Archive | November, 2011

The best things in life are tree(s)

30 Nov

Another reader request! This time, Vikki has asked me to hunt down an stylish jewellery tree that she can give to her best mate for Christmas.

And looking around, it seems everyone has moved on from jewellery boxes (and piles of knotted chains in a drawer – or is that just me?!), as classy trees are everywhere right now.

My absolute favourite is this gorgeous white metal number (above) from http://www.culturevulturedirect.co.uk, £24.99. It’s like an ornament in itself, and a lovely way to display your best necklaces and rings.

Or, if that’s just a bit too expensive, check out the three trees below. The first two – the Spring Jewellery Tree, £12.95 and the Partridge Jewellery Tree, £19.95, are from The Handpicked Collection (www.handpickedcollection.com) – while the third, which features a cheeky squirrel, is a steal at just £12.95, from Dwell (www.dwell.co.uk).

The seed of an idea

29 Nov

Healthy snacks. In my view, those words don’t go together very well. That’s cos when I think of a snack, I want cake and biscuits. Yum.

However, I do accept that attitude won’t help me achieve anything other than a bigger dress size.

So, I was very happy to discover a snack that tastes naughty but is actually good for you. Choccy Munchy Seeds are a mixture of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and dried apricot pieces coated in milk and dark Belgian chocolate. They don’t really taste like seeds – more like delicious little morsels of chocolate – but apparently they contain loads of vitamin E, Zinc, Iron and fibre. The packet looks cute, too.

They cost £1.50 for a 50g snack pack, £4 for a 200g tub, or £8.50 for a huge 500g tub, from http://www.munchyseeds.co.uk (alternatively, if you’re posh, Harvey Nicks sells ’em too). The site also sells ginger Choccy Seeds; vanilla, chilli or cajun spice-coated seeds; and tasty granola if you want something even healthier.

Prints charming

25 Nov

On a recent trip to the seaside town of Southwold (cute beach huts, brilliant restaurants and the best bakery I’ve ever been to), I visited a local craft show. There, I met Becky Lim, a textile designer and illustrator who was selling gorgeous handmade wooden pendants, decorated with her own bird and tree designs (see below).

Now, just in time for Christmas, she’s branched out, and has launched a range of four beautiful cotton tea towels, printed with foxes, birds and deers. Designed using doodles, papercuts and photos, they’re  classy, unusual, and would also look great framed (see above).

Light and perfectly post-able, I reckon a tea towel and a pendant would make a great gift for someone special.

Becky is selling the towels for £10.99 each at http://www.etsy.com/shop/Patternista. To find out more about her designs (and contact her if you want to buy one of her unique pendants for £12 + £1.20 P&P) visit http://www.patternista1.blogspot.com/ or email Becky at patternista@yahoo.com

PS: As a new designer, Becky is also looking for ideas on how to promote her work. If you can help, email her!

Kimono-ver here

23 Nov

Do your bit for the planet and treat yourself to a new washbag from this gorgeous range made out of recycled Japanese kimonos.

Available in Muji stores and online (www.muji.co.uk), it costs from £2.95 for a bookmark to £9.95 for a large zip-top bag.

Each one is unique, and they’re so light, they’d make for brilliantly post-able Christmas presents.

Animal magic

21 Nov

Want an unusual gift for a new baby? Or decorating a nursery and want something that’s not predictable pastel pink/blue?

I’ve fallen in love with these quirky prints by French illustrator Nathalie Choux. They’re just £5.95 each from http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.easyart.com.

There are several friendly-looking animals to choose from, including a giraffe, elephant, hippo, zebra, lion, frog and donkey. Frame one as a present – at 30 x 40cm, they fit perfectly in an Ikea Ribba frame, £7.99 – or buy three and hang a set across a nursery wall.

Stop right now

18 Nov

Door stops are not the most glamorous of homewares, but if, like me, you’ve got an annoying door that won’t stay open, they suddenly become an essential.

Until recently, I had a boring grey wedge-shaped one. Then I spotted this from Oliver Bonas (www.oliverbonas.com) – a cunning doorstop in the shape of a paper aeroplane. Made of white plastic, it won’t scuff, and it looks way more expensive than the £12 price tag.

New in stores this month, I predict it will, ahem, fly off the shelves!

The way the cookie crumbles…

16 Nov

Mmmmn… biscuits. Christmas morning for me is all about opening up a posh box of choccy biccies and having about half a dozen for breakfast. A nice tin also makes a great present for aunties, neighbours, in-laws, secret Santas and people you’d totally forgotten about until they turn up unannounced, clutching gifts.
And this year, it seems the only place to get your bix fix is Marks and Spencer. They’ve come up trumps with several really cute reusable tins – including one shaped like a Russian doll; a gingerbread man filled with gingerbread; an unusual ring-shaped tin; and one shaped like a London bus (perfect, if a little costly to post, for foreign relatives). They’re all around £8 each, and what’s more, they’re on 3-for-2 offer at the moment. Crumbs!

Top this!

14 Nov

Sitting on the sofa while balancing my laptop on my knee, I always end up feeling slightly uncomfortable, with toasted thighs. Not that that’s a bad thing in winter, but still, it’s not ideal. It also makes the laptop overheat.

So, at the weekend, I went to Ikea to buy a bookcase, and came out with a Brada laptop support (above) in a cheery red and white spotty design (I always  end up leaving Ikea with bits and bobs I had no intention of buying).

It’s a plastic crescent-shaped hard plastic shelf, with a fabric cushion underneath, filled with polystyrene beads. You pop it on your lap, and the cushion moulds to the shape of your legs, while your laptop sits on the shelf. Not only does it stop your computer and your thighs from overheating, but it’s comfy too. There’s even a little velcro pocket on the side for your mobile phone.

Honestly, it’s revolutionised my life!

If you think the spots are too girly, it’s available in ‘serious’ grey too. For just £9.99, it’s well worth popping in your big blue bag the next time you visit Ikea.

Forever friends

11 Nov


I used to work right next to Oxford Street in London, which was good in that I could go into TopShop every day if I wanted; and bad in that I could go into TopShop every day if I wanted! My weakness? Their accessories. I spent loads on bargainous jewellery, hair clips, belts and socks.

But in the last few years, Top Shop has changed – it’s more expensive and there seems to be less choice. So now I’ve found a new place to get my cheap fashion fix…

The other day I visited Westfield, the huge shopping mall in East London, by the Olympics site. The highlight of the trip? Forever 21, which is basically like an American H&M.

The clothes are pretty much the same as you’ll find in H&M and TopShop, but the accessories are something else. There’s a whole floor dedicated to them – think gold sneakers for £16; strips of hair clips for £1.50; gorgeous chunky knit woollen scarves, £8-15; cotton Ikat print scarves for £7.40 (see pix); and row upon row of cute socks for around £3 a pair.

What’s even better is that you don’t have to go to East London to buy them. The whole range is available online, at www.forever21.com/uk. It’s the perfect site to get Christmas presents or just treat yourself. I’m off to fill up my virtual shopping basket now!

Log on and save your plants

10 Nov

Anyone who has ever unwittingly killed a houseplant will know instantly why this is a brilliant idea.

It’s a log-shaped plant pot with a built-in reservoir, that slowly feeds your plant without it getting waterlogged. When the plant needs more water, the friendly little squirrel peeking out of the side disappears from view. Then you simply pour more water into the side shoot, and he reappears again.

The Log and Squirrel Magical Plant Pot is available from one of my favourite websites, http://www.flamingogifts.co.uk. It’s usually £24.99, but as they’ve got 20% off at the moment, it’s currently £19.99. As the lovely Laura who runs the site says, it’s the perfect housewarming present!

The best product name ever?

7 Nov

A brilliant name can turn an everyday item into something special. This is the case with the genius-ly named Sergeant Pepper Mill.

Both Sainsburys (£10, http://www.sainsburys.co.uk) and Lakeland (£12.99, http://www.lakeland.co.uk) have a version, although while Sainsburys told me theirs comes with little John Lennon specs; the Sergeant on their website seems to have lost them (or maybe he just got contact lenses – it is 2011, after all…)

Anyhow, if you know someone who loves music, The Beatles, pepper, or just silly-but-useful kitchen gadgets, this friendly fella is the perfect present.

As for next year, I plan to bring out a Dalek Garlic Crusher, a Cheryl Coal Bucket and a Florence & The Coffee Machine… Any other suggestions?!

 

Purple reigns

4 Nov

I’ve had a reader request! Claire has a new house with a boring kitchen and wants to jazz it up a bit with purple accessories. Only thing is, like most of us, she doesn’t have oodles of cash to spend.

She particularly wanted a cheap bread bin. I’ve done some research and crikey, bread bins are expensive! You’re usually looking at around £40 for a metal box that’s just going to sit on your worktop and get filled with crumbs.

So, I was pleased to find this stylish little number for just £12.99 at good old Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com). It’s part of the Spectrum range (below), and there are other matching purple accessories from just £1.49.

Alternatively, Debenhams (www.debenhams.com) have a good range of purple kitchen bits, including this traditional-shaped bread bin, £20, below.

If anyone else is looking for something specific, or has a shopping/interiors dilemma, let me know, and I’ll do my best to hunt down a solution!

Cheep and chic

2 Nov

I think we can safely say there are no more freak sunny spells to come – we’re properly in Autumn now, and winter is just around the corner.

As I sadly put away my garden furniture at the weekend, I realised my garden needed something to cheer it up – birds. But until recently, bird feeders weren’t exactly stylish – if you wanted to feed birds with fat balls, you could either hang them in their plastic netting (which pesky squirrels destroy with one swipe); or you rammed them into ugly wire cages from the garden centre.

So I was pleasantly surprised that someone at B&Q has tackled the issue and come up with these designer-like ceramic fat snax feeders in a classy palette of 1950s’style duck egg blue, mustard or white. What’s more, they’re just £3.98 each – cheap enough for you to buy a few and group them together to feed your feathered friends in the chicest way possible.

A mini advent-ure

1 Nov

Sitting in bed with flu, I was browsing the web making a mental Christmas wishlist (it’s never too early to start!) when I spotted this AMAZING advent calendar.

Full of 24 tiny Lancome, YSL, Giorgio Armani, Shu Uemura, Viktor & Rolf and Kiehl’s beauty goodies such as perfume, handcream, moisturisers and makeup (including a ‘mini mini Juicy Tube’, apparently), it’s the ultimate in advent calendars.

Of course, there’s one snag. Available exclusively from Selfridges (or http://www.selfridges.com) it’s an eye-watering £80 (so that’s around £3 per day), but hey, a girl can dream.

However, even if you’re willing to part with such a criminal amount of cash for some bite-sized beauty booty, you’ll need to be quick – last year’s version sold out well before December.

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