I have a new crush – the website for Hus and Hem (House and Home), a shop selling unusual, gorgeous Scandinavian home goodies. Amongst my favourite items is their range of retro-style fruit-print kitchen accessories designed by Swedish graphic artist Lotta Kuhlhorn.
I particularly like the ‘Vegas’ coasters, £13.95 (inspired by slot machine fruits, I think!); the pear, orange and apple tea towels, £13.50; and the pear and apple birch veneer trays, £18.95.
And to complete the look? A fab original 1970s Danish design apple tree money box, £8.95, which you can stand on a shelf or mount on the wall like art. Scrumptious!
Easter eggs. Yum. When I was a kid, it was all about the quantity – how many Cadbury’s eggs could I wolf down before I felt sick. But now I’m (supposedly) a grown up, and only usually get one egg at Easter, I want it to be a corker.
So, this year, I’ll be asking for the Rolls Royce of Easter eggs – from Prestat, chocolatiers to the Royal Family. They’ve bought out a range of milk and dark chocolate eggs, filled with delicious treats such as Marc de Champagne truffles, ganache truffles, sea salt caramels or rose and violet cremes. They look just as good as they taste, as they’re packaged in amazingly beautiful boxes designed by illustrator Kitty Arden. They cost around £14.99 for a 170g egg from www.Johnlewis.com, www.selfridges.com, or http://www.prestat.co.uk
Want to treat yourself (or a special someone else) to something other than an egg? Prestat also do stunning boxes of chocolates, again in almost-too-pretty-to-open packaging. Their blue and pink ‘Jewel’ boxes cost from £6.50, a box of zingy chocolate mints costs £10.50 and a box of the fanciest hot drinking chocolate in the world is £8.50.
Okay, so buying chocolate this posh a bit eggs-travagant, but it’s only Easter once a year!
One of the quickest ways to get a professional finish after you’ve decorated a room is to change the lightswitches. Replacing discoloured switch plates with new chrome or fresh white plastic ones (B&Q have a wide selection) costs just a few pounds and instantly makes a room look classy, sparkly and fresh.
But if you’re looking for something a bit different, check out the quirky Mr Switch Plates from http://www.johncaswelldesign.co.uk. They turn your lightswitches into fun little faces and look way more expensive than their £10-a-pair pricetag.
No good at DIY? The people and animal face light switch stickers, £7.50 per pack, from http://www.coxandcox.co.uk (below) give much the same effect – just stick the little eyebrows, moustaches, lips, beards, whiskers etc onto your existing lightswitches to make friendly faces. Similar are the ‘Light Up Your Mood’ stickers, £6 per pack, from www.howkapow.com.
So, if you live in the UK, the clocks go forward this weekend. The bad news is that you get one hour less in bed on Sunday morning; the good news is that it’s the perfect excuse to treat yourself to a new watch!
But step away from the sensible silver, gold and black and treat yourself to something colourful instead. If you’re wearing this season’s bright shades it’ll complete your look; if you’re wearing something darker it’ll make a statement and nod to the trend without going over the top.
Now, I hear what you’re saying: it’s not worth spending loads on a brightly-coloured watch you might only wear for one season…
Which is why these bargainous little beauties from Breo (www.breo.com) are such a brilliant idea. My favourite, the Spectrum (above) costs just £12.95 and comes in a range of 14 zingy colours; while the Loop, £14.99 comes in eight colours, the Minas, £8.99 comes in nine, and the Pulse, £12 (all below) comes in four. And there are 16 other models to choose from too.
At pinch-yourself-prices like these, and free P&P (I know, crazy isn’t it?!) you could afford to get one to match every outfit!
Cafetières are like computers (bear with me here). They traditionally only come in boring black or silver. But just as Apple broke the mould with their brightly-coloured iMac (I had a green one – I LOVED it), tea and coffee company La Cafetière have designed some gorgeous bright new coffee presses. Okay, I know that’s a bit of a tenuous link, but still, I don’t understand why such an essential bit of kitchen kit has escaped designers until now.
Anyhow, my favourite model is the new Secret Garden cafetière, designed by artist Alison Appleton, which has a teal stainless steel sleeve with laser cut birds and branches on it. It holds up to eight cups of coffee, comes in a classy matching box and would make a great present (particularly for a wedding) – if you can bear to part with it, that is.
It’s part of a bigger collection of similarly gorgeous metallic designs, below.
Fancy something a bit brighter (and a wee bit cheaper)? La Cafetière’s Rainbow range, from £14, includes jolly tomato red and zingy apple green models; plus two new limited edition colours – tangerine orange (2012’s “it” shade according to the experts at Pantone) and for all you fans of purple kitchen accessories, a lovely candy lilac. Tasty!
They’re all available at Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk) and www.lacafetiere.com or call 01352 717 555 for other stockists.
I don’t regularly review a lot of beauty products on this blog, as there are so many specialist beauty bloggers out there who do a fab job already. However, my latest beauty discovery is so brilliant, I had to tell you about it.
Bee Lovely To Your Hands is a gorgeous honey-scented intense handcream from natural skincare experts, Neals Yard. Having a new baby, I wash my hands a bajillion times a day, and they were drier than desiccated sandpaper. Ordinary handcream had no effect, but this bee-auty has sorted them right out
It’s non-greasy, smells fantastic, and you only need to use a tiny amount. Which is just as well, seeing it costs £9.50 for a 50ml tube (although £1 of that goes towards saving the bees!).
The only catch? As a limited edition, launched last September, it’s sold out in most places, but you can still get it online at www.thetreehouse.co.uk and www.eoco.org.uk.
Better bee quick though!
I had an email from a reader recently, asking whether I thought she should get a desk from Ikea.
Now, I LOVE Ikea stuff , and would normally have said yes, but one of my favourite pieces of furniture in my house is my Loft desk, £199, from John Lewis.
For just a few pounds more than an Ikea version, you get something made of solid oak and oak veneer, that looks like it was designed by Conran. With an extendable pull-out desk top, it’s perfect for a home office, and easily smart enough for the corner of a living room/bedroom where space is tight. It has five useful cubbyholes, plus a drawer, and discreet holes for computer cables.
It’s available in plain oak or White; or for £225, you can now get the “Reborn” version, which has gorgeous coloured lacquer inside the cubbyholes. Cute!
Busy, bright blooms are huge news fashion-wise at the moment, but if full-on florals are a bit too bold for you, you can dip your toe in the trend (literally) with this gorgeous new range of sneakers from Clarks (instore and at http://www.clarks.co.uk).
A collaboration with Liberty, the new ‘Jilli’ shoes are made with a beautiful retro floral print from the iconic London department store’s fabric archives.
Available in a navy or a cream colourway, there’s a pair of low-rise pumps, £39.99, and a cool pair of high top ‘sports shoes’, £44.99. They’d both look great with everything from jeans and leggings to minis, maxi skirts and dresses. And as they’re made by Clarks, you know they’ll be built to last.
With all sizes from 3-8 currently in stock, I’d, ahem, hot foot it to a shop now, as they’re bound to sell out!
It’s my birthday this week, so to celebrate, I thought I’d share with you some party goodies from a brilliant website, www.talkingtables.co.uk, which sells everything from candles, crackers and cake toppers to streamers, bunting and napkins – all in exclusive, classy and colourful designs.
Whether you’re holding afternoon tea for friends, a garden party or even a wedding, there’ll be something here to give it a professional touch for just a few pounds.
My faves? The cake wraps/toppers £5 for 12 of each, the striking matches, £3.25, gilded cake stand, £20, and the Charming Cleo crackers, £8.25 for 8, all from the ‘Social Soiree’ range (below); the butterfly garlands, £11 for 3 x 3m from the ‘Heat Wave’ range; and the bunting, £4.50, Happy Birthday candles, £5, and Whimsical Wonderball (a huge pass-the-parcel style ball filled with 14 little pressies and 90m of streamers, above), £6, from the ‘Riotous Rainbow’ range. Cheers!
The perfect bedside water glass is tricky to find. Do you go for something squat and chunky so that you don’t knock it over when you’re flailing around in the dark? Or do you go for the largest glass you can find for those nights when you fall into bed plastered and wake up with a mouth drier than stale Weetabix?
Actually, my granny had it just right – she had a bedside carafe with an upside-down glass as the lid. It meant she could keep a decent amount of water on hand and just pour what she needed.
That’s why this Drinkup Carafe, £16.99 from www.firebox.com, in the shape of a friendly Russian Babushka doll, is so brilliant. Made of glass, it looks great, is stable enough to withstand the odd knock, and the doll’s body holds enough liquid that you’ll never go dry-mouthed in the small hours ever again.
But if the Babushka is too girly for you, check out the French carafe and glasses, £19.99 (bottom), and the Dopper bottle, £11.99 (below), both from www.mocha.uk.com.
The carafe is modelled on an old French design (the glasses cunningly stack in the neck of the bottle); while if you unscrew the top bit of the Dopper, you can drink straight from the bottle; or if you unscrew it further down, the top turns into a drinking glass. It’s made of Eco-friendly plastic and you can even put it in the dishwasher.
My mum has a saying about stuff that’s silly/frivolous: “That’s on the list of 101 things you could do without”. And that’s certainly true of this Cherry loo brush, £30.99 from www.cubicuk.com. But even so, how COOL is it?
Besides, toilet brushes are usually designed to blend into the background, which is fair enough when you consider their purpose, but if yours is going to be on show, why not make a feature of it?
Surprisingly, there are very few other fun toilet brushes out there, but if you don’t like cherries, Alessi’s Merdolino loo brush (£33 from John Lewis and other department stores) is named after the French word for poo and is shaped like a plant in a pot. It looks too pretty to put down the pan!
Many moons ago, when I was at university, one of my most prized possessions was my khakhi coloured Eastpak backpack. It cost £40 – a lot to a student back then – but it was brilliantly-made and built to last.
Over ten years on, it’s still going strong. I use it for big shopping trips where I need my hands free, and holidays, where it makes excellent hand luggage as it’s so tardis-like, and also doubles as a great day/beach bag.
So I was happy to see Eastpak bags are making a comeback. Not only can you get block colours like powder blue, chilli red, slate gray and sunshine yellow; but there’s a host of new patterns, such as Hawaiian flowers, tartan and even a cool key print. What’s more, Eastpaks still cost £39.99 – making them a bargain in my book. Check out www.surfdome.com for a great selection.
I love Cox and Cox (www.coxandcox.co.uk). They sell a really good mix of beautiful vintage-style pieces, unusual homewares, decorations and quirky gifts.
They’ve just stocked up with loads of new products – some of which I’ll write about in the next few weeks – but for now, I had to show you this brilliant storage house, £35.
Made of heavy duty cardboard, it’s got 24 little drawers, which you can paint, stencil, stick stuff onto (as in the pic above), or cover with patterned paper (I’d decorate mine with different coloured origami papers) At 40cm high, 38 cm wide and 6cm deep, it’s handy for storing stationery, jewellery, sewing or craft stuff, household bits and bobs or even as an advent calendar later in the year.
Prefer to keep your nic nacs on display? I’m also coveting the new Dolls House Shelf, £49, (I know it’s not cheap, but check it out below – it’s gorgeous!). It has 23 little shelves, each backed with 70s-style paper and is 53cm high, 45cm wide and 5cm deep. The perfect size for both big and little girls!