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214 posts categorized "Cool stuff"

15 February 2012

Knock Knock, I Love You

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As if to prove how very much in sync old married couples like me and the Husband are (it’s going to be fifteen years in November for goodness sakes), we both got each other bars of chocolate yesterday from the Knock Knock range of graphic stationery.  Love the boxes, and the chocolate isn’t bad at all.

It’s telling that they’re being sold by the only decent stationery shop round these parts. Surely we didn’t both rush out at the last minute to buy our gifts? 

I won’t tell you which boxes I checked on which covers though. 

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Buy them here

14 February 2012

Last Minute Valentines Ideas

 

So it’s the afternoon before Valentines Day and the fancy restaurants are all booked, you forgot to buy a love token for your sweetheart and tomorrow is shaping up to be a very bad day indeed.

But fear not, as long as you’ve got some heart-shaped cutters or moulds lying around all sorts of quick homemade Valentines ideas are at your disposal.

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These Valentines sugar cookies were originally on sale through Etsy shop Sugar Sanctuary but really wouldn’t be too difficult to make.  Here’s a great sugar cookie recipe.

Suze has a great tutorial for how to make natural sugar hearts in candy moulds for your beloved’s coffee.

 

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The Novice Chef shows us how to make Marbled Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies (not sure I love anyone enough to share these).

 

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Sit down with your kids and make Valentines Rice Krispie Treats, courtesy of Lisa.

 

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For a romantic dinner Annie suggests making four cheese ravioli

 

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Or if you don’t have heart-shaped cutters, why not do twirly things with cinnamon rolls?

 

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Or if you have cutters but no cooking skills, how about some heart-shaped roast potatoes?

 

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Or a heart-shaped packed lunch?

 

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Finally, if you have neither heart-shaped cutters nor cooking skills, why not just put your toddler to work instead, while you relax with a lovely cup of tea.

 

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Happy Valentines’ Day my little chickadees!

07 February 2012

Blogshop Goodie Bag

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I’m still processing Blogshop but thought I’d take a moment to go through the rather nice goodie bag we were given, full of crafty goodness from a bunch of new-to-me Seattle names.

Clockwise from left:

Cute graphic tote bag: rather delicious pesto; very wearable turquoise earrings; psychedelic art cookies; green nautical rope bracelet; cut & fold paper polyhedra ornaments (the Minx and I are thinking of making these for our Easter tree this year); gorgeously scented soap; a handmade Valentines’card; a vintage postcard; some graphic gift tags (I also won a notebook by the same artist in the raffle) and finally the latest edition of Hoarse, Seattle’s occasional literary magazine.

There are some interesting shops and blogs in this list, some of which I’ll be featuring at a later date, so do click through.

Thanks so much everyone!

   

03 February 2012

Cute or Creepy? Maroquinaris Zoologicae for Louis Vuitton

 

I don’t normally feature designer labels on the blog.  I’m not a label hound and they’re covered by thousands of other blogs in much greater depth than I ever could. Personally I find Louis Vuitton stuff particularly ugly and never imagined in a million years that it was a brand I’d end up writing about.

Having said all which,  I saw these fabulous animal sculptures chez Tom and Lorenzo and had to talk about them.

 

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British artist Billie Achilleos was commissioned to celebrate Louis Vuitton’s 100th anniversary by cutting up a ton of bags, belts and other small leather items (nice work if you can get it) to make a menagerie of small animal friends.

I have to admit upfront that the fur elements weird me out a lot, and not just because they’re presumably made of real fur, and I’m not entirely sure how many of these I’d actually have in the house. But some of them, particularly the super cute squirrel and owl and the multi-colored armadillo and rooster are seriously imaginative and  lovely.

 

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There’s a fascinating video which gives more insight into their creation here

 

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Billie Achilleos’ blog is here.

What do you think? Are these cute or creepy? Would you have them in your house?  Do they make you want to cut up your old Louis Vuitton bags? Does the thought of all these destroyed LV bags make you want to cry?

02 February 2012

Babette Blanket – Here We Go!

 

So I finally decided that, instead of just hoarding yarn, I actually ought to start working on Babette, the infamous crocheted granny blanket I first wrote about back in 2009.

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The last couple of evenings have found me peering at my beginner’s crochet book - the gorgeously photographed Simple Crochet by Erika Knight – and various YouTube videos, trying to figure out how on earth to make the simple granny square that forms the basis of the design.

So far it’s been a long tortuous process and I’ve managed two squares – out of 126 of varying sizes. I have a feeling this is going to take a LOOOOOOONG time.

30 January 2012

I Love You More Than…

 

I was checking out my dear friend Helen’s blog over the weekend and saw that she’d posted a few hand-stamped Valentines cards in her Folksy shop.

 

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The cards themselves are simple and cute, but what makes them extra special is that you can get Helen to personalize the message for you, and suddenly a world of possibilities open up to either compliment your loved one, or damn them with faint praise.

 

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Popular messages so far apparently include


I love you more than a lie-in
I love you more than my iPhone
I love you more than Sherlock
I love you more than I ought to

 

I’m thinking of getting the Husband either  ‘I love you more than yarn’ or ‘I love you more than Sherlock’ (best TV EVAH!) or possibly ‘I love you more than Parmesan Cheese’ but maybe I would not be being entirely honest.

What would you put on yours? (Let me know in the comments, so Helen can get some more ideas)

In related news, our cats decided to send you all an early Valentine

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28 January 2012

Hotel Pelirocco – Knitted Hotel Room

 

I nearly put my back out straining to love this hotel room, which has received a bunch of publicity in recent months, but somehow I just CAN’T. 

The hip Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton commissioned fibre artist Kate Jenkins of knitwear and crochet brand Cardigan to create a knitted hotel room, and this is what she came up with.

 

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The ‘Do Knit Disturb’ room features a hand-crocheted bedspread and curtains, knitted cushions, a crocheted lamp and telephone and other whimsical crocheted artifacts appropriate to the seaside location, such as seagull soft toys, a knitted picture of fish and chips above the bed and a crocheted full English breakfast.

 

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I don’t like it because it just seems so expected somehow – all cosy and grannyish and whimsical and about as sexy as a pair of well-worn bedroom slippers.  Heck, the room is even a tiny single room because of course someone who liked knitting would never have a boyfriend.

 

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When you think of some of the cool and innovative knitted homewares other craftspeople are making out there, I can’t help thinking that they really missed an opportunity to do something contemporary, textured and elegant; something modern and abstract or even something downright sumptuous and glamorous. 

What do you think?  Do you like it? Would you stay there?  Is it the best job they could have done with knitting and crochet?  What sort of thing would you have done?

11 January 2012

Happy Keyboard

This gorgeous craft project by MiniFanFan popped up in my Twitter stream last week courtesy of Nicole from Making It Lovely – guaranteed to appeal both to my love of washi tape and my love of pretty keyboards

 

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I think it’s gorgeous and I would love to emulate it, if only I had a cool small white keyboard and and not an ugly black ergonomic monstrosity.  But I dunno, this might even be worth suffering the RSI.

 

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Fortunately I can continue to indulge my love of pretty tape.  This bowl of lovelies comes from Lotta Jansdotter’s new shop. And yes it is an Instagram photo.

 

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10 December 2011

Can You Guess What It Is Yet?

 

Wow! You guys are good.  Too good in fact.  I was hoping to keep the tease going a little bit longer at least.  However, my undying admiration goes to Stephanie and Rebecca who both guessed that it was the Purl Bee big snowy owl.  Oh and please don’t tell the Minx.

 

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I just hope I can do this one justice.  It looks like one of those projects where it’s all about getting the face right.  I’ll carry on pasting up progress reports.

 

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In other competition news, I realise that I forgot to draw the ‘Edible Seattle’ prize. The winner is Dana. Congratulations! I’ll be emailing you shortly so we can get your ‘Edible Seattle’ subscription to you.

Oh and look for another giveaway on Monday.

08 December 2011

Things I Am Loving – Wooden Christmas Trees

 

We’ll be putting up our Christmas decorations this weekend and I would love to be able to justify buying this utterly fabulous ‘Superstar’ Christmas tree by Modernica, available in either a full-sized floor-standing version or for the table top.

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In the absence of a significant lottery win between now and Christmas I’m going to have to content myself with my much-loved and much cheaper Muji mantelpiece version. For some reason these never seem to be available on the US Muji site, though they do have them online in the UK.

The one on the left is the version we have, I’ll snap a picture of it in situ when we get it out this weekend. The one on the right is the current version, which is maybe a nicer shape, but has far less charming decorations. 

 

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17 November 2011

Things I Am Loving–Cross Stitch iPhone Cover

 

I’ve only ever done cross-stitch once before, when I decided to make a sampler from a kit for a friend’s baby, because it looked like it would be quicker than knitting a sweater.  Yeah right.  I just hope that the cross stitch fabric wasn’t somehow imbued with all the cursing that occurred in its presence.

And yet, and yet.  These fabulous iPhone covers from fabulous NYC yarn shop Purl Soho are enough to make me want to pick up the cross-stitch needle again. Only the thought of having to buy lots of different expensive packs of embroidery thread is preventing me.

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If you’re braver than I am, full instructions are on the Purl Bee blog here.  The iPhone covers themselves are available to buy in the PurlSoho shop here. The only problem is choosing what colour to get.

 

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05 November 2011

Teensy Wee Chairs

 

Now that we’ve got Halloween out of the way, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas.

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Ha! April Fool! (Or whatever the November equivalent is).  I refuse to even think about Christmas until the beginning of December.  However I was waylaid on my Facebook by these cute chair ornaments from CB2 and I was wondering how I could justify buying some.

They’re a bit too modern to go with our other tree decorations and to be perfectly honest don’t really say ‘Christmas’ to me at all, which might be a good thing as they can be used in other ways.  But how? Nicole at Making It Lovely is going to use them as porch furniture in the dollshouse she’s decorating.

I think they look great, if a little random, used here for table decorations.  I might get a couple just to sit on our living room shelves. redreedchairrarednrXMBH11

Anyone else got any bright ideas?

Here I am at 10pm on a Friday night writing a blog post.  NaBloPoMo is not getting off to a particularly auspicious start.  And I’m apparently supposed to be blogging over the weekend too. Whose silly idea was this?

19 October 2011

Things I Am Loving - Stripey Kenwood Stand Mixers

 

After the the Husband, the Minx and the wedding album, I do believe my Kitchen Aid stand mixer would be the next thing I’d rescue in a fire.

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However, that’s not to say that I can’t still admire these Kenwood Stand Mixers from afar and be grateful that someone is having a little fun with kitchen design.

 

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Would you have one in your kitchen?  Or am I just succumbing to my inner five year old again?

 

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 The Firecracker colourway is also available from John Lewis. Unfortunately I don’t think Kenwood has arrived in the US. 

06 October 2011

Orla Kiely for Babies

 

I’m wondering if the Minx would still have such appallingly bad taste if I’d started her off on these?

 

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These great new baby gifts are available here.  I WISH Orla Kiely would open a US online store. 

05 October 2011

Neon Bright Satchels

 

These satchels, yes or no? And if yes, what colour?

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I’m old enough to have had one of these in chestnut to take to school when I was very tiny. Why on earth didn’t I keep it? It was deeply and BEAUTIFULLY distressed too. 

23 September 2011

Missoni for Target

 

So have you got over the much-hyped, much anticipated PR-disaster, retail extravaganza which was Missoni for Target? If you ended up disappointed you may want to stop reading this post now.

 

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Given the exuberant pattern, colours and Italianness of the Missoni aesthetic, you would be right in thinking that the collection was right up my alley, and I made a resolution to get up early on the 13th and get in line.  I even went through the lookbook carefully to plan my shop, with the fabulous espresso cups at the top of my list.

Of course I forgot all about it (I’d be such a crap fashionista) and only remembered when I got on Twitter at 8.30 am.  I decided to make an unprecedented effort, MISSED BREAKFAST, and chased up the freeway to my nearest Target.  When I arrived at 8.45 am the whole place was picked clean. No womenswear, no homewares, no menswear, no. espresso. cups. Just long lines at checkout of women with their carts piled high with thousands of dollars of Missoni stuff.  I picked up a couple of skirts and sweaters for the Minx, two pairs of socks for me, nearly had a fight with the woman in the check out line who tried to pinch my meagre pickings and returned home feeling that being a shopaholic really is much too much like hard work.

I halfheartedly opened the website and was of course greeted by the irritatingly cute dog.  So I thought no more about it and got on with grumbling about Target on Facebook and Twitter.  And then my habit of not closing a browser window paid off, when the Target website flickered tantalisingly to life around 11 am.  And there was still lots of stuff left because no one else could access it either.  Not much womenswear, not much dinnerware, no. espresso. cups, but bedding and towels, and kidwear and poufs.

So I may have got a little carried away. 

 

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It’s all surprisingly well made and extremely good value for money.  I hope Target can find a way to restock in a month or so, as there are still a few bits and bobs I wanted (women’s ballet flats, tumblers and loopy pillow).  Harriet likes it too.

Did you wait in line that morning? Did you get what you wanted? Do you think this has been bad PR for Target? I have to confess to doing what I never do, and resorting to Ebay for the espresso cups which are apparently on their way.

20 September 2011

Van Halen Socks

 

I daresay I’m too old for them, but I really need to knit these socks as a matter of urgency. 

 

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Why am I still only thirty in my head? I think I’m starting to veer into mutton dressed as lamb territory.

   

16 August 2011

The Story of the Cake - Part II

 

The day before the party the Husband and I set to work assembling all the various cakes I’d been making and freezing over the previous week.

 

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The top tier was a classic Victoria sponge filled with chocolate buttercream. The rainbow cake filled with vanilla buttercream formed the middle tier and the bottom tier was yet another Macrina Bakery ‘Mom’s Chocolate Cake’, which I’ve been using for birthday cakes ever since the Minx was two, as it is very moist and forgiving, and much beloved by the grown up kids in attendance.

Stupidly I’d made my cakes in 9”, 8” and 7” sizes which didn’t really make for enough of a tiered effect and also left  nowhere for my fairy cake toppers to sit. Fortunately I’d made a big batch of cupcakes ready for a cupcake decorating activity at the party so we used a few to create plinths for the fairies to sit on.

Here is the whole edifice covered in its crumb coat. (Please ignore hideous green kitchen countertops).

 

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And here is the finished article, covered with easy moulded flowers and chocolate bunnies, made using candy melts; vines and leaves iced on in green buttercream and a set of five Disney Fairy cake toppers. The Husband has asked me to point out that he is the person who actually wields the icing bag (under my direction) and he certainly did a fabulous job.

 

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I was however nervous for the final piece de resistance.  Would the central rainbow cake be sufficiently lurid and rainbow-like?

It seems I needn’t have worried.

 

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And the kids ADORED it.

 

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I am indebted to my father-in-law for the last two photos. Note the careful styling in this bottom pic, it took me ages to get the mustard bottle just so.

   

17 May 2011

My New Baby

 

I’m sorry for total lack of bloggery recently. I have a big deadline coming up for my University of Washington certificate in online interactive marketing and my nose has been firmly to the grindstone (whatever on earth that means).

The tedium was briefly shattered last Friday by the arrival of a new baby to the house – in the slim, lightweight shape of an iPad 2.

 

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I’ve been lusting after one of these for a long time – I don’t find my heavy laptop with its short battery life to be particularly portable and feel very tethered to my desk most of the time. So I’m hoping this will allow me to tend to emails from the coffee shop; catch up with reading sitting under the cherry tree and Tweet more easily from in front of the telly rather than just pecking at my iPhone like a squinty bird. 

 

 

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It’s been a big hit since Friday – I’m really enjoying the Flipboard and Evernote apps so far and yesterday the Minx was at home sick and was educated via Math Girl – Addition House; Stack the Countries and Stack the States; DinosaurChess and Playtime Theater, all of which I can highly recommend.

 

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The Husband, who works for Microsoft, was highly sceptical about letting yet another Apple product into the house, so I have to prove its worth by using it all. the. time.

If you have an iPad, how do like it? When and where do you use it? What apps do you like best and use most? Which apps help you work more productively? And which do you recommend for me? As you know I like art and design, blogging, food, photography, music, gossipy entertainment and fashion sites, politics and knitting. And more educational apps and games for the Minx would be good.  I’d also love to find a few more European-centric apps if possible.  And if you’ve got some good new iPhone apps then throw those in as well – many of those are also available for the iPad and in any case I haven’t upgraded my iPhone apps in ages either.

Tell me EVERYTHING.

Except Angry Birds.  I’m nearly at 3 stars on ALL levels on my iPhone and when that’s done I never what to speak of that app again.

05 April 2011

Things I Am Loving – Alessi Tigrito Cat Bowl

 

I promise that I’ve completely stopped buying expensive cat accessories, though I’ve been horribly tempted by the Tigrito Cat Bowl by Alessi, mostly because, with its grey fur and white paws,  it looks so much like Flora.

 

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It does however cost $90. so let’s just admire it from afar, shall we? (Though it appears to be on sale via Amazon in the UK).

Instead, here is a picture of the real thing, looking rather nonplussed by the fake Tootsie Roll cat poop we made to play an April Fool trick on the Minx. It worked like a dream, particularly when the Husband ‘cleaned it up’ and started licking it. Never have you seen such a grossed out six year old.

 

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Truly if you ever need to make fake poop, Tootsie Rolls are your friends (sorry, I don’t think there’s an equivalent in the UK). Just a few seconds in the microwave and a bit of sculpting required.

   

04 April 2011

KK Outlet Wedding Plates

 

There’s twenty four days to go until the Royal Wedding, so I’m continuing our round up of rather brilliant souvenirs. In fact you’ve all been sending through such fabulous links I’ll put together a proper round up post in the next day or two.

In the meantime, these plates are extremely special and deserve a post of their own. London-based communications and creative agency/gallery KK Outlet commissioned up and coming designers to create a collection of unofficial commemorative china for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  They’re available online here and they’ll ship all over the world.

 

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02 April 2011

They Draw And Cook

 

As you know, I aspire – with varying degrees of success – to do a little food photography. To my mind recipes just aren’t complete without pictures.

On They Draw And Cook  Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell. a brother and sister team, together with sundry other wonderfully talented artists, have put together the web’s biggest collection of illustrated recipes. Aren’t these exquisite? Looks like there are some great recipes too.

Photography suddenly seems very passé.

 

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{via Helen at Countryside Wedding}

23 March 2011

Pirates Ahoy!

 

I’ve been receiving lots of lovely comments and emails – thank you all -  about the Minx’s new loft bed and slide (it was featured on Apartment Therapy’s Ohdeedoh kids’ site yesterday – hi Ohdeedohers!) and had been feeling smugly pleased with myself. 

 

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Until a week or so ago, when a friend posted a link on Facebook and my smugness instantly evaporated. Now, this is what you call a loft bed and slide.

WARNING: Don’t read this with any trainee pirates, or trainee pirates at heart, anywhere in the vicinity of your computer.

 

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The pirate ship was custom built for the six-year old client and features a rope bridge leading to a specially built ‘jail’. See that rope to the left of the crows’ nest?  Slide down it and you end up in the closet below.

 

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And as a final piece de resistance, see that intriguing orange hole in a secret hallway closet?

 

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Well that turns out to be a DOUBLE. STOREY. SPIRAL. SLIDE acquired after the refurb of a local community centre.

 

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Full details of the design and construction on MyModernMet.

Please don’t show this to the Minx.

   

22 March 2011

Fancy Hotel of the Week–MyHotel Brighton

 

Last week I was idly flicking through pictures of the MyHotel in Brighton, the English seaside town known affectionately as ‘London-by-the-sea’.

Designed by New Yorker Karim Rashid and opened in 2008, the design brief was apparently to create a space ‘where Freddie Mercury might meet the Maharishi’. 

I really wanted to hate it after reading that, but unfortunately I just can’t.  From the photos at least it’s a shiny, sexy, glamorous, somewhat pretentious shag palace, perfect for all the London media types that Brighton attracts and the sort of place that I adore staying in. 

I’m sorry, just shoot me now.

 

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I was very much enjoying my wander through Rashid’s trademark colours, curves and kitsch (and fishtanks) until I came across this picture.

 

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Isn’t this the scariest, most nightmare-inducing hotel room you’ve ever seen? Imagine waking up and seeing that across the way. They’ll be decorating rooms with clowns next.

   

16 March 2011

Royal Wedding Watch - Knit Your Own Royal Wedding

 

Are you looking forward to the Royal Wedding?

Even hard-bitten and cynical little me is getting very excited.  What’s not to love - London and dresses and kisses and big hats.  I was even thinking of going back for it until they inconsiderately decided to hold it in April, which meant we couldn’t really combine it with a summer vacation.  Instead I’m going to have to get up at 3 am to watch coverage here on the West Coast.

Or else I may just knit these and replay the Royal Wedding for myself at a more civilised time of the morning.

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Here’s the happy couple. Personally I’m a little disappointed in Kate’s dress.

 

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The Queen and Prince Harry will be the other stars of the show and there will no doubt be a lot of royal corgis running round and tripping up the footmen. Though you could’ve worn a rather more spectacular hat, ma’am.

 

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Here’s that poignant moment when William sees his beautiful bride for the first time – just loving Wills’ and Harry’s hair here. Note you can even knit yourself a mini Archbishop of Canterbury, though I’m not sure why you’d want to.

 

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And here’s the kiss we’ll all be waiting for – with accompanying Prince Charles, Camilla (boo!) and Prince Philip figures.

The book Knit Your Own Royal Wedding is by Fiona Gable, and if I weren’t suffering from Carmen Banana fatigue I would be seriously tempted to buy it.

 

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Lots more Royal Wedding coverage coming up. I can’t wait to do ‘Separated At Birth’ on the wedding guests.

   

10 March 2011

Things I Am Loving – pEIpod Pet Bed

 

After six weeks the kittens are starting to calm down a bit - in fact they’re not really kittens any more but rather small cats. Which is just as well, because they were turning me greyer than the Minx ever did.

 

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By the same token I have calmed down in the purchase of expensive cat accessories, though I did want to share one last extravagance with you.

The pEipod (‘ei’ means ‘egg’ in German) is an egg-shaped plastic pod available in two sizes,  three colours – pink, mint green or ivory -  with a cotton padded cushion in your choice of either pink or yellow. So you should be able to find a combination which suits your decor.

The bed is suitable for small dogs, cats or even bunnies.

 

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Ours has become one of the most commented upon bits of furniture in our house and I’m loving how it looks in our living room.

 

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The best news of all, given how much it cost,  is that the cats actually use it all the time – one or the other can generally be found sleeping there.  Might even have to get two.

 

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The pEIpod is available from here for $129.

07 March 2011

Cumming – the Fragrance

 

So we interrupt normal blog programming (insofar as anything is ‘normal’ on this blog), to talk about fragrance.

 

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This Sunday afternoon, following a delicious brunch at Spring Hill restaurant in West Seattle with my dear friends eM and Uncle Beefy, we stopped by the delightful Knows Perfume fragrance boutique on California Avenue to sniff a few scents.

Twenty minutes later our senses were reeling as owner Christen Cottam talked us through our scent preferences and sprayed paper strips with gay abandon.  Knows Perfume specialises in small niche perfume ranges such as L’Artisan Parfumeur, Penhaligons and Juliette Has a Gun, rather than the big brands, and Christen has an encyclopedic knowledge of every one.

We were in between sniffs, when I spied a bottle of Cumming –  the celebrity fragrance from sexy, funny, androgynous Scottish actor Alan Cumming.  I’d vaguely heard that he’d produced one, but had thought it was entirely a joke, what was it doing in such serious perfume company?

Christen explained that it was actually fabulous  - with notes of pine, peat, rubber, whisky, leather, dirt and moss. Uncle Beefy tried it at once, and out of the bottle it was horrible – like rolling on an old beer-stained, smoke-imbued leather sofa in a sweaty club which has been cursorily wiped down with a cheap pine-scented cleaner.

So we continued chatting and sniffing and experimenting until Uncle B suddenly said ‘you know, this is actually smelling rather wonderful’. And it was. Sexy and earthy and natural and woodsy. 

So of course  I had to try it. Same nasty whiff of stinky jockstrap to start, but then on me it dried down to a most deliciously complex mix of vanilla, earth, pepper and orange peel – not like some of those overwhelming vanilla scents which smell like you’ve been smearing yourself with custard -  but more as if I’d been eating orange-scented sugar cookies and exuding them through my skin, with underlying sexy, sweaty undertones. Honestly my dears I was sniffing myself for the rest of the afternoon.

 

It smells EXACTLY like this video

The original commercially-produced Cumming has apparently been discontinued – the fact that it smells DISGUSTING out of the bottle probably doesn’t help -  but has been reformulated for extra longevity by the original perfumer Christopher Brosius and is now included within his range.  I know perfume is a highly subjective subject, but if it doesn’t work for you – and on eM’s skin chemistry it stayed resolutely ‘smelly wet sock’ – then chances are it will do wonders for your man, I couldn’t stop sniffing Uncle B either, though on him it smelled less vanilla-y and more earthy.

All proceeds from the perfume go to charity, so it really wouldn’t hurt to buy a little sample. I  am utterly obsessed.

01 March 2011

Things I Am Loving - Aviary Wallpaper

 

Phew! I think I’ve just about got the Oscars out of my system.  I was on the brink of comparing Nicole Kidman to an armadillo, but stopped myself just in time.

In other news, Liberty London Girl just tweeted about the fabulous wallpaper in the bathrooms at the Soho Grand Hotel in NYC.

 

Steinberg Aviary Wallpaper

 

It’s called Aviary by F Schumacher, and the pattern was designed by Saul Steinberg, who was a cartoonist for The New Yorker in the 1950s.

Here is is in situ at the Soho Grand.   I may have to stay here next time I’m in NYC, just so I can sit in the bathroom.

 

Soho Grand Bath 1

 

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This wallpaper needs to be in my life somehow as a matter of urgency.  Time to work on the downstairs bathroom? It’s also available at Decorator’s Best.

{Found via Liberty London Girl’s Tumblr.  Additional pictures via Remodelista and Tea For Joy}

   

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. 

 

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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!

   

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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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.

 

 

 

   

20 January 2011

Life Calendars - BrigadaCreativa

 

I’m trying to work out whether these ingenious poster-sized Life Calendars from BrigadaCreativa are a fabulous or downright scary idea.

 

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You can start on any day of the year, and every day you fill in the appropriate emoticons until you end up with detailed pictorial record of your year, before your eyes.  In black and yellow.

 

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Even more terrifying is the The Love Calendar, where you’re supposed to fill in portions of the hearts according how much conversation, caresses, time together and sex you've had with your partner that day.

 

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I can see this becoming exhibit one in divorce cases the world over.

 

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If you’re brave enough to get one of these, (and I’m actually tempted to get the emoticon one, as it would certainly be extremely revealing), they’re available from Brigada Creativa’s Etsy shop. Go on, I dare you!

   

30 December 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

 

This year I have decided NOT to make any resolutions because a) I am absolutely crap at sticking to them and b) I’ve got quite enough on my plate thank you with my 101 Things list.

The good news is that I managed to make further inroads into the list over Christmas.

First up was ‘go snowmobiling’. 

Many moons ago, when I’d just met the Boyfriend (before he became the Husband) we went on a skiing holiday to Whistler (little guessing that we’d be living in Seattle and spending our Christmases there, ten or so years into the future).

I had been trying my hand at snowboarding and after a couple of lessons the then Boyfriend and I decided to board down the mountain. It turns out that I’m even worse at snowboarding than I am at keeping New Year’s resolutions and it soon became apparent that there was no way I was going to make it to the nearest chairlift before nightfall.  Cue a ruggedly handsome snowmobiler rushing to the aid of this damsel in distress and whisking me off down the mountain at top speed. And I’ve wanted to go snowmobiling again ever since.

So it went on the list and the Husband and I signed up to go snowmobiling last week in Whistler. I decided that it would only count for the list if I drove one, little realising how terrifyingly huge they are.

Here I am as nervous as hell before we set off.

 

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Here I am clinging on grimly for dear life (yes, I promise that’s me).

 

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And here we are after I decided that my tentative driving  was hugely unenjoyable for all concerned and I climbed on the back of the guide’s machine, whizzed at furious speed through the snowy trees, and  fulfilled all my snowmobiling fantasies.

It turns out that snowmobiles are another thing (along with cars and supermarkets) that are not designed for people who stand just over 5 feet tall.  It really would have helped if I’d at least been able to see over the windshield which became totally covered in snow at one point.

 

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The other thing I can of course tick off the list is ‘knit a sock monkey’.  Here are a couple of last photos, before I bore you to death, of Carmen B modelling a few accessories.  I knitted the hat on Christmas Eve, made her earrings and sourced the little sunglasses online.

 

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What are your resolutions this year? Is anyone going to join me in a 101 Things List?  If you’re feeling introspective then this list of prompts from Reverb is very thought-provoking (I may work on it in January).

Sadly Carmen Banana has not been an unequivocal success. The Minx was very impressed that I’d knitted her and told me that ‘she looks like she came from a sock monkey shop’. However the next night I found that she had been relegated from the Minx’s bed ‘because she looks a bit scary’. I have to say that I can’t really disagree with her.

24 December 2010

Pssst! Don’t Tell the Minx

 

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And she’s DONE.  I have to say that ears do help a lot in the beauty department. 

I have beads and findings to make her a necklace and some earrings and was planning to knit her a handbag and a hat, but even if I don’t get to finish anything else tonight, she’s in a fit state to go under the tree tomorrow.

There are also a ton of other little clothes to knit for her, but at the moment I don’t wish to look at her ever again. SO relieved that’s over.

All that’s left is to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas. Thank you for all your comments, emails and suggestions over the year. I do love my little blog. And you guys of course. Have fun! xoxoxoxoxo

(Thanks also for all the lovely messages and emails about my ma-in-law. Sorry that blogging has been so sporadic recently. I will be posting a few updates between Christmas and New Year after we get back from Whistler).

23 December 2010

Pssst! Don’t Tell the Minx

 

Carmen Banana finally has clothes!

 

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Here she is lying seductively on our hotel bed while wearing her delicately embroidered undergarments.  I cannot tell you with words, by the way, how much I suck at embroidery.  Those took a LOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG time.

Here she is admiring the view from our Whistler condo during a whiteout. Carmen don’t do it!

 

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And here she is wearing her Christmas party dress.  My goodness but this was a labour of love. The end ruffle, where I had to knit about 250 teeny tiny stitches and then DOUBLE them and then DOUBLE them again, leaving me with about a thousand little stitches to cast off nearly blew my mind.

 

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She may have clothes, but what she doesn’t have are the ears, embroidered features, jewellery, handbag and hat I’d planned for her. It’s really going down to the wire, but for the moment, I’m off to go swimming in the snow and then to decorate a gingerbread houses with the pastry chef from Chateau Whistler.

Oh and yesterday I ticked something off my 101 List. Pics tomorrow.

   

14 December 2010

Homemade Mincemeat

 

Or, the one in which I totally gross out my American readers.

The taste of a British Christmas were established hundreds of years ago when the Crusaders first brought spices and exotic fruits back to Britain and it was discovered that they were delicious preservatives of meat.  While the cooking of the rest of Western Europe is based on the use of herbs, British food relies much more on spices for flavour, and the British Empire grew up in part because of the spice trade. All manner of dried fruits, citrus fruits, strange spices, brandy and rum would be brought back to Blighty and our traditional Christmas foods all feature these erstwhile exotic ingredients.   Christmas cake, Christmas puddings and mincemeat are essentially all variations on the dried fruit, citrus, spices and alcohol theme, just different in texture.

 

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Mincemeat got its name, because, yes, in Tudor times, it used to contain meat – preserved by the fruit sugars, alcohol and spices. I love this quote I found here and taken from a 1545 cookbook.

‘To make Pyes - Pyes of mutton or beif must be fyne mynced and ceasoned wyth pepper and salte, and a lyttle saffron to coloure it, suet or marrow a good quantite, a lyttle vyneger, prumes, greate raysins and dates, take the fattest of the broathe of powdred beyfe, and yf you wyll have paest royall, take butter and yolkes of egges and so tempre the flowre to make the paeste’

As the years went past, the quantity of meat diminished and then disappeared, but the beef suet lived on, helping to preserve the mixture and giving an unctuous silky mouth feel to the finished preserve when warmed.  In my opinion, it’s not worth making mincemeat with anything else.

Who would have thought that one of the main things I’d miss upon moving to the US would be suet?  Suet is the dry fat around around beef kidneys, and, like lard, is very difficult to track down in the US. 

For some reason Americans will quite cheerfully chow down on all sorts of dangerous hydrogenated fats but are very circumspect when it comes to pure animals fats, such as suet or lard, even though they have no more saturated fat  than butter.

In the UK ‘shredded’ suet is available in boxes, chopped and floured into tiny pellets and looking like it never saw an animal in its life. This is good, as so many classics of traditional British cuisine, including many dessert dishes – steak and kidney pudding, jam roly poly, spotted dick (yep, I saw you laughing at the back), traditional Christmas puddings and mince pies – depend for their flavour and texture on copious amounts of chopped up beef fat.  Nobody could ever accuse traditional British food of being sophisticated.

Not only is shredded suet impossible to track down here, but, since the outbreak of mad cow disease in the late 80s in the UK, it, and products containing it, can’t even be imported into the US. Which means that I’ve missed traditional mincemeat and mince pies more than words can express. (Vegetarian suet and vegetarian mincemeat IS available, but it’s full of hydrogenated fats and tastes horrible, so to be avoided at all costs in my book).

However, even a dyed-in-the wool carnivore such as myself was slightly perplexed when I unwrapped my packet of suet from the butcher. Was I seriously going to put this in my dessert?

 

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I also had absolutely no clue how to prepare it  - all British recipes are resolutely silent on the issue, just assuming you’re going to use the packet stuff. So I improvised by painstakingly picking the globules of dry white fat from the papery membrane it was stuck too, and discarded both the membrane and the stuff that was more obviously meat rather than fat).  I began to realise why a certain Mr Hugon had made a fortune back in 1893 out of creating Atora shredded suet for the harried British housewife.

A quick pulse in the food processor later with a tablespoon of flour and this is what I ended up with. The suet is very dry and so crumbs up nicely. How much more innocuous and palatable this looked! 

 

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From then on we were on a roll. I used Delia Smith’s recipe from the venerable-but-still-much-thumbed-in-this-house-anyway Delia Smith’s Christmas.

 

Ingredients (Makes 6lbs)

 

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1lb/450g Bramley apples, cored and chopped small without peeling (I used the last of my precious Bramleys, but you can use any sharp, crisp apples)

8oz/225g shredded beef suet

12oz/350g raisins

8oz/225g sultanas (golden raisins)

8oz/225g currants

4oz (110g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped  (I could only find orange peel and forgot to chop mine)

4oz (110g) glace cherries (Delia’s recipe omits the cherries, which are not traditional, and uses 8oz of mixed peel, but I love cherries in mine)

12oz/350g soft dark brown sugar (you may want to use a little less if your apples are much sweeter than Bramleys)

Grated zest and juice of two oranges

Grated zest and juice of two lemons

2oz slivered almonds

4 tsps ground mixed spice*

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Grated nutmeg

6 tablespoons brandy

*‘Mixed spice’  is a ready made up spice mixture from the UK similar to pumpkin pie spice but omitting the ginger and often including ground cloves. In the US I replaced all the spices listed here with 2tsps cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp allspice and 1 scant tsp ground cloves.

   

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Method

Spend the best part of an hour weighing and  measuring fruits and chopping apples. This is fun as your kitchen will smell like you’ve died and gone to heaven and if your kids are anything like my kid they’ll be keen to help.

Stir all the ingredients, except the brandy, together in a large ceramic bowl. I added the brandy by mistake.

Cover with a cloth and leave overnight in a cool place so that flavours get a chance to mingle.

 

 

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Then place everything in a very cool (225 degrees F/120 degrees C) oven for three hours. This melts the lard and coats the apples, thereby preventing fermentation.

Look how yummy and moist and succulent and juicy it looks when it’s warmed!

 

 

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And look how faintly disgusting it looks covered in coagulated fat after being left to cool completely in the fridge.

 

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But no matter, all it needed was another thorough stir to break up the fat and it became unnoticeable in the mixture. The brandy is normally added at this stage to preserve everything. I was a little worried that my mixture would not preserve so well because I’d added the brandy before the warning process, so I added another 6 tbsps of brandy to be sure. That’s my excuse anyway.

Words cannot describe how delectable this tasted. Eons better than any brand of jarred mincemeat I’ve ever tasted.  I seriously could have eaten the whole bowlful that very morning.  Instead I packed it in clean, dry jars which I heated in the oven to sterilise.

If properly made, mincemeat will keep for at least a year or three. The flavours are supposed to develop and intensify in the jar so it’s customary to make your mincemeat in November for December eating. I honestly don’t see though how the flavour of this could be in the slightest bit improved.  Mince pies will be made at the end of the week.

   

10 December 2010

Shhh! Don’t Tell the Minx

 

Look who I caught misbehaving in my jewellery box yesterday.


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And yes that is a tail you spy.

 

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I’m cooking on gas with this now, though Carmen’s pointy earless head is freaking me out somewhat. I must get cracking on the ears, though I’ve read online that they’re tricky to get right. Working on her panties at the moment, so she will at least be decent soon.

   

08 December 2010

Lundby Advent Calendar – Days 5 & 6

 

After her 24 hour bath, the demented Lundby child was thrilled to find a cute new bathrobe in the calendar.  She may look like she’ll grow up to be a serial killer, but at least she washes her hands.

 

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The shoddily painted baby, who is actually  the scariest looking member of the family, is seen here playing with his new, very cute and absolutely enormous plush teddy. Let’s just hope it doesn’t roll over and squash him.

 

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Shhhh! Don’t Tell the Minx

 

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I did it! She has a face. And it’s not too ugly. 

I still have to embroider on her eyelashes, nose and smile etc. and knit her ears, so there’s plenty of scope yet for me to balls it up, but for the moment I’m quitting while I’m ahead and working on her tail and panties (!)

Still tons to do before Christmas though.

Adventures in Knitting – French Press Slippers

 

I’ve been knitting away at other things apart from sock monkeys, trying to get everything off my books by the end of the year, so I can start the New Year with some lovely new knitting projects. So I’ve got a couple of finished items to show you.

 

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These babies are one of the best projects I’ve ever completed.  Because they’re made of thick wool felt, the slippers are toasty warm and because they’re shrunk to fit your feet precisely, they’re INCREDIBLY comfortable. Seriously they’re going to have to be surgically removed from my feet I’ve been wearing them so much.

Firstly you knit and seam together a large ‘shoe’ from chunky wool.  I used Araucania Nature Wool Chunky, which felts delightfully and, because it is hand-dyed, has a pleasingly mottled depth of colour. I have to admit that the project doesn’t look entirely prepossessing at this stage.

 

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Then I threw them into my ‘Wonder Washer’ washing bucket, together with an old tennis shoe.   If you’re ever going to do any felting ever in your life, then I can’t recommend this highly enough. It gives you such control over the process (and is great for washing handknits etc. too).

The slippers took about 20 minutes to felt down to an acceptable size. I then felted them for three minutes at a time and kept trying them on wet until they were perfectly sized for my feet.

After drying and a haircut (for the slippers not me), I sewed on the straps, which are felted separately. I finished the slippers off with beautiful handmade wooden buttons from OruAka on Etsy.

 

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I think I’m probably the last knitter on Earth to make these slippers which have been all over Ravelry in the last year or so.  If you’re the other knitter on Earth who hasn’t made them yet, then the pattern is available on the French Press Knits blog here, which is also worth checking out for all sorts of cool craft and knitting projects. My project page on Ravelry is here, which shows the mods I made to make these from chunky wool instead of the worsted/dk weight recommended.

   

06 December 2010

Lundby Advent Calender – Days 3 & 4

 

Mrs Lundby was treated to a new pink dress on Friday.  It’s exactly the same as her old dress, only a different colour and a lot cleaner, so we do still have the ‘falling down and revealing her perky plastic bosoms’ problem. But I don’t suppose Mrs Lundby would want it any other way.

 

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Here she is relaxing by the pool. Unfortunately she can’t kick her shoes off as they’re painted onto her feet.  I did think this dress was somewhat unsuitable for a Swedish or indeed a Seattle winter, but the Minx insists that the whole family lives in Australia, which is why they are still enjoying the pool at Christmas time.

Saturday brought two bottles of bubble bath and a little rubber duck, so here we see one of Mrs Lundby’s many and various slightly demented-looking children (whom the Minx refuses to name) taking a relaxing bath.

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01 December 2010

It’s DECEMBER Already? – Lundby Advent Calendar Day 1

 

Could somebody PLEASE tell me where this year has disappeared to?

I realise that after all last year’s fuss about the Lundby Dollshouse, I never, ever showed you around. For all mothers of small girls out there, I can confirm that no toy of mine the Minx’s has ever been played with quite as much as this one.

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Friends, even boys, other parents and babysitters are all fascinated by the resolutely unchildlike nature of it all and the stunning attention to detail. The Minx plays with it even more now than she did a year ago and every time I go into her playroom I find that the dolls have been arranged into yet another vignette.

This year Santa is going to have no trouble at all as the Minx has given him firm instructions to get her the accompanying Gotland Summer House.  It’s available quite cheaply in the UK from Amazon (the Husband brought it back with him after his recent trip) and unfortunately more expensively in the US at Cheeky Monkeys. I don’t know why Lundby doesn’t distribute more widely in the US.

But I digress.

 

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This year, after much hunting online, I managed to track down a Lundby Dollhouse Advent Calendar. They were made in 2007, so difficult to get now, but still on sale at Cheeky Monkeys.  It promises clothes, accessories and Christmas decorations for the Lundby family and the Minx and I were beside ourselves with excitement to open door number one this morning. 

I thought it might be fun for you guys to see what’s inside, and show you round the house at the same time.

Today we she got a small wall clock, which has been (somewhat wonkily) applied to the wall of the main bedroom by the Minx.

 

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20 November 2010

Things I Am Loving – Jonathan Adler Pop Menagerie Christmas Ornaments

 

It would be so easy to go crazy over Christmas decorations, but every year I try and limit myself to one very special ornament for the tree.

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This year I have fallen in love with Jonathan Adler’s Pop Menagerie Christmas ornaments, even though I must have missed the bit in the Christmas story which mentioned the Christmas lion, the Christmas elephant and the Christmas peacock.

 

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The good news about these ornaments being not remotely Christmassy is that they can sit on my mantelpiece for the whole of the year. The even better news is that they come in the most gorgeous coordinating patterned boxes, which are almost more desirable than the creatures themselves for a packaging sucker like me.

Honestly, they saw me coming a mile off.

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Pop Menagerie Ornaments $28 each from www.jonathanadler.com

16 November 2010

Shhhh. Don’t Tell the Minx

 

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Quite possibly the most sinister photo I’ve ever published on here.

It’s been going swimmingly so far, but now I move onto the head, where there’s plenty of scope for making her look ugly or even downright scary. Wish me luck!

(She is helped to sit by a small bag of big green lentils stuffed in her bottom)

   

15 November 2010

Knitted Wreath, Candle Holders and Vases

 

Or the art of wrapping knitting around things.

A regular and lovely commenter round these parts, Lou, from Happy Serendipity, has just taken up knitting (you may have seen us discussing knitting in the comments) and decided to make a winter door wreath she had seen. Bear in mind that this is just her second or third EVER knitting project.

If it had been been me I would have been getting into a pickle trying to knit in the round, increasing and decreasing etc. etc but Lou just knitted this

 

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pinned it like this

 

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and hey presto! created this

 

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so much quicker, easier and cleverer all round, and just goes to show that you don’t need to be an expert at all to create beautiful things.

With the remaining yarn she made this candle holder, which I think I love even more than the wreath – its chunky, simplicity seems very cool and modern somehow. 

 

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Check out Lou’s tutorial here for more details.

It seems also that Ferm Living is getting in on the act, recently introducing a range of chic knitted vase covers.

 

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They’re available from Ferm Living here and also from Velocity Art and Design in the US

 When I get out from under the sock monkey, I’m thinking of designing a few knitted home accessories, maybe for sale in the shop. Very inspired by all these ideas.

12 November 2010

Go Love Your Trailer Park – Hicksville Trailer Palace

 

You already know how much we love Joshua Tree, but the person who decided to build a trailer park motel there with themed trailers, secluded swimming pool and recording studio (just in case you have an album to make) was clearly a genius. Hicksville Trailer Palace, I salute you!

 

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amenities.courtyardThe Fifi would definitely be the Minx’s trailer of choice, though the Husband would need to keep a firm grip on his masculinity. Though glowing wig heads would make up for all the frou frou I suspect.

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I could live out my fantasy of living in an Airstream in the Integratrailer, though the interior does seem a little subdued. It apparently comes with its own alien communication system though.

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And I also like the look of the Lux, which apparently comes with its own library of horror movies, which I would NOT be watching stuck in the middle ofJoshua Tree. At night.

 

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The other amenities look more fun than normal camping too.

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And can you imagine how spectacular it would be sitting out under all those stars?

 

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{All images from www.hicksville.com and their Facebook page. Found via the Divine Ms T at Whorange}

10 November 2010

Shhhh. Don’t Tell the Minx

 

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My needles are on fire at the moment as I’ve realised that the actual monkey has to be finished by the end of November for there to be any chance of her having clothes by Christmas. I start attaching the arms tonight.

She can sit due to a little bag of rice in her posterior end. Note that the pattern designer added a little shaping to the waist to give her some ladylike curves.  Truly the Joan Holloway of sock monkeys.

14 October 2010

Go Love Your Office - Etsy HQ

 

Once upon a time when the Internet was still young and I was working as a management consultant, I remember musing with a few folks that it would be a great idea to set up a ‘shopping engine’ for craftspeople and artists to give them a standard template shop under one umbrella and save them the hassle of setting up their own websites and doing their own independent marketing.

Yes, things would be very different round here if I’d held that thought and founded Etsy, rather than just sitting on my arse.

Perhaps I would be working in gorgeous offices such as these. Etsy’s HQ in Brooklyn has been designed by Hangar Design Group to reflect the quirky, colourful, handmade nature of the brand and decorated using many pieces commissioned or bought from Etsy sellers. 

 

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Those lamps are incredible, does anyone know where they were sourced? I’ve been searching everywhere. And I love the crochet granny blankets on the wall.

 

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The combination of geeks and gingham is such a winner I find.

 

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Junkprints installed the record wall

 

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The desks are all handmade. And see the ‘Craft’ area to the left below? Every office should have one.

 

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Plush toy makers Zooguu designed the individual phone rooms. This has made the Husband and I are consider installing a British phone booth door chez nous, though for the full authentic touch I hope the room beyond stinks of stale urine and cigarettes.

 

 

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Seriously, there are about a thousand fabulous ideas to steal in all this, though I am left wondering whether all the geeky programmers feel comfortable in this space – in the startups I’ve worked at, the geek squad seemed to think pizza boxes and beer cans were decorative objects.

{via SwissMiss}

07 October 2010

Blog I Am Loving – Kat Knit’s Project Project Runway

 

As you will doubtless know by now, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Project Runway fan, even in seasons like this when the fashion really is nothing to write home about.

So I’m loving this fabulous project happening on the blog Kat Knits where Kat, and also her friend Susi, both take 15 hours to follow each Project Runway challenge to the letter and create outfits for a doll.

From creating a stunning handbeaded element for the couture challenge

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and its ready-to-wear counterpart

 

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to printing a custom fabric for the fabric challenge

 

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to knitting a tiny ensemble for the sportswear challenge

 

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to punching out from ribbon and glueing hundreds of tiny circles for the ‘party store’ challenge

 

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and knitting tiny accessories for the team challenge.

 

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There’s much more to see on the blog, including all the workroom ‘drama’ and if you haven’t discovered it already go and say hi to Tom and Lorenzo at Project Rungay for everything you ever wanted to know and then some about the show (which is where I found out about this blog).

Update

I can’t wait to see what they comes up with for last night's  ‘Design a Grey Shapeless Sweatshire for Heidi Klum’s Vanity Line’ challenge. Best of luck to them both.

06 October 2010

Things I Am Loving – Carl Kleiner’s Food Photography

 

I’ve been looking at a lot of food photography recently, but, sometimes, dare I say it, it can get a little same-y – put your food in a pretty dish, lay it on a cunningly folded napkin, place everything on a textured table and play with depth of field until the background is artfully blurred.

Rinse and repeat. (And yes, I know I do this too.)

So it’s wonderful to see food photography that is completely out of left field and so very beautiful, for, of all things, an Ikea cookbook.

Photographer Carl Kleiner worked with stylist Evelina Bratell to create fabulous still-life patterns out of the raw ingredients for each dish.

 

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The photos of the finished articles are witty, pretty and original too.

 

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Unfortunately I think the cookbook is only available in Swedish and from Ikea in Sweden at the moment, though hopefully an international edition will be available shortly.

And wouldn’t those prints look wonderful as kitchen artwork?

And maybe I was onto something when I took a picture of my pot roast ingredients back in February? I should have held that thought.

{via Jackie Baisa’s Facebook page}