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22 posts from September 2007

27 September 2007

Another Secret Update

Some more nice online mentions. 

I am apparently an Alpha Mummy. It's very nice to be up on a national newspaper's website, even though I had to draw their attention to the blog myself.  Likewise a lovely link to the Matryoschka teatowels on the ever fabulous sfgirlbybay.  

It's probably because I'm British but I always feel awkward indulging in shameless self-promotion - but I need to learn to do it more often it seems.

The teatowels have also been mentioned on House to Home.  We sent some out to be photographed by Ideal Home earlier on this year, so I think it's as a result of that. Don't think they're in the magazine though as we would have been getting a flurry of orders for this product if it had been.

Now I really need the Universe to start focusing a bit more on the orders side of things as it's been slacking a bit in that direction this week.

By the way, if anyone sees a mention of 'mirrormirror' in the Press or online could you let me know?  Our PR company used to keep an eye on such things but now that we no longer use them I'm finding it very difficult to keep up.

T-Shirts

If I were taller and didn't have such enormous 'bloggers' boobs', I would definitely be buying one of these from House of Holland (in fact, I might still have to get one or two to wear in bed -  but they're massively sold out now of course). 

Or else I may just buy Little Doodles' fabulous version, if she ever adds it to her Etsy shop. (She's on a bit of a bird kick at the moment, which is a shame because I much prefer her fashion and interiors stuff.  But that's mostly because I'm phobic about birds, so ignore me).

26 September 2007

Playing with my new lens

For those of you who emailed concernedly, I didn't just get cheese for my birthday.

Kitchen Bliss

This video tour of Isaac Mizrahi's kitchen has made my morning.  I love how completely unpretentious and functional his kitchen is.

However, if we're going to do pretention in the kitchen, what better way than with this amazing cooker hood by Elica found via Patricia Grey.

 

The below looks just like me when I'm cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 September 2007

More Florence Broadhurst

One of the things I like best about blogging are the great emails that come in from all over the world.

Yesterday I was thrilled to find Helen O'Neill, the author of Florence Broadhurst - Her Secret & Extraordinary Lives in my inbox.

I read the book a couple of months back and enjoyed it very much.  I think anyone with an interest in design would love it. 

It is stunningly produced, with a wonderful cover and lots of gorgeous colour plates featuring Broadhurst's iconic designs inside.

Broadhurst herself is an absolutely fascinating and ultimately inspirational character. She was a ruthless businessowman, a PR genius and an entrepreneur to her (no doubt colourfully varnished) fingertips, at a time when female entrepreneurs were very few and far between. Had she been living today, I've no doubt she would be at the head of huge business empire placing Florence Broadhurst designs on everything from stationery to rugs. She was also a true eccentric, travelled widely - again at a time when most women were expected to stay at home and mind the baby - and had an interestingly ambiguous take on morality. I loved her.

My one gripe with the book is that it tries too hard to create drama and controversy - Florence's life is fascinating enough in and of itself - but I think that much of this impression stems from the publisher's overhyping. But the so-called scandals and mysteries of her life felt a bit overegged. See here for a very interesting conversation about the book.

But I digress.  Helen wrote to thank me for mentioning the book on the blog and then went on to reveal that the book still doesn't have a UK publisher.  I find this completely extraordinary, given what a super book it is and particularly when one walks round Waterstone's and sees the drivel which does get published nowadays.  UK publishers you must be mad!

Helen seemed to think that some UK blog mentions might help, so I'm very happy to oblige. She'd like her mother who lives in the UK to be able to walk into a shop and see Florence on the shelves. UK publishers, how can you be so cruel?

Sadly, I'm not entirely sure that many any UK publishers read this blog. (Well, they certainly won't any more - Ed).

24 September 2007

United Colors of Notting Hill

Click to enlarge. The picture at top left is Sienna Miller's new boutique.

23 September 2007

Handwritten?

I've been looking for a good excuse to get some gorgeous Moo mini-cards for a long time, and it occurs to me that they would make really cute mirrormirror gift tags if I got them made up using product images and tied them with ribbon.

The only problem is that they're rather small (only half the size of a conventional business card) and we hand-write every gift message, so there's going to be a limit to how many words we can fit on each card.

However, if we printed the message, we'd be able to fit a whole lot more on.  But is a printed message too impersonal? What do you prefer when giving and receiving gifts online? Has anyone seen any great gift tag ideas they'd like to share?

 


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We bought bedlinen for the Minx yesterday. She is THRILLED.  I will post a picture later in the week, together with a definitive guide to the differences between US and UK bedlinen etiquette. I know you can't wait.

22 September 2007

Secret Update

Well, the delightful Barb wrote to say she was linking to me, and Diane has been successfully sending out her first few orders...

...oh and I was emailed today to see if I'd like to be interviewed for one of the biggest design blogs in the world.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Two Countries Separated by a Common Language - Part I

Or, what is the American for duvet?

Up until now I have been an extremely cruel mother and confined my little, exceedingly wriggly, girl to a Grobag sleeping bag and cot (quite a big one as it has potential to be converted to a toddler bed).

The extent of my cruelty was brought home to me when we were staying at the very new and very swish Hotel du Vin in Cambridge and the Minx's cot came equipped with a zoo-print toddler duvet.  Never have you seen a more delighted girl.  And never have you seen a more shamefaced mummy, when on the next few nights, the Minx proceeded to unzip herself from her Grobag and wear it 'like a duvet'. 

So a toddler duvet must be procured, and it is yet one more thing where I don't have a clue where to begin here in the US. 

I was quite young when the so-called 'continental quilt' took the UK by storm and became the very thing for the well-dressed bed.  Somewhere along the line we adopted the French word 'duvet' and now I think there is hardly a bed in the UK where they aren't used.  After all, who would want to go to all the trouble of fussing with sheets and blankets?

The Americans, that's who.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but from experience of staying in US hotels and from searching for duvets online just now, it would seem that most Americans are still in thrall to traditional bedding with sheets and blankets and quilts and things called shams. 

Do you guys know what duvets are?  Are 'down comforters' the same thing?  Is this a toddler duvet? Can you suggest anywhere where I might get a funky toddler duvet cover in pink and green which is not as wishy-washy as the Pottery Barn ones (we  - by which I mean I, because the Minx would probably love one - would also prefer not to go the Dora the Explorer duvet route either).  Any advice on American bedding etiquette would be much appreciated, because I really have no idea where to begin.

20 September 2007

Pssst...

 One of the books I read on the interminable flight to England was The Secret

Fortunately my personal trainer lent it to me as I really didn't fancy actually paying for it, but I was interested to see what all the hype was about.

It's a very easy read and in essence is just all about the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction, which you can find in lots of self-help books.  It goes a bit further than some books I've read though, by suggesting that you just have to ask the Universe (always capitalised, natch) for something and if you fully believe that you will receive it and act as if it's already in the bag then the Universe will deliver.  Apparently the Universe is just one big mail-order company.

Which is of course all a load of old drivel.  Except that life always seems to go better for me when I have a positive attitude.

So, we are going to conduct a little experiment.  In an ideal world,  I would like to ask the Universe for mirrormirror to be acquired over the next month for millions of pounds with me retaining overall executive responsibility and an extremely fat salary.  But I think I would have difficulty mustering the necessary belief for that one. But maybe next month.

Instead I am going to request that mirrormirror achieves some sort of significant leap forward over the next 30 days  - over and above what it would normally achieve (which shouldn't be difficult as September and October are usually very slow in mirrormirror land). I'm going to think and act as if mirrormirror were already phenomenally successful, weed out any negative thinking, and then on the 20th October note any great breakthroughs - such as meaningful spike in the volume of orders or visitors, a fabulous piece of PR or just links from great blogs or websites. Or any other ways in which the Universe chooses to help mirrormirror grow.  I'm really not fussy.

Interestingly, since I read the Secret on the journey out to the UK and tried to think positively at all times, there has been a mini-flurry in orders and I've had two major pieces of luck, involving a handbag left behind in a taxi and an empty house with an unlocked door. Cue spooky Twilight Zone sort of music.   

Happy Birthday to Me

I got a piece of Brie.

It was my birthday on our last day in London and my husband's gift was a very smelly piece of unpasteurised Brie.  Never let it be said that that man is not a romantic. God it was good though.

We of course had a phenomenally lovely time. The sun shone (even on my birthday, which absolutely NEVER happens); we met friends and family seemingly at every hour of the day and night; the Minx was beside herself with excitement and kept exclaiming ' I LOVE England'; we went to a very glamorous and lovely party; and mirrormirror was successfully transferred to its new base in Cambridge. 

And the Minx only woke up twice last night and managed to sleep through to 6 am which is a new jetlag record. So life is charmed indeed. 

10 September 2007

Sad News

Dame Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, has died at the age of 64, from a massive brain haemorrhage.

And the news has made me feel really sad.  She was a truly inspirational woman and probably the most well-known female entrepreneur in the UK.  In fact at the moment I can't think of another one. 

Throughout my business career, she was held up as the female role model - it used to be impossible to read an article about 'women in business' without Anita Roddick being either mentioned or quoted -  though her unconventional way of doing business meant that she was hardly an establishment darling. 

Thanks to her, a whole generation of women has been inspired to start their own businesses, though it is still quite shocking how few high-profile female business leaders there are. I hope my daughter grows up with role models like her to inspire her.

Anita Roddick, goodbye and thank you.

A Strange Thing Has Happened

We're going back to the UK tomorrow - just for a week.  And I don't particularly want to go. Which is something I never thought I'd say. 

Maybe it's the wonderful Indian summer we're having here.  Or maybe just the thought of dealing with a jetlagged Minx again.  Or just the fact that is is mostly going to be work.  But even so Seattle is really starting to feel like home.

View from the 520 floating bridge over Lake Washington this weekend.  This is the view the Husband gets on his commute every day if the 'Mountain' is 'out'.

 

Here is a photo I took back in March of the shops on Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill's premier shopping street which is full of gorgeous boutiques and cafes.

 


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We're going back because mirrormirror is on the move again.  Last year the wonderful Helen stepped into the breach when I was desperately looking for someone to take over the UK end of operations prior to our move out to Seattle, and it's been huge amounts of fun working with her over the last year.  I can never thank her and my lucky stars enough for popping into my inbox at just the right time.

Unfortunately over the past few months the silly girl has gone and got herself a fabulously glamorous and interesting-sounding job at the Design Museum, moved to a new house outside of London and become engaged, so mirrormirror doesn't exactly fit into her life any more.  We always knew this was going to happen though I can't believe a year has flown by so quickly. 

Extremely fortunately my lovely friend Diane is going to be taking over.  I'm really looking forward to working with her as she's got a ton of marketing and marcomms experience and has just gone freelance, so we're hoping that mirrormirror will fit in with her nicely.  So next weekend, we'll be moving everything up to Cambridge.  Do wish us luck driving a van full of ceramics up the motorway.

Ergo Pro

My lovely chiropractor Dr Ted gets so much pleasure out of torturing me that he gave me a present today.

Install this nifty Ergo Pro software and your computer will remind you every so often (you can change the settings to remind you after a certain length of time or amount of keyboard activity) to get up and stretch your back and neck. 

It's made me realise just exactly how much pain and stiffness I carry around with me in neck and shoulders all day, despite Dr T's ministrations, and comes highly recommended by the good doctor for all bloggers and people who spend hours each day at their keyboards.

08 September 2007

Drawers

I was feeling pretty good about my new Alex drawers (finally somewhere to put my gorgeous Marcel Wanders boxes exported from the UK at great expense in March).

Until I saw these glorious Finn Juhl drawers on the Style Files.

I just love the colours, the shape of the drawers and the open-y/close-yness of the whole thing.  What a wonderful piece.  Finn Juhl has been quite the thing in blogland recently.  I'd kill for one of his tiny sofas.

It's funny how things work out sometimes.  I bought the Marcel Wanders boxes on a whim and have been struggling to come up with a place to put them.  And then I bought the Ikea desktop also on a whim and realise they are a match made in heaven.  Some higher power obviously wants me to have a black and white graphic patterned office with pink and red accents. Which is absolutely fine by me.

Please ignore the green walls and er, broken blind. Which must be addressed forthwith. And the huge heap of unfiled magazines and catalogues shoved in the corner, which I'm too embarrassed even to show you.

07 September 2007

Chipped Nail Polish

and floral pyjamas, on our new garden steps.  At er, 2.15 pm. 

For feet week. (Which I discovered thanks to Lottie).

Pieces of Us

We love Michelle Caplan's work here at mirrormirror, in fact we love it so much that one day we're going to commission something fabulous - that is when we manage to get to the end of a month without being almost bankrupt (doing up a house is expensivo).

 

So I was excited to receive an invite to her upcoming exhibition Pieces of Us which I would definitely be going to if we lived even remotely close to LA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news is that if you, like me, don't happen to find yourself in California this month, then you can see images of her new work on her Flickr.

Entrepreneuring

Image from here

I'm feeling a bit of a fraud about this, as I never seem to blog about the business anymore - just gardening and house renos - but I was extremely flattered to be included on this fabulous list:  The Women Entrepreneurs Toolbox: 100 Networking Resources, Guides and Links.

If you run your own business or are dreaming of doing so one day, do check this list out.  It's full of really interesting and useful resources.

Suffice it to say that much has in fact been going on with mirrormirrorwhich I was planning to blog about later this week. How can you bear the suspense? 

06 September 2007

A Trip to Ikea

Of course.  It was Labor Day weekend after all.

And a fun time was had by all.  Especially the Minx who became extremely bored and crotchety and miserable until we put her to sleep on top of a pile of rugs in the rug department while the Husband rushed around the warehouse collecting large boxes.  If you were trying to buy a rug in Ikea Seattle on Saturday, I do apologise.

Like most people we have a fair smattering of Ikea around the house - funnily enough even more so here in the US than in London, as it's our only source of cheap European design and we have a much bigger place to fill.

We only went in to get three sets of Alex filing drawers and some Lack shelves for the Minx's toy room but I came away with a purchase that made me extra happy - a new desk! 

Until now the global behemoth that is mirrormirror has been run from an old wooden desk I bought in a junk shop in Islington about fifteen years ago. Which is actually a beautiful old desk - or would be if it were releathered - but is also ridiculously small.  And I am ridiculously disorganised. 

I've been looking out for a replacement for some time, but saw nothing I loved until I saw this, one of Ikea's Vika Glasholm range of interchangeable glass tabletops and legs, which looks like nothing on the website or the catalogue, but which is gorgeous in person. 

It's large, unusual, doesn't show sticky fingerprints too much and throws wonderful shadows when lit directly from above.

It is the sort of desk that makes me want to be the sort of person who always has one perfect bloom in a vase on their desk.

 

I'm not exactly thrilled by the trestles it's standing on - I hope one day Ikea will add some nice spiky aluminium trestles to its range, but they'll definitely do.

Now I just have to address this lot.

Actually Ikea was the least fun thing we did this weekend.  On Sunday we held a brunch party for a bunch of friends up on the deck, which was huge amounts of fun, and on Monday we went to Bumbershoot  - Seattle's wonderful music and arts festival - which was completely fab. We didn't bother to queue for any of the headline acts, but really enjoyed boogieing to Lyrics Born and Soulive on one of the smaller stages. 

The best thing though, was seeing the Minx's reaction to seeing the Pacific Northwest Ballet.  It's the first time she's seen any ballet - and this was pretty adult-orientated stuff - but she was mesmerised throughout and devastated when the hour-long performances came to an end.  I think a trip to the Nutcracker is in order this Christmas.

04 September 2007

The Cure

No, not the band, the book.

I've had Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan's book Apartment Therapy - the Eight Step Home Cure sitting in my bedside cabinet for the longest time, but to date have only flicked through it.  

Starting tomorrow though, Apartment Therapy is launching its Fall 'Cure' - eight weeks of therapy either for your whole or part of your house (after which I will probably require eight weeks of therapy).

I think the time is ripe to start working properly on the main room downstairs, and possibly the Minx's room, so hopefully this will give me the motivation I need. 

Is anyone brave enough to join me? 

Summer Teatowels

So Holly Decor8 threw a garden party this weekend and put together the most spectacular table-setting, featuring our Matrioschka teatowels by Atelier LZC.

Holly has always been a great friend to mirrormirror and I'd sent her a couple of teatowels as a thank you gift a few months back. 

It's so nice to see that she's putting them to good use and thought you'd like to see how wonderful they can look in a beautiful real-life setting.

Apparently this is Holly's idea of 'a very simple garden theme'.  I have no idea what might happen if she actually decided to make an effort.

Images by Holly & Thorsten Becker

Image by me

Available from www.mirrormirrorontheweb.co.uk

01 September 2007

The Easiest and Most Delicious Pasta In The World

So, you're back from a weekend away and there's hardly any food in the house, but never fear, if you've got a box of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes to hand you can always make this - the quickest, easiest and scrummiest pasta dish you'll ever taste. 

I first ate this one New Year's Eve in Naples when staying with my Neapolitan relatives there.  It's the perfect quick lunch for one person, but also so delicious I serve it all the time for friends.

Suffice it to say, we've eaten quite a lot of this this week.

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes

Set the water boiling for some long thin pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine. 

Take a punnet of sweet, very ripe cherry tomatoes - thin-skinned ones work best - and cut each one in half (a serrated knife is always best for tomatoes, I sometimes use the bread knife). That's the most work you'll have to do.

Put the pasta on to cook before you start the sauce (yes, it's that quick).

Take a large frying pan and heat up a generous splosh (about 1tbsp) of good olive oil. Peel a clove of garlic, halve it and fry it in the hot oil until it turns golden brown. Remove the clove of garlic.  If you have garlic-infused oil use that instead and skip this step.

Get the flavoured oil really hot on the highest heat and add the halved tomatoes.  Take care as they will sizzle and spit at this stage.  Keep frying them on a high heat until they collapse and melt down into sauce, prodding with a wooden spoon helps. Stir occasionally to stop them sticking.  Season with salt, pepper and half a teaspoon of granulated sugar unless the tomatoes are very sweet.  If they've turned into a sauce before the pasta is ready keep cooking the sauce over a gently heat to keep it warm but don't overcook. If you're feeling fancy stir in a handful of chopped Italian parsley at the end and give it time to wilt.

When the pasta is ready stir it into the fried tomatoes adding a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water.  Add another generous slug of olive oil (not garlic oil this time).

And that's it.  It doesn't need cheese and you really mustn't remove the skins.   They're the best bit.

Recipes are returning to the mirrormirror blog because Helen and I have decided to stop writing the Year of Living Gorgeously.  

It's made us really sad to do so, but we're both just up to our eyeballs with other projects now and we couldn't keep it up to the standard we wanted. It'll stay up there for some time and eventually I'll move all my recipes and stuff over here. For those of you who are readers of both blogs thanks for all your support and comments and I hope you'll stay and play on both our personal blogs.