few pieces from a very talented Norfolk artist. Visit his studio in Burnham Market and take away a little piece of the seaside for home. His sculptures, paintings and prints are original, colourful and a gorgeous addition to any interior. We love them in the nursery!


And of course we couldn't sign off without that final finishing touch, a beautiful blind in a gorgeous seaside print, the signature Crab print from Duck Egg!

Duck Egg Designs Norfolk Crab Curtains

We will resume with our three part inspiration guide when we return but for now happy holidays!

For more info or would like to pre order come and join us on

Duck Egg Designs

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Art (and Food) of Inspiration Part II

We are so grateful to everyone who voted and we are very honoured to say we are part of the Decorex 100- the most influential interior specialist on Twitter!!

"Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!"

My art has a strong coastal influence, in particular from the British Coast. The rugged white cliffs of Dover, the soft sandy coves of the Scottish Islands and the wistful beaches of Cornwall all hold a special magic for me. I spent many summers in my childhood on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall, swimming off boats for beach picnics, spinning for mackerel and rock-pooling. I never remember what the weather was specifically like, but nothing remains more vivid than the feeling of sand between your toes and the gentle salty smell of seaweed. I tried sailing lessons, but I remained hopeless and never understood how to steer. For this reason I am a very willing passenger or even more keen to wander the shore searching for treasures of bleached driftwood and creating pictures in the sand. The sense of freedom staring at the broad expanse of sea, the glittering surface and the ever changing spectrum colours that the sea gives around the British shores always helps with inspiration for our prints. The seascape is pure escapism for me. I hope that the seaside prints bring that bracing fresh air into an interior and the shimmering shapes and childlike wonder of staring into a rock pool. With this is mind we created our 'Norfolk Crab' print.

(Image Copyright of Duck Egg Designs and blind made by the wonderful Katie Mosa

So to inspire and to add a little of the coastal spirit to your interior we thought we'd share with you a few of our most favourite coastal spots and a delicious recipe perfect for a Sunday, or any day really, feast!

Norfolk Coast -Holkham Beach

An enormous expanse of sand. Beautiful, perfect for escapists. White sand and huge skies.

The Roseland Peninsula

Small coves of unspoilt beauty, here is Portloe. For interiors inspiration I love the thick rope of the boats and the battered paint, a natural shabby chic effect!


An idyllic quiet spot, that creeps up on you; more sheltered than its neighbour Camber and worth it to see the Romney Marsh sheep grazing adjacent to the beach.

Camber Sands

Wild, windy and a huge gorgeous beach. Lovely in the winter and ideal for kite surfing for the more adventurous!


Untouched and rugged these shores are sublime stretches of sandy beaches, perfect for some solitude and reflection.

Isle of Harris

You could mistake this Scottish coast for the Caribbean. Startlingly blue sea and incredible wildlife.

Here is the most delicious recipe we have found. Always one that we re create in Norfolk with fresh mussels, a yummy bottle from the local off license and a hefty crusty loaf!

Take care and don't eat any mussels that remain closed after cooking or open in the preparation stage and have a good read of Raymond's advice.

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