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29 posts from November 2006

30 November 2006

Yes, it really does snow in Seattle

10pm and the blizzard we've been waiting for all day finally hits Seattle.

The Husband suggests that I rename this blog 'the Seattle Daily Weather Forecast' but in my defence I would point out that it has been a meteorologically interesting month.

Note how festive the Space Needle is looking.

29 November 2006

The onset of winter

or it never rains, but it snows.

When we first got here and I was complaining bitterly to all and sundry about the rain, everyone told me 'but at least it we don't have snow here'.

Lo and behold, three and half weeks after our arrival, and after record-breaking quantities of rain, temperatures have now plummeted to record-breaking lows and massive snowstorms have been blowing in from the Arctic.

We even got a couple of inches in downtown Seattle, which is icing up nicely as temperatures haven't been above freezing all day.

Out in the sticks things are a lot worse. Amazingly Washington state appears to be even more laughably unprepared for snow than we are in the UK, so lots of tales on the news of abandoned vehicles on the treacherous freeways, power outages and ridiculously difficult journeys to cover only a few miles.

The Husband was pleased as the Microsoft campus was closed and he got to 'work from home'.  I was pleased because we had the most gorgeous crisp blue wintry day. And the Minx was pleased because she got to wear her new wellies all day (and I mean all day, from the moment she woke up, to the moment she went to bed).  They're currently neatly arranged next to her cot.

The tree above is not real, but made of stainless steel, and is one of the exhibits in the soon-to-be opened Olympic Sculpture Park, which is being created across the road from our apartment.  Unfortunately I just couldn't capture its wonderful shininess in a photo.

Donna Wilson


Calorie free!


I've got lots of ideas bubbling around my head for when we've got through the Christmas rush, and one of the first big projects for next year will, I think, be introducing a new collection of kids' stuff. 

I'd love to include these wonderful knitted creatures by Donna Wilson (found via Lola is Beauty.  Which are gorgeous and cuddly but not too cutesy-cutesy.



I'm also rather taken by her knitted foodstuffs, but not entirely sure what you would do with them after the initial excitement of having calorie-free doughnuts has worn off.

27 November 2006

Photographing Washington

One of the people we were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with was Roddy Scheer (the Husband's colleague's husband) who is an (entirely self-taught) photographer, journalist and stay-at-home dad.

If you want to see some really inspiring photos of Washington state and beyond, take a look at his website.  Don't they make you want to grab a camera and head off into the sunset?


26 November 2006



If you were organising the Seattle Marathon, it would make perfect sense to run it in November.  Wouldn't it?

Pike Place Chowder

I don't think I've ever had chowder before, so was very excited to come across Pike Place Chowder yesterday just in time for lunch. 

The exciting part is that the chowder they serve is apparently the best in America, having won this year's Great Chowder Cook-off in Rhode Island.  Being a chowder virgin I have no idea whether it was that good, but it was very delicious indeed - full of flavour and bursting with seafood (my goodness, the seafood in this place is goooooood!).  My only gripe was that it was a little too salty, however I've noticed that everything over here is incredibly highly seasoned.

The chowder was further enhanced by this strange and delicious condiment which I've never come across before, which is made from sherry and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Apparently the name 'chowder' comes from the name of a French cooking pot 'chaudiere' (etymologically similar to the English 'cauldron').  For some reason I did know this trivia food fact, but you're just going to think I found it online

25 November 2006

Turkey Day

Thanksgiving was a blast!

An experiment in blurriness that worked out OK.  All the rest were just blurred...

We were invited by some friends of one of the Husband's colleagues, and they and their friends couldn't have been been more welcoming, despite never having met us before.

The Minx was beside herself with joy in a house full of balloons in the shapes of large turkeys, a selection of kids aged between one and four, two friendly cats. a large dog, one small Tinky Winky, more turkey than you could possibly eat (though she made a fair attempt) and popsicles for dessert.

On the menu were

huge prawns with chilli dip
roast turkey (brined beforehand.  Have never heard of this being done in the UK, so suspect it's an American thing.  It made for very moist and delicious meat, so I will definitely be trying this at home.)

stuffing (lumpier and breadier than British stuffing, but equally delicious)
mashed potatoes
a huge salad
butternut squash puree 
a spicy and very yummy cranberry sauce
a Cuban vegetable and polenta bake
pumpkin pie
pecan pie
strawberry and rhubarb pie

so all-in-all a very slimming and abstemious meal.

Viewing Thanksgiving from the other side of the world, it all seems like a rather unnecessary activity given that you're just going to do the self-same thing all over again a month later.

From here, though, it was all very festive and jolly and marks a very definite beginning to the holiday season which has put me in a deliciously Christmassy frame of mind.

Today we carried on the festive mood by joining in the celebrations in downtown Seattle.  We were glad that we made the effort to get up early for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.

I'm sure it's not a patch on the New York equivalent, but the Minx enjoyed it very much.

After lunch at Pike Place market, we returned later in the evening for the lighting of the Christmas tree, big star on the Macy's building and the Minx's first fireworks (given that we managed to miss Guy Fawkes night).  If you're quick you should be able to find a video of the whole occasion here (Westlake Center lights up).

The Minx was entranced.

24 November 2006

Pretty as a picture

I've recently come across a great blog called Trust Your Style, which published an interview with Japanese illustrator Chico Hayasaki, whose fashion illustrations are absolutely magical. 




I definitely want to bring out the first mirrormirror catalogue next year and would love it to be a mix of photographs and illustration.  Sadly I think Chico, who has illustrated campaigns for Sportsac, Nordstrom and La Perla, is way out of our league. 

Anyway, I strongly advise you to check out her portfolio on her website.

I also thought her take on blogging was rather cute.


23 November 2006

To be a pilgrim

We are very excited to have been invited to our first ever Thanksgiving dinner.

We weren't sure about the dress code, so have opted to make the whole family some very simple pilgrims' hats following instructions found online.  I hope you'll agree that they are very dignified and appropriate.



Of course, it is entirely possible that everyone else at this dinner will be extremely glamorously attired. 

I will try and get a photo of the Minx wearing hers as she did look incredibly cute for the 2 seconds she was wearing it.  A picture of me wearing mine may not be forthcoming as it is possibly the most unflattering thing I have ever worn on my head.  If I had indeed been a pilgrim woman, it is highly unlikely I would  ever have had sex.

Speaking of toast

Isn't this glorious? Totally impractical but absolutely glorious.  So glorious in fact that I'm really tempted to buy one or even get them in the shop.

Check out the work of Mario Minale and Kuniko Maeda on I rather like some of their other lacey stuff as well

(Found via OhMyGooshness - one of my new favourite design blogs).


22 November 2006

Seattle Fall

Today was a day of rainbows, swirling autumn leaves and careering round the observation deck of the 'Pess Nee-doll' being nearly blown over by the gusting wind and giggling hugely as we went.

Followed of course by a massive thunderstorm in the afternoon.


Claudia Roden is no more a simple cookbook writer than Marcel Proust was a biscuit baker. She is, rather, a memorialist, historian, ethnographer, anthropologist, essayist, poet.”-- Simon Schama

I am indebted to the wonderful Seattle foodie blog Seattle Bon Vivant  for sending me off to a lecture last night by one of my all-time culinary heroines, Claudia Roden.

Though I'm the owner of literally hundreds of cookbooks (as I discovered when we were packing to come here), her The Food of Italy - Region by Region is one that I reach for again and again.  It is the book my aunt and nonna in Italy would have written if they had had the time and the inclination, and if you'd ever tasted their cooking, you would know that that is praise indeed.

Claudia is an Egyptian Jew who moved to England when she was fifteen when the Jews were forced to leave Egypt after the Suez crisis.  Her cultured and cosmopolitan Sephardi Jewish family had roots all over the Middle East and she started to collect recipes from her family and friend in order to counter the horrendous food she found in 1950s London.

The result has been a career as a cookery writer, broadcaster and culinary ambassador which has spanned nearly forty years and focused on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Last night, however, she was a guest of the Jewish cultural organisation Nextbook and her talk focused principally on her seminal work The Book of Jewish Food and on promoting her most recent book Arabesque -A Taste of Morocco, Turkey & Lebanon

I don't know very much about Jewish food and her anecdotes were absolutely fascinating - tracing the development of dishes back through time and across Continents.  As an unofficial historian of Jewish food she is invited to eat and cook all over the world, and I could have listened to her stories all night.

She pointed out that when people migrate they might change everything about their lifestyles but will still cling as much as possible to their culinary traditions.  A glance at our kitchen cupboards - full of Italian pasta, Parmesan cheese, olive oil (itself a product of the culinary traditions my mother brought from Italy) Green & Black's chocolate, Marmite and Nutella - shows that yes, we are clinging desperately to our European ways, despite the fact that European imports are twice the price of canola oil and Velveeta cheese.

I bought a copy of Arabesque and was starstruck enough to get her to sign it.  I really wanted a copy of Jewish Food as well, but all the copies they had were nabbed almost instantly.

Next week I'll try out something delicious and report back.

20 November 2006

Our name on toast

Do you remember The Million Dollar Homepage?  Where student Alex Tew created an Internet phenomenon and made himself a millionaire by selling a $1million-worth of pixels on a web page?

There have of course been a slew of similar sites and the latest is  The major differences as far as I can see is that this one is for charity and that the adverts (which click through to your website) are made of toast.  Which of course meant we had to sign up.

I have no idea whether this is going to be an Internet phenomenon but we've had a pleasing number of hits so far to the mirrormirror shop and you have to agree that they've made us a particularly scrummy-looking slice of toast.

The Mad Hatter

Are we really supposed to be taking fashion advice from this woman?


It makes me sad that someone so intrinsically lacking in any sense of personal style can be hyped into becoming a fashion guru.


Oh I know this is getting ridiculous, and I probably won't have any readers left soon, but this evening we were treated to the most awesome sunset (after a day of torrential rain) so I had to climb out onto the roof and take a couple of shots.

This is turning into a real dilemma.  One of the reasons for moving out here was so that the Minx could live in a proper house with a garden and neighbours, instead of a central London flat. 

But I love this view out over the Sound so much that it's really tempting to stay here in a high-rise downtown apartment instead. Where else am I going to be able to work with a view like this?

19 November 2006

A couple of things

We've just launched two more new products on the site, both of which will cheer up your kitchen.

First up some gorgeous new heavy cotton teatowels from Atelier LZC .  It looks like they're trying to reinvent the simple naturalistic aesthetic for which they're famous


Famous Atelier LZC teatowels

into something more ornate and stylised.

New teatowels from Atelier LZC

I love the new look but it will be interesting to see how they sell in comparison with the other designs (which we're still carrying) which have always done very well for us.

Of course, you could always treat yourselves to all four designs.

We've also got some new fridge magnets which are decorated with old vintage scarves and have a great early-70s retro vibe about them.

They're only £6 for two, but you will of course need to buy yourself an orange Smeg fridge to hang them on.

I know you're all bored with the view

But yesterday evening I decided to experiment with some long exposure night time shots from our balcony, using a tripod and everything.

I've never tried my hand at nighttime photography before, so I'm quite pleased with how they turned out.

18 November 2006

Christmas gets Closer

More good coverage in Closer magazine this week and all hell is breaking loose (comparatively speaking) in mirrormirror-land. 


Lots of yummy orders and Helen is doing a fabulous job in the dispatch department but the problem is that we're already running out of stuff and it's only the middle of November.

All the shenanigans with my appendix and moving to Seattle has meant that I've been rather behind in my ordering, so new stock is still coming in and we just haven't been able to launch as many new products as I would have liked. 

What with one thing and the other I've never felt able to focus properly on the company in the two years since mirrormirror has been up-and-running, mostly because I've pretty much been a fulltime mum to a baby over that period. In some ways it amazes me that it's done as well as it has with so little attention, which has been frustrating as well, as I'm sure it could be really fab if I wasn't always firefighting and could actually execute some of my big ideas.

But now I'm so looking forward to next year.  I've finally got a GREAT team in place which should free me up to be a bit more strategic in my thinking over the next few months.  Funnily enough I'm finding the time difference is working to my advantage.  I can answer urgent emails and make phone calls first thing in the morning when the UK is awake and then do more thoughtful work in the evenings when the UK is asleep and I know I won't get interrupted every five minutes.

In the meantime though I just hope we can get through Christmas without someone having a nervous breakdown.

17 November 2006

It's official

Well I hate to bang on about it - but the weather here has been dreadful.

As of November 15th it is officially the wettest  Seattle November since records began and we're only half way through the month!

Today, though, we had a brief respite and for the first time I could see the point of living here.  The sun glistened on the sea, the air was crisp, one could see mountains in every direction and the autumn leaves and berries were spectacular.

Unaccustomed as I am to such splendour, I had of course left my camera at home and so was unable to record all the loveliness.

Which is a pity, as another ferocious storm is forecast for the weekend.

16 November 2006

Dancing with the Stars

So we settled down tonight to watch the Dancing with the Stars results show (so weird to have the results show on a different day, instead of a couple of hours after the main event).

There were only two celebs in the final - Emmitt Smith, apparently an 'NFL legend' of whom I have never heard, and Mario Lopez, a freshfaced and very pretty latino actor of whom I have also never heard. 

It warmed the cockles of my heart to see both Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli on the judging panel, though I really missed the cynical objectivity (except when it comes to Emma Bunton) of Craig Revel Horwood, as both Len and Bruno seemed to have gone native in their over-the-top exuberance and uncritical praise.

Anyway, Emmitt (clearly the American Darren Gough - built like a brick outhouse and oozing cheek, charm and charisma) beat Mario (the American Colin Jackson -the better dancer with a sweet nature). 

Here's Emmitt's cha cha cha from the semi-final which I enjoyed more than his dances in the final. Note that the camerawork is ten times better than Auntie Beeb's awful swirly efforts and that the band is simply superb.

I also offer, by way of comparison, Mark Ramprakash's hot salsa from last week in Strictly Come Dancing, just because I can really. 

It is quite ridiculous and rather sad how in love I am with this programme.  The Husband has rigged up a weird and wonderful system whereby UK programmes are recorded onto a computer back home and then downloaded to us over the Internet, so I'm still able to watch all the Saturday night shows, plus a lot of the week night 'It Takes Two' shows.

And when we've worked out where we're going to live permanently here in Seattle, I'm going to sign up for ballroom dancing lessons.

15 November 2006

Notting Hill

One of the reasons I'm feeling so homesick is that our last week in Notting Hill was such as lovely one.

The weather was spectacularly good - amazingly warm for the beginning of November, with cloudless crisp blue skies.  It seemed impossible that it could ever rain in London.

After we moved out of our flat, we stayed at Guesthouse West  on Westbourne Grove, the hotel where we'd held our leaving party a couple of weeks previously (which I just didn't have time to blog about).

It's a lovely little hotel, though it must be admitted that our room was rather cramped, what with a baby and a cot and the fact that we were maxing out our inflight baggage allowance and had a ludicrous number of suitcases. 

But the staff were friendliness personified - as they had been at our party - the public rooms inordinately comfortable, and the location to die for.

So I spent the last few days lunching at 202, lounging with friends in the hotel bar, popping out to Tavola and playing with the make-up in Space NK

Some girlfriends and I dined in the labyrinthine gothic cosiness of Julie's - a Notting Hill institution if ever there was one - renowned for its incredibly sexy ambience (it's the nooks and crannies that do it) and dreadful food, though even that rose to the occasion by being really quite edible. 

I also finally found the time to use the gift voucher for the uber-hip Cowshed in Clarendon Cross which I'd been given for Mother's Day and treated myself to a 'Cowgroom' - two therapists working together to give a facial and a manicure, with all sorts of extra head, shoulder and feet massages thrown in.  I think it was utterly blissful, but can't be quite sure as I fell asleep half way through.  My skin and nails sure looked fabulous afterwards though.

All in all, and for a brief few days, I got to experience what Notting Hill must be like if you've got unlimited money and unlimited free time, or indeed if you're the woman in the therapy cubicle next to mine, who could be heard declaiming loudly, 'yes, darling, I've got a premiere tonight and I can't possibly go with hairy armpits'.

Yes, I was DYING to see who it was, but at the time was half-naked and pinned down by two beauticians, so couldn't go and peek through the curtains.

14 November 2006

Fashion update

Fresh from her triumph on the cover of French Vogue, Paris Hilton (accompanied by my Canadian friend) is seen here modelling her new wellies with cherries, an essential look for Fall in Seattle.

She is carrying the latest It bag, (which contains stylish pink plastic accessories, such as mobile, carkeys and makeup, as well as a small finger puppet of Tinky Winky), which can be found at your nearest branch of Toys 'R' Us.

Can someone please explain why my daughter, who refused point blank to wear sunglasses throughout the summer, now spends most of the day in gloomy Seattle sporting shades?  I am also amused to note that when she is not wearing them they are to be found balanced on the top of her head.  Can't think who she has seen doing that.

11 November 2006

And look what we saw today!

Yes, the mountains do exist.  The thick layer of cloud is of course lying over Seattle, but at least it's not raining.

If you're not utterly bored with the view from my balcony, then the Space Needle has a rather fab webcam.  Our apartment is at about -90 degrees west of the Space Needle.

Very excited today as my very good Canadian friend is coming to stay for a couple of days.  We met while we were both working as investment bankers in London but had been finding it increasingly difficult to stay in touch after she moved back to Vancouver about 10 years ago.  After years spent exchanging sporadic emails and Christmas cards, we met up again in February when we all came to Seattle for the Husband's interview. And now, since she now lives in Victoria on Vancouver Island, we are only separated by a two-hour ferry ride or 10 minutes in the seaplane. Isn't it funny how things work out?

10 November 2006

Look what we saw today!

For the first time in five days, we saw some blue sky.

I must admit I'm really enjoying our view out over the Sound with all its changing moods.

09 November 2006


This morning a strange golden orb appeared in the sky over Puget Sound, (you can just see the snow-capped mountains turning pink in the distance, though they disappeared into the clouds soon after this was taken).

We also braved the horrors of Toys 'R' Us to buy something for the Minx other than the eight books we had brought with us on the flight. She absolutely adores it and finally stopped badgering me to put on Teletubbies DVDs, for, oh, several minutes.  I was, however, somewhat perturbed to find her putting the baby doll to bed in the large double bed, the daddy doll to sleep in the cot and the mummy doll to bed in, er, the bath. 

In the same shopping mall we came across a fabulous cookshop - full of all the impossible-to-find-in-the-UK American gadgets that Nigella is always mentioning. I will definitely be going back as soon as we get a proper kitchen here, so I can stock up on bundt tins in the shape of football stadiums.

And then, most importantly, we found a supermarket selling Green & Black's Almond Chocolate, which is one of my favourite things in all the world. Things are definitely looking up.


Had some good coverage just before we left for Seattle last week.

The bathtime selection box (now back in stock!) was featured in November's Happy magazine and then, by great good fortune, that very page was repeated as part of an ad for Happy in this week's issue of OK!

Which meant I had a great excuse to buy low-brow celeb rags and update myself on the minutiae of Jordan's love life.


07 November 2006

If you were Bill Gates

and had all the money in the world, would you really choose to live HERE?

I'm afraid Seattle is not doing it for me just yet. 

This is the view of Puget Sound from the other side of our apartment (the one which the aliens have not yet attacked).  The smudges in the middle are huge ships. 

For literally five minutes on Sunday morning I saw that beyond the boats there is a view of the other side of the bay and beyond that the snow-capped Olympic mountains.  For the rest of the time we've been here there have instead been Olympic quantities of rain. 

I hate to speak ill of the Husband's employer but Bill must be stark, staring mad.

Sleepless in Seattle

We made it.

2.30 am on Sunday morning and the jetlagged Minx is full of beans and ready to begin her 'day'.  Her mother is not quite so full of beans and is languishing exhausted on the sofa.


Note superb view of Seattle's Space Needle from our apartment window (and the reflection of a somewhat dubious light fitting).

02 November 2006

The witching hour

In between the packing boxes, we managed to have a little Hallowe'en fun. 

The Minx's hat, with its built-in straggly hair, gave us an eerie insight into what she might look like if and when her hair grows out of the somewhat unfortunate 'mullet' she is currently sporting.