Archive | April, 2013

Morph, Morph, Morph! How do you like it?

29 Apr

culturelabel morph and chas bookends £20

Apologies if you don’t recognise ’em, but these cheeky chappies, Morph and Chas, will only mean something if you grew up in the late Seventies or Eighties. Artist and presenter Tony Hart’s plasticine sidekicks on the cult TV series Take Hart and later, Hartbeat; they were created by Aardman Animations, long before Wallace and Gromit came along.

I think what I like about Morph is that he’s not been over-exposed, unlike some other characters from my childhood (The Magic Roundabout to name just one). He’s quite low-key, and that makes things like these bookends cool rather than childish – in my, erm, book, anyhow.

They cost £20 for the pair (fairly reasonable for decent bookends these days) from http://www.culturelabel.com

Just my type of present

25 Apr

Typewriter floral cushion £15 M&S Marks and SpencerLooking for a present for a friend the other day, I stumbled upon this brilliant cushion, above, £15 from Marks & Spencer (www.marksandspencer.com). It’s perfect because she’s attempting to write a book, so spends a lot of time at her desk. Okay, so she’s hunched over a computer rather than a typewriter, but I reckoned it’d look sweet on her chair, and help keep her spirits up when she’s got writer’s block.

Once I’d seen that though, I realised how many other typewriter-themed goodies are out there. All of them would make great gifts for aspiring (or accomplished) writers, bloggers, journalists or general wordsmiths. Here’s my pick of the best:

Personalised notebook, £9 http://www.notonthehighstreet.com :

original_personalised-typewriter-notebook £9 notonthehighstreet

Typewriter ink stamps, £6.99, http://www.culturevulturedirect.co.uk :

culturevulturedirect.co.uk typewriter stamps £6.99

Typewriter tablet sleeve, £14.99, http://www.culturevulturedirect.co.uk :
Typewriter tablet sleeve £14.99 from culturevulturedirect.co.uk

Typewriter keys magnets, £8.99, http://www.amazon.co.uk :

Typewriter keys magnets £8.99 www.amazon.co.uk

Personalised typewriter bag (up to six lines of text), £15, http://www.snapdragononline.co.uk :
Typewriter bag £15 personalised up to six lines Snapdragononline

The perfect colour – nailed!

23 Apr

Mavala nail polishes brights

Back when I was a student, the only nail polish colours you could buy in Boots and Superdrug were boring pinks and reds. However, there was one brand, Spectacular, sold in independent chemists and clothes shops, that bucked the trend. It came in a rainbow of colours and everything cost just £1, so my friends and I would change our polish every few days, trying out everything from metallic royal blue (which became my signature colour) to neon yellow.

Sadly, Spectacular is no more, but thankfully its legacy lives on – you can buy nail varnish in every colour and finish under the sun. It just costs a bit more than £1. My  favourite brand is Mavala – their on-trend polishes come in cute 5ml bottles that never seem to dry up, look great on your dressing table, and cost a reasonable £4.50 each.

So, I was very excited to hear about their new competition – to create your very own bespoke nail colour. They’re challenging the public to take a photo of something – anything from a handbag to car paintwork – in a colour they’d love to be able to wear on their nails. Three lucky winners will have their suggestions turned into nail varnishes and sold across the UK later this year.

My entry? Saturday’s gorgeous blue cloudless sky, below – it’d be like having the essence of summer on your fingertips (and besides, I think it’s time I upgraded my signature blue to a slightly classier shade).

Blue sky with cherry blossom taken by the Treasure Hunter UK

Want to have a go? Simply take a photo of anything you’d love to see recreated as a nail varnish and post it on Twitter with the hashtag #thatsmycolour (copying in @MavalaUK) or visit Mavala’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MavalaUK and post it there. Be quick though – the competition closes on 5th May.

Good luck!

Mavala delicious pastel nail polishes varnishes

Wheely rather good

18 Apr

Asda Parasene purple wheelbarrow

I’m a huge fan of bright colours, and I love it when designers take run-of-the-mill objects and jazz them up by making them in eye-popping shades.

So I definitely approve of Asda”s new range of cheap and cheerful Parasene boxer wheelbarrows, which come in purple, pink, red, yellow, green or stylish galvanised silver.

Okay, so I don’t really need a wheelbarrow – it only takes about five steps to go from my shed to my back door – but never mind. I think the yellow one would look very fetching indeed parked on my patio, with a bit of soil and a trowel artistically placed inside, as if I might pop out and do some heavy duty weeding at any moment.

I might be getting a bit carried away there (ho ho), but seriously, they’d make a great present for anyone with a bit of style who loves gardening. They cost a wheely (sorry!) reasonable  £28 each – or £30 for the silver version – from direct.asda.com

Better be quick though – the purple one (why does everyone love purple so much?!) has already sold out once, after being featured in Living Etc magazine. Wheelbarrow race to the tills anyone?!

Asda Parasene red wheelbarrow

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that Shwing

16 Apr

Shwings doubled up on multicoloured trainer

My friend James wears the loudest trainers going. Neon pink, metallics… you name it, he’ll wear it. So, I’ve found the perfect present for him – Shwings shoe wings. These quite frankly AMAZING shoe accessories come in a range of fantastic metallic shades and fit onto any trainer or shoe with lace holes like so:

Shwings gold

You can even double them up and wear two colours at once (see below). Okay, so this is not a look for the shy and retiring, but it’s brilliant fun, and it’ll turn a so-so shoe into a ‘Woah!’ shoe in seconds. On-trend celebrity offspring such as the Beckham boys and Gwen Stefani’s kids have already been spotted in them, but I say you don’t have to be under twelve years old to appreciate their general awesomeness.

I’m after the metallic purple set to go on my fluoro green Converse.
How about you?

Shwings cost £10 for red, gold or blue at the V&A shop (www.vandashop.com); £9.99 for white, pink, red, green, turquoise or purple at http://www.find-me-a-gift.co.uk; and £6.90 – £12.95 for a huge range of colours including neons and silver foil at http://www.amazon.co.uk.

PS: Live in the USA? You can buy Shwings at http://www.shwingsonline.com

Purple shwings in packaging

Shwings doubled up on trainer

Sh*t happens

11 Apr

Firebox lip shit tins white background

Now, I know it’s not big or clever to swear, but there are times (like when Roger Cocks from the local garden centre sends out a letter saying it’s apple season again) when it’s amusing.

So, I’m all for the name of this fun new beauty range that’s just gone on sale at http://www.firebox.com. There are two products to choose from – Hand Sh*t hand cream, £7.99; and Lip Sh*t lip balm, £4.99 (I’m not asterix-ing the “i” out because the packaging does by the way – I’m doing it because if a swear word appears in this blog, loads of subscriber’s firewalls will block it, the meanies).

Anyhow, those in the know say it’s actually a really nice product; there are lots of delicious sounding scents to choose from – including Asian Pear, Jasmine Fig and Grapefruit Rosehip – and it’s all packaged in quirky little tins and jars that’d make great presents.

For these reasons, I’m going to log on to Firebox and get my hands on some of that sh*t right now.

Firebox hand shit hand cream cut out jar Honeysuckle

Firebox lip shit tin in packaging Lemonade

Firebox lip shit hand cream tins by basket

Ahoy there, me napkins!

9 Apr

Cubicuk.com napkin holder sail

Nothing says ‘fancy’ like a paper napkin.

Oh okay, lots and lots of things say ‘fancy’ better than a paper napkin, but they do make you look thoughtful. If you’ve got friends round, and you serve them some cake on a plate with a napkin, it looks so much more special than if you just fling a half-opened packet of biscuits in their general direction.

Anyhow, while I’ve got a real soft spot for napkins, I’ve always thought that napkin holders were a bit naff. They’re usually hideous stained wood affairs that look like holiday souvenirs; or very functional see-thru perspex ones that wouldn’t look out of place in a greasy spoon cafe.

Until now, that is. The clever people at hip San Francisco design company Gama-Go have turned their attention to the humble serviette holder and come up with these fun little Anchor’s Away sailboats. They suit any size, colour or pattern of napkin, and would look brilliant ‘sailing’ on your kitchen or dining room table. Who knows, they’re so fun they might even encourage visiting children to wipe their sticky fingers more (note I only said ‘might’!).

They cost £9.95 each from http://www.cubicuk.com. While you’re there, check out the other great Gama-Go items for sale – I defy you not to (ahem) push the boat out and leave the site empty-handed!

PS: Live in the US? You can buy the Sailboat napkin holder from store.gama-go.com for $14

Gama Go sailboat napkin holder

Home sweet homewares – all under £5

4 Apr

Matalan bamboo coloured mug tree

I’ve written about Matalan’s (www.matalan.co.uk) fab homeware design team before, and quite frankly, someone needs to ban me from their stores as their new Spring Summer range is so lovely – and so bargainous – that I’m in danger of buying the whole lot.

My top pick is their multicoloured bamboo mug tree, just £3.50, above. It’s very similar to one John Lewis had last year (inset, above), but which cost about £20. There are matching chopping boards (bamboo wards off bacteria), £4 each, too, edged in either coral, blue or lime – at that price, you could get all three!

Matalan bamboo-chopping-board £4 coral

Then there are the designer-look storage jars, with either a coral, lime or sky blue lid, £5 each, below. The black panel on the front is made of blackboard paint, so you can write the name of the contents on in chalk. Classy!

Matalan large-ceramic-jar £5 blue

I’m also loving the latest addition to Matalan’s china storage jar range, £5, also below. With a retro/Japanese blue wave design, it’d look cool in any kitchen.

Matalan ceramic-storage-canister £5 wave design

Worth a mention too is the owl mug. I cannot believe he’s just £3.50 – again, he looks as if he ought to come from a swanky boutique. He’d make a great gift teamed with a box of fancy teabags.

Matalan owl-design-mug £3

Finally, I’m tempted by the bright doormat, just £5 (I LOVE that it has ‘Yo’ as a greeting); the decal planters, £3 each; the set of six metal hangers, £3.50; the Tasty Tomatoes tea towel, £1.50 and the set of two velour kitchen hand towels, in either the green asparagus or silver spoon print.  I really can’t believe they only cost £3.50 for a pair.

Matalan welcome-brights-doormat-40cm-x-60cm £5

Matalan decal-planter-h-125cm £3

Matalan 6-pack-multicoloured-metal-coat-hangers £3.50

Matalan 2-pack-printed-kitchen-hand-towels

Have your cake and store it!

2 Apr

Orla Kiely cake tins set of 5 £35 John Lewis

It was my birthday the other week, and some of my lovely friends clubbed together and got me John Lewis vouchers, as they know I’m slightly obsessed with pretty much everything they sell.

So, what did I spend them on? Well, I’ve been coveting this set of gorgeous cake and biscuit tins by Orla Kiely for some time, so I treated myself!

There are five tins in total, each in one of Orla’s signature retro-style prints, including a really large tin that’s great for Christmas cakes and other huge items. They look fantastic in my kitchen and match the colours on my blinds brilliantly (not that this matters, but it makes me love them even more). You can stack them inside each other when not in use, but quite frankly, they look far to pretty to hide away.

The whole set of five costs £35, which is actually fairly reasonable considering there are so many of them and they’re a bona fide designer item.

In fact, they’ve already had so many admiring comments, that the next time someone who loves baking (or just eating) cakes gets married, I’ll invest in a set for them too – I reckon they’d make a fantastic and unusual wedding gift.

Orla Kiely cake tins in two piles

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