Archive | April, 2012

You’re booked!

30 Apr

There’s something incredibly pleasing about these bookplates by Mac and Ninny from

Each pack contains 12 “From the library of” stickers in a slightly Scandi/slightly retro design (I like the bees, cupcakes, and owl best) as well as a little library card to record who you’ve lent your books to. They cost £4.95 per pack and would make a lovely, easy-to-post pressie for any bookworms in your life.

And if you’re giving someone a book? The site also sells a sweet kit, £4, containing a bookplate for you to write a message on and stick inside the book, plus wrapping paper, a gift tag and sealing stickers, all in a fun ladybird design. Great for making your literary gift look extra special.

Darn it!

27 Apr

A moth/nail/small child/friend’s ciggie has made a hole in your favourite top – what do you do? You need a tin of Clothes Plasters!
Designed by artist Jennie Maizels (, they’re beautifully embroidered patches, which you can iron on over a hole to hide it; or just use to decorate your clothes with.

They come in either individual packs, or four cute themed tins – choose from ‘Rock’ (red lips, skull, guitar, flaming dice etc); ‘Blue’ (robot, dinosaur, pirate, etc); ‘Pink’ (babushka, cat, star, cupcake, etc); or my favourite, ‘Birds’ (hummingbird, bluetit, parrot, black swan, etc)

They’re £3.50 for a pair or £9.99 for a tin of ten, with different designs available from or or

WIN! Last chance to enter…

26 Apr

Tomorrow is the closing date for my competition to win a designer cafetiere. Fancy trying your luck? View the post from 10th April for how to enter.

You’ve also got until tomorrow to enter the draw to win a set of four fancy handwashes – simply email me at with your name, address and why you think you should win.

Good luck!

China in your hands

25 Apr

Forget dinner parties (far too much effort) – the best thing to do when friends come round is serve them a nice cup of tea and a huge wodge of cake.

Until now though, most afternoon tea sets were of the Cath Kidston/ditzy pastel floral variety.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, if you want something special with a different vintage vibe, the new Fifi range from Portmeirion is the way to go.

It’s a fab purple, lime and white Mid-Century Modern design made of quality bone china that looks like something your very stylish gran used to use in the Fifties (trust me, that’s a good thing!).

The range includes tea or espresso cups with saucers, mugs, tea plates, a cake stand, dip bowls, a jug, a teapot, trays, serving bowls, teaspoons and cake forks, coasters and placemats. Prices start at £7, from or where there’s currently 20% off the whole range.

Now all you need is a tasty cake to serve… make mine a suitably retro Victoria sponge, with lashings of jam and cream please!

Capital gains

23 Apr

Now, I love living in London, and I’m really excited about the Olympics, but most of the souvenirs/memorabilia that have been created to celebrate the event are a bit too in-your-face and Union Jack-tastic for my liking. They’re also likely to date so quickly once the Games are over.

Well, that’s what I thought until I saw this new range of cushions from Japanese designer Yukari Sweeney at Debenhams Edition ( Priced £16-£35, they’re printed with quirky maps of the Capital and fun stamp illustrations of all things London, from the London Eye and red letterboxes to dog racing and black cabs. I’m properly tempted to buy a couple for my sofa (and I’ve had the same lovely stripy cushions on there for years!).

If, like me, you love Yukari’s designs, the Debenhams range also includes matching porcelain mugs (£15 for two), tea towels(£7.50), a London map canvas the same as the cushion (£22) and bedlinen (£25-35).

And if you visit her website,, there are lampshades, doggy-shaped draught  excluders and even Japanese wrapping cloths in other great prints too. Cute!

Stamp for joy

20 Apr

Staplers and hole punches – two of the most useful yet boring items on your desk…

Until now, that is.

Every time you use this Stampler by Suck UK (above, £7.99 from or £8.10 from, you’ll smile – and so will your documents. A stapler and ink stamp rolled into one, it not only fixes papers together, but prints a happy face in red ink on them (with the staple as the mouth). Totally pointless, but a lot of fun.

As for the hole punch below (£8.56, also by Suck UK from Amazon), it punches heart-shaped holes instead of round ones. A nice touch that only the ultra-observant colleagues will notice, but that’ll brighten your day all the same.

Stick your necklace out

18 Apr

When  it comes to jewellery, I love chunky, quirky, statement pieces. The only downside is they’re either really expensive, or from TopShop, in which case everyone else has them too. So, I was really excited to discover the brilliant designs at

This huge online store brings together products from 400  individual designers, museum shops and galleries, with a proportion of proceeds going to help fund the arts.

Now, I could big up some of the fab homewares and prints on offer, but what stands out most for me is the jewellery. Yes, you can spend a fortune on some pieces, but there’s also lots of choice under £30.

My favourites? The gold Carre chains £30, by Ridley & Dowse (above); the silhouette crocodile ring, £5.99, by The Saatchi Gallery (available in other colours and animals such as a rabbit, fox, cat, etc); Hand knitted Eagle necklace, £25, by A.Alicia (also in peach, sky blue and grey); Black Cube earrings, £10 by Welcome Home x Ocular; the Silver Plated Pewter Key necklaces, £13.50 by nonesuchthings; and the cute snail brooch, £10, by PebetaTeta (also available in a mirror finish). Perfect for pressies or as a treat for yourself.


I wanna hold your handwash

16 Apr
Last weekend, while staying at my parents’ house, I noticed a fancy handwash by their sink. It was a pretty turquioise colour, had a fab teardrop-shaped bottle, and smelt lovely. I expected it to be some expensive beauty brand, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it cost just £2.49.
Turns out it’s one of a range of gel handwashes from eco-friendly company Method. There are five fresh scents/colours available, including pink grapefruit, cucumber and lavender; and they all contain skin-kind natural cleansers. It makes a nice change from all the antibacterial skin-stripping handwashes that are around at the moment. Oh, and the bottles (which were created by top product designer Karim Rashid) are recyclable too. You can (ahem) get your hands on one  in Sainsburys, Tesco, Superdrug, John Lewis, Homebase, Waitrose or at And if you like them on Facebook ( apparently they’ve got some treats coming up in the near future.
WIN! Talking of treats, I have a set of all four Method fragrances to give away. Just email me at with your name and a line about why you deserve to win. Oh, and include the address I should send them to if you get lucky!
PS: And while we’re on the subject of handwashes, I’m also planning to buy a bottle of Helping Hand Wash by Trilogy, £13.50 for 300ml. It’s not a bargain, but that’s the point – 100% of the profits go to the Child’s i Foundation (, which is helping to stop child abandonment in Uganda.
Packaged in a pretty brown and teal glass pump-action bottle, it smells amazing, as it’s made with frankincense, rose geranium and lavender oils.
It’s available from or larger John Lewis, Boots or House of Fraser stores. As it’s sold out once already, and this is a new batch, if you want one you’d better get your grubby mitts on it quick!

Bucket list

13 Apr

At this time of year, garden experts say that a hanging basket is the quickest  way to inject some Spring colour into your garden or terrace.

In theory, they’re right, but unless you buy one ready-made, hanging baskets are actually a bit of a faff. You have to fanny around lining them; then there’s the dilemma of choosing which plants to put in them that’ll grow downwards and cover the ugly basket. Also (and maybe it’s just me), while they’re fine outside pubs and restaurants, DIY home efforts often just look a bit naff.

Now there’s another option. New at B&Q ( this month are these fab bright Blooma hanging buckets. Simply pop a single potted plant in them (African Violets, Primroses or Geraniums look fab, as do Gerberas and Ranunculus) and they’re ready to go. No lining, compost or flower arranging skills required. Available in lime, pink, blue or turquoise, they cost just  £4.98.

What a bloomin’ bargain!

A lot on your plate

11 Apr

Whether you buy just one for a very lucky child, or several for a grown up’s picnic, these brilliant, bright, kitsch 1950s/60s-inspired melamine plates by Swedish designer Ingela P Arrenius will go down a treat. There are nine designs and they’re £6.50 each at or £7.95 each at

Love her designs? You can also buy posters that complement the plates for £18.95 and an amazing set of six wooden matryoshka-style wooden nesting animals for £19.95, both at; plus gorgeous ready-to-hang canvases (below) £46 each at

WIN! A designer cafetiere

10 Apr

The bank holiday is over, so here’s something to cheer you up! Back on 21st March, I featured some gorgeous new designer La Cafetière coffee presses – well, now, thanks to the lovely people at La Cafetière, I have one of the classy Secret Garden models, worth £31.95 to give away!

With a teal metallic sleeve, decorated with laser cut birds and branches, it can make up to eight cups of coffee at a time, and comes in a matching gift box. It’d make a great wedding or birthday present for a coffee fan – if you can bear to part with it, that is!

The lucky winner will be chosen at random from all subscribers on Friday 27th April. So, to be in with a chance of winning this lovely prize, simply subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “Subscribe” box to the right, and then clicking again on the link in the confirmation email you’re sent.
If you’re already a subscriber (thank you!) you don’t have to do anything at all – you’ll automatically be entered in the draw.

PS: Can’t wait for the closing date? You can buy La Cafetiere presses, from £14, at or

Show me the moneybox

6 Apr

It shouldn’t be surprising that in these financially trying times, it seems oversized moneyboxes are now in fashion big time.

Dwell’s new collection ( and instore) includes this fantastically bling silver metallic balloon dog moneybox, above. At 26cm long, 10cm wide and 16cm high, it’ll make a great statement on a shelf (not to mention a handy bookend) and should fit tens of pound inside. Mind you, that’s what you have to shell out for it too, as it’s £29.95. I’m still tempted though!

It’s a similar story with the gorgeous giant Seventies-style  friendly elephants from Now, I know that no-one needs a money box that’s an enormous 20cm high x 28cm long x 23cm wide, and that the £36 price tag is more than I’d ever save in loose change inside it, but seriously, how CUTE are they?!

I dream of getting a green one for my baby son’s bedroom and pretending I bought it just for him (not that anyone who knows me would believe me!).

Still, I ought to be practical – the shop also sells much smaller 10cm versions, in white, pink, turquoise or orange for £8.95. Much more sensible.

Stock is apparently running low of both sizes, so you can only gaze longingly at them on the website, but if you call (01531 631 044)  or email the shop itself in Ledbury ( they’ve told me they’ll try to order one for you. You’d be Dumbo not to! (sorry)

Bunny business

4 Apr

If you’ve ever been to Germany at Easter time, you’ll know it’s BIG news over there. Pretty pastel eggs, bunnies and chicks are everywhere. But for some reason, while the UK loves chocolate eggs, we don’t really go in for Easter decorations. Which is a shame, as they’re so cute.

So, I was pleased to see Sainsburys have decided to rectify this with a bargainous, pretty (and surprisingly tasteful) range of bits and bobs for your Easter table.

My favourites are the gorgeous plywood egg tree, £5 (which would double as a great jewellery stand the rest of the year); the pretty bunting, £2; the Easter crackers, £3 (why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?!); and the easy peasy egg and rabbit chocolate lolly mould, £2.

Pop some in your Easter shopping basket now!

Button it!

2 Apr

As Easter approaches, here’s a genius idea. Melt some chocolate in a bowl over some boiling water; pour into this cunning reusable silicone mould; pop it into the freezer for a few mins; then pop out button-shaped chocolate buttons!

They’re perfect for decorating homemade cakes, big or small; or for turning shop-bought cakes into something special. You can use milk, dark or white chocolate, and the mould makes 19 different-sized buttons each go.

You can buy the mould below from for £4. Pair it with a huge bar of Dairy Milk and it’d make a great gift for any baking or chocolate fiend.

Top tip: grease the mould with a tiny bit of butter first to make the buttons pop out even more easily.

Sew White Cute as a Button Mould from £4

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