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17 posts from February 2011

28 February 2011

How to Create an Oscars Dress

 

Take one of these (do sandwich boards exist in the US?)

 

Sandwich board

 

Combine with one of these

 

toilet seat

 

Get out your glue gun and stick on lots of these, and these

 

pinkgumballs yellowbarnacles

 

And lo and behold, Cate Blanchett will wear it.

 

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It’s been nearly 24 hours and I’m still trying to work out if I like this dress or not. What do you guys think? At the very least kudos to her for wearing one of the very few interesting dresses on display last night.

   

Accessories They Should Have Worn – Joan Collins Oscars 2011

 

Joan Collins

 

Oh Joanie, how did you miss the opportunity to wear this?

 

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Separated at Birth – Gayle King Oscars 2011

 

lettuce Gayle King
                                          Gayle King                                                                                                               A head of lettuce

Separated At Birth – Mandy Moore 2011

 

Every year one lucky actress wins the Come As Your Favourite Muppet competition and this year Mandy Moore drew the short straw. 

 

Groverkimmel Capfsfsture

                                  Mandy Moore                                                                                          Grover

Separated At Birth – Melissa Leo Oscars 2011

 

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                        Melissa                                                                                                     Elvis

Her speech didn’t offend me, but her peculiar broderie anglaise and tinfoil dress really did.

Separated At Birth – Gwyneth Paltrow Oscars 2011

 

Gwyneth Paltrow donatella-versace-superheroes-fashion-and-fantasy-costume-institute-gala-at-the-metropolitan-museum-of-art-departures-1fPwDL
                 Donatella                                                                                                      Gwynnie

Ever so slowly our dear peroxide-addicted Gwynnie is morphing into Donatella Versace. But at least Donatella doesn’t try to sing. (Why, Oscars producers, why?)

 

   

Separated At Birth – Annette Bening Oscars 2011

 

kids-skeleton-costume Capture
Annette Bening                                                                                                     A Skeleton

 

She was my pick for Best Actress (though a lot because I can’t BEAR Natalie Portman) and she generally makes good red carpet choices, but there was something rather too anatomical about this rhinestone-encrusted dress. Though a 50 year old who can wear something that draws all eyes straight to her midsection is a brave woman indeed.

   

Separated At Birth – Anne Hathaway Oscars 2011

 

In a night where the King’s Speech swept the major awards before it, Anne Hathaway paid her own small tribute to things old-fashioned and British.

 

Royal Mail red pillar box Ha

             Anne Hathaway                                                            Royal Mail pillar box

 

She’s uber talented (didn’t know she could sing like that) but goodness that was just too much irritating perkiness, girlish giggling and squeeing for one evening.

25 February 2011

Funky Loft Beds

 

For the past few months we’ve been in the market for a cool loft bed for the Minx.  The problem was a familiar one – all the beautifully designed loftbeds that I actually LIKED were phenomenally expensive, while the ones we could afford were all cheaply made, old fashioned, plain ugly or only available in Europe.  Why does great design have to be so flipping spendy and why is all the funky stuff in the US imported from Europe in the first place? Where are the American designers doing cool contemporary design for kids?

Here are some of the beds we loved and had to reject because of cost.  Next week I’ll post pictures of the bed we finally chose.

This is the Alex Loft Bed system by DucDuc. It’s available in a range of cool colours and is American designed and made, but you’ll have to fork out $2,850 for just the top bed and armoire before adding a the desk or a bottom bed etc.

 

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All you get for $2,850

 

The felt-covered  German-made Perludi ‘Amber in the Sky’ is also rather splendid, and available here for a cool $2599 (down from $3,450).

 

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The Azor loft bed below is also imported from Europe but comes in at a slightly more reasonable at $2150, including, I think, the desk.

 

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My absolute fave was this picture I found on OhDeeDoh. The link is now broken, it looks like the bed was also super expensive, and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere else,  but I love the diagonal footprint, so am adding it here to sigh about what might have been.

 

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Did I say my most favourite? Actually that accolade probably needs to go to these Tiramolla loft bedrooms from Tumidei of Italy which I believe are available through Roche Bobois. I didn’t even bother to enquire as to how much they cost (I’m sure the answer would be ‘your first born child’ which would rather defeat the object) but they sure are molto bello.

 

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Picture 14

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Images from the Minx’s new bedroom coming early next week. I know you can’t wait.

   

23 February 2011

Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival

 

So the week before last I headed up to Vancouver BC with three friends – Viv from Seattle Bon Vivant, Tracy from AlDente and Mari  -  to attend the first ever Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival.

 

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This was, of course, just an excuse, for four greedy women to spend 36 hours eating their way round Vancouver, ably abetted by Stephane Mouttet, the charming and hugely knowledgeable concierge at the Shangri La hotel.

Having had such an enjoyable time when we stayed there last, I recommended the Shangri La to the others and it was such a relief when our stay was even better than I had remembered.  If there are friendlier, more helpful, more informative hotel staff anywhere in the world, I’d love to meet them.

Our first stop on the Hot Chocolate Tour was Thomas Haas in Kitsilano. Haas has world-level patissier credentials, most recently as Executive Pastry Chef at the Four Seasons in Vancouver and the sumptuous chocolates and exquisite pastries in his shop were metaphorically, and probably literally, to die for.

Their hot chocolate was the best we tasted on the tour and the almond croissant was the best I’ve ever had anywhere in the world – the perfect combination of crisp savoury outer shell, perfectly toasted almonds and dense squidgy, not too sweet almond filling.  The macarons I brought back for the Minx (who has expensive tastes) were as good as Laduree.

 

For Collage

 

Later that afternoon we visited Mink Chocolates and indulged in yet more hot chocolate and a decadent individual chocolate fondue. The speciality here is individual bars of premium quality iPhone-sized ganache-filled chocolate with super cool names, such as Ruby & Tawny Are Friends, Open In Case Of Emergency, Pas De Deux or Mermaid’s Choice and funky colourful packaging.  Their striking beauty, and the individual bold statement chocolates in the shapes of hearts and lips, reflect owner Marc Lieberman’s fine arts background – he does all the graphic design himself, as well as develop the chocolates.  I bought a stack of chocolate bars for the Husband’s Valentines’ present and can confirm that they are  pretty darn wonderful.

For supper Stephane at the hotel recommended ReFuel, again in Kitsilano, which specialises in fresh local ingredients and did fabulous things with charcuterie, marrow bones, BC spot prawns, chalkboard art and funky light fittings at a very reasonable price.

 

For Collage

 

Another highlight of the trip – though my photos unfortunately didn’t turn out too well -  was our trip to Bella Gelateria. We had every intention of trying the hot chocolate but after James the owner talked to us at length about the wonders of his pistachio gelato, made from specially-ground paste, using pistachios from the slopes of Mount Etna, we changed our minds. I consider myself to be something of a pistachio gelato connoisseur – it’s been my flavour of choice since I was a kid and I’ve eaten it all over Italy - and this really was incredible.

Finally here are a few more photos of the splendours of the ShangriLa, featuring their signature chandeliers, their smiley staff, an immense afternoon tea (with OMG! REAL clotted cream) and a doozy of a breakfast, including my first ever taste of congee, which I adored.

 

Vancouver Hot Choc Fest

 

And a couple of pics of the incomparable Stephane at work, who did so much to make our trip one of the most fun and memorable I’ve taken in ages.  Merci beaucoup!

 

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We had a lot of fun posting pictures and tweeting and checking in from all Vancouver on Facebook and Twitter and will definitely be back again next year to check out all the chocolate stops we didn’t make it to this time round.

If you’re on Twitter you may want to follow @thaaschocolates @ShangriLaBC @bellagelateria @CityFood_mag @refuel_bar @minkchocolates or my lovely friends and travel companions Viv @bonnevivante, Tracy @choicemorsel and M @bitterbiscuit.

And of course I can be found at @mirrormirrorxx or on www.facebook.com/mirrormirroronline

15 February 2011

Separated at Birth

 

Haven’t done one of these for ages, but I saw a picture of the amazingly fabulous Grace Coddington at New York Fashion Week yesterday and it suddenly struck me who she reminds me of.

Casting directors start sharpening your pencils.

 

Elizabeth I of England Grace Coddington
Grace Coddington dressed up for the shows                                   Elizabeth I of England dresses down

   

14 February 2011

I Heart You Lots

 

No time for blogging today, but I couldn’t let the opportunity go past without telling you how much I love you all and appreciate your comments and emails.  Big slurpy smooches to you all.

Make sure you tell someone you love them today. Even if it’s only your mother.

 

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I’m leaving you with a picture of the sugar cookies I made and iced a few years ago. Nothing so ambitious is happening today.

   

10 February 2011

Cute Pet Tags - Blanket ID

 

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Unlike fancy pants litter boxes, here is a cat accessory we can all get behind.

Cate is a long time commenter on this blog and runs a Blanket ID which provides super smart  ID tags for dogs and cats. 

Her idea is as nifty as it is simple. Each tag comes with a unique code number which you use to register your pets details online. If anyone finds your pet, they simply go to www.blanketid.com, put in the code number and lo and behold, they can find all your pet’s contact details and any other useful information such as special diet or allergies and vet contact details. 

 

fss ff

 

It’s better than microchipping (though our cats came chipped from the shelter) as the tags can easily be read by members of the public, and the online data storage allows you to store a lot more information than would fit on a normal collar tag.   It’s also easier to keep information such as phone numbers and email addresses up to date rather than having to have collar tags re-engraved.

As final bonus, if your pet does go missing, the online service means you can quickly print off ‘Lost’ posters, and BlanketID automatically contacts vets and shelters in your area. Your first year’s registration on the site is included in the price of your tag. Thereafter BlanketID charges a small annual subscription that includes a donation to their own pet charity.

Aside from all this goodness, the tags are also beautifully designed, and come in a bunch of colours and styles.

The Minx of course chose the girliest ones she could find for Flora and Harriet, which proved to be a bit of a mistake as we have recently found out that Flora is in fact Prince Florian, though we will still be calling him Flora for short (yep, you’re probably as confused as I am, and he is, by this).

Here’s Harriet modelling her tag.

 

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I think Flora, on the other hand, may be rather embarrassed by his, as this was the only unblurry picture I was able to get.

 

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Full Disclosure : Cate sent me a couple of tags to try for free. Don’t tell her but she didn’t need to do that as I think it’s a fabulous idea and would have bought some anyway. Thanks Cate!

   

07 February 2011

Goldilocks and the Sky Blue Ceiling

 

Welll, that was trickier than I thought it would be.

Last Friday the walls of the Minx’s room were painted in Benjamin Moore’s White Vanilla and from the picture rail upwards in BM’s Morning Sky Blue. However, when it was done, the ceiling read much lighter than the tops of the walls and looked more like a greyish white than a true blue. 

So then we painted just the ceiling and not walls in the next darkest colour- Benjamin Moore’s Tear Drop Blue. And this time the ceiling was very obviously a darker blue than the tops of the walls.

So finally we mixed Morning Sky Blue and Tear Drop Blue in about equal percentages and again painted just the ceiling. And this time it was just right. 

 

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It’s interesting how the angle of the light changes everything. 

Here’s a reminder of what the room looked like before. That purple (chosen by the previous owners) could look very dark and forbidding on a gloomy Seattle day, such as we have very occasionally in the winter months (hahahahahahahahaha).

 

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There’ll be more updates from the Minx’s room as we piece it all back together and assemble her super duper big girl loft bed.

04 February 2011

Sky Blue Ceilings

 

It’s funny the way the mind works.

Finally, only four years after I wrote this blog post discussing possible paint colours we’ve got a painter in to do the Minx’s room.  The comments from you all on that post were REALLY helpful and led me to think of sky blue as a colour for the walls.

Recently though I changed my mind and have asked the painter to paint the ceiling and top part of the wall sky blue with the rest of the walls in a creamy vanilla white. The painter will be finishing that off today and I can’t wait to see how it looks. Lots of before and after shots next week.

 

_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-2

 

Today I wanted to share with you a beautiful restoration of an 1890s Greek house that I first came across last October and which seemed perfect to brighten up a dull February day.  I looked at the pictures I’d saved, and lo and behold the house is full of sky blue ceilings!  I swear I wasn’t thinking of this when I talked to the painter – I was thinking more of the blue ceilings you see in some porches – but I suspect my brain had just filed it away for future reference. Even more excited to see what the room will turn out like now.

In the meantime enjoy all the summery pretty on the Greek island of Nisyros courtesy of architect and designer George Koukourakis.

 

_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-13 

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_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-12

_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-8

_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-5

_residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-3 _residence-in-Nisyros-by--George-Koukourakis-photo-Vangelis-Paterakis-yatzer-7

 {Photos by Vangelis Paterakis, via Yatzer.com}

03 February 2011

When Acrylic Looks Good

 

A lot of knitters can get very snobbish about acrylic yarns, and having been knitting since the days when most yarn had a high acrylic content, I’m not exactly a fan of the squeakiness and dayglo colours.

Valerie Anne Molnar, however, makes fabulous use of acrylic yarn and acrylic paints to create stunning knitted art installations.  Certainly one way of using up your yarn stash.

 

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Capture fdfd

 

I love the clever colour transitions and the randomness of the knitting – what fun to just go where the spirit takes you instead of following a pattern.

I also love the the work on the right is entitled ‘Smoked Ham Risotto, Pea and Mint Salad with Shaved Black Truffles’.  Of course.

{via Design for Mankind}

02 February 2011

Things I Am Loving – ModKat Litterbox

 

So I’m a bit embarrassed about this one.

I haven’t had pets since Bubbles the goldfish committed spectacular suicide by throwing himself out of his bowl when I was a kid, so I’ve launched myself into the world of pet accoutrements with some trepidation.

 

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When you acquire cats, the very next thing you need to buy is a litter box, and if you’ve been in the market for litterboxes recently, you’ll know that, although they come in all shapes and sizes, they have one thing in common.  They’re all remarkably, hideously ugly.

With one exception that I’ve been able to find.

 

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The Modkat litter box is the iPhone of litterboxes – a cool piece of thoughtful modern design, and available in an array of contemporary colours to match your decor or your cat.

The cat climbs inside the box to do its business and then has to walk on the litter catching tray on top to get out, so excess litter is caught and it reduces tracking and mess to a minimum.  It comes with a sturdy reusable tarpaulin liner and an integral scoop that clips to the side.

 

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I’m a firm believer in making sure that things that will be on display in the house are as nice to look at as possible (especially for something like this which we will hopefully have for the next fifteen-twenty years), so of course I bought one.  Even though it costs $180.  Yep, $180 just to buy a litterbox that is well-designed and doesn’t look like sh*t as well as smell like it. 

Fortunately we love it. It’s big and sturdy, looks great, is super easy to clean and does a great job of reducing litter mess to an absolute minimum. Which is a good job as I think we’re going to have to get two – Harriet refuses to do her business anywhere near where Flora has been.

 

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But why does good design have to be so freaking expensive?  Am I crazy or would you buy this litter box too? 

If you’re tempted, you can buy the litterboxes at Modkat.com or with free shipping at Nest Living.