Archive | February, 2013

Ideal Gnome

28 Feb

Giant Gnome

While researching a magazine feature on ‘outdoor living inspiration’ the other day, I was asked if I would like to experience for myself Asda’s biggest-selling new garden accessory. Was it a fancy lounger, stylish oversized pot, shiny new BBQ..? Nope, it was a 3ft high ginormous garden gnome nicknamed Gnorman.

Of course, I said yes. Who wouldn’t?

So, now our garden has a new resident. And while he may not be particularly classy or subtle, he’s brilliant. He’s so jolly and OTT that even my other half, who is usually so minimalist and fussy about anything home-sy, absolutely loves him, while my dad wants him for his allotment (where the local ‘youths’ would kidnap him in seconds, no doubt!).

Only the local cat  -see the top right of my photos, below – is unsure.

If you want to give a home to a gnome, or want to buy one for a friend (he’d make a great gift – just imagine people trying to guess what he was before they unwrapped him!), he costs a very reasonable £24.99 from Asda Direct, direct.asda.com

Gnorman the 3ft giant garden gnome on table Asda

Can you dig these? Yes you can!

25 Feb

OLIVE BISTRO SET _£80

Something very exciting is happening in one of my favourite shops, Wilkinsons, from the beginning of March. They’ve had a major overhaul of their homes department and will be selling tons of gorgeous new designs in everything from cushions and bedding to lighting and rugs. What’s more, if you don’t live near a store, you’ll be able to buy it all at their new website address http://www.wilko.com from the beginning of March.

Don’t worry, I’ll be writing about it all the  minute it goes on sale!

In the meantime, they’ve just released their new range of stuff for your garden. In a stylish palette of stone, olive and retro burnt orange, it’s fresh, fun… and a total bargain.

Here’s my picks of the best bits. I particularly love the watering cans and birdhouse – they’d make great presents for any green-fingered friends.

ABOVE:
Olive Bistro Set, £80 (two chairs and a table)

BELOW:
Watering cans, £12 each…

3307793 _ How Does Your Garden Grow Watering Can, £12

Bird box, £8…

0330772 - Wilko Sustain Get Outdoors Bird House Metal Cream-Green - £8Grow Your Own set of three pots on a tray, £7…

3307717 _ Grow Your Own Pots on Tray, £7My Garden Things utility box, £15…

My Gardening Things Utility Box, £15, 0330770

Tray chic

22 Feb

zinc memoboard 40x20cm £20 roseandgrey.co.uk

I’ve been looking for just the right kind of noticeboard for the wall of my home office for a while. It needs to be useful, yet look stylish too, as my office is really just a grand name for our spare room.

And I think I’ve found just the thing.

This Zinc Memo Board, £20, from Rose and Grey (www.roseandgrey.co.uk), looks like a chi-chi zinc tray – the kind you’d get drinks served on in a backstreet Parisian bar – and comes with a hanging rope loop and ten little magnets to hold all those important notes, cards and reciepts in check.

Don’t like the rectangular one? They’ve got round ones too, for the same, very reasonable price.

It had sold out completely, but the nice people at Rose and Grey tell me they’ve just received a new delivery – so they’re all stocked up and ready to go.

Show us your wellies!

20 Feb

Wellies rainbow stripe mandmdirect £16.99

There are some people in this world who wear wellies everyday as a fashion statement instead of shoes. I’m not talking about country squires or farmers, but people who live in cities and wear them to work and the like. That’s not me (although sometimes I wish I were when I’m miles from home, wearing my old hole-y Converse and the heavens randomly open), however I do love a good pair of wellingtons – for muddy festivals, snow, and torrential downpours – and I do believe it’s worth getting a funky pair.

And for me, a W.I.P (Welly Important Purchase) means a stripy welly.

I’ve currently got my heart set on these totally OTT boots (above) from Board Angels at http://www.mandmdirect.com. Not only are they like walking rainbows, but they’re only £16.99.

A close second is this snazzy navy pair, £37.95 (or £32.27 with the offer below) from Joules, http://www.joules.com. I love the racy – if wellies can be racy – red stripe up the back:

Wellies women's Navystrp navy stripe wellies Joules

Joules is in fact the best place to go for cool patterned wellies – as well as stripes (my other two faves, £31.95 and £37.95 are below), they also sell fox print, spotty and traditional yellow fisherman-style boots (with natty striped linings) and even wellies with ribbons on… and what’s more, if you enter code NWHD97 at the online checkout before 2nd March, you’ll get 15% off and free P&P!

Wellies Joules Women's printed wellies multi navy stripe

As for the best of the rest, if you’re planning on trudging through fields of mud, Goldigga’s Festival Wellies (below left) are specially designed for the purpose. They’re currently £17.99 (usually £39.99) at http://www.amazon.co.uk. And if you can’t decide between stripes and something a bit more girly, then the Multi Floral Stripe Wellingtons, £20 from Barratts, http://www.barratts.co.uk (below right), combine both zebra-style monochrome bands and flowers.

And that’s a welly good thing indeed.

Wellies Goldigga festival wellies amazon.co.uk

Send in the clouds

18 Feb

Cloud eraser and pencil set

I’ve recently started working from home*, and to get myself in the right frame of mind, I’m trying to make my office space (erm, a desk in the spare room!) as welcoming, fun and lovely as possible.

While searching for nice stationery – a favourite pastime of mine – I discovered a new mini trend: clouds. I love their jolly rounded shape, and the fact they’ll bring a bit of the outside in for those times when I’m chained to my computer.

So, here’s my pick of the best cloud-shaped accessories around at the moment. Maybe best to stick to just one or two in a room though – you don’t want things to get too over-cloud-ed, do you?!

TOP:
Cloud Pencil Eraser Set, £10, http://www.suck.uk.com – I LOVE this as it includes a rainbow too. The only problem is that the giant cloud-shaped eraser is too pretty to use!

BELOW:
Magnetic keyholder, £20, http://www.suck.uk.com – keys stick ‘magically’ to this handy keyholder, and look like rain. Genius! It’s stylish and unassuming even when not in use, and would go well in any room in the house.

Cloud magnetic key holder suck uk

Design Ideas Cloud Magnet Memo, £24.95 John Lewis, http://www.johnlewis.com
This clever write-on/wipe-off memo board is also magnetic and would look particularly lovely on a coloured wall.

cloud memo board john lewis

Luckies Sunnyside Egg Shaper, £7.95, http://www.luckies.co.uk or http://www.suck.uk.com
Place in your frying pan, then pop a yolk into the ‘sun’ section and the white into the ‘cloud’ – voila! (NB: want a quick way to separate egg whites and yolks? Crack an egg onto a plate, then gently lower the open neck of an empty water bottle over the yolk – it creates a vacuum and sucks it up! Then you can transfer it easily in the bottle to your pan).

Cloud sunnyside in pan

Cloud necklaces, from £6, http://www.Etsy.com and http://www.notonthehighstreet.com
Ok, so these won’t decorate your home, but they’re so sweet I thought I’d include them anyhow! Just seach for ‘cloud necklace’ on Etsy or Notonthehighstreet.com and there’s a huge range to choose from. Lovely! (on the left is an antique silver finish cloud by thewoodlandburrow on Etsy for £6.64/$10; on the right is Blue Raindrop Silver Cloud necklace by SUNnMOONcafe on Etsy, £21.58/$32.50)

silver cloud necklace thewoodlandburrow on etsy £6.64 or $10

*If you’re interested, you can check out my new ‘professional’ website here: http://www.jennywood.co.uk

The wheels on the bus

15 Feb

Bernie wooden toy bus from Jammtoys

A week or two ago I wrote a post about what to buy a one-year old for their birthday for under a tenner.

And a tenner is all you really need to spend. However, if you really want to push the boat out for a very special baby, I now have another suggestion. Yesterday, my little boy was given this gorgeous wooden bus as a late birthday present. And he LOVES it:

Bernie's bus with baby

I’ve always poo-pooed wooden toys to a certain extent – while they look lovely on a shelf, and adults go loopy over them, many of them simply aren’t interesting enough to hold babies’ attention. However, this bus (called Bernie’s Bus, £29.99 from http://www.jammtoys.com) has changed my mind.

It’s designed to be suitable from 12 months old, yet at first glance, it looks too complicated for a one-year old – but my little boy had it sussed immediately. You can take the roof off and the top deck, and there are six different coloured little passengers to arrange in the seats – or just chew. It’s well made, rolls along beautifully and can withstand even the most exuberant toddler.

Add to that the fact it does indeed look lovely on a shelf, and it’s the kind of thing both big and little kids will enjoy for several years to come.

Bernie wooden bus passengers

 

Insta gratification

13 Feb

Firebox Instagram coasters

One of the biggest downsides to taking photos on your phone is that that’s where they usually stay – on  your phone – until you get another one, drop it down the loo, or it breaks and you lose everything.

So, I’m a huge fan of anything that sets your photos free and turns them into actual, physical things you can keep.

I’m addicted to the Stannp app on my iphone (search for ‘Stannp’ in the App Store) which makes postcards from your photos and sends them anywhere in the UK or abroad for 99p. You can even do clever things such as add text, superimpose speech bubbles and remove spots and red eye (always a bonus). I’ve made and sent cards as a thank you, for birthdays, for Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day…

Even cooler are two new services I’ve discovered which make objects from your Instagram pics.

The first is a personalised set of Instagram coasters from Firebox.com (top). For just £14.99, they’ll make good quality drinks coasters from four of your favourite pix- a brilliant present idea.

I’m also loving the new ‘Instagram necklace’ (below) from fun jewellery website Punky Pins (www.punkypins.co.uk). They’ll take any Instagram pic, print it onto acrylic plastic and attach it to a chain for a unique pendant that also makes a great present. It costs just £13 and if you order before the 15th February, they’ll even throw in an Instagram camera logo ring for free.

If you’re anything like me (with over 2,000 photos on my phone – eek!), your only problem will be deciding which ones to choose…

Punkypins Instagram ring

Valentine’s Day? It’s a mug’s game!

11 Feb

VDay hot lips ceramic mug £5 M&S

V-Day falls on a Thursday this year, which means lie-ins and leisurely romantic breakfasts-in-bed are out the window. Still, you can still show your loved one you care (at least a little bit) by bringing them a nice cup of tea first thing in the morning.

And what better to bring it to them in than a nice new mug? A mug makes a good Valentine’s Day present as it’s not as fattening as chocolates, predictable as red roses or bleurgggggh as a teddy holding a satin heart.

You’ve only got three days to buy one though, so I’d head to trusty Marks and Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com), who have some lovely, non-cheesy mugs in at the moment. My picks? The simple ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ script mugs, £6 each, below, that’ll look classy way past the 14th; or the fun ‘hot lips’ mug (top) or ‘love birds’ mug *(below) that both look a lot more expensive than their £5 price tags.

Single? Soften the blow of having to make your own cuppa by treating yourself to a new mug anyway. M&S has a mega cute fondant fancy mug, £6, available in pink or yellow (bottom). If I were you, I’d use it as an excuse to splash out on some real fondant fancies to go with it, too!

VDay Mrs mug £6 M&S

VDay love birds mug £5 M&S

VDay fondant mug £6 M&S yellow

When life gives you lemons… make pancakes!

8 Feb

lemon juicer

Next Tuesday is Pancake Day. It’s one of my favourite days of the year, because it means I have a legitimate reason to pig out!

I love experimenting with different pancake toppings – everything from cherry jam and Nutella to cheese’n’Marmite. But when it comes down to it, you can’t go far wrong with good old traditional lemon and sugar.

And that brings me onto the subject of lemon juicers/squeezers. The picture above is of my lemon juicer, which I’ve owned for 14 (count ’em) years. I bought it on a whim for 99p in a bargain homes shop in Bath. I wish I’d bought a whole box of them, as not only does it look like a friendly cactus on your kitchen shelf, but it’s absolutely brilliant. The pips and pith catch in the rim while the juice filters down into the pot, ready for pouring. It takes very little effort to get every last drop from a lemon or orange, and you simply run it under the tap to clean it.

Being such a simple but effective design, you’d think it’d be sold everywhere, but nope, I’ve never seen in anywhere since. All the other juicer models I’ve tried either lack a pot, result in sticky hands, or involve knuckle-breaking handles.

So, as my aim with this blog is to bring you the best, I’ve done some detective work. An extensive search has unearthed just one similar squeezer to mine, below – the Citrus Fruit Squeezer Juicer £7.49. from http://www.amazon.co.uk (sold through Amazon by The Italian Touch).

It’s by an Italian kitchen ware company (well, they do know a thing or two about cooking after all), and if you want an easy, squeezy gadget for your kitchen, I reckon you can’t go far wrong with this one.

Lemon squeezer main pic

Lemon squeezer from top

Let me know how you get on!

I pity the fool who doesn’t love Mr Tea

6 Feb

Mr Tea in his cup

Say hello to Mr Tea, the cutest tea infuser ever created.

Simply load up his food-safe silicone trousers with loose tea leaves, pull them back on, then pop him in a cup of hot water with his arms over the side, and let him make you a tasty brew.

Genius!

He costs £7.95 from http://www.cubicuk.com and comes in a handy presentation box.

Mr Tea resting beside a mug

Mr Tea box

Colour me happy (part three!)

4 Feb

Pantone Spring colour predictions 2013

Last week, I revealed the top ten shades of 2013, as predicted by colour boffins the Pantone Colour Institute.

Today, in my last post on this subject, I’m picking out some great accessories from the  high street in the final three shades – Poppy Red (bright pillar box red); Linen (classy cream) and Monaco Blue (deeper-than-royal blue):

MONACO BLUE
From left to right: Swallow bird cushion £9 Asda Direct (direct.asda.com); Jolie table lamp £35 John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com); Linea Nautical Blue glass bathshop pot £8 House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk); Japanese wave bowl £4.95 Dotcomgiftshop (www.dotcomgiftshop.com); Chunky knitted cushion £15 TU at Sainsburys (in store). 

Pantone Monaco blue

LINEN
From left to right: Owl lamp £10 (bargain!) Asda Direct (direct.asda.com); Coin storage box £3.49 Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.co.uk); Knitted pouffe Littlewoods £85 (www.littlewoods.com); Jam jar vase £10 Next (www.next.co.uk). 

Pantone Linen

POPPY RED
From left to right: House by John Lewis Tony task lamp £25 John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com); Linea tealight holder £12 House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk); Retro Skittles alarm clock £20 John Lewis (as before); Large red tagine £35 House of Fraser (as before); Medium traditional lantern £12 John Lewis (as before). 

Pantone poppy red

 

Colour yourself happy (part two!)

1 Feb

Pantone Spring colour predictions 2013

On Wednesday I introduced you to the hottest ‘it’ hues of the year, as predicted by the experts at the Pantone Color Institute (they’ve got a cool job, haven’t they?!).

Today, I’ve picked out some fab new homes bits in three of my favourite shades – Lemon Zest (fun, sunshine yellow); African Violet (stronger-than-pastel lilac) and Grayed Jade (a lovely minty teal-y green):

LEMON ZEST
From left to right: Bone china scallop mug £10 The Richard Bramble Collection (www.richardbramble.co.uk); Bubble knit throw £40 Next (www.Next.co.uk); Linea Tropical Pineapple lamp £40 House of Fraser; Vintage by Wayne Hemingway coffee storage tin £7 John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com); Linea Urban Tribe Stripe Vase £25 House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk).

Pantone Lemon Zest

AFRICAN VIOLET
From left to right: Gertrude cushion £36 Home and Kids (www.homeandkids.co.uk); Multi photo frame £7.99 Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com); Optic tea light holders £15 for a set of 3 Marks and Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com).

Pantone African Violet

GRAYED JADE
From left to right: Chunky knit cushion £14.99 Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com); Personalised vintage apple crate £34.99 Getting Personal (www.gettingpersonal.co.uk); Terracotta jug £15 House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk); Wooden bird cage £8.99 Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com); Linea Curiosity teacup and saucer set £10 House of Fraser (as before); Big Ben cushion £7 Asda (direct.asda.com); LSA Firo carafe and tumbler £16.99 Beautiful Homes Direct (www.beautifulhomesdirect.com).

Pantone Grayed Jade

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