Archive | November, 2012

It’s only Flock and Roll but I like it!

30 Nov

My friend Kirsty is very talented. She’s one of those people who just knows what looks good, and after years of designing things (magazine pages, wedding invites…) for other people, she’s finally struck out on her own and created her own range of prints, tea towels and greetings cards.

They’re all bright, cheery, fun and great value, featuring everything from retro ice lollies to gnomes. She’ll even make up any of her designs in your own choice of colours if you ask her nicely. I’m planning to place an order for one of her “Cup of tea and a slice of cake” art prints and a batch of her ‘You’re the Bee’s Knees’ cards, as they’re so sweet, and well, the bee’s knees.

Her company is called Flock and Roll – named after a seagull’s favourite type of music (best not to ask!) – and you can view the whole range at http://www.flockandroll.co.uk or buy her stuff from Etsy.com (visit http://www.etsy.com/shop/flockandroll).

Cards cost £2.50 each (see immediately below); Prints cost £15-25 depending on size (shown framed, below the cards); and tea towels are coming any day now. However, Kirsty’s doing a special 20% discount for all Treasure Hunter customers until Christmas. Simply enter code FLOCKANDROLL1 at the checkout.

PS: Good news for overseas readers! Kirsty will ship outside the UK – email her at hello@flockandroll.co.uk for details and prices.

Buy Buy Baby

28 Nov

One of the biggest – and most fun – shopping tasks you can be faced with is buying a present for a new baby.

Having had a little boy earlier this year, I’ve been privileged to be on the receiving end of such gifts – and people are amazingly kind and generous. I was given enough hats, socks, babygros and woolies to last the tiny fella for months. Really cute, beautiful outfits that I’d never have been able to justify buying for myself.

The thing is, with so many people getting clothes for the new baby, what do you buy if you want to go for something different?
The ideal new baby present should be memorable, thoughtful, look neither too cheap nor embarrassingly expensive, long-lasting and most of all, be something for the new parents will find useful.

So, bearing in mind the gifts I was given, and having quizzed several fellow mums about this, here are my top non-clothing baby present ideas. If you end up buying one of them for someone, let me know how it goes down!

Skip Hop Pronto travel change mat, £27-29 http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.johnlewis.com (see also pic at top of post)
This clever, stylish fold-up travel change mat has two pockets as well as a fold up mat all in one – it’s big enough to hold four nappies, wipes and nappy sacks so that they’re all in one place (no scrabbling around in a big buggy bag). You just fill it up, chuck it in your bag or basket, and grab it when baby needs a change. It comes in several cool patterns and is possibly the best baby accessory I own.

John Lewis star blanket, £16, http://www.johnlewis.com
Available in bright red, pale blue or pink (with hearts instead of stars), this soft, thick, snuggly blanket looks and feels amazing and will get tons of use on the buggy, car seat or wrapped round baby in the sling. It’s brilliant – I love ours.

Freddie Firefly and/or Captain Calamari, £7.95 each, http://www.amazon.co.uk
Not only do these two toys look amazing, but the clip on the top means you can attach them to your buggy, baby gym, or playpen and they’re great for amusing little ‘uns when out and about. Younger babies love looking at the bright colours and feeling the different textures, while bigger babies love chewing on the teething rings.

Philips Avent Bath and Room Thermometer, £12.99, http://www.amazon.co.uk
When you’re a new parent, you become obsessed with temperatures. This sturdy, cute, portable thermometer works in the bath and also “on land” and is small enough to take with you when travelling.

Brights Teether Links, £3.48, http://www.tesco.com/direct
Babies have to learn to grasp things; so most toys are too sophisticated for them at first. When they do start to play, they need things that are thin enough for them to hold in their tiny hands and chew with their little mouths – and plastic links are perfect. Not only that, but  links are also handy for attaching toys (like Captain Calamari) and teethers to a buggy or baby gym. You can buy versions of these from several places, but Tesco’s are the best, as they have rubbery teething bits on as an added bonus.

Jelly Cat Bredita duck or bunny chime, £9.98, http://www.play.com; or £8.99-10.99, http://www.amazon.co.uk
These sweet little fellas are a great first toy for similar reasons to the baby links – their squishy fabric legs are spindly enough for tiny hands, and their soft arms and wings are perfect for nibbling on. They have a gentle chiming bell inside too.

The Hungry Caterpillar Very Special Baby Journal, £14.98, http://www.amazon.co.uk
Baby milestones such as that first smile, first tooth and first crawl fly by so quickly that it’s a great idea to keep an official record of them. There are lots of baby record books out there, but this is one of the best, with lots of pages to fill in, an envelope for a lock of hair, and lots of room for photos. It comes in a presentation box too, making it a lovely gift.
Want something slightly cheaper? The Baby Journal from KTwo products (£9.99, also from Amazon) has cute illustrations and a set of stickers saying things like ‘first tooth’ to stick next to your photos.

“That’s not my…” books, £6 from bookshops; around £4 from http://www.amazon.co.uk
These fun board books are brilliant for babies and toddlers – the pages are sturdy enough for them to turn themselves, and they love stroking and scratching the touchy-feely patches on the pages. There are dozens to choose from, including “That’s not my Bunny”, “That’s not my Train”, “That’s not my Reindeer” and even “That’s not my Monster”. The author must be loaded by now, they’re so popular. My favourite? “That’s not my Pirate”!

Getting the sack

26 Nov

Don’t you just hate it when you buy someone a Moroccan pouffe, large duvet, or space hopper – and then have a problem wrapping it?!

Here’s the solution: bin bags that look like Christmas puddings! Of course, they’re meant for putting rubbish in, but at nearly £1 for each ‘Happy Sack’, they’re surely destined for greater things. I reckon they’d make wrapping a difficult item really fun.

PS: a rubbish sack isn’t just for Christmas… they come in a goldfish design, too. Go on, give the binmen a laugh.

Goldfish Happy Sacks, £7.99 for 12; Christmas Pudding Happy Sacks, £9.99 for 12, both from http://www.flamingogifts.co.uk

The Converse-ation

23 Nov

One of my favourite looks (hark at me, sounding all ‘fashion’) for weekends – well, evenings and sometimes work too – is jeans and trusty Converse trainers.

I like the traditional Chuck Taylor Allstars Ox Low Converse trainers, as they’re comfy and go with everything from jeans and shorts to summer dresses; and in my life I’ve worn them in pretty much every colour. I’m currently the proud owner of a purple pair and a bright green pair. I bought the green ones in a kids’ shoe shop, and am always getting asked where they came from.

They’re pretty much the perfect footwear. However, there’s one problem – they’re not exactly waterproof. In fact, they’re rubbish in the rain. I have firsthand experience of this, having worn them in torrential rain on a romantic weekend trip to Paris. I got soaked through to my socks and we spent a very unromantic hour or so trawling the shoe shops of the French capital for a cheap, rain-repelling replacement pair of shoes (note: nothing is cheap in Paris, particularly shoes).

So, I was properly excited when I spotted these little beauties in Office (www.office.co.uk) the other day. Not only are they a magnificent metallic silver, but they’re made of leather, so will keep my feet toasty and dry when it’s chucking it down outside.

Silver not your style? They come in gold, black, brown, navy and red too. They’re not exactly a bargain at £54.99 (that’s £15 more than the canvas versions) but if you put them on your Christmas list, as I plan to do, then someone else can, ahem, foot the bill!

I’ll take my hat off to that

21 Nov

I’m going to discuss hats. No, not fashionable ones, but party hats. Until now, the only real option was the flimsy, paper crown variety that you get in Christmas crackers. Not only do they break if your head is too big; or fall down your face if your head is too small, but lots of people (including my husband) refuse to wear them because they think they look sad.

But that’s not the case with these awesome party hats (yep, that’s their official name: Awesome Party Hats). They attach to your head with elastic – so they fit everyone – and they look like cool mini 3in x 2in caps. What’s more, you can even write your name – or any message you like – on them, as the ‘trendy’ lady in the picture below has done.

So, use your head this Christmas (sorry) and get your mitts on a pack of eight, £7.95, from http://www.cubicuk.com (or, if you’re reading this in the US, you can buy a set for $10 from http://www.gama-go.com).

That’s the Hemingway (I like it)

19 Nov

Designer Wayne Hemingway, who started hugely successful fashion brand Red or Dead and made Doc Martens cool again, has gotten into homes and interiors in a big way (sensible guy). But he’s not just doing it for those with pots of cash – he’s designed a wonderfully retro range of affordable homewares for John Lewis.

What I particularly like about the collection is that it’s so eclectic. It’s as if he came up with each print and then decided which item it would suit, no matter which room in the house it was for. The result is a really random mix of cool bathroom bits, storage tins, sewing supplies, notepads and wall canvases.

To see the full range, search for ‘Hemingway’ at http://www.johnlewis.com. In the meantime, here are some of my favourite pieces to whet your appetite…

Top pic:
Kitchen range, from £6.

Below:
Vintage storage tins, £7-£12:

Twiggy and Freida tins, £7 each:

Munchmallows for tea! Canvas wrap print, £25:

Vintage bathroom accessories range, £10-£35:

Hemingway Deco Ladies Sewing and Knitting range, £4-£30:

Vintage Mustard Sauce tray, £20:

Shake it up baby now

16 Nov

Back in July, I told you about a pair of cute black and white bear salt and pepper shakers from http://www.cubicuk.com that looked like snowglobes. Well, they’ve extended their range recently, and the new products are so cute I had to share them with you…

First up, and my favourite, is the Seasonal Salt and Pepper Shaker, £14.95 (above). You pop pepper in with the cactus (so that it’s like the sand in the desert, see) and salt in with the pine tree (so that it’s like snow). Then when you season your dinner, you create a mini snow or sandstorm. Sweet!

Along the same lines are the brilliant Animal Parade Spice Shakers (below) for salt, pepper and two other condiments. They’re less of a bargain at £29.95, and quite frankly, at that price, you’d really have to love them, but they are amazing and would be a real talking point on any table.

Finally, while they have nothing to do with salt and pepper, Cubic’s  new line of paperclip tidies follow the same snowstorm idea. There’s the Rabbit in the Field paperclip tidy; the Deer in the Forest; and the Polar Bear on Ice. I’m coveting the bunny for my desk at home – the only problem is, I don’t think I could bring myself to use the paperclips!

Mirror, Mirror on the wall – this is the fairest of them all

14 Nov

If you thought next month was just ‘December’, you’d be wrong. For the last few years it’s been rebranded as ‘The Party Season’ – the month of high heels, little dresses and all things bright and sparkly.

To reflect that (you can see where I’m going here…), B&Q have designed this rather discotastic Colours Mosaic Mirror (above). It’s a decent 51.5cm width, perfect for doing last minute touch-ups. It’s £39.98 – not bad for something that looks designer.

It would make a fabulous feature in a bedroom; add wow factor to a plain bathroom, or look amazing in a hallway where everyone can comment on it (and check their glittery eyeshadow hasn’t smudged).

Cover story

12 Nov

The only problem with Kindles, is that you can no longer buy a person who owns them an actual physical book.

So, here’s the next best thing – an E Reader cover that looks like a book!

Compatible with Kindle, Kobo and Sony Touch, these PVC, velour-lined padded protective jackets are designed by the ingeniously-named Run For Covers and are much more fun than a plain leather or plastic one. There are nine titles to choose from –  The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, Romeo and Juliet, The War of the Worlds, Hamlet, Macbeth and Frankenstein.

They cost £9.95 from http://www.red5.co.uk or around £15 from http://www.weloveodd.com, http://www.truffleshuffle.co.uk and http://www.amazon.co.uk.

Leaf it out!

9 Nov

Dads and dads-in-law. They’re so hard to buy for. Unless they have a very specific hobby, like wine making,  or stamp collecting, or guitars or suchlike, it can be difficult to know what will float their boat when it comes to presents. But I think I’ve found the answer.

My dad has been a total star recently, turning the huge derelict garage-like shed at the bottom of my garden into a half-workshop, half-summer house multi-purpose building (well, it still looks like a shed, but it’s a darn sight more useful now). So, I wanted to give him something to say thank you, but flowers weren’t right, and he’s got all the wine making kit he needs (my mum will attest to that – she has to put up with about a dozen giant demijohns full of fermenting homemade elderfower wine bubbling away in the downstairs loo 24/7).

Then an email from Robert Dyas (www.robertdyas.co.uk) popped into my inbox, saying they had a sale on, and the Pro Craft 2500w Blower Vac was on sale at £29.99. Basically, it’s a leaf blower, that also Hoovers leaves up, and mulches them into compost. This might seem mega-dull at first, but think about it – at this time of year, raking up leaves is a pain in the neck (not to mention a pain in the back), but with this beast, you can run around the garden triumphantly sucking up leaves with wild abandon at the click of a button. Genius!

So, I ordered one. I won’t ‘leaf’ you in suspense as to what Dad thought of it – he was blown away! (just check out the pic he sent me, below…)

Everything tin its right place

7 Nov

One of the best gifts I got for Christmas last year wasn’t something big and electrical, or silver and sparkly – it was a cute, small metal tin saying ‘Bits & Bobs’ on it (top), from my friend Zoe.

Zoe has known me for 21 years – since we were little – so she would have realised that it’s the perfect present for a hoarder like myself. It sits in my bedside drawer and is full of, you guessed it, useful bits and bobs, such as foreign coins, stamps, safety pins, single earrings and even some earplugs.

In fact, I love that tin so much that I researched where I could get another to give as a gift to someone else – and I discovered it’s part of a whole range by talented designer Rachel Ellen. There are four pocket-sized tins – each approx 8cm x 8cm x 2.5cm – to choose from: ‘Bits & Bobs’, ‘BonBons’, ‘Buttons’ and ‘Jewellery’ (all above). At  just £2.25 each, you could buy the set and completely organise your whole life!

Rachel doesn’t just design little tins though. She also makes a range of decent-sized larger tins, £6.95 each (below), too. You can choose from a Sewing tin, a Dog Treats tin, a ‘Glorious Lunch’ tin and a ‘Hair Accessories’ tin, amongst others. I’ve treated myself to the sewing tin to put all my cotton reels in, and very smart it looks too.

Want to get your hands on one? Both ranges are available from http://www.rachelellen.co.uk. You can also buy them from http://www.fruitsaladretro.co.uk or http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.thepeasknees.co.uk.

Poundland Panda-monium

5 Nov

Need a hat to keep you warm on Bonfire Night? How about this one – it’s £1!

The gloves are also £1 a pair, and both are from Poundland.

Can you believe it?!

I know these woolly hats-with-ears are everywhere, but I’ve always secretly wanted one. I just couldn’t justify buying one before now. But for a pound? My head is going to be bear-y snuggly this winter, I can tell you.

Luxe for less

2 Nov

Last week, I wrote a feature for the fabulous LOOK magazine on how to get designer-look homewares at high street prices. I found loads of great luxury copies (or ‘lookalikes’ or ‘tributes’ if you’re being kind!), including Asda’s amazing fox cushion, as featured on Monday’s blog post.

Anyhow, I came up so many great comparisons that they wouldn’t all fit in the mag. So, here, for your eyes only, are the ones that didn’t make it on the page. There are some spookily good lookalikes here… better snap up the cheap versions quick, before the lawyers are called in!

Above…
Left: Handknitted Urchin Pouffe, £470, http://www.hollys-house.com
Right: Scilla knitted floor cushions, £39.98 each, Colours at B&Q http://www.diy.com

Below…
Left: Deknudt Decora Silver Nugget Mirror, £825 , Heals http://www.heals.co.uk
Right: Home of Style Round Faceted Starburst Mirror, £49.99, Homebase http://www.homebase.co.uk

Left: Large Red Folding Vase, £75, The Conran Shop http://www.conranshop.co.uk
Right: LineaMix Red Vase, £30, House of Fraser http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Left: Bulb Table Lamp by Ingo Maurer, £655.20, http://www.ambientedirect.com
Right: Idea bulb shape table lamp, £19.98, B&Q http://www.diy.com

Left: EyeTest cushion, £25, John Lewis http://www.johnlewis.com
Right: Eye Test Card cushion, £12, Next http://www.next.co.uk

Left: White deer head, £99, Dwell http://www.dwell.co.uk
Right: Porcelain white deer head wall mount, £15, Matalan http://www.matalan.co.uk

Left: Vakash Cushion Cover, £120, OKA Direct http://www.okadirect.com
Right: Orange circles cushion, £20, Debenhams http://www.debenhams.com

Left: Film Lamp, £1,250, http://www.mufti.com
Right: Alfred Tripod Floor Lamp, £139, http://www.made.com

Left: The Small Baroque mirror, £900, Squint http://www.squintlimited.com
Right: Infini Baroque mirror in pink, £89.97, Tesco Direct http://www.tesco.com/direct

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