Archive | July, 2012

Teapig for two?

30 Jul

The other day in my local gastropub, I had the audacity to ask for a cup of peppermint tea. “We don’t do fancy-pants drinks like that,” sniffed the barman, as he made my friend a mochachocacappuccinolatte  (or whatever) in his fancy pants coffee machine. I thought peppermint – in fact all herbal teas – had gone mainstream by now? Obviously not.

It’s the same when buying presents – coffee still has the upper hand. Look to buy a coffee lover a gift and you’re spoilt for choice. Look to buy a tea fiend something and there’s very little out there. Which is why I was really excited to discover the Mix’n’Match sample pack from Teapigs.

If you’re not familiar with Teapigs, they make very fancy-pants teas in a plethora of fun flavours. They come in silky ‘tea temples’ instead of paper teabags and have simple-but-stylish packaging. They taste delicious, too.

The Mix’n’Match set is a box containing 12 mini boxes of tea (with two tea temples per mini box). What’s really great is that you choose online which flavours to include in the selection, from a list of 21, such as chai, lemongrass, rooibos, super fruit, white tea, chamomile, liquorice & mint and even chocolate flake or popcorn tea.

Available online from it makes a fab gift or is a great way to widen your tea horizons. Maybe I should send a box to the barman at my local…?

I wishi for washi

27 Jul

My new obsession is for washi tape (“what-y tape?” asked my other half). It’s Japanese masking tape, which comes in different widths and is printed with pretty patterns.

You can use it in so many different ways and you don’t have to be particularly crafty to get good results. The most obvious is to wrap presents with. It’ll stand out more if you use brown paper, white paper or a single plain coloured paper or tissue. Don’t just use the washi tape on the ends – stick little strips randomly all over for a really pretty effect.

Another great use for washi tape is to decorate stuff – wrap it around glass jars for candles, trinket boxes, pens/pencils, travelcard wallets, kitchen storage containers… or put strips on picture frames, mirrors, or notebooks/diaries to jazz them up.

There are loads of great ideas on the web. Check these out for starters:

Jars and clothes pegs:

Pretty clothes hangers:

Washi tape magnets:

Storage jars:

Gift bags:


Chairs decorated with washi:

A Pinterest board with other washi tape ideas such as cards, penpots and boxes:

Feeling inspired? All you need now is some tape! The best place to start is – they have the biggest selection in the UK.
You can also get your mitts on tapes at,, and on Ebay (search for “washi tape” or “Japanese masking tape” or “craft masking tape”).

That’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, I really love these Tiger treats!

25 Jul

See these gorgeous bright steel stools, above? You’d think they were at least £20 each, wouldn’t you? Well, they’re A FIVER! I nearly bought one in each colour on the spot!

I’ve written about Tiger Stores on this blog before, but I popped into my local branch the other day and besides these stools, I saw so many fabulous things that I thought I’d update you…

For those who don’t know it, Tiger has come over from Denmark, and is like a Japanese-style version of the Ikea marketplace. They sell so many amazing bits and bobs for the home, and it’s all mega cheap – nothing is over £30. They add new stock regularly and while they don’t sell online (yet), they do have a useful website at which tells you what’s just arrived. There are now 17 stores in the UK and they’re opening more  almost monthly.

Here’s what I spied this week:

Ceramic canisters with spoon on the side, £5 each…

Tile coasters, £1 each…

Letter and number mugs, £1 each…

Multi-coloured coathooks, £4 each…

Flowerpot toilet brushes, £4 each…

Pretty notepads, £2 each…

The last straw

23 Jul

The other day I went to an event where instead of glasses, drinks were served in jam jars with paper straws (above). It’s such a simple idea, but it looked brilliant, and I’ve started saving jars so that I can do the same the next time I have a party. Paper straws, which are so much prettier than plastic ones, are easy to come by – a pack of 25 red, blue or pink straws is just £2.95 from

Another great idea is to make your own drink stirrers – something I did at my wedding (below). Simply grab a handful of wooden stick servers from Starbucks, Pret a Manger or Caffe Nero; then take strips of pretty paper (I used origami paper from EBay) and using Pritt Stick or glue, stick them around the top of each stirrer. Finally, cut the ends of the paper strips with scissors to make them look like little flags. Easy!

The Lionel steeps tonight

20 Jul

As you’ll have gathered by now from my blog entries, I absolutely LOVE puns and song titles used in silly ways (check out my “Things Rick Astley Wouldn’t Do” post from 31 October 2011), so this teapot is just, ahem, my cup of tea.

The “Hello, is it tea you’re looking for?” range includes a mug and a tea-for-one set, below, and costs from £10.58. They’re all handmade by Lenny Mud (a lady, not a man as you’d think) – visit her Etsy online shop at She’s churning them out as fast as she can, so if they’re not in stock, don’t panic, she’s working on it…

Once you’ve bought your mug, all you need is a Richie biscuit (ho ho ho) to dunk in it!

Duly notecard

18 Jul

My other half has a theory. He reckons the main, fundamental difference between men and women is that women always have a stash blank cards and/or notelets, to use in emergencies. He thinks it’s because we all, inevitably, turn into our mums.

As far as I’m concerned though, it’s just being sensible. There’s always a birthday that sneaks up on you; or a friend who moves house or gets a new job; or someone who does something/gives you a gift out of the blue that you want to say thank you for.

Now I know I’ve picked out some brilliant notelets before (check out my post from 30 December 2011 – those cards are all still available), but I’ve found some fab new mini ones to share with you too.

They’re called Bright Stem notecards, and there are lots of different boxes to choose from, including graphic style birds, abstract retro shapes, photos of flowers, typographic birthday and thank you cards, plus mixed boxes containing several different designs (see above and below).

What’s particularly good about them is the price – they’re just £4-6 for a little box of 12 (with some designs on sale – 50 Thank You cards are currently £14) plus £2.75 postage from or from

Oh, and if you buy some and want to thank me for recommending them, don’t worry, you don’t need to send a card!

The bright stuff

16 Jul

I can think of several uses for these cute mini rainbow-coloured glass bottles. Put single flowers in them for a sweet windowsill display; hang them from a chandelier for a quirky pop of colour; place a slim candle in each and dot them around some branches in your garden; or use them to store buttons, beads, stud earrings or general sparkly bits and bobs.

They’re just 6cm  high and 3cm wide and cost £9.95 for a set of six from (they’re called ‘mini multi-coloured hanging bottles’ if you’re searching for them).

Want something a bit bigger? You can get a set of four similar coloured 13x8cm hanging jam jar t-light holders (I know that should be tealight but that’s what they’re called on the site!), below, for £7.95.

Ooh, baby-baby, buh-baby-baby, Salt’n’Pepper’s here!

13 Jul

Salt and Pepper shakers fall into one of two camps. They’re either really plain grinder-style mills like the ones you get in Italian restaurants; or they’re kitsch ones in the shape of something silly. I’m definitely a fan of the latter – I love the pair of china sausage dogs  I got in Florida years ago, and the Alessi Chinamen my brother and his wife got me for Christmas.

But now I might have to add a third set to my collection. These bear salt and pepper shakers (above) are new in at and are just genius. They’re designed to look and work like snowglobes – when you turn them upside down to shake out the salt or pepper, the little black bear and polar bear inside look like they’re in a snowstorm. Brilliant.

At just £10 for the pair, they’re a decently-priced present – or an affordable treat for yourself. Shake it up baby!

Home sweet Home

11 Jul

The other day, a lovely little interiors shop called Home… in Dartmouth, Devon, followed me on Twitter, so I checked it out. It’s only been open for a couple of years, and it’s owner, Helen Lloyd, obviously has great taste. She also, thankfully for those of us who don’t live in Devon, sells much of her stock online at

My top pick? The pretty Scandi paper lanterns, below, (which you can wrap around ordinary jam jars and pop tealights inside), £9.50 for seven. I saw these at Pulse, the gift shop trade show I went to the other week, and they’re uber classy.

I also like the ingenious ceramic sandcastle shaped bowl, £19; the handmade and handpainted beach hut fairy lights, £37.50; the vintage button-topped memo board pins, £12.99 for a box of 12; the cute Little Luxuries tin, £15.50 which contains three smaller tins of lip, hand and foot salve made with wax from Dorset bees; and for kids (both big and small), the Butterfly & Ribbons kit, £8.

Any and all of them would make great gifts – add your to your Christmas wish list now!

Raise your glasses

9 Jul

In the last two weeks, I’ve somehow managed to smash three drinking glasses.

This is not a bad thing necessarily… as it means I have a legitimate reason to buy some more!

However, when I started looking for replacements, I quickly realised that while wine glasses come in all shapes and colours; water glasses, tumblers and high ball glasses are really boring. They’re also usually quite small (so you never get a decent drink out of them) and wafer-thin, so they’re likely to break more easily.

Still, I found what I was after at Next (above). They sell three different sets of chunky American style soda glasses – choose from pastel shades, bright colours, or two-tone red and blue. They look great, hold a decent amount of liquid and are fairly indestructible. They’re also decently-priced, at £8 for four.

The best of the rest?

BHS ( or instore) also sell coloured soda glasses for £2 each in lime, lilac or turquoise; Ikea’s Godis Mix glasses, £4.99 for six small or £5.99 for six big glasses, are smaller but have pretty retro flowers on; and the six glasses in the Leonardo Optic set (one each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple – or you can also buy sets of just one colour), £22.16 from, are classy, sturdy and fit for a dinner table.

Finally, Wilkinsons ( or instore, bottom) have several tall glass tumblers in various colourful designs (spots, stripes, flowers, leaves, retro lemonade labels…) for just £2-£3 for four. So what if you break them? They’re a smashing bargain!

Feathered friends

6 Jul

I love feature wallpaper, but I don’t love the price. These days, you’re looking at an average of £50 a roll for anything even vaguely stylish. And if you’re papering anything other than a chimney breast or box room wall, you’re going to need two or three rolls. Daylight robbery, I tell you.

So when I saw this lovely Opera Aviary wallpaper was just £8.98 a roll, I did a double-take.  Three rolls would cost under £30 – can you believe it? – which is an absolute steal for something so classy. It comes in a very of-the-moment charcoal grey and yellow colourway, and would look great alongside white, grey or if you’re brave, black walls.

Get yours at B&Q or pronto!

Panda to your needs

4 Jul

My parents recently went to see the panda pair at Edinburgh zoo, and came away captivated, so the cheeky faced bears were on my radar already, but then it was brought to my attention that this week, 2-7 July, is Panda Awareness Week. Brilliant. That’s so much more fun than the usual hayfever/debt/litter awareness weeks you usually hear about.

So, to celebrate, I thought I’d share with you this panda cushion by MinXtures, available at

Sometimes (well, quite often in my case), you spot something that you absolutely don’t need, but that you covet because it just looks ace. This  is one of those things. I love the simple mix of colours, the friendly panda, the fuzzy fleece fabric and the reasonable-ish price tag of £20. It’s not a ‘bear’ necessity, but with something this cute, who cares?

You can also get a green drawstring PE-style bag with a panda on, for £14.95 (below). Perfect for your gym kit. And for reminding everyone around you about pandas. Which is, after all, what awareness weeks are all about.

PS: while you’re at it, have a look at the other great gift ideas at too. There are some real gems, and it’s all handmade in the UK.

Ice to see you, to see you ice

2 Jul

I don’t know why, but this year seems to be the year of the homemade ice lolly. All my friends seem to be having a go at making them – and ice lolly moulds are on sale everywhere. But none I’ve seen are as cute as the Woodland Bunnies lolly makers, £4.95, from

Fill ’em with pure fruit juice, flavoured squash, milk (for an old skool taste) or even cold tea (!), stick ’em in the freezer and enjoy. The ears are the lolly sticks and the heads stop the melting ice from making your hands all sticky.

If you’re feeling really flash, you can make stripy lollies with different coloured fruit juices – just pour in a small amount of one colour juice, freeze; then add another splash of a different colour and freeze again; and continue ’til you’ve filled the mould. Clever!

Feeling really flash? Make the amazing melon and berry ice pops from the fab Will Cook For Smiles blog, at


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