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The Friday Find: Look sharp!

27 May


Why have a small, boring pencil sharpener when you can have one shaped like a robot?!

Pop your pencil into this friendly fella’s mouth, turn the handle on his back, and he’ll happily chomp away, storing the shavings in his tummy to be emptied later.

Not only does he do a great job, but he looks amazing too. And the best bit? He’s just £3 (yep, three quid!) from Tiger Stores (, so I recommend you pop one in your basket… sharpish!


The store that’ll change your life (or at least, your shopping habits)

3 May


In case you missed it, last week was ‘National Stationery Week’ (yes, I know, there’s a ‘week’ for everything these days). Having been a stationery geek ever since I first collected novelty shaped erasers at school, I decided this was the perfect excuse to treat myself to a few extra office essentials. Ahem, well, if you can count beautiful gold notebooks, stylish pens, quirky sticky notes and glass mason-type jars for making my pencils look pretty as ‘essential’..!


And my shopping destination of choice for these goodies? Not Paperchase or some trendy stationers, but HEMA, an amazing shop stuffed with everything from stationery and craft materials to kitchenware and food, makeup and jewellery. Originating in the Netherlands (where HEMA is a household name), it’s a mini department store with a difference – everything they sell is designed at their Dutch headquarters and is well-made, simple, good-looking… and great value. Think the marketplace section at IKEA, crossed with the jaw-droppingly-low prices of Tiger Stores.

HEMA stationery display (orange)

The shelves of my local store in Bromley (above) are groaning with gorgeous, quirky and bargainous bits that you won’t find anywhere else. On my last visit, I had a gift voucher to spend, and quite frankly, it’s a dangerous place to let someone like me loose. The jars pictured at the top? They were just £2 and £3 each; while the pens and sticky arrow notes below them cost 75p each; and the notebooks were £2 (spotty) and £3 (faux leather cover).

It’s also a brilliant place to shop for presents, and my new go-to destination for giftwrapping supplies. Just check out these shelves:

UntitledFor example, this amazing geometric wrapping paper below was just £1.50 a roll; the handy gifting stickers £1.50 a pack; the fun mini bunting £2 (which would look great wrapped around plain giftwrap or brown parcel paper); and the matching washi tape £2.50:



The cards are fab too, and very reasonably priced at between £1 and £2.50. Check out these lovely modern designs:

Untitled 2


There are five HEMA stores in the UK so far (in London, Kingston, Birmingham, Stansted Airport and Bromley), but if there isn’t one near you, don’t fret – you can buy everything online at (delivery is £4 to the UK).

What are you waiting for? Load your baskets now!

Parrot fashion

23 Mar


Sometimes it’s possible to take life – and work – too seriously. The tropical trend is going to be huge news this summer, so why use a boring biro when you can use a pen with a cheery carved parrot or cockatoo instead?

These bright little birdies are £3.50 each at Sass & Belle (, and there are four designs to choose from.

I’m going to tweet – sorry, treat – myself to the red parrot. How about you?


Nice and pen tidy

31 Jul

desk tidy

We’re nearing the end of our loft conversion project (hallelujah!), which means I can stop thinking about things like plastering and electrics, and start the fun part – kitting out my new home office.

First on the list is storage – for everything from my stacks of magazines to the little things like pens and pencils. In a dream world, I’d get a Uten Silo wall organiser, designed by Vitra (above, pic courtesy of, which is AMAZING, but as it costs £217 to £269 in red, black or white at Heals; or £227 at Nest (gulp!), sadly that’s just a pipe dream at the moment.

So, I’ve been looking for other options. Which brings me to pen pots. When I went to a the launch of a fab new homes website Joss & Main recently, they were encouraging journalists to decorate their own pen tidy using Sharpie pens on unglazed tealight holders. I think the idea was that we’d all create something very stylish, but as I had my two-year-old with me, I decided to let him lose on my one instead. The results are below. It’s not going to win any design prizes, but I love it, and it’s going to have pride of place on my new desk. It’s a great idea for anyone with kids – they could even make them as gifts for friends and grandparents:

Sam's DIY pen pot

Of course, you can store pens in anything, from tin cans to mugs, but if you don’t like the idea of making your own (and you either don’t have or hate kids, so the above idea doesn’t appeal!), there are surprisingly few stylish pen pots out there. Most are either really boring and functional, or naff.

However, you do have options. I’ve fallen in love with these fun – and incredibly bargainous – Hop 2 pen pots, just £2 each from Tesco Direct. I’m definitely going to get a couple for my new desk:

Hop 2 School Pencil Pot £2 each Tesco

This pencil sharpener-shaped pot by Suck UK (£15, below) is brilliant, too. And if you want your pen pot to be useful but unobtrusive, I like the simplicity of this Osco 5 Tube Acrylic Pen Pot, £6 by John Lewis:

Pencil Sharpener Desk Tidy £15

If you have any other ideas for pen-management, I’d love to hear about them!


Well planner-ed

24 Feb

lollipop designs wall planner

Last month, the talented Christine at Sew Yeah blog wrote an entry about wall planners. You can read it here.

Well, I’ve finally gotten round to sorting out the pile of papers that is my desk, and to celebrate, I’ve invested in one of her suggestions, the 2014 Wall Year Planner, £14, from Lollipop Designs (

I love the funky typography, the constellation background and the muted pastel colours and think it looks very smart indeed at the side of my desk…

photo (18)

What’s more, I’m hopeful it’s going to keep me incredibly organised for the next 12 months (admittedly, this is asking a lot).

Fancy getting your life in order too? You can buy one of your own  here. And while you’re there, I’d recommend taking a gander at the cute origami notelets, sweet sticky labels and fun parcel tape too (pictured below). I dare you to leave the site empty handed!

self adhesive labels animals

The highlight of my week

13 Jun

Frology high styler low res

In my book, stationery shouldn’t just be useful – it should also be fun, brightly-coloured and look good on your desk.  So, these little beauties tick all the boxes (or should I say, highlight all the boxes?!)

Yep, these are no ordinary highlighter pens; they’re highlighter pens disguised as pots of nail varnish. Granted, they won’t give you cutting-edge neon nails, but they will look good on your desk (and come in handy when you’re working/studying).

A set of four ‘High Stylers’ costs a reasonable £7 from new webshop

Believe it or not, the shop is run by Harry Frohlich, a 14-year-old from Pinner. Frohlich means ‘happy’ in German, and so Harry should be – he’s obviously got a good eye for great products. I fully expect to see him pop up on The Junior Apprentice any day now…!

Frology High Styler with hand(All pix courtesy of

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 ( 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 :

original_personalised-typewriter-notebook £9 notonthehighstreet

Typewriter ink stamps, £6.99, : typewriter stamps £6.99

Typewriter tablet sleeve, £14.99, :
Typewriter tablet sleeve £14.99 from

Typewriter keys magnets, £8.99, :

Typewriter keys magnets £8.99

Personalised typewriter bag (up to six lines of text), £15, :
Typewriter bag £15 personalised up to six lines Snapdragononline

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 ( and also on 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

Tray chic

22 Feb

zinc memoboard 40x20cm £20

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 (, 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.

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?!

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

Magnetic keyholder, £20, – 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,
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, or
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, and
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 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:

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.

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

All the right notes

7 Dec


As I’ve revealed before on this blog, I’m one of those people who appears incredibly organised, but who is secretly flailing around beneath the surface.

The only thing that stops me from revealing just how scatterbrained I am? Notes and lists. Lots of ’em. On my phone, on the fridge, in my bag, on the dining room table…

At the moment, they’re on random bits of paper, but after having seen the brilliant notepads from American designers Knock Knock, that’s about to change. They do a whole range of write-on-then-tear-off magnetic notepads, list-making mouse mat pads, and sticky notes for pretty much any situation, as well as handy task clips (bulldog clips) to keep your paperwork together. Not only are they all useful, they’re really funny, too.

The pads costs from £2.99 – £6.99 from or from £2.95 at In both cases, search under ‘knock knock’ to see the range.

PS: If you live in the USA, just visit 


Knock Knock sticky set


Recipe notes by knock knock

5 days a week mousepad notepad

Things you must do to make me happy note pad by knock knock


Task clips by knock knock

It’s only Flock and Roll but I like it!

30 Nov

My friend Kirsty is very talented. She’s one of those people who just knows what looks good, and after years of designing things (magazine pages, wedding invites…) for other people, she’s finally struck out on her own and created her own range of prints, tea towels and greetings cards.

They’re all bright, cheery, fun and great value, featuring everything from retro ice lollies to gnomes. She’ll even make up any of her designs in your own choice of colours if you ask her nicely. I’m planning to place an order for one of her “Cup of tea and a slice of cake” art prints and a batch of her ‘You’re the Bee’s Knees’ cards, as they’re so sweet, and well, the bee’s knees.

Her company is called Flock and Roll – named after a seagull’s favourite type of music (best not to ask!) – and you can view the whole range at or buy her stuff from (visit

Cards cost £2.50 each (see immediately below); Prints cost £15-25 depending on size (shown framed, below the cards); and tea towels are coming any day now. However, Kirsty’s doing a special 20% discount for all Treasure Hunter customers until Christmas. Simply enter code FLOCKANDROLL1 at the checkout.

PS: Good news for overseas readers! Kirsty will ship outside the UK – email her at for details and prices.

Shake it up baby now

16 Nov

Back in July, I told you about a pair of cute black and white bear salt and pepper shakers from that looked like snowglobes. Well, they’ve extended their range recently, and the new products are so cute I had to share them with you…

First up, and my favourite, is the Seasonal Salt and Pepper Shaker, £14.95 (above). You pop pepper in with the cactus (so that it’s like the sand in the desert, see) and salt in with the pine tree (so that it’s like snow). Then when you season your dinner, you create a mini snow or sandstorm. Sweet!

Along the same lines are the brilliant Animal Parade Spice Shakers (below) for salt, pepper and two other condiments. They’re less of a bargain at £29.95, and quite frankly, at that price, you’d really have to love them, but they are amazing and would be a real talking point on any table.

Finally, while they have nothing to do with salt and pepper, Cubic’s  new line of paperclip tidies follow the same snowstorm idea. There’s the Rabbit in the Field paperclip tidy; the Deer in the Forest; and the Polar Bear on Ice. I’m coveting the bunny for my desk at home – the only problem is, I don’t think I could bring myself to use the paperclips!

The Sharpiest tool in the box

7 Sep

I realise I’m probably very slow out of the blocks here, but I’ve recently discovered Sharpie pens, and I think they’re amazing.
The iMac of writing instruments, these posh felt tips are just cooler and quirkier than ‘normal’ pens.

The best thing about them is that they’re permanent, and can write on pretty much any surface, from glass and plastic to stone, polystyrene, rubber, fabric and even shoes (see below). The black ink is crisp and makes my handwriting look far swankier and I can see why the coloured inks are loved by arty types – it almost looks like paint.

I particularly like the mini Sharpies that come with a little metal ring in the lid, so that you can attach them to your bag or keys – perfect if, like me, you always need a pen but can’t find one.

I bought a black pen first, to write on freezer bags (I know, the glamour!), but quickly realised the error of my ways. I’ve since seen the huge amount of Sharpie art and craft on the web, and have bought a pack of 24 coloured pens (£15.89 from Webcrayons at to have a go myself.

My first two attempts are at the bottom of this post – a little canvas (bought blank for 99p from a bargain bookshop) with the lyrics to Something Changed by Pulp (a reading at our wedding), which I gave my husband for our anniversary; and a beach pebble which I painted with nail polish and Sharpies and then stuck a magnet on the back of (an idea I got from the How About Orange blog at

For other, ahem, far more professional (ie: better!) art and craft work than mine, Google Images for ‘Sharpie Craft’ or visit the gallery at

You can buy Sharpies from WHSmiths and

*Converse pic courtesy of:

That’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, that’s neat, I really love these Tiger treats!

25 Jul

See these gorgeous bright steel stools, above? You’d think they were at least £20 each, wouldn’t you? Well, they’re A FIVER! I nearly bought one in each colour on the spot!

I’ve written about Tiger Stores on this blog before, but I popped into my local branch the other day and besides these stools, I saw so many fabulous things that I thought I’d update you…

For those who don’t know it, Tiger has come over from Denmark, and is like a Japanese-style version of the Ikea marketplace. They sell so many amazing bits and bobs for the home, and it’s all mega cheap – nothing is over £30. They add new stock regularly and while they don’t sell online (yet), they do have a useful website at which tells you what’s just arrived. There are now 17 stores in the UK and they’re opening more  almost monthly.

Here’s what I spied this week:

Ceramic canisters with spoon on the side, £5 each…

Tile coasters, £1 each…

Letter and number mugs, £1 each…

Multi-coloured coathooks, £4 each…

Flowerpot toilet brushes, £4 each…

Pretty notepads, £2 each…

Duly notecard

18 Jul

My other half has a theory. He reckons the main, fundamental difference between men and women is that women always have a stash blank cards and/or notelets, to use in emergencies. He thinks it’s because we all, inevitably, turn into our mums.

As far as I’m concerned though, it’s just being sensible. There’s always a birthday that sneaks up on you; or a friend who moves house or gets a new job; or someone who does something/gives you a gift out of the blue that you want to say thank you for.

Now I know I’ve picked out some brilliant notelets before (check out my post from 30 December 2011 – those cards are all still available), but I’ve found some fab new mini ones to share with you too.

They’re called Bright Stem notecards, and there are lots of different boxes to choose from, including graphic style birds, abstract retro shapes, photos of flowers, typographic birthday and thank you cards, plus mixed boxes containing several different designs (see above and below).

What’s particularly good about them is the price – they’re just £4-6 for a little box of 12 (with some designs on sale – 50 Thank You cards are currently £14) plus £2.75 postage from or from

Oh, and if you buy some and want to thank me for recommending them, don’t worry, you don’t need to send a card!

Measure for measure

30 May

When they were handing out good looks in the animal kingdom, snails weren’t at the front of the queue (they can’t move that fast, obviously…). However, they do make for really cute desk accessories – just check out these little fellas! You simply pull on their antennae (is that the right word?) and out pops a tape measure. Genius. They’re £7.99 from

I also can’t resist these sweet little animal tape measures from Japan (just £2.99 from various sellers on EBay – search under ‘panda tape measure’ and they’ll all pop up). Choose from a frog, panda, piggy, bear or friendly-faced tiger. Perfect for popping in your pocket when you go to Ikea.

Finally, when is a tape measure not a tape measure? When it’s a Sellotape dispenser! Cunning designers Suck UK, who make some brilliant products, have created this tape dispenser disguised as an old school traditional measure (£5.99 from or £7.99  from I reckon every well-dressed desk should have one.

Colour me happy

28 May

I’m a fan of big chunky jewellery, so I loved these bright, beautiful rings the minute I saw them – even before I found out about their secret double life.

You see, they’re crayons! Yep, each ring (you get a set of six Kikkerland Round Colour Rings for £7 at is made of wax crayon, so you can draw with your knuckles whenever the urge takes you. You could even string the set on a piece of ribbon for an unusual yet functional necklace – just whip it off to scribble down your number when a hot boy asks for a date (um, or in my case, write down something to put on the shopping list!)

They’re great fun for big and little kids alike (they’re non-toxic, fact fans), and a cool present for anyone with an arty streak.

By hook or by nook

25 May

Keys, mobiles, iPods, glasses/glasses cases, pens, lipbalm… you can never find things like these when you need them. Which is usually just as you’re trying to leave the house and are in a bit of a flap anyhow.

That’s why I’m thinking of investing in a HookNook – a genius new cubbyhole and coat/bag/scarf hook combined. It’s big enough to hold all those vital bits and bobs, yet discreet at the same time

Why not get one for each member of your household and put them in a line

The Hook Nook by Flip & Tumble is £11 (for the white version) at or £13.35 (for a green or brown version) at

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You’re booked!

30 Apr

There’s something incredibly pleasing about these bookplates by Mac and Ninny from

Each pack contains 12 “From the library of” stickers in a slightly Scandi/slightly retro design (I like the bees, cupcakes, and owl best) as well as a little library card to record who you’ve lent your books to. They cost £4.95 per pack and would make a lovely, easy-to-post pressie for any bookworms in your life.

And if you’re giving someone a book? The site also sells a sweet kit, £4, containing a bookplate for you to write a message on and stick inside the book, plus wrapping paper, a gift tag and sealing stickers, all in a fun ladybird design. Great for making your literary gift look extra special.

Stamp for joy

20 Apr

Staplers and hole punches – two of the most useful yet boring items on your desk…

Until now, that is.

Every time you use this Stampler by Suck UK (above, £7.99 from or £8.10 from, you’ll smile – and so will your documents. A stapler and ink stamp rolled into one, it not only fixes papers together, but prints a happy face in red ink on them (with the staple as the mouth). Totally pointless, but a lot of fun.

As for the hole punch below (£8.56, also by Suck UK from Amazon), it punches heart-shaped holes instead of round ones. A nice touch that only the ultra-observant colleagues will notice, but that’ll brighten your day all the same.

One hot desk

16 Mar

I had an email from a reader recently, asking whether I thought she should get a desk from Ikea.

Now, I LOVE Ikea stuff , and would normally have said yes, but one of my favourite pieces of furniture in my house is my Loft desk, £199, from John Lewis.

For just a few pounds more than an Ikea version, you get something made of solid oak and oak veneer, that looks like it was designed by Conran. With an extendable pull-out desk top, it’s perfect for a home office, and easily smart enough for the corner of a living room/bedroom where space is tight. It has five useful cubbyholes, plus a drawer, and discreet holes for computer cables.

It’s available in plain oak or White; or for £225, you can now get the “Reborn” version, which has gorgeous coloured lacquer inside the cubbyholes. Cute!

Wild bling, I think I love you!

3 Feb

One of my most recent discoveries is It’s only a small site, but it’s a beauty.
My favourite item are their quirky animal necklaces, £15, – you can choose from a rabbit, donkey, fox, guinea pig, panda, mouse, deer, swan, pug dog, piglet or this funky little budgie (above), which comes in blue or green.
If you’re giving him as a present, he goes perfectly with one of the site’s beautiful bird cards, £3.99 (also above), which have a removable tin bird brooch attached – brilliant.
And while you’re there, stock up on a  couple of the amazing animal cards (below), which are a present in their own right – they each have a picture of a panda, pig, monkey or penguin on the front, and a matching Japanese paper balloon inside – perfect for both big and little kids alike!

All present and correct

27 Jan

My new obsession is an awesome online shopping site called It’s not just that they sell gorgeous stationery, cards, notelets, prints, stickers, stamps and other bits and bobs, but that they photograph and present them all so beautifully.

My top picks? The bright wooden ‘click’ pencils, £5.50 (above); the tag notebooks, £7.50 for three; the cunning tape measure calendar, £16 (each day is 1cm on the tape measure – genius!); the label notecards, £3.25; the old Czech matchbox labels, £6 for 25 and the pick’n’mix stamps, £3.95.

Play your cards right

23 Jan

I know, I know, Valentine’s Day is miles away, but if you want something that’ll knock your other half’s socks off, you have to plan ahead. And that goes for these amazing cards…

The brainchild of the very talented Helen Foers, she’ll cut by hand whatever message you want to send your Valentine, telling them: ‘I love you more than… pizza/Strictly/curly fries/shopping’ or even ‘I love you more than Keanu’ (my commission for her last year!). Each card is a personalised work of art – you can frame it afterwards – and cost just £8 or £8.50, depending on your message.

She also has some ready-made machine-cut Valentines cards for £2.95-£3.95, which say ‘I love you more than…tea/cake/cheese/diet coke/X Box/shoes/my iPhone/Twitter’.

And if you’re not feeling the love this year, you can commission her to make a bespoke birthday, anniversary, new home or new baby card for someone special, again for around £8. You can pick almost any names/words/dates/background colour you like.

To find out more, visit her online shop at (just search under ‘Storeyshop’) or visit

Child’s play

9 Jan

Having children round to visit, or getting a present for a child you don’t know that well can be tricky – but I think I’ve found the answer.

Doodles at Lunch is a tear-off book of 36 slightly-larger-than-A4 paper placemats with lots of  activities on, such as colouring-in, dot-to-dot puzzles, etc. Parents can take a couple of mats and some felt tip pens with them when eating out or visiting friends, and they’ll keep the kids quiet for ooh, at least enough time for Mum to eat her main course in peace. There’s a ‘Doodles at Breakfast’ and ‘Doodles at Dinner’ book too and they’re suitable for children aged 4-11ish. They cost from £3.23 each, from

Otherwise, kids’ publisher Kutz do a series of cute little books called ‘Draw Thumb Things’, ‘Draw Thumb People’ and ‘Draw Thumb Animals’ which come with a little ink pad and a pen. Kids can make an inky thumb or finger print on a piece of paper, then use the pen to turn their prints into dogs, strongmen, tractors, etc. They’re around £4.48 each, also from – I’ve now got a couple in my cupboard for emergency child visits/birthdays.

Dear diary…

3 Jan

When I was a teenager, I kept a diary religiously, documenting all my embarrassing crushes, rows with parents, friendship dilemmas and important events such as what I bought in Tammy Girl, and what I ate for dinner.

Diaries like this are brilliant, if cringeworthy, to look back on, but as you get older, very few of us have enough time on our hands to keep that level of detail up.

Which is why I’m loving this new ‘One Line a Day’ Memory Book, £7.50 from It does exactly what it says on the tin – you write just one line a day about your day/your thoughts and feelings (there’s room for up to five years of entries). I reckon even I can manage to do that, and it’ll be brilliant to look back on it next New Year’s Day.

Note to self

30 Dec

It’s ‘Thank You’ letter time again. And that’s the perfect excuse to invest in some stylish new note cards.

There are some gorgeous designs around at the moment, that don’t cost a bomb, and that will serve you well all year. My favourites are  Polaroid notelets, £6.55 for 20, above, which each have a different arty pic in the style of a Polaroid photo on the front.

I also love Cath Kidston’s note card book, £7.35, below, which contains 24 cards of various designs including a couple of specific ‘thank you’ and ‘happy birthday’ cards. They come with matching spotty envelopes in a cute folding box.

Finally, take a look at The Natural World photographic cards, £4.99. With 30 cards each printed with a different glossy photo of nature/wildlife, it’s a a total bargain and there’s a card to suit even the trickiest of customers.

All are available from

It’s the thought that discounts

7 Dec

I’m loving the plethora of discounts that we’re being bombarded with this Christmas. But call me greedy, I’m not interested in a mere 10% off –  if I’m going to get my credit card out, I need someone to offer me at least 20% off.

So, today, I’m sharing my top three discounts of the season..

1) 40% off at The Body Shop
The bods at The Body Shop seem to have gone a bit bonkers – visit and enter code VOUCH444 at the checkout between now and 12th December to get a humungous 40% off your order. My top tip? Their brilliant Cranberry Joy range, which makes your whole house smell like Christmas. I particularly love the shower gel (normally £4; just £2.20 with  discount) and reed diffuser room scent (normally £15; just £9 with discount). Alternatively, if what you want to buy falls under the ‘Winter Essentials’ heading, there’s a whopping 50% off onsite right now (but you can’t use the 40% code on top – that would just be crazy!).

2) 20% off at Paperchase
Buying my wrapping paper and cards at Paperchase is a tradition I look forward to every year. But I always wait for the inevitable discount code first. This year, it’s courtesy of The Guardian newspaper – simply visit and enter code guardian20 at the checkout. I’m going to treat myself to their stylish Dotty Stags gift wrap (normally £3.50 for a 3m roll; just £2.80 with discount) or the glass balloon dog decs (normally £8; just £6.40 with discount).

3) 20% off at Flamingo Gifts
This website is great for quirky little stocking fillers and Secret Santa gifts. You don’t need a discount code – everything on the site has 20% slashed off the price this week. My top pick? The ceramic postcard write-on wipe-off notepad (normaly £13.99; now £11.19 with discount) which is a stylish solution for anyone with a mind like a sieve.

Read all about it

5 Dec

You’d think buying a present for a bookworm would be easy. But actually, it’s a minefield – how do you know which books they they own/have read?

This year, I’ve found the answer – don’t buy them a book at all.

I’ve just bought someone the brilliant Personal Library Kit, £11.95 from, which contains library cards, stick-in pockets and a professional-looking library stamp. It means that when they lend someone a book, they’re guaranteed to get it back (thus solving a big bookworm bugbear).

I paired it with a box set of postcards featuring book covers – I’ve featured the Ladybird Books set here before, but the Penguin covers set is also fantastic, £10.43 from

Finally, another great idea is a book journal – a diary to record every book you’ve ever read. They range from address book-style tomes, which involve writing a book’s title and giving it a rating; through to fancy ones where you can enter your own book reviews.

My two faves are the Book Journal by K Two Products, £7.50, for the ladies (very stylish cover) and Books I’ve Read, £6.87 (nice and basic, perfect for blokes), both from Amazon.

The added bonus of this gift? Next year, when you’re trying to work out if they already own a book you want to get them, just take a peek at their journal!

Top this!

14 Nov

Sitting on the sofa while balancing my laptop on my knee, I always end up feeling slightly uncomfortable, with toasted thighs. Not that that’s a bad thing in winter, but still, it’s not ideal. It also makes the laptop overheat.

So, at the weekend, I went to Ikea to buy a bookcase, and came out with a Brada laptop support (above) in a cheery red and white spotty design (I always  end up leaving Ikea with bits and bobs I had no intention of buying).

It’s a plastic crescent-shaped hard plastic shelf, with a fabric cushion underneath, filled with polystyrene beads. You pop it on your lap, and the cushion moulds to the shape of your legs, while your laptop sits on the shelf. Not only does it stop your computer and your thighs from overheating, but it’s comfy too. There’s even a little velcro pocket on the side for your mobile phone.

Honestly, it’s revolutionised my life!

If you think the spots are too girly, it’s available in ‘serious’ grey too. For just £9.99, it’s well worth popping in your big blue bag the next time you visit Ikea.

It’s Grrrrrrrreat!

19 Oct

The best shop I’ve ever been into in my life was a Japanese pound shop in Singapore. Chock full of craft stuff, homewares and beauty bits, all in gorgeous Japanese prints or with quirky slogans, and all costing the equivalent of £1 each, it was so bargainous that it was almost overwhelming (you can drool at the products, and see store locations around the world, at

I assumed the experience was a one-off until yesterday, when I visited the new Tiger store in Lewisham shopping centre (of all places). A Danish concept, it’s like a cross between that Japanese pound shop, Muji, Ikea, H&M and Poundland. I spotted gorgeous craft stuff, picture frames, baking equipment, pretty napkins, homewares, bathroom accessories, unusual wrapping paper and stylish stationery – almost all costing just £1-£4.

Apparently there are 90 Tiger stores in 11 different European countries, with ten or so of them in the UK. The Lewisham branch is their newest. It’s worth making a special journey to one near you (visit, as I guarantee you’ll stock up with Christmas presents.

My top picks? Toadstool biscuit tins, £2 and £3 (see top); Babushka socks, £3; multicoloured  hooks, £1; drawer knobs, £4; wrapping paper, £1 a roll; and big packs of A4 patterned origami paper, £2.

On the cards

30 Sep

I’ve got a bit of an Amazon addiction at the best of times. Now the site has come up trumps again, with what has to be the perfect present for anyone born in the Seventies or Eighties…

Penguin are publishing a boxed set of 100 postcards, each printed with the cover of one of their iconic Ladybird books. Think titles such as ‘The Party’, ‘Peter & Jane’, ‘The Zoo’ and my favourite, ‘Things to Make’.

Whether you want to frame them, make a border for a child’s room with them, use them as birthday cards, help Royal Mail survive by posting them, or simply give them as a gift (if you can bear to part with them!), I reckon it’d be rude not to buy some.

The postcards are published next Thursday (6th October) rrp £14.99; but you can pre-order them now at for £10.55. Be quick – I reckon they’ll be a sell-out!



Write on

12 Sep

The problem with ‘to do’ lists is that you always end up losing them (or is that just me?). Not any more. I’m tidying my study and investing in this fantastic new set of four wipe-clean Writeboards, £24.99 from, to keep myself organised.

Designed to look like lined, ruled and chequered exercise book pages, they work well in a group of four or hung in a line, and come with a handy black wipe-off marker.

They’re much classier than a pinboard, and are far more likely to remind you to do stuff than a scrappy ‘to do’ list on the back of an old till receipt floating around at the bottom of your handbag (or again, is that just me..?!)

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