Archive | January, 2013

Colour yourself happy (part one!)

30 Jan

Pantone Spring colour predictions 2013

Every year, colour experts, The Pantone Color Institute, visit all the fashion shows and observe global trends. They use this information to collate their predictions for the next year’s hottest hues. These are the colours that’ll be everywhere – from clothes to homes accessories in the coming months.

For 2013, they’ve predicted a rainbow of stronger-than-pastel shades, above. Aren’t they pretty?!

The high street has already started to catch on, and there are some fab new colourful bits and bobs in the shops. To celebrate, I’m going to show you my picks of the best over the next week or so, starting today with Emerald (the overall ‘it’ colour of the season), Tender Shoots (a lovely fresh green), Nectarine (a peachy orange shade) and Dusk Blue (sky blue)…

From left to right: Apothecary bottle £19.50 Conran for M&S (; Non-slip chopping board £8 M&S (as before); Small glass vase £9 TU at Sainsburys (in store).

Pantone Emerald

From left to right: Ingrid pendant shade £15 Littlewoods (; Hourglass £8.99 Dunelm Mill (; John Lewis Summer Brights tableware £4 – £5 (; Personalised mug £9.99 Getting Personal (; Loop cushion £27 Littlewoods (as before).


From left to right: Orange rustic knit cushion £22 Next (; Ross Lovegrove style Supernatural chair £39 Cult Furniture (; Hummingbird votive candle holder £3 Asda (

Pantone Nectarine

From left to right: Basis jug by LSA £20.50 Beautiful Homes Direct (; Bookend

DUSK BLUE Verona Desk Quarto Week to View (Aqua), £19.29 - Letts

What to buy a one-year-old

28 Jan

Presents for first birthdays Tomy hide n squeak eggs

Who’s he hardest kind of person to buy for? Dads? Grandparents? Teenage boys? Nope. One-year-olds.

Buying for babies is easy – there are so many cute outfits, fluffy teddies and handy gizmos that you’re spoilt for choice. But one-year-olds are different. It’s a tricky age where you can’t be sure clothes fit (some are still in age 9-12 months; others are in 18-24 months already) and the toys you think they’ll like all turn out to have scary labels on saying they’re: ‘not suitable for children under 36 months’.

I realised this when my own little boy turned one recently – along with lots of his friends. However, having been given some amazing presents and having had to buy for six one-year-olds (and counting) in the last couple of months, I’ve become a dab hand at it. So, I thought I’d share my findings with you.

Here’s my list of perfect pressies guaranteed to be a hit on a first birthday – and what’s more, most are under a fiver and all of them are under a tenner. Bonus!

(above) Tomy Hide’n’Squeak Eggs, £4.50 Not only are these eggs different colours with different funny faces, but the tops of their shells come off, they ‘squeak’ when pressed, and their bottoms are different shapes, for babies to sort. Oh, and the plastic egg box carry case is a toy in itself. Hours of fun.

(below) Fisher Price Chatter Telephone, £4.48 Tesco Direct An old skool toy that’s still great decades on. My little boy loves to make the dial ‘ring’ and pulls it along everywhere with him.

Presents for first birthdays Fisher Price telephone chatter phone

Early Learning Centre (ELC) Bath Stacking Cups, £4.80 (was £6), Unlike normal stacking cups, each one is in the shape of a sea creature. Cute and perfect for little fingers to grip.

Presents for first birthdays ELC bath stacking cups

My First Book of Things to Learn (published by Tiger Tales), £5 My little boy was given this by an aunt and he is obsessed with it. The round tabs make turning the pages easy, the thick cardboard pages can withstand a lot of wear and tear and the pictures are fun as well as educational.

Presents for first birthdays My First Book of Things to Learn (tiger tales)

Gowi Watering Can, £4.99 or Another great bath toy – little ones love seeing the water pouring out, and when they’re older, they can use it at the beach or to help out in the garden.

Presents for first birthdays Gowi bath watering can

Halilit baby Tambourine, £6.67 It looks classy, doesn’t sound too annoying, and has no sharp metal bits.

Presents for first birthdays Halilit baby tambourine

Mega Bloks classic Big Builder bag, £9.50 Tesco Direct A toy that’ll last for years. One year olds will enjoy playing with/chewing the bricks and will grow to love building stuff ages before they can be let loose on proper (and much tinier) Lego.

Presents for first birthdays Mega Bloks big building bag classic

‘BUSA’ Play Tunnel, £10 Ikea My son got one of these for his birthday, and while he’s not mastered the hang of crawling through it yet, I certainly have, and it’s ace! It concertinas down to a hoop shape that you can store under the sofa when it’s not in use. Phew.

Presents for first birthdays Ikea Busa play tunnel

PS: Not entered my competition to win a designer framed butterfly print worth £45 from There’s still time! Check out last Friday’s blog post (25th Jan) for details.

Win! A stylish designer print

25 Jan butterfly print by Avalisa

I’ve discussed many times on this blog the fact that cool wall art needn’t be costly if you know where to look.

And one of the best places to go picture shopping is They have literally thousands of prints of famous paintings to photos and iconic posters – simply type in what you’re looking for (from specific names/artists to vague searches such as ‘Paris’) and away you go.

I’ve used the site to buy illustrations for a child’s nursery (The Elephant and the Frog by French artist Nathalie Choux,£9.99, below) and prints by famous Japanese artist Ando Hiroshige for my bedroom (such as View from Satta Suruga, £5.99, also below).

Most prints come in a variety of sizes and prices, and you can order them unframed, framed, laminated or on canvas. Framing is cheaper (and less hassle) than at a bespoke framer, but you can always just buy a print and display them in your own Ikea frame; with some chunky bulldog clips at the corners; or by pasting them onto blank canvases bought from an art supplies shop.

nathalie-choux-the-elephant-and-the-frog £9.99


What’s more, but the guys who work there are incredibly helpful. This week, I was in touch with them while researching a magazine feature, and they’ve kindly offered to give one lucky (UK-based) blog reader a stylish large yellow butterfly print by graphic designer Avalisa, above. It’s 36 x 46cm, comes in a black ‘Soho’ frame, and framed like this would cost £44.99.

I reckon it’d look lovely anywhere from a kitchen to a sunny living room to a fun kids’ room.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply email me at with the address you’d like the print sent to should you win, and a line saying what you like most about this blog. The closing date is 6pm next Friday 1st February. I’ll announce the winner the following Monday!

The thrill of the Paperchase

23 Jan

Paperchase sky lanterns collection display

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been slightly obsessed with stationery. My favourite thing about going back to school each September was buying a new pencil case; and whenever we went on family holidays to France, I’d drag my parents round a hypermarket so that I could stock up on their bargainous and exotic-looking notepads, pencils and folders.

So, it’s not surprising that Paperchase ( is one of my all-time favourite shops . It’s almost impossible for me to go in and come out empty-handed.

Anyhow, their new themed collections have just arrived and I felt it was my duty to check them out for you all!

The two stand out designs are the Japanese-inspired Sky Lanterns (above left) and the brilliantly-named Budgerigaga (pretty pastel budgies, above right).

On my wishlist? From the Sky Lanterns collection, I love the List Book £5; the Shopper bag £12.50; the Notelets £7.50; the washi paper tape £3.50 for four rolls; the Wash Bag £10, the fabric-covered Push Pins £3 and the mechanical pencil £3 (all below):

Paperchase sky lanterns list book

And from the Budgerigaga collection, I love the A4 Scrapbook £10; the Bird House storage box £8; the Foldaway Bag £4, the Magnetic List Pad £5 and the Sticky Notes £4 (all below):

Paperchase budgerigaga A4 scrap book

PS: Live outside the UK? No problem – Paperchase will ship internationally! Visit for details.

Owl right now

21 Jan

Rigby & Mac Xmas felt owl wall clock £16.95

I was going to write about this fun little fella before Christmas, but then he sold out, and one of the promises I made when I first set up this blog was only ever to mention things you could actually buy.

Anyhow, I’ve just received an email saying he’s back in stock, so let me introduce you!

Called the Grey Felt Owl Wall Clock, from the lovely Rigby & Mac (, he looks like a trendy uber expensive Scandi-style timepiece you’d get somewhere like Heal’s. But actually he’s a very reasonable £16.95.

I love his little winking eye, his soft felt-y body, and the little baby owl on his pendulum. I think he’d look very smart in a hallway, living room or kid’s bedroom.

What a hoot!

Bargains dot com

18 Jan

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of pantry design cake tins £4.95 was £12.95

I don’t know about you, but I’m always a bit disappointed in the post-Christmas sales. The discounts are fairly measly, there’s only the dregs left, and it’s all a bit of a letdown.

But not with the sale at Oh no. Now that’s what I call a sale!

Dotcomgiftshop is one of my all-time favourite websites. There really is something for everyone, from cool homewares and cute prints, to fun knick knacks and great gift ideas from their talented in-house design team.

While everything they sell is pretty affordable anyhow, their huge sale is absolutely bargainous, with up to 70% off.

I’ve picked out some of my favourite pieces below, but to see the full scale of the sale, you’d better visit the website quick. Happy bargain hunting!

(above) Set of three pantry design cake tins, £4.95 (was £12.95). A great gift for someone who loves baking or just eating cakes!

Midnight blue flower embroidered cushion, £9.95 (was £34.95). Gorgeous designer-look embroidery for under a tenner.

Dotcomgiftshop sale Midnight blue flower embroidered cushion £9.95 was £34.95

Vintage doily paperchain kit, £2.95 (was £6.95). Perfect for parties!

Dotcomgiftshop sale vintage doily paperchain kit £2.95 was £6.95

1950s advent calendar house, £6.95 (was £18.95). Buy now for next Christmas…

Dotcomgiftshop sale 50s advent calendar house £6.95 was £18.95

Set of four vintage leaf design knick knack tins, £4.95 (was £9.95). Organise your desk, sewing kit or man/woman drawer in style.

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of four vintage leaf nic nak tins £4.95 was £9.95

Party ribbons, £2.95 (was £6.95). Look great wrapped around plain brown paper.

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of ribbons party £2.95 was £6.95

Alphabet magnets, £2.95 (was £6.95). A lovely gift for big and little kids alike – plus it fits in a flat envelope!

Dotcomgiftshop sale Alphabet fridge magnets £2.95 was £6.95

Set of six pantry design spice tins, £3.95 (was £9.95). Too pretty to shut away in a cupboard.

Dotcomgiftshop sale set of six vintage pantry design spice tins £3.95 was £9.95

Coaster hunting

16 Jan

Alphabet coasters scrabble style letter E

Whenever I want a fun, personal present to pop in with a birthday, Thank You or New Home card, I buy one of these sweet initial coasters.

Made to look a bit like Scrabble tiles, there’s one for every letter of the alphabet, plus symbols such as @, & and a heart.

A single coaster would make a lovely little gift for someone to use on their bedside table or desk; or you could buy several and spell out a word.

I get mine from a little shop in Crystal Palace, London; but I see that have started selling them too (search under ‘coaster’). They’re just £3.95 each. Bargain!

Alphabet coasters full range

Alphabet coasters cake

The Next big thing

14 Jan

X51_COVER2_52_cov_rt_v4 copy

Next’s new 2013 Spring/Summer interiors range is on sale now, and there are some LOVELY things in the new homes catalogue.

There are several fab new themed collections – Blossom & Bloom (bright blowsy florals), Boatyard Salvage (blues and driftwood); Pretty Salvage (homespun lace, patchwork and vintage-feel accessories); San Diego (chilli reds and fiery oranges) and my favourite, The Good Life (sunny yellows, grass greens and soft greys, with a modern countryside feel).

Here are my picks from The Good Life range: Ochre bubble knit throw, £40 and knitted pod pouffe, £75 (above); Good Day Sunshine cushion, £14; Lemonade Framed Print, £40;  Jam Jar Vase, £10; wooden Home Calendar, £12; Ceramic Bottle and Holder set, £10; ‘Smile’ word, £10; Bumblebee Water Bottle, £6 and Bee Happy Recycled glass tumblers, £10 for a set of four (all below).


Lemonade framed  print £40 Next


LEMON ZEST Smile word £10 Next


All mapped out

11 Jan

map covered 3D letters and ampersand

Map covered 3D ampersand

My other half is pretty easygoing when it comes to what we put in our house – he’ll go along with most of my ideas without putting up too much of a fight (sensible boy!). It’s rare he makes a real point about mentioning something he likes, and when he does, I always take note.

This Christmas, he had his heart set on some lovely 3D freestanding letters from, that have vintage maps on the front, and can be personalised to show any country you like. He fancied our initials (we’re both “J”) and an ampersand. And he wanted Bali, where we went for our honeymoon, on one of them. Only thing was, when I checked the price of the ones he liked, they cost over £40… and I reckoned I could make them myself for much less.

So I did! And the results are above. I managed to get Bali on one ‘J’; the UK, Marrakech and Paris (favourite holiday desinations) on another; and California (where we got engaged) on the ampersand. They now have pride of place on our bedroom shelf and I’m pretty pleased with how they came out. What’s more, they were really easy to make. In fact, so easy, I thought I’d share the ‘how to’ with you, at the bottom of this entry.

Not into crafting? You can buy various versions of these letters, in different sizes, on – they come covered in everything from vintage  maps to music scores and comic book pages. Seller Roseberry Stone makes some nice ones for £7.68/$12:

etsy map 3D letter

While you’re visiting Etsy, you can also get sweet locket necklaces (£22.39/$35 by PAPERandPLACE), personalised prints (£14.07/$22 by FleaMarketSunday) and even metal keepsake tins (£4.64/$7.25 by HocusFocus) with the map of your choice on fairly cheaply – they’d make really thoughtful, unusual presents. Some pics are below.

etsy custom map locket letters on mannequin

etsy custom map initial


1. Buy a 3D letter in the initial of your choice. You can get them from (search for “3D Letter” – they’re currently on sale for just 99p!) or Amazon; or I got mine from Ebay (they were listed as “Large 7 inch 18cm Decopatch Freestanding 3D Cardboard Letters” £2.75 from seller bigbaggiepeck).

2.Paint it in any colour you like. You can use any leftover ordinary emulsion paint, or buy a little tester pot. I used a tester pot of a shade called Vintage Map (I thought it was apt!) by Farrow & Ball.

3. Choose your map or covering paper. I bought a sheet of vintage world map wrapping paper from a travel shop called Stanfords for just £2.99. Just visit and search under ‘wrapping paper’ – it’s a really cheap way of getting some great old skool style maps on the cheap.

4. Lay your 3D letter on the covering paper and trace round it. If you want to make sure you get a specific country on your letter, you can make a see-through template first. Just place your 3D letter on a plastic see-through slip-in document wallet; draw round it and cut it out; and then position this template on your covering paper and trace round that instead.

5. Cut out the letter shape from the covering paper, cutting about 1mm inside the lines you traced.

6. Stick your cut out paper letter shape onto your painted 3D letter (I just used Pritt Stick); trim any overlapping edges; and you’re done!

A Different Glass

9 Jan

JL gibraltar hi ball soda glassJL multicoloured soda glasses

I love modern coloured glass (in fact, I love vintage coloured glass, but that’s a whole different story), so I was chuffed to hear it’s a big trend for this year.

High street shelves will be groaning with the stuff this Spring and Summer, and on a recent trip to John Lewis, I’ve already spotted some lovely pieces. My favourites are their multicoloured Gibraltar Hi Ball soda-style glasses in red, yellow, green or teal, for just £2.50 each (above). You could buy four in the same colour, but I think one of each shade would look lovely – like a rainbow on your table.

There are matching water bottles too, with old skool stoppers (below), for just £5 each.

JL bottles

John Lewis is also the place to pick up these rather fabulous Playnation bright cocktail glasses, which are currently on sale for £4 each (below the bottles); and classy LSA Centro tumblers (£15.30 for four) and carafes (£10.50 each) in teal, purple, red or green (also below). They come boxed, so would make great gifts, particularly for a wedding.

JL cocktail glasses

JL LSA glasses

Finally, during my trip, I also spotted these fun retro glasses, £4.50 each. I can’t decide which design I love most – how about you?

JL soda glasses

PS: Live outside the UK? Don’t panic! John Lewis inform me that they will ship abroad. Visit for details.

Chair and chair alike

7 Jan

Eames DSW chairs various colours

The chairs above are all swanky Vitra Eames DSW chairs – a modern update of a 1950s classic by designers Charles and Ray Eames. It comes in various lovely colours and costs £315-320 from places such as Heal’s, John Lewis and

The green ‘Malmo’ chair, below, also comes in white, black or red. However, it’s currently just £49  from Asda Direct ( Spot the difference? Neither will 99% of your visitors.

You can buy six of these – SIX – for the price of one of the designer versions. Amazing.

The green and red versions are usually £99, but have £50 off at the moment, so snap ’em up quick. They’d look equally great round a dining table; as a statement on their own in a bedroom or bathroom; in a spare corner in a hallway; or as a smarter-than-usual home office chair.

TENDER SHOOTS Green Malmo chair £59 Asda


How much is that doggy in the window?

4 Jan

Rover lamp £30 Next

This ‘Rover’ lamp looks so expensive – like something you’d find in an edgy designer homes shop. But he’s not! This clever canine is from Next’s brand new homes collection (more about that in future posts) which is available in stores and online at right now. Oh,  and he’s just £30.

£30! I know, a bargain for something that cool. If only my other half wasn’t allergic to dogs…

My prediction is that Rover will be a sell-out within weeks. So, you’d better be quick if you want to (ahem) get your paws on one!


Roll up, roll up!

3 Jan

mince pies

I realise that if you’ve eaten as much over the last couple of weeks as I have, you probably never want to see another mince pie for as long as you live. But these, my friends, are different

A few days before Christmas, I went to a friend’s party, and was confronted by a batch of these beauties. They’re made with pastry and mincemeat, but rather than being the traditional tart-style pies (which can be just a bit too mincemeat-y and lead to pastry overload), these  look like mini Danish swirls, and they’ve got the balance of ingredients just right.

Not only that, but they’re INCREDIBLY easy to do – even if you’re a complete kitchen klutz. What’s more, you can un-Christmasify them by using Nutella or jam or even a savoury cheese ‘n’ Marmite combo instead of mincemeat. Yum.

Here’s the recipe – if you make some, I’d love to see your pix! Email me at


1. Take a slab of ready-made puff pastry and roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 3mm thick. 

2. Spread it liberally with mincemeat (any will do).

3. Roll it up tightly, like a carpet (!), then chop the roll into pieces no bigger than 1inch thick.

4. Lay the pieces on a greased baking tray and brush with beaten egg.

5. Cook at Gas 6 (400F, 200C) until golden and bubbly. If you’re really fancy, you can dust with icing sugar to serve.

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