Archive | March, 2013

Time to buy a new clock

28 Mar

CLOCKS (FUTURISTIC) Lexon Around Clock £21.65 www.fredaldous.co.uk

The clocks go forward in the UK by an hour this weekend – midnight on Sunday 31st. Whilst this is a good thing in that it heralds the start of British Summer Time (not that you’d know it with the murky weather we’ve been having recently), it’s not so great in that everyone loses a precious hour in bed.

My solution? Celebrate the time change and cheer yourself up with a new clock. You don’t have to spend a fortune – the one I have my eye on, above, the futuristic-looking Lexon Around clock, is a reasonable £21.65 from http://www.fredaldous.co.uk

Want some other suggestions? How about the Normann Copenhagen Watch Me clock, £35 from Heal’s (www.heals.co.uk); the  Cuckoo canvas clock, £14.99, Dunelm Mill (www.dunelm-mill.com); the fabulously retro Jones Strike Mantle clock, £10 from Asda (direct.asda.com); the Nextime Disco clock, £29, http://www.redcandy.co.uk; or the Ice Cream Cone clock, £35, John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com), all below.

Better be quick though if you want to buy one before Sunday – time’s a ticking!

CLOCKS (COLOUR POP)  Normann Copenhagen Watch Me Wall Clock £35 Heal's

CLOCKS (QUIRKY) Cuckoo canvas clock £14.99 Dunelm MillCLOCKS (RETRO) Jones Strike Mantle Clock £10 Asda

CLOCKS (METALLIC) Nextime Disco Clock £29 redcandy.co.uk

CLOCKS (QUIRKY) Ice Cream Cone Clock, £35 John Lewis

An eggs-cellent choice

26 Mar

lindt_bunny cut out

It’s nearly that time of year – Easter – when you actually look weird if you don’t eat some chocolate.

However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve realised it’s about quality, not quantity. Cheap’n’cheerful eggs might be okay when you’re a kid, but when you’re an adult, and you’re probably only going to eat one or possibly two Easter items, you want the really good stuff.

So, this year (all in the name of research you understand), I’ve been perusing the shelves, looking for my top five chocolate Easter gifts – and one non-chocolate gift too – to share with you. And here they are…

1) The Lindt Easter Bunny, from 69p, supermarkets. The original and best, “with ze leetle golden bell”. Lindt chocolate is, in my opinion, simply the scrummiest money can buy. And this year, you can buy bunnies in every size and shape imaginable. Check out the overwhelming display in my local Sainsbury’s, below. A-mazing.

Lindt bunnies in Sainsbury's supermarket

2) The Lindt Easter Hen. Bunnies not your thing? This year, you can buy a chocolate hen in v.fashionable neon(ish) green, pink or yellow foil, £1.29 each, Waitrose, Budgens and selected supermarkets.

Lindt chocolate hens

3) Luxury Top-Loaded Eggs with Edible Straw, £10 for 5, Marks and Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com). How pretty do these eggs look? And you can eat the straw too! They’d make a beautiful table piece – if you can resist gobbling them up until after Sunday lunch.

Marks and spencer luxury top loaded eggs with edible straw £10

4) Cadbury’s Egg ‘n’ Spoons, £3 for a box of four, from supermarkets. More substantial and a better-looking gift than ordinary Creme Eggs, these have a fluffy white middle and a little spoon to eat it with. How thoughtful. I also like the authentic ‘egg box’ style packaging.

Cadbury egg 'n' spoon

5) Itsy Bitsy Eggs, £4.99 for a bag, Hope & Greenwood (www.hopeandgreenwood.co.uk). A smaller, slightly classier take on the traditional speckled mini egg, these make a thoughtful-looking gift. They make me want to cook those chocolate cornflake nests you used to make as a child, just so that I can scatter a few on top!

Itsy Bitsy bag of mini eggs Hope & Greenwood £4.99

6) Bunny money boxes, £3 each, Tiger (www.tigerstores.co.uk). Believe it or not, there are some people in the world who don’t like or can’t eat Easter eggs. Why should they miss out on the fun? Give them one of these kitsch flock money boxes instead – it’ll look cool all year round (and last a darn sight longer than a chocolate version).

Bunny money boxes £3 each Tiger Stores UK

Between the sheets

21 Mar

0327028 £14.00

0325497 PIXEL PRINT CUSHION £6.50

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Wilkinsons’ new homes range – well, it’s instore and online now (at http://www.wilko.com) and there are some amazing bits and bobs at very reasonable prices.

The best stuff though by far is the huge selection of bedlinen. There’s around 20 to choose from and pretty much something for everyone. My absolute favourite is the designer-look Pixel design, above, which starts at just £14 for a double duvet cover and pillow case set (what a bargain!). Too hectic for you? Jazz up your existing plain duvet set with a matching cushion, £6.50, also above.

The Japanese-inspired Wave design, immediately below (from £12 for a double set) is a close second favourite.

0327456 £14.00

Also worth a look are designs with retro flowers (£30), numbers (£12), bicycles design (£14), feathers (£30), birds and flowers (£19), cute patchwork (£19) and monochrome zig zags (£12), which would look amazing mixed in with hot pink, bright yellow or grass green sheets and extra pillowcases.

Wilkon duvets flowers and bikes

Wilko duvets numbers and feathers

Wilko duvets birdcages and zig zags monochrome

As for the rest of the homewares? I love the wooden clock, bottom, just £8.

0327326 CLOCK £8.00

Picture perfect

18 Mar

BHS_Wall_art_from_£15

When it comes to homewares, BHS have really stepped up their game. Years ago, the store was quite mumsy and safe, but recently they’ve been coming out with some lovely stuff to rival other high street big hitters like Next and Matalan.

It started with their lighting ranges, and now their wall art selection has had a makeover. This season sees the launch of affordable, fun canvases and framed prints, almost all under £25, above.
My favourites? The Stamp mounted canvas print, £18; the London framed print, £22 and the Time for Tea framed print, just £8 (all below).

BHS_Stamp_print_canvas £18

BHS_London_cavas_£22

BHS_Time_for_Tea_£8

Keep your powder dry

15 Mar

Debenhams 2013-02-28

When I did up my kitchen recently, I got a bit obsessed with storage. And one of the things that has particularly revolutionised my life has been putting my washing powder into a special tin (I know, I know – I don’t get out much).

Before I got the tin, I kept my powder in it’s original cardboard box, under the sink or by the washing machine. Aside from the fact it didn’t look that attractive, it always managed to get soggy on the bottom, and the powder inside would get stuck together in big clumps that I’d have to whack the box hard to get out.

Now I have a tin with a scoop inside, I use every last bit of powder as it all stays dry and never goes solid. Plus, the tin sits proudly on my worktop, looking classy. It’s the little things that make a difference, see?!

If you want to be as anal as me, there are some fab tins around at the moment. Designer Ben de Lisi has created a lovely retro one, £18, above, as part of his new range for Debenhams (which also includes  a matching ironing board cover and a laundry organiser tin) out at the end of this month.

On a similar retro theme are these vintage-style tins (the OMO one is my favourite), just £11.50 each, from Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk):

OMO Adds brightness washing powder tin £11.50 www.amazon.co.uk

Want something in a calmer colour? These lovely tins are also from Amazon and include a handy scoop (grey, £14.95; cream £13.95):

Vintage washing powder laundry powder tin in slate grey £14.95 amazon.co.uk

This one’s a good present for anyone who’s laundry-phobic (£22.46, http://www.temptationgifts.com):

Washing powder tin The Bright Side £22.45

And if you fancy splashing  out, this gorgeous white tin and scoop costs £32 from Cox & Cox (www.coxandcox.co.uk):

Washing Powder box £32 Cox and Cox

Finally, if you like the idea of a laundry powder tin but want to spend less than a tenner, this fun washing machine-shaped one is just £6.99, again from Amazon:

Washing powder storage tin Koopman international washing machine shaped £6.99 amazon.co.uk

Let there be lights!

13 Mar

B&Q COLOURS ZAIRA GOLD EFFECT CUBE PENDANT £49.98

I’m looking for a new bedroom light. At present, I’ve got a round paper lantern-style one from Ikea, that has a hole in it where I bashed it, trying to kill a mosquito. Classy.

Top of my wishlist is this AMAZING new Zaira pendant. It’s already been featured in Living Etc magazine (the official stamp of coolness) and it looks like it ought to cost hundreds of pounds. In fact, it’s £49.98 from B&Q (www.diy.com). It looks stunning in the daylight, but I particularly love the delicate pattern it makes on the walls and ceiling when it’s all lit up at night.

However, anything I buy has to get past my other half, and he hates things that make ‘weird shapes’ on the ceiling, so the hunt continues!

In the meantime though, while we’re on the subject of lights, I can’t wait for summer when I can string up these fun solar bottle lights, £16 for three, from Next (www.next.co.uk), in my garden. They’re part of their new range of outdoor lighting, below, which includes fun light-up words and even a solar seagull. Brilliant!

GARDENS - LIGHTING Set of 3 solar bottle lights £16 Next

GARDENS - LIGHTING all lights and accessories from Next

GARDENS - LIGHTING all lights from Next

Just for scarves

11 Mar

neon flouro leopard print scarf £6 stall on Argyle St in London

It’s that time of year again, when it’s too cold not to wear something round your neck, and too warm for a full-on woolly number. One of my very first posts on this blog was about the usefulness of the Transitional Scarf (a fancy way of describing a cotton-ish scarf you can wear in spring!) and I still think they’re a brilliant solution.

And my absolute favourite place to buy them is a little market-type stall in London, situated outside Oasis on Argyle Street, just opposite Oxford Circus tube station. It’s open every day and there’s always an amazing selection. There are brightly-coloured scarves and ones in muted tones; ones with birds, horses, zebras or deers on; ones with animal print and ones with flower patterns.

They’re all £6 each or two for a tenner. I’ve bought several over the years from there, both for myself and presents, and they always get a lot of positive comments.

My latest purchase, above, is particularly awesome – it’s grey and neon pink leopard print, a new design the little man who runs the stall says he’s trying out for the summer. He’s planning to sell more in other fluoro colours too.

So, if you live in London or are planning a shopping trip there, I thoroughly recommend a visit. If not, Primark also have a good, cheap selection, or you could try Oliver Bonas stores or http://www.oliverbonas.com (immediately below: Finches and Geese prints, £18; colour block, £26), or M&S (bottom: fish scale print, £15; grey Ikat print, £15.60).

Oliver Bonas Finch print scarf, £18

Lightweight fish scales geometric border scarf £15 M&S

Chic’n’cheerful

7 Mar

Habitat stallion cushion try2

In the past, Habitat hasn’t been particularly known for being a place to pick up bargains, but recently it’s been selling some lovely things at some very un-Habitat-like prices.

Take these quirky cushions, for example. They’re just £12 each, and the sort of thing people go out of their way to comment on when they pop round for coffee.

I’d casually throw a couple on an armchair and pretend you made them yourself from scraps of vintage fabric, if I were you!

Habitat elephant cushion try2

Habitat geometric cushion try2

Habitat orange comb cushion £12 try2

Oh boy, Lollipop!

5 Mar

Lollipop designs cat note cards set

One of the things I love most about writing this blog is finding bits and bobs that would make great presents. And to me, a great present is fun, unusual, and not the kind of thing people would be able to justify buying for themselves. It also helps in a lot of cases if it’s easy to post.

So I was very happy to stumble upon Lollipop Designs (www.lollipopdesigns.co.uk and also on http://www.notonthehighstreet.com). They sell some lovely things that tick all those boxes.

My absolute favourites are the brilliant Origami Animal Note Sets, £8.75 each (above and below) – ten sheets of printed paper that you fold to make a friendly little cat, mouse or fox face that you can then pop into the little square envelope provided and send as a thank you note or birthday card.

Lollipop designs normal_origami-notepaper-set-various

I also love the squirrel DIY gift tag ink stamp kit (which comes with 10 blank tags to get you started), £12; the classy Weekly Planner Pad, £9, which would look very smart either at work or at home; and the eco parcel tape, £9.50 per roll, which is decorated with little stars or animals, birds and speech bubbles (it’d be great for gift-wrapping), all below.

I’m off to place my order now!

Lollipop designs squirrel DIY gift tag ink stamp kit

Lollipop designs weekly-planner-pad

Lollipop designs parcel tape patterned

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