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115 posts categorized "Shopping"

20 June 2013

Things I Am Loving: The Secret Garden

 

Pssst. Don’t tell the Minx, but I just bought her a colouring book for our plane ride at the weekend.

 

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Well, to be more accurate I’ve just bought myself a colouring book, as I’m sure she would probably prefer to be plugged into an electronic device of some sort.

But honestly, who in their right mind could resist the intricate and magical pen and ink drawings in Secret Garden by ‘ink evangelist’ Johanna Basford?

 

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Twelve hours on a plane doesn’t seem nearly so long now. (Check out this review from the Guardian, which includes some printable pages to download).

Speaking of The Secret Garden, which remains one of my favourite children’s books of all time, check out these beautiful clothbound keepsake editions of children’s classics from Puffin, designed by the amazing Daniela Terrazzini.

 

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As the mother of an utterly voracious and rather advanced reader I’m the finding the classics to be one of the best ways of giving the Minx age-appropriate reading material. I understand from the Internet that these beautiful books can be hard to track down, but we found ours at the weekend in Seattle’s wonderful Elliott Bay Bookstore. Some are also available on Amazon. (There are some more boy-friendly options too.)

I, er the Minx, can’t wait to read them.

   

30 May 2013

Things I Am Loving: Art et Manufacture

 

Continuing on my dangerous Helene Dujardin-fuelled shopping spree (goodness that woman has a lot to answer for), I have been making my way down her list of great prop providers and spending far too much money.


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These utterly gorgeous ceramics from Art et Manufacture are worth every penny though.

I love how the shapes they use are modern yet timeless and the blue and white patterns are utterly contemporary while calling back to Delftware and other traditional blue and white china. Very European, utterly chic and completely inspired.

 

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The sweet little espresso cups and bowl below are MINE though.  Look out for them in a food photograph near you.

 

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09 May 2013

Things I Am Loving: Wind & Willow Home

 

It’s been an expensive morning.

 

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One of the more unexpectedly dangerous aspects of doing a workshop with Helene Dujardin was the list of favourite prop suppliers she sent us after the course. And after three days playing with all her gorgeous things it was impossible to resist going shopping. 

 

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My first stop was at Wind & Willow Home.  Helene had a stack of these little wooden bowls in an array of colours, perfect for salt, oil or spices and for adding a little unexpected touch to a tabletop setting.  And  of course you could also use them for actual FOOD rather than just as a photography prop.

They’re incredibly tactile too. Etsy artist Araya Jensen starts with beautifully turned bowls and spoons and then hand dips each of them in a synthetic rubber in custom-mixed colours. 

The beauty lies in the timeless organic quality of the wood combined with the soft modern rubber in a host of contemporary colours.

 

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These walnut bowls are incredibly special.  Trying to work out if I can afford them.

 

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I REALLY want that plate too.

 

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I was in yet another Creative Live workshop during the early part of this week, so apologies for lack of bloggery.  So much to catch up on over the next week or so – more from Vancouver, more from the Gulf Shores photo workshop, more prop suppliers and the KITCHEN AND BATHROOM REMODEL IS SCHEDULED TO FINISH TOMORROW.  Quite honestly it’s looking to me like there’s about six months work left to do, but the contractors seem confident.

I so cannot wait.

   

12 April 2013

Palm Springs Uptown Design District Shopping and Dining Guide

 

I’m off to Vancouver tomorrow bright and early for a weekend with friends, so I thought it was about time I posted up the last of my images from Palm Springs, before I get a whole bunch of new ones.

 

palmspringsuptowndesigndistrict-16

 

Truth be told, last time we went to Palm Springs we had been a bit disappointed by the shopping and dining out options. We visited some great places, yes, but overall the downtown area came across as a bit tired and down at heel - resting on its laurels from a bygone era, like a vacationing grandma.

Clearly we weren’t the only people who felt like that because in the intervening three or so years since we were last there a whole district of fabulous shops and boutiques, art galleries, vintage furniture stores and cool restaurants has sprung up – the Palm Springs Uptown Design District, on North Palm Canyon Drive.

The area begins north of Cheeky’s – breakfast here is still a highlight of any trip to Palm Springs, though be sure to get there early as the lines are LONG.

On the other side of the street from Cheeky’s is Copley’s which has a beautiful outside terrace on which to drink superb cocktails and eat excellent food.  The highlight for us, though, was the fabulous sticky toffee pudding that British chef Andrew Copley has snuck onto the menu.

 

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We were told by a shop owner that Trio, just north of Copley’s on North Palm Canyon Drive had spearheaded the development of the area, and it certainly was a fabulous place to eat, big and bustly, with a fun and funky interior, impeccable friendly service, and a menu full of upmarket comfort food (and truly excellent mac ‘n cheese for the Minx).

North of Cheeky’s you’ll find some extremely cool vintage furniture stores and Jakes restaurant. We didn’t have a chance to eat at Jakes -  though we stuck our heads in and it looked like fun - but it comes highly recommended by people we met at the hotel.

 

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Carry on walking and you’ll reach a small Spanish style hidden courtyard, where’ll you find the fabulous NotNeutral store, selling beautifully designed contemporary homewares. Originally conceived as a temporary pop-up shop, it’s now a perfect fit in the design district. We could have bought the whole store and nearly did.

 

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The courtyard also hides the glamorous interior of Workshop Kitchen + Bar. We really enjoyed this restaurant, from the cool décor to the duck fat fries, the use of seasonal ingredients, the excellent cocktails and the ‘large format’ options, which led to the family sharing a large platter full of mustardy chicken and delicious vegetables.

 

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The pop-up store concept thrives at Raymond Lawrence.  Named for the delightfully friendly owners they feature a number of pop-up collections in their quirky store.

We fell in love with these limited edition portraits of vintage Barbies by Judy Ragagli.  The cutie in the middle with the curled brown hair ended up coming home with us.

 

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The jewel of the design district is Palm Springs designer Trina Turk’s huge eponymous store, featuring women’s and men’s fashions and  the world’s most colourful homewares. Spent a lot of time ogling cushions here.

 

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With the development of the design district, Palm Springs has just become even more fabulous, if rather dangerous for the wallet and waistline.  I for one can’t wait to go back and am fascinated to see how it develops over the next few years.

 

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29 March 2013

WTF Friday: Dot Dog Bags

 

dotdogbags

 

So now you’re thinking that I’ve gone and lost my mind. Those little leather purses are adorably cute!  I would definitely walk around town with one of those swinging from my wrist.

And so dear reader would I.

 

dotdogbag

 

Except they have been specifically designed for the transportation of dog poop. Next time you see an impossibly chic Parisian woman (because of course these are a French design) wearing one of these, know that she has a bunch of poop dangling from her wrist.

 

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There are reasons we don’t have a dog (most of which are to do with scooping poop), so I pass this off to the dog owners amongst us.

Do you guys really carry poop about all day? Would such a cute designer purse actually be of use?  Or should dog poop be scooped into a plastic bag and DISPOSED OF IMMEDIATELY?  I am unclear as to the etiquette here.

I found this on the blog of lovely commenter Cate.  Her pet blog Under the Blanket features a ton of cool finds for the creatures in your life and she also sells really cool and innovative pet name tags which are attached to an online database of information in case your pets ever go missing. I reviewed them here.

     

28 March 2013

The Big Kitchen Remodel: Buying a Retro Fridge

 

I’m a firm believer that when you’re doing a room (or planning an outfit for that matter) that you should have one striking architectural feature, or piece of furniture or art (or clothing or jewellery) that acts as the focal point of the scheme, adds the wow factor and provides an anchor to build everything else around.

Unfortunately our boxy rectangular kitchen has not a single architectural feature of merit, and it is difficult to create a wow factor out of cheap Ikea cabinets.  So that left the fridge as the only real possibility.

 

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Our Big Chill fridge in a finished kitchen

 

Sadly most fridges available here in the US are either white or stainless steel boxes – gigantically huge, fabulously functional in a way that European fridges can only dream of, and boring as hell.  After a great deal of online research the following are the only interesting fridges I could find, all retro-styled.  Wouldn’t it be fab if a fridge manufacturer could come up with an eye-catching contemporary fridge design?

First of all I thought of getting a Smeg fridge.  I had one back in London and they are so ubiquitous in the European design world as to have become a bit of a cliché.  But for some reason THEY ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE T TO FIND IN THE US.

West Elm has started selling the small standalone Smeg fridge in a variety of gorgeous colours, but these are tiny even by European standards.

 

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Teeny tiny Smeg fridges

 

Smeg does manufacture bigger fridge-freezers which would have been perfect for us, but they are NOT available in the US. This is criminal Smeg US!  Get with the program!

 

 

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Smeg fridge-freezers out in the wild. Though not in the US obvs.

 

Since we definitely need a freezer, I searched for retro-style fridge freezers and came across NorthStar fridges made by Elmira Stove Works in Canada.  It’s important to note that both these fridges and the Big Chill fridge we bought are just retro cases screwed on to a cheap white box fridge (Elmira uses Amana fridges) so they’re by no means state of the art when it comes to internal features.  We liked the look of the Northstars very much, but since they are imported from Canada they work out even more expensive than the Big Chill. Here’s a great discussion outlining the pros and cons of Northstar v Big Chill.

 

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Very cute and expensive Elmira NorthStar fridges

Big Chill Fridges are based on Whirlpool white box fridges. I have to admit that it was a difficult decision to spend so much money on what is merely a tarted up $800 fridge – as it was being delivered up our stairs I was given a graphic illustration of just what we’d bought, as all the fancy panels were unscrewed and removed so it could get up the stairs.  But once seen I had to have it, and we are delighted with its prettiness.

 

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Another Big Chill fridge in a finished kitchen

Seems to me thought that there is a huge gap in the market for some manufacturer to produce a nicely-styled colourful, CHEAPER fridge-freezer from scratch though. What do you think?

Check out this fabulous post (with extra fridgeporn) from Nicole Balch of Making It Lovely for advice on how to style the top of your retro fridge.  Fortunately since we have a cabinet over our fridge, I do not have to make these difficult styling decisions.

     

12 March 2013

Things I Am Loving: Nicole Porter Hardwood Bowls

 

Yet more things I don’t have either the money or room for.  They’re absolutely stunning though.

 

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Buy these unique handpainted wooden bowls, plates and servers at www.nicoleporter.com or on her Etsy shop and then send them to me.

   

06 March 2013

Things I Am Loving: Journals and Notebooks

 

Turns out I have a little bit of a notebook problem.

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They’re just too pretty to resist and cheap enough for lots of impulse purchases on my travels round the web. Here are a few that have recently er, caught my eye, I have bought .

1)  I won a Julia Kostreva journal at the Blogshop workshop last year and love the colours and graphic simplicity of her covers.  Nice quality paper inside too. Really liking the colours and style of her new ‘Mon Petit Notebook’ range.

2) I’ve been following Greek graphic designer Tomy K on Instagram for a long time and ended up buying some of his small graphic notebooks. They come in complementary sets of three and are therefore very useful for bribing small similarly notebook-addicted daughters and including in cheesy Instagram vignettes of one’s desk ( though I rarely do this as it’s not often my desk is tidy enough for human consumption).

3) I recently bought a few Moleskine-alike Ecosystem notebooks. Beautifully made in the US from 100% post-consumer recycled paper, you get to choose your size, cover colour (from six juicy hues) and inside style (blank, lined or grid). Like Moleskines they have silk bookmarks, elastic closures and an inside back pocket and the paper itself is of beautiful quality. But unlike Moleskines they have perforated pages. This is a great organisational feature for me, as I’m always scribbling crap in the wrong notebook.

4) No notebook roundup would be complete without a selection from Rifle Paper Co.  I have a couple of Anna Bond’s old pocket notebooks, but her new Botanical journals are the prettiest yet.  I might have to do a little shopping.

Are you a notebook addict?  Or have you moved over completely to tablets and such like?  And if you are, seen any pretty ones recently?  For research purposes only of course.

   

15 February 2013

Things I Am Loving: Walnut Birds from Gretel Home

 

The sun is shining here in Seattle and the photography studio is calling me, but I quickly wanted to share the gorgeous present that I was lucky enough to receive yesterday for Valentines Day.

 

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Pinterest may have set back cause of feminism by several hundred years, but it sure has made it easier to give husbands a list of acceptable presents.

This little carved walnut bird with the pink lacquer chest has been a cover picture on my Pinterest boards for a long time, so I was thrilled to actually get one in the ‘flesh’ yesterday – along with four little birdie friends. 

As with most wooden things, these are so much more lovely than any picture can show – smooth, warm and tactile and most beautifully carved and finished.  Exquisite craftsmanship at its very best.

 

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The birds are handmade in the UK and are available at Gretel Home.

Here are my tweeties having a chat.

 

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I haven’t had time this week to trawl the Internet for design WTF**ckery. If you chaps ever come across anything that you think might be suitable to feature, do please let me know.

   

27 September 2012

Father Rabbit

 

Why oh why oh WHY isn’t beautifully curated online shop Father Rabbit based in the US?

 

father-rabbit-onlineIt is incredibly unfair.  The good news though is that the New Zealand-based shop, run by husband and wife team Claudia Zinzan and Nick Hutchinson will shp worldwide at flat rates. 

Don’t tell the Husband, but I may have placed a teensy order today.

   

21 September 2012

WTF Friday: WTF Stamp

 

I don’t think I’ve ever needed a piece of office equipment more.

 

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{Available from Knock Knock.  I love that according to the site it now comes with a ‘smooth, satisfying ker-chunk’. That makes all the difference.}

   

19 June 2012

Pinterest Take 5: Colour Dipped Everything

 

It started with these, which you have no doubt seen if you have eyes and a Pinterest account.

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Dipped utensils by Little Bit Funky via Making It Lovely

 

Soon the whole world was dipping things in paint…

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Dipped cans by Maya via Anna Johanson

 

and posting up tutorials…

 

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Dipped chopsticks from Poppytalk via Martha Staples

 

Then the Etsy shops got in on the act.

 

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Neon dipped bowls from Wind & Willow Home via Anne DeOtte

 

And now everything is being dipped in colour.

 

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Cutest ever baby shoes from Schier Shoes via Oh Joy

 

Personally I love this trend. You?

   

17 May 2012

Teeny Trend: Colourful Circles

 

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Oversize necklace by LeJu available at Boticca.com

Details for cool DIY paint chip art project from The 3Rs Blog.

   

10 May 2012

Pinterest Take 5: Persimmon

 

I bought an orange, or, more precisely, that orange-veering-to-coral-pink known as persimmon, sweatshirt last week.  At least five people have since told me that it is the ‘colour of the season’.

All I know is that if you have boring mid-brown hair and pale skin with a warm undertone as I have, there is no more flattering colour on earth, and you will have to rip this sweatshirt from my back.

It’s been popping up all over Pinterest too.

 

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1. Bottega Veneta Silk Chiffon Colour Block Dress at Net-A-Porter via Anne Deotte 

2. Jasper Conran for Wedgwood Kilim Teacup and Saucer via Mackenzie

3. Labyrinth Persimmon Pillow by Dwell Studio via Bibi Rogers

4. Fleuvog Sandra shoes via Casapinka

5. Peach, Strawberry and Vodka Popsicles by Endless Simmer via Kimberly Taylor Not quite persimmons I know, but the colour is persimmon perfection and they did seem a little more seasonally appropriate.

   

28 April 2012

How To Bake British Without Freaking Out

 

victoria sponge (1 of 1)

 

I just wanted to let you all know that there are still some places left for the class I’m giving on Monday night at fabulous Seattle cookbook store Book Larder.

And it would be lovely to see blog readers there.

The class is called Baking In Translation – How to Bake British Without Freaking Out and is for anyone who’s tried to use a recipe from British website or cookbook and been flummoxed by the strange ingredients or metric measurements.

I’ll be covering the basics of weighing and measuring in metric rather than using cup measures; discussing differences in flours, sugars and creams; translating strange ingredient names and suggesting the best sources and substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients.  I’ll be demonstrating how to make a traditional English Victoria sponge cake and maybe, if there’s time, English flapjacks (sort of sticky sweet granola bars, not pancakes) and there’ll be treats to sample.

The class will run from 6.30 to around 8.30 and you can find full details and buy tickets here. Here’s my previous blog post on the subject.

I’d love to meet Seattle blog readers and if you can’t make it, anything you could do to promote the class via various social media would be very much appreciated.

See you on Monday!

 

   

19 April 2012

My Hidden New York

 

OK chaps.  There's another limo waiting to take you to the airport. Places to see and people to do and all that. This time we're off to New York, New York!

I was also delighted to meet Tina at Holly Becker’s NYC workshop. She works for a very well-known interior designer in NYC and has a great eye. Her blog is also very special, full of unusual and creative products and ideas she comes across in her day to day life, so I thought she'd make the perfect guide to the city that never sleeps.  She’s lived in New York for six years now, so you know her recommendations will take you off the beaten tourist path. I want to do another weekend in New York immediately, just to try them out.

Hello mirrormirror readers! My name is Tina Ramchandani and I run the design blog Life in Sketch. I am an interior designer and I live and work in New York, New York. On my blog I focus on all aspects of design as well as highlighting places I visit and travel to. Since I live in one of the best cities in the world, I have tons of spotlights, right here in NYC. Today I'm going to share with you some of my favorite New York City spots. I have a few places to eat, shop and hang out, picked out for you. Hope you love them as much as I do!

 

To Hang:

How-I-learned

One of my favorite things to do is attend the How I Learned series by Blaise Allysen Kearsley. It's held once a month, usually on a Wednesday, at Happy Ending, at 302 Broome Street. If you are in town when the series is being held, you must go! It's a hilarious event where writers, comedians and other New Yorkers discuss their personal stories about the topic of the day. My very first time attending, the topic was "How I Learned to Live in New York". I can't explain how insanely funny it was. I was hooked!

Asssscatshow

On a Sunday night, the best thing to do is to head over to Upright Citizen's Brigade and watch the Asssscat show. UCB is an improvisational theatre and school that offers affordable classes and shows, which has never failed me. I have friends that have taken classes there, and every single show I have has left me in tears (from laughing so hard, obviously). The Asssscat show is the best of the best and often features comedians you love, that star in 30 Rock, The Office, SNL and more. There is a 7:30 show, which is $10 and a 9:30 show, which is free, but be prepared to wait in line as reservations are not accepted. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

Ikea-ferry

This might seem odd, but I love the IKEA ferry! The ferry, run by New York Water Taxi, sails from South Street Seaport to Red Hook everyday. It's kind of amazing actually. You get on this ferry, virtually for free, and get a short tour of the East River. You leave from Pier 11 in southern Manhattan and get to see Jersey City, Ellis Island, Governor's Island and finally Brooklyn. I always run straight to the top of the boat where you get to sit outside and enjoy the view. The boat leaves every 40 minutes. On Mondays through Fridays, the cost is $5 but if you purchase something from IKEA you get your money back. Just be sure to present your receipt when you check out. On Saturdays and Sundays the ferry is free. When you're done you get to hop on the ferry back. It's a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

 

 

To Shop:

Housing-works-bookstore

There are tons of bookstores here in New York and it's hard to narrow down my favorite. But I had to do it for you and so I will say that Housing Works Bookstore is at the top of my list. Housing Works' goal is to help people affected with HIV and AIDS. In addition to the bookstore, Housing Works has an online shop and a few thrift stores around the city where you can purchase home goods and clothing. 100% of all profits are used to help those that need it. The bookstore is located at 126 Crosby Street and the selection of books is immense. There is a cafe inside with plenty of seating and they encourage you to sit and hang out! That is rare these days. If you needed another selling point - there are book events almost every day of the week.

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If I am looking to treat myself or get a one of a kind gift for a friend, I always go to Treasure & Bond. Each item is specifically picked for the New York City downtown market ranging from scented candles, stationery, to clothing and accessories. I recently purchased a PopUp Paris candle from here, that may have a hidden diamond inside! There is a huge benefit to shopping at this store as well. 100% of all profits go to charities benefiting children in NYC.

 

To Eat:

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My favorite chef is Jehangir Mehta and I am lucky to have his two restaurants extremely close by. One is within walking distance of my apartment, Mehtaphor, located in Tribeca. The other, Graffiti, is located in the East Village. While both menus are similar, there are items on each you can't resist. Jehangir's signature is a flavorful modern Indian food. If you go to Graffiti you will notice that he cooks in a 50 square foot kitchen, which we all know is hard to do! Both locations serve my favorite dish, the Graffiti burger, which you must try.

chinatown-icecream-factory

For dessert I always go to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. This place is fantastic. It has traditional and modern Chinese ice cream flavors, and it has been open since 1978! It's one of Chinatown's oldest businesses and it's definitely a place the neighbors love. My flavor of choice is black sesame, but it sells out quickly so if you want it, you have to get there early. The shop is open late so I usually end up stumbling in after a long day and I miss all the black sesame. All the flavors are super tasty, you can't really go wrong. It is located on 65 Bayard Street.

There are so many places that I discover every day, it's hard to just pick a few to share with you. I'm really lucky and I get to see tons of super cool stuff all the time, so if you stay tuned you'll be learning about more NYC gems. I hope you've enjoyed my spotlights today!

   

18 April 2012

Vancouver in Five

 

Please welcome Sandra from Raincoast Cottage to the blog. She’s a Vancouverite who recently moved back there from Toronto, so who better to tell us of some of the great new places she’s found in her old home town. I’m also shamed that she has made more progress doing up her cottage since she moved in six months ago, than we’ve made in this house in over five years. Check out her cottage on her blog. It’s lovely.

Five favourite spots that is! Welcome to my city - my old home town. You see, I lived out east for ten years and only returned to Vancouver late last summer. So there's been more than a bit of exploring happening around here as I discover my new favourite places to shop and eat. And I am happy to share five of them with you.

When I left Vancouver, the neighbourhood just east of Gastown was a bit sketchy. More than a bit sketchy. So sketchy that you could never begin to imagine any gentrification. But it has. It still has its edginess - but that gives it its charm. And this is where we will start on our tour of my five favourite places.

 

Nelson the Seagull

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You are in the Pacific Northwest so the very first stop is going to be for a coffee. How could it not be? And not just any coffee - one from Nelson the Seagull. They know how to pull shots. And although they do have a yummy menu (let's come back for lunch), once we have our coffees, we're going to step out and walk down to Cartem's Donuterie.

 

Cartem's Donuterie

To go with your coffee, do I have a treat for you. And it's less than a block away. It's a tiny, tiny place making THE best handmade donuts from only locally sourced, organic ingredients. I know, you think that you have had good donuts, that you know all about them. How can they get any better? Well, they can. And they are.

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What about some of these flavours - Earl Grey, maple topped with bacon (and some Bourbon too!), carrot cake, even vegan options. And they even deliver but only downtown - it's by bike so they stay on this side of the bridges.

Now that we are fed and watered, how about a visit to The Old Faithful Shop?

 

The Old Faithful Shop

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I know that "well curated" is such an overused phrase now but I can't think of a better way to describe the goods that the Old Faithful Shop carry. Savannah, one of the owners, is originally from the Canadian prairies - her friendly personality is a dead giveaway. She and her partner Walter stock all sorts of goods from all over the world that are well made and unique. You can shop online too!

Urban Source

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Feeling inspired to make something? Want something a little different than your usual art supply store? Let's scoot over to Urban Source. For over 15 years, Urban Source has been the place to go for alternative art materials. It's not a big place but it is full from top to bottom with bins of materials collected from over 100 local businesses. Most of it you buy by the paper bag. Grab the size you want and start filling it up. And then when you get home, start making some art.

 

Metropolitan Home

 

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A trip to Vancouver would not be complete without some vintage furniture shopping. For our last stop we'll visit Metropolitan Home for a dose of mid-century modern furniture. Located in the Armoury District near 2nd and Fir, there's lots to catch your eye - both in furniture and decor. I have that table lamp and there is a floor version too.

Thanks for joining me to visit five of my favourite places in Vancouver! And visit me at www.raincoastcottage.com where I write about living a creative life.

12 April 2012

A Shopping Trip to Portland: Part 2

 

Here’s part two of my shopping guide to Portland.

You can see where I went with my girlfriends on the Friday in Part 1 here.  And pictures from  Portland’s Japanese Garden are here.

Here’s what we did on Saturday after the family came and met me on the Friday night.

After a leisurely breakfast at our hotel (we stayed again at the Nines, which is worthy of a separate blogpost), we wandered off to the Portland Saturday market.  To be perfectly honest I wasn’t terribly impressed. There seemed to be a lot of tat and not a huge amount of originality.

portland-shopping

We then tried to get into the legendary Voodoo Doughnuts. The magic may indeed be in the hole, but weren’t going to stand in the mile-long queue to find out. I sort of regret that now.  Instead we jumped in the car and headed to the Farmers’ Market at Portland State University. This was more like it, on a par with the best of the Seattle farmers’ markets, but with new and different producers to try.

After the market we headed back downtown for lunch and went to Habibi for Lebanese food. It’s a cuisine I miss a lot from London, as I can’t find any very good exponents in Seattle, but here it’s done well – the food is fresh and tasty, with excellent rice, hummus and breads, though not particularly imaginative.

 

habibi-portland

 

From there we went back to a couple of shops I’d visited the day before and possibly my two favourite shopping finds in Portland so far.

 

woonwinkel-portland

Woonwinkel focuses on colourful and graphic contemporary craftmade pieces – it’s the shop I wanted mirrormirror to turn into. They call it ‘new modern’: warm, inviting, tactile, quirky.  Modern with soul. I loved it, though left without purchasing.

 

alderco-portland

 

Alder & Co also does beautiful everyday items, with a clean, almost Japanese aesthetic.  I bought the most stunningly smooth and tactile (and stunningly expensive) stoneware Japanese butter dish and some beautiful wooden measuring spoons.

We then headed for Powell’s Bookstore, where I have to admit that I spent a lot of time surreptitiously photographing the covers of books that look good for later download on my Nook.  I sort of hate myself for doing this, though we did slightly assuage our guilty consciences by buying children’s books for the Minx. But please tell me how I can reconcile my love of independent bookstores with my Nook love?  I really haven’t figured this out yet.

ace-hotel-portland

All the guilt was making me thirsty, so we headed over to Portland’s Ace Hotel for coffee in the downstairs Stumptown coffee shop. You buy your coffee and then can take it into the hotel lobby. I was intrigued to see the décor after my recent stays at the Ace in NYC and the Ace in Palm Springs.  Again they’ve done a great job of matching the Ace’s hipster aesthetic to its surroundings.  Not as smart as the NYC hotel, nor as carefree as the Palms Springs one, this was quirky, funky and yes, most decidedly hip.

As we walked back home I saw this bicycle stand outside a cupcake shop.  I’ve no idea whether the cupcakes are good or not, but the bike stand just summed up Portland for me.

 

whisk-bike-stand

Tired but happy, we ended up heading back to the Nines for dinner, where the whole family sat in the king-sized bed, ordered burgers and mac’n’cheese from room service and watched Hugo on the big flat-screen telly.  I digress, but what a totally gorgeous and moving film that was. I’ve never been a big Scorsese fan before, but wow.

10 April 2012

Mad Men: More On Don Draper’s New Apartment

 

 

don-draper-dining-room

 

It went a little crazy round these parts when I wrote my recent analysis of Don Draper’s new apartment, so for the 47% of you who watch Mad Men (and for the remaining 53%, why the heck don’t you?), here are some more great articles I’ve found online about his new digs.

Firstly the LA Times did a great interview with set designer Claudette Didul about how she put the look together, and including a list of shopping resources.

 

don-draper-kitchen

 

Secondly, the LA Times also did a piece on the reaction to Don’s new pad online and included a link to THIS.VERY. BLOGAnd they called me ‘astute’.  What a remarkably sensible and insightful paper the LA Times is! 

The divine Tula, shopping guru extraordinaire, wrote two great pieces.  One on how to recreate Don’s apartment in your own home and another on how you can channel your inner Megan.

 

don-drapers-living-room

 

And the ever fabulous Tom and Lorenzo are again doing their weekly episode by episode Mad Style round-ups, which focus mainly on the fashions, but also on the interiors and sets.  I swear only people who are more insightful and knowledgeable about the show are the writers and producers themselves.

   

07 April 2012

WTF Friday: Crocheted Carrots

 

So I was browsing through Tula’s ever-fabulous blog the other day when I came across a link to NYC-based online shop Blue Tree and some limited edition hand-crocheted vegetables.

They’re OK, I thought, if you like that sort of thing, and the carrot would probably make a cute present for your Easter Bunny, and then my eye happened upon the price.

 

crocheted-vegetables

$525 for a whimsical crocheted carrot?  WTF?

Now the carrot is comparatively large (43 inches) and you don’t have to tell me how long crochet takes, and I’m all for craftspeople being paid an honest wage for an honest day’s toil.

But seriously, $525 for a crocheted CARROT?  Or am I being stingy?

   

04 April 2012

Meet My New Office Manager

 

So as mirrormirror begins its quest for world blogging domination, I thought it was about time I brought in a new office manager to get things organised round here.

joan-holloway-barbie7

 

Remember when I pre-ordered a Joan Holloway Barbie doll?  AGES ago?  And how I was looking for a suitable mid-century Barbie-sized 1:6 scale chair to sit her on? (Which was not an incredibly expensive Vitra Miniature)

Well when I was in New York last month I finally found what I was looking for in the MOMA shop – a 1:6 scale Panton chair (also available online at Lexington Modern in a variety of colours).

So today I finally unpacked Ms Holloway from her cardboard coffin and brought her in to kick some ass.

 

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Unfortunately I hadn’t reckoned on the fact that she doesn’t have jointed knees, so after all that she looks rather ridiculous sitting on her Panton chair.  And her skirt is so tight it rides up and shows the tops of her stockings. Not that I expect the real Joan would have minded that though.

 

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Maybe I should have bought her the Vitra Miniature Saarinen Womb Chair and Ottoman after all. (Haha! No. Have you seen the price?)

I have to say that the attention to detail on this Barbie is wonderful, from her carefully painted finger and toenails, to the seams in her stockings and her exquisite jewellery.  I’ve never had a Collector’s Edition Barbie before and I adore her.

   

02 April 2012

Baking In Translation: How to Cook British Without Freaking Out

 

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I just wanted to let readers in the Seattle area know that I’ll be teaching a baking class at Book Larder on April 30th entitled Baking in Translation. I’m nervous already, so it would be wonderful to see as many friendly faces as possible in the audience.  And of course, if you’re a Seattle blog reader, do come and laugh at my funny accent, I’d love to meet you.

 

victoria sponge (4 of 5)

 

The class has arisen from the occasional blog posts I write lamenting all the difficulties I’ve had over the past five years translating British recipes into American and vice versa.

We will cover weighing ingredients in metric versus measuring with cup measures; differences in terminology and vocabulary, such as flour and cream equivalents; where to source strange ingredients in the Seattle area and what to substitute if you can’t get hold of them, and discussing things like pan sizes and oven temperatures. Please come armed with any questions that have been bugging you and we’ll try to cover them all.

While we’re chatting, I will be showing you how to bake a classic English Victoria sponge (measured out in metric) and, if we have time, English flapjacks, using weird British ingredients like porridge oats, golden syrup and sultanas. There will also be treats available to taste.

I will be putting together a detailed hand-out containing all my hard-won knowledge which will be yours to take home, and by the end of it, the world of British cooking will be your oyster and you’ll be buried knee-deep in the Guardian’s food website and ordering obscure English cookbooks from Amazon UK.

   

victoria sponge (2 of 5)

 

Tickets cost a bargainaceous $25 and can be ordered here.  Spaces are limited to 24. Oh and if you haven’t been before, you will adore Book Larder so come armed with lots of money too.

The pictures are from last autumn when I made five Victoria sponges for Seattle’s annual Will Bake for Food event (click through and you’ll see one of my sponges out in the wild).

   

31 March 2012

A Shopping Trip to Portland: Part 1

 

Planning a trip to Portland any time soon?  A couple of Fridays ago I headed off down the I-5 at the crack of dawn in search of hipsters, birds, excellent food, perfect coffee, imaginative shops, and no sales tax, and was not disappointed.  The Friday was spent shopping with girlfriends, then the Minx and the Husband drove down to meet me and we stayed on for a great weekend.

If you’re thinking of going to Portland, here’s what you should do.

Firstly make sure that Myra of Seattle Bon Vivant and Lilian of Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs are with you. These ladies sure know how to eat and shop and they’re fabulously fun company too.

 

barista-portland

 

When you arrive head first to Barista in the Pearl District for one of the finest cups of coffee you’ll have anywhere (and I live in Seattle), together with an extremely acceptable almond croissant.

You’ll need fortification before browsing through the crazy that is Cargo.  Just round the corner from Barista, Cargo calls itself a ‘showroom, flea market, and international bazaar’ and features bizarre and beautiful finds from Indonesia, China, Japan, Thailand and Mexico.  I guarantee you’ll find nothing in here that you need, but plenty that you’ll want. I bought some antique scissors and a small lucky waving cat charm for the Minx’s backpack. See what I mean?

 

cargo-portland

 

Next cross the river and go to The Meadow in North Portland’s Mississippi district.  This tiny shop sells salt, flowers, chocolate, wine and bitters, all personal passions of owner Mark Bitterman, author of the wonderful cookbook Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes.

I met Mark when he came to Seattle and, together with Myra, hosted a creative and delectable salt-based dinner.

This shop shouldn’t work, but it does, beautifully, because so much knowledge and passion has gone into the carefully curated selections. Just look at those walls of salt and chocolate.  I was tempted to buy a block of pink Hawaiian baking salt, but our kitchen has enough clutter. One day. 

I contented myself with a big bag of sel gris instead.

 

themeadow-portland

 

Then head off for lunch at Pok Pok, which serves carefully authentic regional Thai and Vietnamese streetfood under a heated awning.

 

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Photo by Lilian Speirs

For some reason I didn’t manage to take any photos here.  However, here is Lilian’s detailed review, with a ton of photos. Like her I would have been happy to eat the phat si ew, a classic dish of stir-fried rice noodles, succulent Carlton Farms pork, Chinese broccoli and egg, all day.  Pok Pok is a fun, enjoyable place for a Portland pit stop, with great food and a buzzy atmosphere, deservedly a renowned Portland hangout.

After a hearty lunch it’s time to start shopping in earnest.

First go to Flora which sells a girly selection of scented candles, jewellery, stationery, art, apothecary items and general nicknackery.  I came away with a gorgeous fig-scented Tatine candle.  I wasn’t familiar with this range before, but loved the simple glass containers and the beautiful perfumes. The Minx also liked Flora very much when we went back the next day.

 

flora-portland

 

Then head over to Canoe, by way of glorious yarn shop Knit Purl.  I forgot to take pics again, but did come away with two skeins of gorgeous naturally-dyed laceweight linen yarn. One has to have priorities.

Anyway, back to Canoe.  This shop has a wonderful selection of modern tchotchkes and home accessories, chosen with taste and flair.  The Husband particularly liked this shop when we returned the following day and it’s a particularly great place to browse for gifts for men.  I ended up with a new litter bin, a pink piggy bank for the Minx and some little glass bowls.

 

canoe-portland

 

After visiting more shops that I’ll get to in part 2 of this guide, we finished up at modern furniture shop Hive before settling down for a very well-earned and again excellent coffee at Cafe Allora, a little bit of Milan in downtown Portland.

 

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Finally we braved the immensely long line at Ken’s Artisan Pizza. We had to wait for over two hours, fortunately seated at a back table where we could drink plenty of wine, but the pizza was worth it when we got it, which means it’s VERY good pizza indeed.  Particularly the bacon pizza. Man, that was yummy.

The Minx and the Husband made it down the freeway in time to join us for an extra bacon pizza and dessert and we then waved goodbye as Myra and Lilian headed off into the night. I was left wondering why I don’t do day trips to Portland more often.

Find out what the Minx, the Husband and I got up to in Part 2.

   

29 March 2012

Teeny Trend: Warm Pastel Pink

 

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I’m seeing it a lot at the moment -  a warm, sophisticated, not-at-all-girly shell pink, which is almost a neutral. 

Sunglasses by Stella McCartney (I have a pressing need for these).  Room shown in Dutch interiors magazine VTWonen.

   

25 March 2012

That Was The Week That Was: Weekend In Portland Edition

 

I forgot to do a TWTWTW last week, which was silly as I had some cool shots from our weekend shopping trip to Portland.

It turned out to be a sunshine and showers, great food and great coffee, groovy shops and pink petals sort of a weekend.

 

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We had a wonderful time There’s a blog post on shopping in Portland in your near future.

22 March 2012

Teeny Trend: Cut Up Union Jacks

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Today’s Teeny Trend features the newly-unveiled Team GB kit designed by Stella McCartney and a cushion I’ve recently had my eye on. 

I do like the idea of using portions of the Union Jack in designs – it’s still iconic and cool without going full on into Rule Britannia territory.  And thank goodness the Stella McCartney designs, while a bit dull, aren’t hideously embarrassing, unlike the godawful Olympic logo. I still have no clue what they were thinking with that one.

We’ve booked our flights out to London for the Olympics!  We don’t have tickets to any events, but I still wanted to be there to join in the party.  Can. not. wait.

   

21 March 2012

Adventures in Baking : Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Glaze

 

chocolate-bundt-cake

 

Having a bad morning? Chocolate cake always makes things better I find, and this one is a complete doozy – dense, moist and fudgey with smoky almost indiscernible undertones of coffee.  See, you’re feeling better already.  And hardly any carbs I’m sure.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ve told you yet about Book Larder.   It’s a fabulous new Seattle shop modelled on my darling Books for Cooks in London, which I used to live round the corner from and still sorely miss. Book Larder not only offers an amazing range of both popular and hard-to-come-by cookbooks, it also hosts a number of events and demonstrations from famous cookbook authors and chefs.

 

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Last week, they were hosting a book signing for food blogger Joy the Baker and I was asked if I wanted to bake something for the event from the Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes

It’s a wonderful book, chock full of original and droolworthy comfort food recipes written in Joy’s chatty style with an accompanying photo for every dish and lots of excellent baking tips.   It’s also very American, featuring lots of maple syrup, bacon and peanut butter, cookies, marshmallows and waffles, to the extent that I was a little intimidated.  What is a ‘toasted coconut Dutch baby with banana and pineapple’ when it’s at home? What the heck is a ‘buttermilk skillet cake with walnut praline topping’ supposed to taste like?

 

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I decided to test the book out properly by making a bundt cake.  Bundt cakes are ubiquitous in the US but I’ve never come across them in the UK and certainly never made one.  Could Joy the Baker teach this English girl how to bake a bundt?  (This was of course mostly a good excuse to buy myself a fancy bundt pan)

As far as I understand it, a bundt cake is just a cake baked in a bundt tin, which was traditionally a ring-shaped ridged affair.  In the US you can nowadays buy bundt pans in the shape of forts or football stadiums, roses or pumpkins – the challenge with all of them is making sure that the giant slab of cake with no filling is moist and decadent rather than dry and dull.  I needn’t have worried. Joy’s recipe features sour cream, vegetable oil and freshly-brewed coffee, which makes for a very wet batter and a delectably moist cake.  In fact, having had some cake in the fridge for a few days now, I can confirm that it just gets moister and fudgier and more delicious with keeping.

 

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I was also nervous about getting the thing out of the pan. After taking lots of advice on Twitter (thanks particularly to Jeanne Sauvage aka @fourchickens) I brushed the pan with melted butter, sprayed it with Bake Easy for good measure and floured it to within an inch of its life.  I then took Joy’s advice (she has a whole section on getting bundts out of tins) to wait for 20 minutes while the cake cooled in the pan before taking it out.  As a result of all this advice, both cakes I made just slid out of the pans with no fuss. Aren’t they pretty? I nearly burst with pride and couldn’t stop patting them. It seemed almost a shame to glaze them at all.

 

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Joy’s bundt is finished with a chocolate coffee ganache. This almost caused a bit of a commotion by refusing to set, meaning that I turned up for the event with only five minutes to spare. If you’re making this for an event I suggest you make it the day before. The cake honestly improves with fridging and then you won’t have a last-minute ganache-fuelled panic.

The glaze is also maybe the one thing I’d change about the cake.  The cake and ganache are surprisingly unsweet and sophisticated, perfect for adult tastes, but the Minx has declared that she doesn’t much like the mocha frosting.  If making this again with kids in mind I would replace the sour cream and coffee with normal cream for a sweeter frosting.  If you’re catering for adults though this is perfect as is.

Sorry non-American peeps, I didn’t have time to make the conversions from cups to weight.  Time to get out those cup measures again!

 

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Glaze

makes one 10-inch bundt cake

For the Cake:

1 1/4 cups freshly brewed hot coffee

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti which is just insanely good)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking (bicarbonate of) soda

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/4 cups sour cream

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola oil

 

For the Glaze:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

4 tablespoons freshly-brewed hot coffee

 

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan (see above) and set aside.

 

chocolate-bundt-cake (6 of 6)

 

To make the cake:

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth and no lumps remain. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, whisk together the sugar and eggs until thick and pale. . Add the sour cream and oil and whisk until well incorporated.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until the flour is well incorporated. Add the cooled coffee mixture and gently mix to incorporate.  The batter should be loose and smooth.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for around 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack. Cake should be completely cooled before frosting.

 

To make the glaze:

Bring 2 inches of water to simmer in a medium pan. Place the chopped chocolate (I used chips) and butter into a heatproof bowl. Place over the simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water. Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for around 20 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the hot coffee, followed by the sour cream. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of coffee and stir until glossy.

This ganache will be very liquid and will need to spend half an hour or so in the fridge before it’s ready to be spread on the cakes, and will probably need an hour or so in the fridge subsequently if you’re planning on transporting the cake anywhere.

This is where I admit that I actually wasn’t a reader of Joy’s blog (I’ve started now though – I love her ‘voice’). It seems there are a ton of people who are though. It was standing room only to meet her.

joy-the-baker

Please don’t look at the picture of me.  My hair was suffering from being raked-through too often by my fingers during my ganache-fuelled panic.

   

13 March 2012

Teeny Trend: Turquoise Leather

 

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Shoes from here. Bag from here. I want those ‘vogs so much it’s painful.

I have a horrible feeling these ‘Teeny Trends’ are going to feature a LOT of shoes.

   

10 March 2012

Pinterest Take Five

 

This week on Pinterest we’ve been getting ziggy with it.

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Source: Chevron iPhone case from Society6 via Leah Dent

   

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Source: Faux Feather Neon Aztec Earrings from lovesexton via Marcia Prentice

   

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Source: Design Crisis via Hammocks & High Tea

   

DIYherringbonepainting

 

1. Paint the canvas all crazy like 2. Use painter's tape to create a herringbone pattern with some missing  3. Paint over the canvas in white 4. Remove tape and voila!

Source: Cozamia via Melanie Hernquist

 

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Source: Pattern of the Day from Karina Maranin via Poppytalk

 

Oh and have an extra one this week. You guys are so SPOILT.

 

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Source: How to Make a Chevron Pattern in Photoshop from Ashli Nixon via Uncle Beefy.

   

07 March 2012

Teeny Trend: Pixels

TeenyTrendsPixels

 

No, you don’t need new glasses, though I’m curious to know if anyone out there would dare to wear the shoes.

Cushions are available here and shoes here.

   

06 March 2012

That Was The Week That Was: NYC Edition

 

This has been an Instagram week of colourful shopping, tall buildings, funky hotels and yellow cabs.  With just a bit of blogging inspiration thrown in.

 

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On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.

I’ve had the most wonderful weekend. My head is full to bursting with ideas and inspiration, as is my cardholder with friends old and new.  Unfortunately my email inbox and laundry basket are also in danger of exploding and my fridge is very, VERY empty. 

I’ve got tons of ideas and thoughts and photos to share with you all but need to get myself straight today. New and improved blogging service begins tomorrow.

   

01 March 2012

Things I Am Loving: Freshly Picked Desk Accessories

 

freshlypickedmousemat

 

The problem with Pinterest and Instagram is the constant stream of beautiful STUFF that is being constantly paraded under your nose.  How is a person to resist?

A recent Pinstagram-driven purchase was a lovely tan and gold leather mousemat from Freshly Picked, which I first saw on sfgirlbybay’s Instagram stream.

Susan from Freshly Picked makes the most beautiful tiny moccasins for babies (which almost make me wish the Minx was tiny again) and also the most delicious painted leather mousemats and pen holders, originally available in either a subtle gold, white or charcoal.

 

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I love my mat’s stark simplicity (which contrasts well with my floral desk) and the fact that it is high quality painted leather makes it easy to keep clean (er, quite a lot of food ends up on my mouse mat) and means it will only become softer and more supple with age.

Which is a bit of a bummer because I am now craving one of Susan’s new neon mouse mats rather desperately.

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Buy your mousemat here. Please don’t tell me if you get a neon one.

   

29 February 2012

That Was The Week That Was

 

Last week was a wintry week of knitting, hotpot, pancakes and new sweaters, with a haircut, a pedicure and some new pencils thrown in.

 

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On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.

   

15 February 2012

Knock Knock, I Love You

knockknockchocolate

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. 

knockknockchocolate2

Buy them here

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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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

 

happykeyboard

 

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.

 

happykeyboard2

 

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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11 December 2011

Picture the Holidays–The View from Here

 

Our next prompt was to remind us to take a few moments to enjoy the view.

This is  the view I have from my desk in a corner of my bedroom as I work.  The chair is my knitting chair. We had some lovely sunny days in Seattle last week so I decided to render this in black and white to emphasise the beautiful wintry light.

 

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This is the view you get from that chair.

 

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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.

ModernicaChristmasTree modernicachristmastree2

 

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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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02 December 2011

Advent Calendars

 

It’s the first of December so we’re allowed to start talking Christmas (or ‘the holidays’ if you prefer).

     

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The Minx’s advent tree, which is yearly supplied with small treats by one of the Minx’s godmothers, will go up tonight and I thought it might be fun to round up some other advent type things I’ve come across in the last few days.

One of the Minx’s other godmothers (yep, we did a good job picking those) has sent her a link to this gorgeous-looking online advent calendar by Jacquie Lawson featuring Christmassy London scenes. I don’t seem to be able to share the demo, but do click on it, it’s really charming.  I don’t care about the Minx, I’m excited enough to start open the first link when she comes home from school tonight.

Also tonight, we’re off to see the Christmas Ships as they set off on their nightly December odyssey round Seattle’s waterways. Rain has always conspired to stop us seeing them before, but it looks like it will be OK tonight.  Hopefully pictures tomorrow.

The Daily Suze found two beautiful, more grown-up, advent calendars.

     

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This from the White Company (how I miss that shop).  I love this idea of having a tasteful tree decoration for every day and transferring them one by one from the calendar to the tree. Maybe when we get back to having tasteful trees again we’ll do this.

This calendar is also minimalist and lovely, and even I wouldn’t have trouble making it.  It could be made to fit into any décor too, if you changed the colour of the boxes.  I still don’t quite see the Minx appreciating it yet though.

 

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If you want an advent calendar for yourself go along to Paper Coterie where they are doing a project called ‘Picture the Holidays’. Every day you will be emailed a prompt to take a photograph and at the end you will get the chance to put all your gorgeous images together into a photo book.  Facebook friends who have done one Paper Coteries’s Prompt Me projects before have said that it’s very fun, so I’ve decided to sign up.  Let’s see how it goes.  I’ll put more details up in dedicated posts as the month progresses.

Finally, if you’re into shopping rather than photography, Abigail*Ryan, purveyors of beautiful homewares, are doing a 12 Days of Christmas Sale. Search for the snowflakes on one of their gorgeous handprinted teatowels or cushions and get it on sale for one day only. And if anyone wants to buy me one of their teatowel gift boxes, please feel free.

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. 

01 October 2011

Corners of our House - Missoni Cube

 

I thought you might like to see how nice the Missoni for Target cube looks in situ. 

 

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I am so pleased with it.  It’s sturdily built and covered in printed cotton canvas with a cool contrast piping detail and provided a useful extra bit of seating at a recent dinner party.  If Target manages to get more in stock it seems well worth the money.  In fact I’d go as far as to say that it might even be worth braving eBay to get hold of one (or one of the other fabulous designs). Apartment Therapy agrees with me.

 

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Unfortunately there’s nothing like putting taking photos of a corner of the house to highlight stuff that still needs to be done. Highest priority currently is replacing the ugly-ass front door and I still need to do something about the jellyfish light fixtures and find a striking bit of artwork for above the sofa.  I’ve also been looking for a throw to cover up the huge telly (given that our basement with TV room remodel is not looking like it will be done any time soon).  This could be the perfect opportunity to actually start crocheting the Babette blanket, instead of just hoarding yarn for it.

 

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Still, it’s looking a heckuva lot better than it used to.

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.

21 September 2011

Yellow Goes Surprisingly Well With Everything

 

In her eyewateringly hilarious neo-feminist diatribe How To Be A Woman, UK journalist Caitlin Moran mentions in passing that ‘yellow shoes go surprisingly well with everything’.  And, though I’ve never owned a pair of yellow shoes in my life, I can see that this may very well be the case.

I’m also wondering if that is also case for interiors, but I suspect that is mostly so I can have an excuse to buy this – the IKEA Trollsta sideboard (which is apparently now only available in black instead of yellow, seriously guys, the yellowness was by far the best thing about it).

 

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{From Planet Fur via Designer Junk Finder}

 

Perhaps fortunately for the people who have to live with me, we have absolutely no space for this – otherwise I’d be sorely tempted to drag home the black version and a pot of yellow paint.

So is it true? Does yellow go with everything? Should I buy yellow shoes? Do you want to sell me your yellow sideboard? Got any other examples of fabulous yellow accent pieces?

17 September 2011

Julep Maven

 

There’s quite a lot of self-reinvention going on around here.  I’ve lost 26lbs and counting since June 1st on the deadly but effective Dukan diet and am the thinnest I’ve been for about eight years (and yes, I will blog about it early next week).

This time I’m determined to see this thing through to the end, and as a result am holding off on buying too many new clothes as I’d still like to lose another 16-20 lbs. Instead I had to find another way to up the glamour factor round these parts – I’m feeling better about myself than I have in a LOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGG time – and give myself a bit of a reward.  And this treat fits whatever size you are.

 

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I’ve been a fan of Julep ever since entrepreneur Jane Park opened her first salon about ten minutes from my house. They now have a presence throughout Greater Seattle and have launched their line of nail polishes online throughout the US.  These are beautiful polishes in glorious colours with lots of seasonal changes, all named after Hollywood stars.  I’m shallow enough that I find this occasionally problematic – I don’t care what colour it is, I am not wearing ‘Keira’ or ‘Gwyneth’.

They’ve also launched a monthly subscription service called Julep Maven.  You do a fun quiz to find out your style and they email you every month with personalised colour selections.  You can choose whether to take the colours, request another ‘shelf pull’, have the box sent to a friend as a present or just skip the box altogether.  And for around $20 a month, they guarantee at least $40 of product, including two nail polishes in either new seasonal colours or cult favourites, together with other hand care products.  Shipping is free and you also get 20% of other products on the website.

The quiz decided that I was an ‘American Beauty’, somewhat amusing as I’m neither leggy, nor blonde, nor even American, and the website said they’d be sending me ‘Alfre’ – a cool dusty lilac and ‘Carrie’,  a useful innocuous pink.  Since I have no idea who ‘Alfre’ is, and since I still have some residual affection for ‘Carrie’, despite SATC2, I thought these sounded good.

Everything arrived beautifully packaged, with a letter from the owner. As well as the two polishes, I received a bottle of Nail Therapy nail strengthener (which has been GREAT for my brittle nails), a full size 3 oz glycolic hand scrub and a couple of little samples.

 

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The only problem was that they weren’t the right two polishes.  I’d been sent ‘Zoe’, a gorgeous autumnal copper and ‘Molly’ a true red, which isn’t really me.

I emailed instantly to inquire after the whereabouts of cool and beautiful Alfre, to be told that I’d signed up just as the monthly colours were changing. However they did offer to send Alfre to me free of charge, which was rather nice of them.  So here are my three ladies (plus nail protector) in all their glory.

 

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Here I am modelling Zoe and wishing that I wasn’t such a f*cking amateur when it comes to giving myself a manicure.  I love her as she is glamorous, yet neutral and seasonal, and not a colour that I would necessarily have picked out for myself, which is sort of the point of doing this sort of thing.

 

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I find myself strangely excited to see what colours are in my next box (I’m such a sucker for good marketing).  If you live in the US and want to give yourselves a little monthly treat then here’s where you can sign up.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I get $15 in store credit if you sign up through the link above.  However, as usual I haven’t been paid for this review, nor have I been sent free stuff, it’s something I decided to do for me).

   

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.

13 April 2011

Royal Wedding Souvenirs – Food

 

So I’ve been collecting links like crazy and am going to be boring you silly this week with a veritable parade of Royal Wedding memorabilia.  First up is food to get you in the mood for the big day.

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UK biscuit (cookie) bakers the Biscuiteers, have come up with a delightful Special Edition tin of biscuits, featuring crowns, glass coaches, tiered wedding cakes, flags, shoes, engagement rings, dresses and cathedrals. I would SO be buying this if I lived in the UK.

 

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Brighton-based cake designers Choccywoccydoodah produced this incredible take on their signature wedding cake to celebrate the event.

 

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Nottingham-based Castle Rock Brewery has created a special beer aptly called Kiss Me Kate for the occasion.

 

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German-based Donkey Products has created a lovely pair of KaTEA and William teabags, showing Kate in her wedding dress wearing an enormous sapphire and wallowing in oodles of cash.

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Poor girl has however got some very formidable inlaws to contend with though.

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Finally, for those of Stateside who also want wedding cookies then Eleni’s has also created a wedding cookie assortment featuring British icons, tiaras, engagement rings, horses and the bride and groom themselves.

 

 

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Or instead of commemorative china, you can buy cookies in the shape of commemorative plates, which seems to me to be much the best option. Also available from Eleni’s.

 

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More Royal Wedding stuff later this week.