It’s time to face facts. The weather is definitely getting colder (yep, I’m talking to you, people who stubbornly stand in the beer garden in September, covered in goose pimples). But while it’s still too warm for a proper coat, it’s cold enough for you to catch a chill. So, what’s a girl to do? Invest in a transitional scarf, that’s what.
The perfect TS is thinner than a pashmina, long enough to wind round your neck a couple of times; and neutral enough to go with any outfit. Primark have some good options from just £1.50, but I’m going for the Twisted Star Scarf, £15, from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com).
Available in five shades including this season’s grey and lilac, and scattered with tiny white stars, it’s so light you won’t even notice it’s in your handbag. Until you’re shivering under that patio heater, that is. And then you’ll be very grateful.
I went on my first British holiday in years the other week, to the Isle of Wight.
While I was there, nestled in amongst the cream tea shops in the picture-perfect village of Godshill, I stumbled upon a real gem of a shop – Daisy Daisy (www.daisydaisyethicalgifts.co.uk).
I know what you’re thinking, Fair Trade is a great initiative, but ethical shops are often patchoulli-scented places, full of carved wooden boxes and spangly scarves. Thankfully, this one is different. It’s crammed full of gorgeous jewellery, classy homewares and cute kids toys unlike anything you’ve seen on the high street.
Before you jump on a ferry (or wait till the next IOW festival), they do have a website. Granted, it’s not hugely high tech, and they don’t have their full range on there, but you can still buy some great stuff.
My picks? The purple pom pom necklace, £14.99, which looks like something straight off the catwalk; the coloured lantern fairy lights, £22; the jewel-coloured aluminium serving bowls, from £8.50; and the jolly rainbow stripe teapot, £6.99. Keep an eye out for their sparkly Christmas decorations later in the year, too.
I’d love to meet the person who came up with the idea of putting lemon verbena hand cream in an owl-shaped pot. And then I’d shake them by the (obviously silky-smooth) hand.
Think about it. This little fella will look far cuter sat on your desk than your average pot of moisturiser, and when you’ve used it all up, you can store your paperclips/staples/other bits and bobs in him.
He costs £5.95 from prezzybox.com, and is available to buy from the end of this month. I’m putting my order in now. In fact, I’m going to buy twit-twooo (sorry) – one for me, and one as a secret Santa present come Christmastime.
Stop Press! Oliver Bonas also stock Owl hand cream in a grey pot (orange flower scent) or a pink pot (wild rose scent), for £6.50. Visit http://www.oliverbonas.com
Finding myself with a bit of time on my hands on a rainy day, and inspired by a visit to a friend’s insanely tidy house, I finally got round to tackling my kitchen cupboards – binning anything out-of-date ( there was some paprika in there that officially died in 2002 – but in my defence, it had a pretty tin!) and decanting open packets into airtight tubs and jars.
The job was made so much more fun thanks to a couple of sets of these gorgeous bright food storage boxes, £8.75 from Nettle Green (www.nettlegreen.co.uk), which are ideal for storing herbs, nuts, biscuits, random sachets, tea bags and even fruit.
Nettle Green also sell ‘all-round’ plastic containers, £6.25 each, in sorbet shades, which are great for porridge and cereals; coloured kitchen spoons that look like lollipops, £3.75 each; and a whole host of other bright, quirky and kitsch kitchenware that looks designer but is surprisingly bargainous.
I’ve been coveting a butterflies artwork from www.notonthehighstreet.com for a while now, but while they’re beautiful, at £45 upwards, they’re not cheap either. So, this weekend, I decided to have a go at making one myself. It only took half an hour and the result is above – not bad eh?!
To make one yourself, follow these steps:
1) Pop a Ribba box frame, £7.19, in your trolley the next time you visit Ikea (www.ikea.co.uk).
2) Do a Google search to find a butterfly you like the shape of. Print it out, stick it onto a piece of card and cut around it to make a template.
3) Use the template to cut butterflies from different pieces of patterned paper (I used origami paper from Ebay, but you could use wrapping paper, magazine tears, train tickets…).
4) Once you’ve got enough, fold each butterfly in half along the ‘body’ of the butterfly to make a seam, and open it out again.
5) Cut a piece of paper to fit your frame (I used white – you could use any colour you like) and arrange your butterflies on it.
6) When you’re happy, put a dab of glue or tape on the back of each butterfly (along the seam only, so that it ‘flutters’) and stick it down. Assemble the frame – and you’re done!
I blame my dad and his love of bargain-hunting, but I’ve always loved it when something looks far more expensive than it really is. So I was really excited to find these Sabrina cotton floor pouffes from B&Q (www.diy.com), which are just £19 each.
Available in several colours including red, sky blue, lime green and this season’s purple, with useful handles and sturdy stitching, they look gorgeous piled up casually in a corner, and are a brilliant way to provide extra last-minute seating when friends/relatives/random children pop round to visit.
And if we get any more sunshine this year, I bet they’d be great for lounging on in the garden, too…
Babies. Love ’em or hate ’em, your friends are going to have ’em. And you’re going to need a present. Only thing is, the parents are going to be bombarded with clothes, ‘useful’ things like baby baths and bibs, and those eco-friendly wooden toys that all yummy mummies seem to have at the moment.
What you need is something with personality, that’s memorable, yet that doesn’t cost a bomb. I’m a big fan of Trumpette sock sets, £13.95 from www.tinytotshop.co.uk (seven tiny pairs of socks printed with days of the week, coloured to look like mary jane shoes, or available in different animal prints) but for my three friends who are set to pop any minute, I’ve got my heart set on one of these new ‘T-Shirt Toys’ from Muji (www.muji.co.uk), available from next month.
Soft, quirky, cute – and easy to post – the giraffe and elephant cost just £12.95 each, but are such great quality they look far more expensive. Perfect!
It’s always amazed me how few cool, tasteful placemats there are out there. The usual options are cheesy faux leather stitched numbers, heavy glass ones or woven mats that little bits of food get stuck in (don’t even bother using a cocktail stick to get them out – it doesn’t work).
So, I was pleased to see these bargainous little beauties in Dunelm Mill’s new collection (www.dunelm-mill.com). At just £4.99 for a set of four – and with four matching coasters available for £1.99 – they’re a slightly classier way to protect your table.
It’s hard to say what I love more about these lamps – the fact they’re so simple, stylish and fun, or the fact they’re called ‘Kylie’. I’ve just bought two in red for my bedroom and they make the perfect bedside lamp – just bright enough to read by without blinding you, and with a surprisingly small footprint so that you can still fit your glass of water/alarm clock/bedtime bits and bobs on your bedside table. They look far more expensive than they cost (£35 each) and come in cheerful bright red, green or blue.