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23 posts from September 2009

30 September 2009

Versace Spring 2010

I don’t often indulge in fashion here, mostly because I just don’t have the figure for it  - no one out there is designing for short, big-boobed women of a certain age. And thanks to foot problems, it’s also years, despite a congenital passion for shoes, since I indulged in sky high heels.

However, I was blown away by these – my dears, aren’t they gorgeously, divinely, ridiculously fantastic? (Not sure about the peep toe boots though).

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  Versace Spring 2010 Collection Shoes 2

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Versace Spring 2010 Collection 20Would someone like to buy me the pink booties at top right?  I couldn’t walk more than an inch in them, but all the cotton candy colours and graphic prints mixed with steel and plastic would fit right in here (after we’ve painted the walls) and I could display them on the mantelpiece as a piece of conceptual art or something and pat them lovingly from time to time.

And while you’re buying the shoes, the bag on the left wouldn’t go amiss either. (Oh and by the way, your eyes are not deceiving you, the soles of the shoes are indeed floating away from the heels).

Images via Project Rungay (the best blog in the world) and Obsessed With Shoes.

29 September 2009

An App –and Some Owls

How on earth did I live before I had my iPhone?  It seems impossible to even contemplate now, though I still find the touch screen infuriating at times.

Here’s one of my current favourite iPhone apps.

Developed by Seattle photographer Chase Jarvis, The Best Camera allows you to add some cool effects to your iPhone photos and also upload them easily to social networking sites such as Facebook etc.

Here’s an untweaked iPhone photo

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and here is the same image tweaked using four different filters – Jewel, Paris, Slate and Candy (there are some more standard filters such as B&W and warm up filters as well). You can also combine several different filters together.  Jarvis has set up a website www.thebestcamera.com where you can upload the images you’ve taken – loads of great pics up there already.

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These cute (I have no idea why they’re cute and not scary or ugly, but they are) mama and baby owls come courtesy of a blog reader Bushra who – after our recent owl discussion – emailed me the link for these owls on Etsy.  Which was splendidly timed to arrive just when the Husband was casting about for a birthday present that his baby could give to her mama…

A Couple of Nice Mentions

 

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Corine from Hidden In France has gone gaga for Babettes and Freshome has been inspired by the work of Charlotte Mann. Thanks so much for the mentions.

If you’ve mentioned the shop or the blog recently and I haven’t thanked you then do let me know.  I like to share the link love.

Last Drop of Summer

or the final chapter for this year I think in ‘If My Daughter Ever Complains About Her Childhood I Will Refer Her To This Blog’.

Seattle July '091 

We spent the weekend at Lake Chelan, about three and a half hours drive from Seattle, high in the Cascade mountains, where the cooler temperate coastal climate of Seattle and its surroundings meets the desert of Eastern Washington. The climate and landscape seemed very Mediterranean and the lake itself reminded me a little of the northern reaches of Lake Garda in Italy, though sadly without the charming jewel-like lakeside towns and delightful Italian restaurants.

Much kayaking and swimming  – in crystal-clear lake and pool – was accomplished and a great time was had by all.  And a good job too, because we got back to find that autumn has finally arrived with a vengeance in Seattle. The words ‘freaking cold’ came to mind this morning.

We’ve got no more weekend trips planned (at least until the end of the month, when the Minx and I need to go to Canada to renew our visas) and I’m relishing the idea of hunkering down a bit with knitting and house stuff – it’s been a long, long, but utterly fabulous summer.

25 September 2009

Dead Good

We’ve talked about British furniture company Deadgood before and I’m completely smitten by the cute little ‘Capsule’ sofa and chair they unveiled at 100% Design.

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Who are the good independent furniture designers in the US?  I’d love to find stuff like this here, but don’t seem to be able to track it down. (Check out more from 100% Design – oh how I miss it – here)

Update: Just editing to show the comments that have been appearing on my Facebook page….maybe I’m liking this chair a little less now…

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24 September 2009

3-D Glasses Dress

So, if I were 20 years younger, 20cms taller and er, a heck of a lot thinner, I would SO be buying this dress (and not just for Halloween either)

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Made to order by Nicole Lindner. Available here.

Blanket Coverage

 

Delicious eye candy via Decor8 yesterday of the home of photographer Danielle Thompson. More photos of the rest of her home are on her blog, but I was particularly drawn to the pictures of her sofa, which sort of have the vibe I’m aiming at – a smooth modern sofa accessorised with a vibrant granny blanket. And her warm contemporary pastel colour scheme is so wonderful.

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I also really like the arrangement she’s created above the sofa. I’m a bit over very frilly frames like these, but love the idea of collecting frames and framing fabrics.

If you’re looking for a easier crochet blanket, check out this simple but beautiful one from Casapinka.  I love its clean modern vibe, crochet can so often look overwrought and fussy.

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23 September 2009

The Soups of Summer - Gazpacho

 

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I know, I know, yesterday was the first day of autumn. 

But I’ve been making a lot of delicious chilled gazpacho this long hot summer and I wanted to share. And anyway, it’s astonishingly still 83F/28C here in Seattle, so it’s still appropriate for Pacific Northwesterners. AND it’s a great use of all the heirloom tomatoes still at the farmers’ market.

The recipe below is one I cobbled up myself from various books and online sources.  I’ve been fiddling with it for years now and can’t remember what my sources were, sorry. I think it’s fairly authentically Spanish though.

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This chilled soup, which is nothing more than a whizzed up salad, is gorgeous when (if) the weather is warm and the tomatoes are juicy.  I quite often make a big pot just for us to eat at home, but it also makes a great starter for a summer dinner party, in which case you may want to add the optional garnishes. Don’t bother making this if you can’t get hold of really delicious, juicy ripe tomatoes – in the US I use heirlooms and in the UK cherries.

You will need to whizz every thing together with a handheld blender. If you don’t have one you’re going to have to do messy things with a food processor or goblet blender. If you don’t have one of those, I really wouldn’t bother making this.

Ingredients

At least a kilo/a couple of pounds of tomatoes (I usually just eyeball this and use ‘a lot’)

½ large cucumber, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 small onion, red for preference

½ green pepper (optional, but Anaheims are nice)

2 slices white bread or 8 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (or substitute red or white wine vinegar)

1 big handful parsley sprig

1  large sprig mint

few drops Tabasco (optional)

1 teaspoon tomato ketchup (optional see below)

salt and pepper

FOR OPTIONAL GARNISH:

1 red pepper, chopped into tiny dice

1 green pepper, chopped into tiny dice

1 small red onion, chopped into tiny dice

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped into tiny dice

Tiny croutons

Method

Unfortunately the tomatoes need to be peeled, which can be a pain if you are using cherry tomatoes. However that is the only hard work you’re going to have to do.

Pour boiling water over your tomatoes, wait for the skins to split and then slip them off. If the skins don’t split give them a helping hand with the point of a sharp knife. Place the peeled tomatoes into your serving bowl. Roughly chop the cucumber, onion (and pepper if using) and add to the tomatoes with the garlic, mint and parsley. Tear up the slices of bread or add the breadcrumbs. I always have a bag of fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer and add them frozen to the soup.

Whizz every thing together with your handheld blender. Add the oil, vinegar, Tabasco and salt and pepper to taste and a teaspoon of tomato ketchup if you think that your tomatoes need it (apparently they do this in Spain, so that’s OK). Stir together and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Add a few ice cubes if you want to chill it faster.

(Teatowel by Tikoli available from mirrormirror)

22 September 2009

Hot Date – Seaplanes and Kayaks

It’s a busy month round here – both the Husband and I have birthdays and it’s also our wedding anniversary - so we decided to both take the day off work and go on ‘hot date’ instead.

Can anyone tell me why we haven’t done this before?  It felt so deliciously naughty and decadent and we didn’t even need a babysitter, just friends who were kind enough to pick the Minx up from school.

Despite the fact that we live close to Seattle’s Lake Union and are constantly buzzed by the seaplanes flying overhead, the Husband had never been on one (I did here, but it’s not quite the same in February), so we decided to book a flight out to Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.

I do keep forgetting what a ridiculously beautiful corner of the world I accidentally ended up in.

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Ready for takeoff 

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Bye bye Seattle and Mt Rainier

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Past Mt Baker

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Lunchtime

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Pretty restaurant

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Kayaking – we saw seals! (but I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to photograph them)

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Autumn is on its way

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Iles flottantes

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Into the sunset

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Back towards Rainier

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Approaching Seattle

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Buzzing the Space Needle 

It’s expensive, but on a beautiful day I can’t recommend this highly enough to anyone living in the Pacific Northwest. It truly was one of the most awesome things I’ve ever done in my life.

18 September 2009

Getting Old

It’s my birthday today and Seattle is rewarding me with the most glorious sunny day imaginable.

The long hot summer of 2009 continues its magic, I’ve picked myself some flowers from the garden, and I’m feeling very lazy, very grateful and very content.

Real birthday celebrations are happening tomorrow, so I can spend the day with Minx, and then on Monday both the Husband and I are taking a day off to go on a very exciting hot date, of which more anon.

See you on Tuesday!

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Cute antique milk bottle vase is from Casapinka’s fabulous new Etsy store.

Plates with Holes – Andrew Tanner

Not terribly practical if you’re chasing your peas round your plate, but I do like the way these wall plates with holes subvert the whole plate as practical item concept.  And look nice too.

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All details of British designer Andrew Tanner’s Silhouette plates are here.

17 September 2009

Scribbler on the Wall – Charlotte Mann

Feeling down because you can’t afford the latest must-have chair, your partner is allergic to the cats you love, or the view from your window is less than stellar?

Why not just grab a black marker and paint the things you crave on your white walls instead? That’s what London artist Charlotte Mann does, which has garnered her a spot on the shortlist for the British Design Awards 2009 in the Surface Design of the Year category.

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Image of journalist India Knight’s house from October’s Elle Deco

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All other images from www.charlottemann.co.uk

Style Guile

Or what makes this work?

Holly over on Decor8 put up a very thought-provoking post recently asking for styling tips and wondering how interiors stylists manage to achieve that sort of perfect lived-in dishevelment which just looks desirable and comfortable rather than messy and cluttered.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at rooms that ‘work’ and see if we could analyse what makes them look so good and try and pick up some styling tips of our own.

This room takes the city of Barcelona as its inspiration and comes from the Habitat-sponsored supplement in October’s Elle Decoration UK.

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So, what makes this work?

Colour Editing

- The colour palette used is very limited – just splashes of red, orange and yellow against a white background. A few touches of blue and green are introduced in the kitchen and on the sunburst clock just to stop it all looking too ‘matchy matchy’ (and because I suspect the tiles were a permanent feature the stylist could do nothing about).

The colour values on the other hand are varied, from the dark red chair (and note that half-hidden but important black chair) to the medium values of the yellow and translucent orange and the lightness of the white.

Echoing Shapes

I love it when stylists do this. Look at how the orange rectangles in the windows are echoed by the orange fridge and how the straight lines of this quite boxy room are reflected in the large floor tiles.  Then see how all those edges are softened by circles of the table and round chairs, which are again echoed by the lampshade. And how the rounded corners of the fridge are repeated in the rounded arms of the straight-legged chairs and the gentle curve of the fireplace.

Tchotchkes/Knick Knacks

The funny modern chess set on the table looks a bit incongruous I think, though I can see why something predominantly white, black and boxy was used for the scheme. I love the way they’ve used the beautiful tins that Spanish packaging is famous for but then mixed in some slightly less glamorous packaging with the salt and the teabags so that it looks like a real person might live there (though the salt pot echoes that little canister at the front and the colours of said salt and teabags match perfectly). Varying the heights and sizes of the canisters to the left also gives some visual interest.

I particularly like the artfulness of having front chair a little askew so that it looks like someone has just sipped their drink (note the perfect colour), got up from the chess game, and is lurking just out of shot. Though why this person needs sunglasses to play chess beats me.

Hidden Theme? 

I think the theme here is ‘sun’. That’s certainly what this room makes me think of.  The colours of course are part of it, but also the sunglasses and sunburst clock, the bright yellow daisy-like flowers in the tea cosy and wall art and the shape of the pendant shade say ‘sun’ to me.

What do you think?  Does the room work for you? What other little pleasing tricks do you notice? What could the stylist have done better? Why has the enormous pepperpot shown in the main picture disappeared from the kitchen close-up?

16 September 2009

Go Love Your Sofa - Babette

So here are more details of the present I’m planning to make for the new sofa.

This project has been percolating for a long time, ever since my friend Heidi from Peacock Modern showed me the pattern at the beginning of this year. It’s the reason I’ve been teaching myself to crochet and desperately trying to finish my existing big projects (I’m still ploughing through both the blanket and the lace wrap). And I’ve spent the whole summer collecting Koigu KPM sock yarn – picking skeins up cheaply on Ravelry and scouring and stalking online stores for sales and special offers.

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Buying everything online has made for mistakes (which I’ve sold on) but also some happy accidents - ‘ugly’ colours such as mustard and burnt orange –which I would never probably have picked up, but which, in the spirit of Noro, I’ve kept on and which I’m hoping will give the whole thing more interest and depth.

Here’s what I’ve collected so far.

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And here’s what they’re going to be.

Babette. How I love this funky modern take on the classic granny square blanket. How I’m looking forward to playing with my own colours to create a harmonious whole. How terrified I am of actually crocheting the thing and sewing it together.

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 If you too are foolish enough to want to embark on this, the pattern is here, there is a helpful Babette group on Ravelry, and a Flickr gallery full of Babette inspiration.

15 September 2009

Go Love Your Room – KenzieKate’s Nursery

I’m always a bit jealous of fabulous nurseries.  For the first year or so of her life when we were in our London flat the Minx slept in with all the mirrormirror stock in our second bedroom – not exactly conducive to beautiful decorating schemes.  Not that she really noticed if the truth be told.

This baby nursery is truly stunning – not many people could pull off a zingy green, yellow, turquoise and red colour scheme but Kenzie Kate of wedding blog ‘Something Old, Something New’ does an incredible job.

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I think it’s a great idea to do a bright scheme like this, as in my experience most little children are not very fond of pastels and will let you know that in no uncertain terms as soon as they can.  The Minx can be very vociferous on the subject of her dislike for baby pink (though hot pinks and fuchsias are another matter entirely). So this scheme should last for some time.

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The thing that really pulls this together are all the little homemade touches – the gorgeous mobile, the soft toys, the homemade quilt and art work.  I would give my eye teeth to be that talented a craftsperson.

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All details can be found here.  Found via the gorgeous Helen of Countryside Wedding – ex mirrormirror staffer and soon to be yummy mummy herself.

The Golden Years

Or, yet another chapter from ‘If My Daughter Dares Complain About Her Childhood, I Will Refer Her To This Blog’.Sausages on the Beach

This has been a record-breakingly fabulous summer in Seattle and this weekend we headed to the beach to cook sausages and watch the sun go down.

14 September 2009

Go Love Your Room - Colour Me Amazed

I was just flicking through the most recent copy of the Elle Deco UK when I came across this house by Dutch designer Carlos Weeber.

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I’m not sure I could exactly live with the colour scheme, but it is so refreshing to see an architect using colour – so many seem to be members of the ‘any colour as long as it’s white’ school.

Funnily enough the architect himself is colour-blind, so he works with an artist friend to put the colours together, and yes, the house is in Curacao, where a bright palette like this will fit in more, but still, I wish others were a bit more brave.

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All photos from Elle Decoration UK (Aug 2009)

I apologise for the scanned-in quality of the images.  Of course if Elle Deco got its act together and had a website….

11 September 2009

Ta-da!

So here is the new sofa in situ. It is as comfy as hell, IMMENSELY practical, extraordinarily well -made and we are thrilled to bits with it. Thanks Couch Seattle!

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You will note that we’ve also taken your advice – you were right of course - and bought a new rug for that end of the room so that the coffee table sits on it correctly and moved the green rug to the dining area. We also moved the green curtains to that end of the room to give a bit of colour and raised the curtain pole so that they hang better and give more of an illusion of height.

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Things Still To Be Done About Which We Need to Talk

- Paint the walls. I have a completely different colour in mind from the last time we discussed this and am going to get samples this weekend.

- Reframe and move the artwork. Commission or buy huge and expensive piece of art (ha ha!Ed) or at the very least do SOMETHING with the wall above the sofa.

- Replace (or possibly just paint?) the incredibly ugly door on the left which leads straight out onto the porch.

- Do something about the light fixtures, about which we have still done nothing since last we spoke.

- Crochet the sofa a beautiful present.

- Learn how to style photos better and at least smooth down the cushions on the couch before photographing it. 

There is much to discuss and much to do. But we are getting there slowly.

The weather is supposed to be glorious this weekend which I suspect will be the Seattle summer’s last hurrah. So we are going to go out and PLAY!

10 September 2009

Engraved Upon My Heart

 

Like everyone else in the world, I do like a good Moleskine notebook.  Portland-based company Engrave Your Book  produces beautiful reuseable leather Moleskine covers, laser engraved with artwork by up-and-coming artists and graphic designers, including Amy Ruppel.

Aren’t these just fabulous? I might try and get some of these in the shop. Currently available here.

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Amy Ruppel for Engrave Your Book 

Jubilee

Isn’t this rather gorge? It doesn’t quite fit into our house decor, and it costs an absolute fortune, but je l’adore, oh yes I do.

To me it sort of sums up Britain in a way - different and edgy, fun and funky, a mish-mash of styles, slightly uncomfortable-looking and with a heart of pure unadulterated old-fashioned chintz.

 

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Available at the Rug Company, { via Countryside Wedding}

09 September 2009

Adventures in Knitting - Knitting the Ocean

The only thing I have really been able to achieve this summer is a ton of knitting.  I was inspired by all the fabulous patterns on Ravelry to embark on a cardigan for myself, the first time I’ve knitted an adult-sized cardigan or sweater since I was at college (more years ago than I care to remember).

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This Featherweight Cardigan was a really quick, simple and pleasurable knit, particularly as it was the first thing I’ve made out of yarn dyed by a Seattle-based woman who goes by the name of Sundara.  The woman is a colour genius and I’ve recently been bankrupting the family buying up her limited edition yarns, but the colours, oh the colours are a-maz-ing.  I will blog about her separately as she really is an artist who deserves to be seen by knitters and non-knitters alike.

But I digress. This cardigan was made in Sundara’s soft and sumptuous Fingering Silky Merino in a limited edition colourway ‘Macedonia’ and, with its variegation from dark to light blue with little flecks of pale ‘foam’ on top, it was just knitting up the sea. The photos really don’t do justice to the depth of the blue and how it glows in the sunlight.  Full project details on Ravelry as usual.

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These pics were taken by my friend Kassandra at Seattle’s Golden Gardens beach on the last beach day before school started. Our kids are rioting gently somewhere a few yards out of shot.  

While we’re on the subject of rebooting and reclaiming one’s life after the baby years, looking at these pictures I think I also really need to start reclaiming my body – it seems a bit much to be carrying ‘baby weight’ when the baby is nearly five.

I’ve been hampered in my efforts to exercise recently by lack of time and crippling plantar fasciitis -an excruciating pain at the bottom of my foot, which I think has been indirectly caused by twisting my ankle very badly a couple of years ago.  At the moment the best exercise for me appears to be yoga, so I’m committing to doing a bit of yoga (either a class or a video) every day for the rest of September.  I used to do quite a bit of yoga before the Minx was born, and it’s horrible to realise how inflexible I’ve become. 

05 September 2009

Separated at Birth?

Or, calling a Spade a Spade

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Incredibly fashionable Kate Spade Fall 2009 bag 


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Fantastically terrifying decoy owl

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{via Making It Lovely and Whorange}  

So, let’s start as we mean to go on shall we?

This bag has been doing the rounds of the blogs in the last day or so. Much as we like an owl motif or two round these parts, and much as I hate to contradict two of my favourite design bloggers, I frankly find this bag both extremely ugly and utterly, bone-chillingly, terrifying.

It reminds me of the ferocious looking plastic decoy owl which you, dear readers, encouraged us to buy, and which was perched on our roof deck for the best part of the summer in an attempt to scare the birds from our cherry tree. I think it worked with the birds – there definitely seemed to be fewer around this year, and it certainly gave me the screaming heebie-jeebies every time I glanced it out of the corner of my eye.

Oh, and if you must buy this bag (and we would encourage you not to) the bag is available here.

We’re off to visit our friends’ cabin in the mountains this Labor Day weekend (oh how painful it is to write ‘Labour’ without a ‘u’ ) so I’ll be back on Tuesday.  Next week we’ll be talking about my new knitted cardigan and the new sofa.  How can you stand the excitement?

04 September 2009

Reboot

Seattle July '09

Here’s the Minx enjoying her idyllic Pacific Northwest summer 

I’ve been waiting for this moment for nearly five years.

Yesterday the Minx went off to kindergarten (for UK readers that’s the equivalent of ‘infant school’) clutching her new Tinkerbell lunchbag in her sticky little mitt and I got my life back.

I fell pregnant with the Minx two months after deciding to start mirrormirror and was seven months pregnant when the website actually launched.  The Minx was three months old when my then business partner decided it wasn’t for her and eighteen months old when we moved lock, stock and barrel to Seattle while continuing the business in the UK.  So really I’ve never been able to work on the business without fitting it round the needs of a tiny child.

And although I’ve had varying amounts of childcare, since the Minx was born I have never before had the unbelievable luxury of five (albeit short) days a week at my disposal, instead of cramming in odds and ends and bits and pieces of work round the childcare.

So there are going to be some big changes round here.

- First up I really want to start developing this blog. Thanks to my diehard readers for sticking with it even when I’ve hardly been updating. I do love writing it though and now I’ll be able to update it at least daily. So stay tuned.

- Next, there are some changes happening with my poor neglected little shop back in the UK.  I’m not quite sure yet how they’re going to pan out, so no news yet, but stuff IS happening behind the scenes.

- Lastly and, most excitingly,  I hope to launch the US version of mirrormirror early next year, depending on when our green card comes through and I can legitimately work out here. Please keep you fingers crossed that it’s soon.

I’ve got tons of other ideas bubbling up, but we’ll start with this stuff for the moment and see how things pan out.  I’ve also got nearly five years of neglected filing and a disastrous email inbox to take care of.