Archive | May, 2012

Measure for measure

30 May

When they were handing out good looks in the animal kingdom, snails weren’t at the front of the queue (they can’t move that fast, obviously…). However, they do make for really cute desk accessories – just check out these little fellas! You simply pull on their antennae (is that the right word?) and out pops a tape measure. Genius. They’re £7.99 from

I also can’t resist these sweet little animal tape measures from Japan (just £2.99 from various sellers on EBay – search under ‘panda tape measure’ and they’ll all pop up). Choose from a frog, panda, piggy, bear or friendly-faced tiger. Perfect for popping in your pocket when you go to Ikea.

Finally, when is a tape measure not a tape measure? When it’s a Sellotape dispenser! Cunning designers Suck UK, who make some brilliant products, have created this tape dispenser disguised as an old school traditional measure (£5.99 from or £7.99  from I reckon every well-dressed desk should have one.

Colour me happy

28 May

I’m a fan of big chunky jewellery, so I loved these bright, beautiful rings the minute I saw them – even before I found out about their secret double life.

You see, they’re crayons! Yep, each ring (you get a set of six Kikkerland Round Colour Rings for £7 at is made of wax crayon, so you can draw with your knuckles whenever the urge takes you. You could even string the set on a piece of ribbon for an unusual yet functional necklace – just whip it off to scribble down your number when a hot boy asks for a date (um, or in my case, write down something to put on the shopping list!)

They’re great fun for big and little kids alike (they’re non-toxic, fact fans), and a cool present for anyone with an arty streak.

By hook or by nook

25 May

Keys, mobiles, iPods, glasses/glasses cases, pens, lipbalm… you can never find things like these when you need them. Which is usually just as you’re trying to leave the house and are in a bit of a flap anyhow.

That’s why I’m thinking of investing in a HookNook – a genius new cubbyhole and coat/bag/scarf hook combined. It’s big enough to hold all those vital bits and bobs, yet discreet at the same time

Why not get one for each member of your household and put them in a line

The Hook Nook by Flip & Tumble is £11 (for the white version) at or £13.35 (for a green or brown version) at

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Welcome gnome

23 May

The other day, I went to Bromley (I know, I lead an exciting life!), and when I arrived at the station, I was nearly mown down by three and a half thousand schoolchildren waving Union Jacks. The reason? It turns out the Queen had been to visit.

Secretly, I was a wee bit gutted I’d missed her, as I’ve had a soft spot for Her Majesty ever since I wrote to her for a school project and she ‘replied’ on fancy embossed paper.

Anyhow, given all this, you’d think I’d  have snapped up all the Royal Diamond Jubilee memorabilia that’s around at the moment. But actually, I’ve been quite restrained. A lot of it is OTT on the Union Jack front and it all looks a bit same-y.

You see, I like my souvenirs to be classy, elegant, understated and unusual – like these Royal gnomes, above (well, one out of four isn’t bad…!). Yep, following the success of last year’s Royal Wedding gnomes, B&Q have created these jolly little people to rule over your flowerbeds. They’re £12.98 each or £20 a pair and unbelievably, they’re so popular they’re likely to be a sell-out. Bonkers.

On a slightly more serious note, I do love the stylish square Jubilee biscuit tins from M&S, below – they’re a great size and the biccies inside are top notch. Tins always age well, and they’ll look pretty on a shelf for years to come.

If you’ve got children, take them to one of B&Q’s special Jubilee craft workshops while you’re picking up your gnomes. Over 50 stores are running free kids’ classes  for 7-11 year olds on 2nd and 3rd May, where they’ll learn to make little wooden boats in honour of the Thames River pageant. Cute! Visit for details.

Fork this way

21 May

As I’ve mentioned before, afternoon tea is fast replacing dinner parties as the way to entertain friends at home.

But while you don’t have to faff about making three-course meals and dusting off your dinner service, you do still need to put in a little bit of effort. If you’re going to let them eat cake, they need to do it with a cake fork.

What’s wrong with normal cutlery, my other half asks. Well, it’s the same reason I always ask for a teaspoon to eat my pudding with in restaurants – dainty cake forks (or pastry forks, as they’re often called) make your dainty cake last longer. Which is kind of the whole point of afternoon tea.

Surprisingly though, it’s very hard to get anything other than boring stainless steel cake cutlery. Pretty forks are few and far between. Still, they do exist.

Your best bet? Head to where a box of six forks with gorgeous Crazy Daisy design handles is on sale for £13.20 at the moment; or a set of six Dawn Chorus forks, with candy pastel birds on the handles (top of page), is £17.

Alternatively, a set of six Italian cake forks with different coloured slender handles is £21 at; or if you’re eating outside, Rice’s cute bright melamine cake forks, available in two different colour combinations, are just £5.75 at

PS: I thought up so many puns I could have used as a title for this entry, such as ‘It’s so funny, how we don’t fork any more’ and the simple ‘fork it’. I particularly liked “Happy, hap-py hap-py happy fork”, but thought some people might not get it…

Milky Milky

18 May

There’s something really pleasing about old skool glass milk bottles. Part of the appeal, for those of us who grew up with a milk round, is pure nostalgia; and part of it is that they just look so chic. A row of bottles with a single bloom in each is a look that’s almost impossible to get wrong (and it’s cheap, too).

If you haven’t got any old bottles in your shed, try boot sales, junk shops and antique stores. Then again, you could just cheat…

One of my favourite online shops, sell cute traditional mini milk bottles (below), for £2.95 each, or a crate of six for £8.94. For something that really does look like a genuine antique, go for a vintage milk bottle from Pedlars (, £7.95. Or, you can opt for a Pintie jug (bottom), made from real bottles sourced from across the UK – they cost £16.99-19.99 from

Finally, I’m just a little bit in love with this quirky double-headed Milkii jug, £30, from (top of the page). It would look fantastic on any breakfast table.

Cute as a button

16 May

Since writing my recent post about chocolate button moulds, I’ve stumbled across bajillions of (well, ok, a few) other fab button-shaped items to share with you.

First up are these classy ceramic buttons, above, by the very lovely interiors stylist, Marie Nichols, who’s just opened a new online store,, selling these and other gorgeous bits and bobs. They come in four different designs and cost a reasonable £13.50-15.50 each. They work well as ornaments on their own; or a trio would look amazing mounted on a strong coloured wall. Oh, and if you like Marie’s style, check out her brilliant blog at

I’m also loving these fun little button-shaped pastel soaps from, £5.50 for a bumper pack of 23; and button-shaped Belle de Sucre sugar cubes from John Lewis, £7 per box (both below). They’re almost too cute to use.

Finally, for a few pence, you could try your hand at making some button-shaped biscuits (bottom). They’re easy to make but look super cool. You can find the recipe and instructions at

It uses American measures for the cookie mix, but your own shortbread or biscuit recipe would work just as well. Box some up as a gift, thread them with ribbon to use as Christmas/Easter decorations, or just arrange on a plate and watch your friends look seriously impressed (before wolfing the lot).

Suit your shelf

14 May

Do you remember those wooden display shelves that grans used to have? They might have looked old-fashioned, but they were perfect for showing off nic nacs.

Now have brought the idea into the 21st century with these cool Flaunt Shelves. Unlike similar models, which cost bajillions of pounds, they cost just £19.99 for a three-shelf unit, or £29.99 for six-shelf unit. They look equally great on either a white or a coloured feature wall and work in practically any room in the house.

The only problem you’ll have is deciding what to put on them!

Pot luck

11 May

At my local market, there’s a stall selling flavoured bread in real terracotta flowerpots. They look like little shrubs – too cute to eat!

Cakes are easier to make than bread, so when I saw these brilliant mini flowerpot-shaped silicone muffin cases from Lakeland (, I put them straight on my wishlist.

At £5.99 for six, they’re not bad for something you can reuse time and time again, and with some icing flowers/sweets on top, they’ll turn your cakes into bloomin’ tasty showstoppers.


10 May

Well done to the winners of my two recent competitions:

Betty Amazing wins the lovely teal ‘Secret Garden’ cafetiere from La Cafetiere.

Chrissy Shorrocks wins the set of four designer Method handwashes.

Watch out for more competitions and giveaways soon!

The cat (and dog, duck, cow, rabbit and elephant) who got the cream

9 May

Check out these mega cute little creamers! They’re just £3.25 each, measure 8cm x 10cm and there’s a friendly-looking dog, cat, duck, cow, elephant or rabbit to choose from, at

But how could you choose?! They’re all so lovely I’m tempted to buy one of each – that way, they could sit pleasingly together on a shelf; and when people come round for dinner, they could get one each to serve cream with their puddings or milk with their tea/coffee.

And talking of tea, there’s an adorable white porcelain elephant teapot, too (below). He’s the kind of thing you’d seen in a stylish homes mag, yet he costs a very reasonable £10.95.

He’d make a perfect present – how about pairing him with the baby elephant creamer, or a box of pretty Pukka teabags (£2.25, from supermarkets and

That’s a wrap

7 May

What if there was a way to get an absolutely stunningly-wrapped parcel, that made the recipient gasp,  that didn’t involve either Sellotape or scissors – and that took just seconds?

Well, thanks to the Japanese, there is. Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths, made of fabric, used for centuries to wrap gifts. Now they’ve been given a revamp – available in lovely modern prints, they’re good-sized squares of material that you wrap around a present and tie with a knot. They not only look cool, but can be used as anything from a scarf to a sarong afterwards, so they’re a gift in themselves.

You can buy them for £2.50-£4 each from; £3.99 from; £3.75 from or for the best selection, visit There they’re  £3.99 and come printed with hummingbirds, safari animals, soldiers, dresses, or London buses. There are also written, picture and video instructions on how to wrap almost anything.

Don’t cry for me, onion peeler

4 May

Someone recently asked me which of my wedding presents I’ve used the most in the two years since I got married. Was it the classy cutlery, the Le Creuset-style casserole dish, or the glass tulip vase? Nope. While all these things have proved useful on a regular basis, none of them have been called into service as much as my Onion Goggles.

Yep, you read that right. Onion Goggles do exactly what they say on the tin – put them on and the foam seal keeps your peepers tear- free while chopping onions.

My mum thought I was mad putting them on the wedding list, but my friend Diane saw their potential immediately and snapped them up for me.

Ok, so they make you look like a slightly deranged superhero, but they’re so effective that even my cynical husband finally caved in and wore them the other day when he thought I wasn’t looking.

So, if you’re hunting for an a-peeling wedding present; need a gift for the cook who has everything; or are simply fed up of weeping over your chopping board, look no further.

You can get your oniony-smelling hands on a pair for £12.50 at; £12.95 at or £15.99 at; plus you can read more about them at You could say it’s a site for sore eyes…!

And after all, you’re my wonder wallpaper

2 May

The trend for big, bold, colourful wallpapers shows no sign of stopping, but now, rather than just making a statement in the bedroom or living room,  wallpaper has become a great way to add some colour and personality to your bathroom and kitchen too. Only trouble is, there’s a lot of condensation/wear-and-tear in these rooms, and some papers don’t take kindly to it.

One solution is to keep the paper to one feature wall, on the opposite side of the room to the shower or sink/oven area. This also stops the pattern being overwhelming if you’ve got a fairly small space.

The other option is to use one of the new wallpapers specially designed for the job. I love Graham & Brown’s new Antibacterial Collection, which is hardwearing and bacteria/mould resistant.

There are dozens of designs to choose from, including ‘Beside the Seaside’, a nautical but nice beach huts print in red/blue/beige or pastels; ‘Dotty’, a Cath Kidston-esque spot design in various colours; ‘Flamingo’ with hot pink birds on a dramatic dark background or pale pink birds on white/grey; and the brilliantly named ‘Making a Crockery’ – a Mid-Century modern print featuring retro kitchen utensils. They all cost £18 per roll (a bargain these days for designer wallpaper) from http://www.grahambrown. com.

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