Archive | May, 2013

Cuppa load of these tea towels

29 May

Stuart Gardiner tea towels - tea and coffee

Graphic designer Stuart Gardiner makes some lovely tea towels – you might have seen them – with colourful tables showing which fruit and vegetables are in season; handy guides to pairing wine with food; and a cute design covered in flowers that attract bees (you can see some of them at the bottom of this post).

Not only are they incredibly cool, but they’re made of really good quality cotton that wears really well and feels soft and absorbent even after dozens of washes.

Now he’s launched two fab new tea towels, one with tips, recipes and sayings all about coffee, and one all about tea, above. They’d make brilliant, easily-postable gifts (you could even pair one with a box of tea/coffee or a  nice mug?).

All his tea towels cost  £10 each (plus just £1 P&P) from

Like his style? His site sells oven mitts, bags, mugs, prints and even chopping boards too.

Stuart Gardiner tea towel - coffee design

Stuart Gardiner tea towel - tea design

Stuart Gardiner tea towel - seasonal guide to fruit and veg folded

Stuart Gardiner tea towel Bee FriendlyStuart Gardiner tea towels - pairing red and white wine with food

Nominate me!

24 May

Cosmo Blog-Awards-2013-logo-350

Time to ask a favour…

I LOVE writing this blog, and I hope you love reading it.

If so, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d consider nominating me for a Cosmopolitan Blogger’s Award. It takes under a minute, promise.

The two categories I’m eligible for are either ‘Interiors blog’ or ‘Lifestyle blog’, and the URL for my blog is (don’t forget the ‘uk’ bit in the address!)

You can fill in the nomination form here. You need to click through to the second page to get to the form – there’s a little ‘next page’ button on the bottom left:

Better be quick though – nominations close at midnight on 3rd June.

Thank you!

Nails good enough to eat

23 May

my pic of mini eggs speckled

Illamasqua nail varnish in Scarce speckled pink bottle

What’s almost as good as Cadbury’s Mini Eggs? Mini Egg-inspired nails!

Pastels continue to be a big trend, but if they’re a bit wishy-washy for your liking, why not add a twist with one of these quite frankly genius speckled egg-like nail varnishes from posh beauty brand Illamasqua.

There are five colours to choose from: Scarce (pink), Fragile (blue), Freckle (nude), Mottle (green) and Speckle (lilac).

Okay, so at £14.50 per bottle (from they’re not a bargain, but if you’re anything like me, a bottle will last a lot longer than a packet of Mini Eggs will!

Illamasqua nail varnish in speckle on nails

Mmmmn, Bistro!

21 May

GARDENS - BISTRO SET Blooma Saba Bistro table £59 and folding chair £15 each B&Q

Want to update your garden, but short on space and cash? Forget huge clunky brown wooden garden furniture and invest in a compact bright bistro set instead.

Smaller and less expensive than ‘proper’ tables and chairs, it’ll fold away tidily when not in use and add a stylish flash of colour. What’s more, you can pick up some very nice ones indeed for under £90. Not bad eh?

My picks: the hot pink Blooma set from B&Q (, £89 (table, £59 + chairs £15 each), above; or the Courtado set in tomato red or mint green, £79 from Marks and Spencer (; the pale blue set from Homebase, £69.99 (; or the great quality wooden set in either retro orange or olive green, £80 from Wilkinson (, all below.

GARDENS - BISTRO SET Courtado green bistro set £79 M&S

GARDENS - BISTRO SET Folding bistro set £69.99 Homebase

GARDENS - BISTRO SET Retro Orange Bistro Set £80 Wilkinson

Blooming clever

17 May

big bloom vase conran red flower 2

Have you seen how expensive flowers are these days? I love the idea of having fresh blooms all over the place Elton John-stylee, but until I win the lottery and have a bank account to match his, I have to settle for the odd bouquet on my birthday or bunch of daffs from the local market.

This incredibly cunning vase by designer Charlie Guda may change all that. It’s a glass test tube, attached to a stand made of magnifying glass. You pop a stem in the tube (with some water of course) and then fix the glass in front, like so…

big bloom vase conran shop

The glass magnifies the flower so that not only does it appear supersized, but you can see every little line and detail of the petals. Clever eh?

It means you can spend just one or two quid on a particularly lovely single flower (or choose one you’ve picked from your garden or on a walk) and turn it into a really eyecatching work of art.

It’s not exactly a bargain at £29 (from The Conran Shop, but after you’ve made that initial outlay, think how much you’ll save on flowers thereafter!

big bloom vase multiple flowers

big bloom vase conran shop red flower

A very nice cream van

15 May

Marks and Spencer ice cream van biscuit tin

As we stared wistfully through a shop window at a set of cake tins the other day, my friend said to me, “The two things you can never have enough of in a house are jugs and tins”. I agreed (but also added cushions to that list).

So, when my mother-in-law visited me the other day and bought the above gift, I was delighted. It’s a re-usable, retro-ish tin in the shape of an ice cream van, which looks great on a kitchen shelf. As a bonus, it’s full of slightly strange strawberry cookies that taste eerily like ice cream in crunchy biscuit form.

The next time you’re popping round to someone’s house for tea, I thoroughly recommend picking one up from Marks & Spencers for just £6. It’d make a very welcome gift,  no matter how many tins your host already has (you can also never  have too many biscuits – yet another thing to add to that list!)

PS: Live outside the UK? You can buy one of these tins for £7.50 from fab website BritStore, who ship all kinds of British goodies anywhere in the world. Visit

Playing your cards right

9 May

Vintage playing cards animal rummy

On a recent visit to friends in Norfolk the other week (more on their AMAZING house in a later post…) I found these mega cute 1950s/60s playing cards in a junk shop for £4. I love the old school illustrations – kitsch but not too twee.

Back home, I’ve paired them up with squares of wrapping or origami paper and stuck them on blank greetings cards. I plan to use them for birthdays and thank yous, with the idea that the recipients can remove the card and recycle it again in a different way. I reckon they’d look great as a freize around a child’s bedroom wall; framed as little artworks, or even used as gift tags.

Vintage playing cards turned into greetings cards 2

Vintage playing cards turned into greetings cards 1

Fancy making some yourself? You can pick up all kinds of similar packs in different retro designs for around a fiver each on eBay (search under ‘vintage playing cards’ or ‘animal rummy’ or other card games like ‘old maid’ or ‘hearts’ or ‘happy families’).

Vintage playing cards hearts

Don’t worry, bee happy

7 May

Gold plated Alex Monroe bee necklace £130 Liberty

A workmate of mine used to have a gorgeous gold-plated ‘Baby Bee’ necklace (above) that she bought for her wedding day – and then wore every day since. It was small, simple, and went with everything from summer dresses to cable-knit jumpers. The necklace in question is by designer Alex Monroe, and costs £130 from Liberty ( Ah. That’s why I never bought one for myself.

Until yesterday. Idling away ten  minutes in Accessorize in Kings Cross station, I spotted the perfect homage – okay, it’s almost a copy –  a little gold ‘Bella Bee’ on a chain for just £6:

accessorize bee necklace full length and close up

Well, it would have been rude not to get it, don’t you think?!

Want one for yourself (or as a great gift for someone)? It’s available now in Accessorize stores and online at

Don’t like necklaces? You can also buy ‘Bella Bee’ stud earrings from Accessorize for the unbelievably bargainous price of £2 a pair:

Accessorize Bella bee stud earrings £2

Let’s go outside!

3 May

Blooma Moretta garden set, from £60 B&Q

In the second of my summery posts this week (and the first of many on the subject of sprucing up your garden), I had to share these cool chairs with you. Modern, bright garden furniture is usually so expensive – in the hundreds of pounds – so I was pleasantly surprised to spot this retro-style acid green and hot pink Moretta seating  from B&Q (instore and online at

A chair costs £60 and the bench, £99 – not bad for a real statement piece that’ll instantly pimp up your patio.

And if you like these, there are matching rocking chairs, £69 each and a cute egg-shaped charcoal grey table, £40, too (below).

Blooma Moretta garden furniture, from £60 for a chair B&Q

Lolly gosh!

1 May

Sainsburys picnic ware ice lollies full range on shelves

Last week’s glimpse of the sun has got me feeling all summery, so I had to be physically restrained this weekend when I went to my local Sainsbury’s and saw their new range of AMAZING plastic picnicware (above).

In candy colours and printed with gorgeous graphic ice creams and lollies, I wanted to buy the whole lot.

My top picks? The gorgeous large tray platters, £4 (below right)…

Sainsbury's picnic ware ice lollies platter and plates

…the cute bowls (perfect for everything from sweets to salads), £5 for the large or £2.50 for the small…

Sainsbury's picnic ware ice lollies bowls

…and the reusable double-walled plastic drink cups with straws, £2.50 each…

Sainsbury's picnic ware ice lollies cups with straws

Someone in the Sainsbury’s design team obviously loves their lollies, as they also feature on mega cute notelets, £3.99 for 12; a range of stationery (£2.99 for a notebook); and on disposable paper plates and napkins, £1.50 a pack, all below. Yum!

Sainsbury's ice lollies notelets

Sainsbury's ice lollies stationery pads

Sainsbury's picnic ware paper plates and napkins ice lollies

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