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28 posts from May 2006

31 May 2006

Think of a number

Is this art? This artist in Switzerland has just produced a thousand individual limited edition paintings of numbers which he is selling online. The more numbers that are sold the more expensive they become (minimum price $40). Apparently they're flying round the Internet ( I found out about it through Seth's blog) and flying off the shelves.

30 May 2006

The Look of Love

At Jake the Rake's birthday picnic, the Minx upholds the family tradition for pursuing younger men.

28 May 2006

Shangri-la la

The reason you haven't been updated on my spectacular weight loss recently is that there hasn't been any. To be fair I haven't exactly been following the Paul McKenna rules over the last couple of weeks either, so it's hardly surprising.

In my ongoing quest for the ultimate weight-loss quick fix, I have, however, become intrigued by the online discussions of the Shangri- la diet.

I first came across the diet (which isn't really a diet at all) via a post on Creating Passionate Users which is a very sensible blog with much of interest to say to marketers and geeks alike. It seemed so wacky that at first I thought it was just an elaborate hoax, but further reading seems to indicate that it is genuine.

The diet has been devised by Seth Roberts, a Professor of Psychology. He seems to be saying (I haven't read the book, just paraphrasing stuff I've read online) that our natural instinct is to eat a lot when food is tasty and plentiful in readiness for times when it is not so easily available. Our weight problems are caused by the fact that nowadays food is always tasty and plentiful so our body sets a high natural weight 'set point'. What the diet does is to trick the unconscious mind into believing that food is scarce by suggesting that we eat tasteless but calorie-rich foods - after all we would only choose such foods if there were nothing more tasty available. This apparently sets the body's 'set point' lower.

The two foods he suggests are light, flavourless oils or sugared water. So apparently we should all be taking a tablespoon of neat oil or drinking some heavily sugared water a couple of times a day without eating anything else during a two hour window. And that's it. Apparently this is quite enough to suppress your appetite, reduce the amount you eat and lead to permanent weight loss(Check out the CPU blog entry for more details or Seth Roberts' own forums). .

Yes, I know it all sounds completely ridiculous. But too intriguing not to try for a couple of weeks or so. So over the last couple of days I've been chugging 1 tablespoon of oil mid-morning and 1 tablespoon of oil in mid-afternoon (I'm not doing the sugared water as I suspect it will play havoc with my blood sugar levels). I have decided to use Cool Oil, so that at the very least the oil I'm swigging is healthy, though rather than being tasteless it is completely disgusting. I don't think I've lost any weight yet, but I do seem to be eating less and craving more healthy options such as fruit and vegetables rather than cheese.

Is this thing f*cking with my brain?

27 May 2006

Idol thoughts

Well, today we joined the 21st century and downloaded the American Idol Final and Finale to watch rather than watching the heavily edited, ad-filled version on ITV2. Am so glad I did because now I have the spectacular finale to keep - haven't enjoyed an evening's telly so much in ages.

Anyway here are some random thoughts on proceedings.

  • Katharine wasn't just a one-trick pony, she was a one-song pony
  • Paris finally found her niche - the duet with Al Jarreau was the best of the night
  • The best voice in the competition undoubtedly belonged to Mandisa
  • Toni Braxton made Paula look sober
  • I like Paula - I love how she puts her whole heart and soul into it
  • The segment of Simon caressing his moobs was one of the funniest things I've seen this year
  • Mary J was supremely ungenerous to Elliott (though she sounded bloody good)
  • I wish Elliott had been in the final, a funky white boy final would have been aces
  • I hope Elliott gets a career out of this, particularly if he learns to calm down on the vibrato
  • Is it an excess of testosterone that made the male rockers hair fall out?
  • Is that why Chris looks so grumpy all the time?
  • The thought of 'male bonding' between Ace and Chris is, however, not unappealing
  • It was a shame we didn't see more of Melissa
  • Poor Meatloaf
  • Burt Bacharach is a god
  • Farmbot from last year has turned into a more professional farmbot
  • I would die of pride if my seventeen-year old daughter got to introduce Dionne Warwick
  • Prince is still the coolest man on the planet, even if he was wearing Taylor's jacket
  • Taylor does not have the best voice in the competition, but I loved how he was so self-effacing in the group numbers and let the others shine, and the fact that he really is rather good at the harmonica, and that he thanked his fans and the band and everyone at the end, and that he made a bloody good job of In the Ghetto even though Toni Braxton was sexually harassing him. But most of all I love how he can take that cheesy load of old bollocks that is his new single and somehow turn it into a song which made tears roll down my cheeks.
  • And David Hasselhoff agrees with me.

SOUL PATROL!

26 May 2006

In prints

Click to read

An article I wrote on interiors trends for summer has appeared in Exeter Living, one of those freebie property magazines which come through the letterbox and make you wish you had several million quid to blow on a large Georgian country property.

It's not quite House and Garden but I'm sure they'll be on the phone any moment asking for insightful quotes.

(Thanks to Lissie of this blog and Managing Editor of the magazine for the opportunity to contribute.)

25 May 2006

Commenter of the Week

One of the very best things about this blogging lark has been coming across so many interesting and talented people in my comments box, many of whom have blogs of their own. So I have decided to instigate the hugely prestigious mirror mirror 'Commenter of the Week' awards.

The very first recipient of this coveted award is the highly talented Michelle Caplan, who makes the most wonderful collages from old photographs, old printed materials and other ephemera. She has a lovely blog and website and makes insightful comments about Marmite. I am thinking of commissioning a big collage from her when we move to Seattle, possibly using a photograph of my grandmother, and hope one day to be able to feature her notecards on mirror mirror.

To be considered as a 'Commenter of the Week' you need to be hugely interesting and talented, have a blog of your own and have commented at least once on the mirror mirror blog. Your prize will be an all-expenses paid trip to the Maldives the prestige, and a showcase in front of the mirror mirror blog's vast readership.

I am hoping that Michelle herself will pop into the comments box to give us her winner's speech and also tell us what she will be wearing on the red carpet.

24 May 2006

Pulse

Ruth Cross chair

I went to the Pulse trade show this afternoon at Earl's Court.

I went to my first trade show, together with my then business partner, just over two years ago. I felt like a complete charlatan then, as at that stage we didn't even have a company, our little shop was just a dream and I had no idea even what questions we should ask. I remember thinking that no supplier in their right mind would give us the time of day, let alone agree to associate their brand with ours. Instead people were super-friendly and helpful and many came on board before they ever saw the finished website.

It was such a different experience today. Now when I go to trade shows many of our suppliers are there, so I get to have a good gossip with them all. When I'm talking to potential new suppliers I have a much better idea of what I'm looking for, what jives with the mirror mirror brand and what will sell well online. I am unfazed by talk of minimum orders and pro-forma invoices and can talk with authority about future trends. In short I appear to have become a shopkeeper. And very nice it feels too.

Current trends include masses of lime green and turquoise for late summer; graphic swirly patterns; vintage fabrics and black and white. And it looks like there's going to be lots of rich burgundy, purple and grey around for winter.

I also got to see in person the gorgeous knitted chair by Ruth Cross which has recently featured on both Cally's blog and Decor8.

23 May 2006

Bad, bad mummy - again

PS. Please ignore grotty old M&S Womble slippers

Child’s play

I'm very excited by kiddley.com - the new blog from Claire Robertson who also writes the award-winning loobylu. It's full of craft projects and other great ideas to keep kids entertained and I'm sure will be an invaluable resource when the Minx gets a little bit older (currently her idea of a good time is to festoon the bathroom with unravelled toilet rolls, which is not necessarily the sort of creativity that I'm keen to encourage). I have no idea how Claire finds the time to maintain both blogs, particularly as she is currently thirty eight weeks pregnant and should by rights be lounging on a chaise longue eating chocolate and complaining about her swollen ankles.

While we're on the subject of kids' stuff, Holly at Decor8 has just written a fab article listing some cool new products for babies and children. It is still really difficult nowadays to find beautifully-designed products for children that aren't either made of primary-coloured plastic or smothered with cutesy pictures of rabbits and bears. I've been thinking for a long time of getting wonderfully-designed babies and childrens' products onto mirror mirror, but I think that will have to wait until after we've launched the catalogue, moved to Seattle, started making money etc.

I am especially in love with the wonderful chairs by Jennifer DeLonge. The Minx is definitely getting one when we move to Seattle. The vintage patterns are fab - wonderful to find things which are bright and colourful but will happily fit into the most grown-up room.

Jennifer DeLonge chairs

22 May 2006

Poll

Thanks to all who voted in the poll. I thought it was interesting that 40% (it sounds better than 4) of you actually run your own businesses and 50% (er, 5) would love to do so if you could. I've been thinking of talking more about issues to do with running your own business on the blog, particularly as there seem to be so few women blogging about business and even fewer blogging about business in the UK.

If you know of any good resources/blogs for women in business then please let me know and I'll try to incorporate them somewhere on the site.

Eurovision

Nigella's brownies

Feeling somewhat the worse for wear today, following our Eurovision Song Contest dinner party last night.

For those of you not in the UK, Eurovision is a Europe-wide institution. Nearly every European country chooses a song and singer to represent them in the competition and each country then votes for the best song, usually following televoting in that country.

It all started fifty years ago - and was taken completely seriously in those days - but nowadays it has descended into a riot of kitsch, beloved by gay men and parents of young children who need something to do on a Saturday night.

So last night we printed off our scorecards and dutifully gave each entry marks for the song, performance, outfit and dance routine. We drank too much champagne in honour of our glamorous friend Inge (freelance beauty editor and sometime mirror mirror model)'s birthday; ate too much cheese fondue and salad nicoise (suitably Continental, yet cheesy, we thought); booed when Cyprus gave Greece its douze points as per usual; and cheered when Finnish 'horror rock' band Lordi (think Meatloaf meets the Lord of the Rings) emerged as winners.

For pudding I made a heap of Green & Black's scrummy Chocolate and Dried Cherry Brownies and copied Nigella's idea to pile them up on a plate and cover them with birthday candles. We were too drunk to take a proper picture of the finished result, so instead I've scanned in the picture from How To Be A Domestic Goddess so you get the idea. (Don't bother with Nigella's brownies, though, which came out rather cake-y when I made them.)

On the subject of proper brownies, do any brownie experts out there know how I can achieve a proper chewy crust? The Green & Black's brownies, while absolutely delicious, are quite soft and a bit short on chewiness.

19 May 2006

Gorgeous

The film may be shit (hasn't stopped my buying my hyped up tickets though), but the dress rocked. Somehow Audrey makes everyone else look cheap.

Editing to say that Hilary Alexander has written an interesting post about the dress, designed by Balmain, on her new blog for the Telegraph, which includes what appears to be the original design sketch.

18 May 2006

Memories

Was just sorting through my 'Favourites' list and found something I'd come across when Sex and the City came to an end. It's without a shadow of a doubt (tee hee!) my favourite TV show of all time - I even managed to watch most of Season 3 while in the early stages of labour - and I suspect there might be a few SATC fans reading. So here it is. You need to have sound on. Enjoy!

17 May 2006

Is anyone out there?

Polling20station784847 Have just discovered this nifty little polling tool via Sharma Designs (by the way, check out the gorgeous jewellery - I'm hoping to get some on the site soon).

Will be amazed if this works.

Sugar and Martha

Interesting, though rather superficial, article here discussing women in business, whether Martha is nice and whether Ruth would have won the Apprentice if she'd been a bit more girly (found via BrocanteHome).

The article ends up concluding that so many women are now setting up their own businesses a la Martha because they don't fit into the stereotype of what corporate senior management (still mostly men) expects from women.

In my case I think that was true to an extent, but mostly I only got so far in corporate-land because I'm just not a big corporation type of person, and wouldn't have been if I were a man either. What I find really interesting is the sheer number of women who are giving up traditional corporate careers. At the moment I'm hanging out with a whole bunch of absolutely delightful women (found via a post-natal NCT class) who have babies the same age as the Minx and who all, with very few exceptions, are in the process of rethinking their careers. These women all had what sound like glamorous and high-powered jobs but were either unable to fathom how they could combine said jobs with motherhood, or else have had to acknowledge that they were actually quite unhappy in their jobs and didn't really want to go back.

So many women have told me that they too would love to start up their own business. I think it still represents for many that Holy Grail of flexibility and freedom from male-dominated office politics - though I'm not sure how many would still want to if they saw how little I'm earning at the moment and how often I'm up packing up orders after midnight.

Ugh. Not sure what point I'm making here. Best read the article for yourselves and let me know what you think.

Have been feeling rather grotty the last day or so. A hacking cough that seems to have taken up permanent residence in my extremely sore throat coupled with a really nauseous, churning stomach - have no idea how the two can be related. So apologies for recent lack of inspired bloggery.

14 May 2006

House of Eliott

A great catastrophe has happened in my life. I have just finished devouring series II of the quite magnificent House of Eliott and have realised that series III is not yet available on DVD. Am even more distraught than I am about West Ham.

Even the synopsis sounds wonderful. "Take two beautiful, talented sisters. Oblige them to fight their way out of financial near-ruin, building up a successful business on the way. Introduce a collection of dashing suitors, shady operators and feckless relatives. Then dress the heroines in some fabulous frocks and set all this against the background of London in the Roaring Twenties.'

It's ridiculous how inspirational I found the trials and tribulations of this completely fictional business - particularly as I have not yet been embezzled by my bank, had an affair with the husband of one of my most influential clients or been headhunted by a rival Parisian fashion house. The character of Beatrice played by Stella Gonet is especially wonderful - driven, passionate and intelligent and so unlike most of the dozy women you find on TV nowadays.

And the clothes and the interiors are just to die for. I thought I was alone in my madness, but am amused to see that they are having a very enthusiastic debate about it all over on Loobylu.com

13 May 2006

I’m forever blowing bubbles

I was born and brought up in East London and have supported West Ham for as long as I can remember. Though they've never been super successful, I've always loved their footballing philosophy - their enthusiasm and the way they always try to play attractive football.

Today a young and newly-promoted West Ham side played against Liverpool in their first FA Cup Final for 26 years. And lost. On penalties.

It was a thrilling game and they played so well; played their hearts out and very nearly won, leading 3-2 at the very end of the match before Steven Gerrard scored an incredible equaliser on the stroke of full time. And then they hit the post in extra time.

And I know it will mean nothing to them tonight, but this afternoon they really did themselves, their club and their supporters proud.

I'm still gutted though.

12 May 2006

Down in the dumps

It's probably just post-Tuscany blues and pre-having-to-get-everything-ready-to-move-to-Seattle hysteria, but I'm feeling a bit meh at the moment.

Like there's a huge brick wall up ahead of me. I've been pretty much running on adrenaline since the beginning of November, and there's always been something to focus on next - Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothers Day etc.

But now summer seems finally to be here and people have got better things to do than online shopping, so I'm expecting orders to tail off quite a bit.

I know I should be taking this opportunity to make all the improvements to the website that I haven't had time to make, buy in lots of gorgeous things for Christmas, sort out all my admin, work on my search engine optimisation etc. but I just don't seem to have the inspiration or motivation.

I want something EXCITING to happen, or failing that, just to go and lie under a tree in the park with a trashy novel and forget about search engine optimisation altogether.

I want my groove back.

11 May 2006

The Apprentice II

Oh well. The magnificent Ruth Badger, saleswoman extraordinaire, was never going to become the Apprentice. Even Sir Alan was intimidated by her, her self-confidence and her splendid range of disapproving facial expressions. Which is a pity, because not only could she sell ice cream to Eskimoes, she came across as funny and warm and seemed to inspire huge loyalty in her team.

Not sure what Sir Alan saw in Michelle - beyond the fact that she is young, blonde and attractive (er, maybe I do understand), has apparently overcome a troubled upbringing and Sir Alan had an 'intuition' about her. It certainly wasn't because she had been the best performer over the previous twelve weeks of tasks. That's the slightly disappointing thing about the Apprentice. In the end Sir Alan is not looking for the best businessperson, but the most suitable Amstrad employee - which is another thing entirely. It was as if we'd just invested a lot of time and effort watching a murder mystery, only for Poirot to come in at the end and say 'I have a leetle intuition that xxx is the murderer'.

It was awe-inspiring watching Ruth in selling mode - she clearly loved it and could sell anything to anybody, flats, second-hand cars, homewares. Her technique was to know everything there was to know about the product, infect people with enthusiasm for it and then never to be afraid to cut a deal. Never once did she appear to be giving people the hard sell, yet had an amazing record of success.

It was inspirational and educational watching her. Which is not something that can be said for any of the other numpties on the show.

10 May 2006

The big picture

Early morning mist

A thought occurred as I looked through all the photos I'd taken in Tuscany.

So many of them were pictures of vast landscapes, even though I know full well that no photo will ever do justice to such a scene. So few of my photos are of details - even though such photos are often the most evocative. I just don't see them even when they're right under my nose.

I wondered whether the pictures one takes are actually a reflection of one's approach to life. I know I'm a 'big picture' kinda girl - always full of big new ideas, always having to force myself to execute ideas I've already had. I do know that the devil is in the detail, but sometimes I feel just too lazy to look for him.

One of the reasons I love reading craft and design blogs is that they are often full of photos of tiny details, often taken from an unexpected perspective. Is it because 'crafty' people are 'details' people and is this one of the reasons they do what they do?

Two blogs which are fabulous examples of this are Cally Creates (check out her recent photos of Edinburgh) and Tongue in Cheek, which I read because her daily photos are just so evocative of France and fill me with nostalgia (I've just noticed that Corey from Tongue in Cheek has written a post about how she's not a details kind of person, so I guess that blows the above theory completely out of the water!)

08 May 2006

La vita e` bella

Things I learned while in Tuscany.

  • Wild irises grow in profusion by the side of the roads
  • Even Italian men shouldn't wear tights
  • It is impossible to feed the Minx too much gnocchi and pesto
  • English tomatoes are ghastly (not actually a new insight)
  • Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1997 is a very fine wine indeed

(The first photo is of the hotel)

07 May 2006

A room with a view

CLICK FOR GLIMPSE OF THE VIEW FROM OUR BEDROOM WINDOW

The most amazing thing about the Castello di Velona was the incredible view. The hotel is set in an ancient stone castle perched on a rocky outcrop with a full 360 degree view of the softly undulating Tuscan countryside. The area is known as the Val d'Orcia (the valley of the Orcia river) and is a World Heritage site - protected because it represents an almost unspoilt view of the Tuscan landscape as it would have been in Renaissance times.

It was a comfortable view - though different every morning and evening. Somehow its very timelessness was soothing to the soul.

06 May 2006

This way madness lies...

From Martha Stewart's website

From time to time I see forlorn teacups on Portobello market and think how easy it would be to make those teacup candles that you sometimes see in gift shops. And now of course Martha Stewart has posted up instructions for making teacup candles on her website. And I am seriously thinking that I would love to give them a try.

I'm sure hot wax and toddlers are highly compatible.

05 May 2006

Life’s little mysteries

MEL GIBSON

SJP

In an attempt to move the conversation on from cute baby goats, I'm sure today we are all wondering why SJP - much as we might admire her house - decided to dress up as Mel Gibson for last night's Anglomania - Costume Institute Ball in New York.

04 May 2006

Happiness is...

Finding a little animal corner, also in Kew Gardens, where the children were allowed in the pens to stroke the piglets, lambs and kids. Have never seen the Minx so happy. Am starting to think I need to buy this girl a pet. (This post was meant to launch while I was in Tuscany, but RocketPost went haywire, so you can read it whilst I do the washing).

Back

Pile20of20clothesI’m back. ‘Twas fab.

Am astonished to see that I did manage to post a couple of things in absentia. Anyway, will return with photographic evidence of our trip when I have emerged from under a pile of washing and orders.

03 May 2006

Wallpaper

This week's fantasy room features a wonderful mirrored cube from Susan Bradley and a matching Wallpaper installation - possibly in red perspex - on one wall, which I may or may not strip back to expose the brickwork (always so much easier in one's fantasies).

01 May 2006

Vogue drops on my mat

I wasn't feeling very inspired by Vogue this month until I came across these glorious summery images by Tim Walker. I love the colours, the use of props and the pervading air of wistfulness. And I think I can feel the beginnings of a daffodil yellow moment coming on.