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17 posts from May 2007

28 May 2007

Toy Story

Jessie Cat

I've been inspired by the fabulous photos of kids' toys at Will It Look Good Over the Sofa to take some portraits of her favourite toys for the Minx's room.

Jessie Cat had a special bath before sitting and proved herself to be an outstanding model -  absolutely no fidgeting, backchat, diva-ish behaviour or cocaine - though a smile would have been nice and might have made her seem a bit less sinister.  

I've bought a trio of frames from Ikea and will take a couple of portraits of favourite other toys to make up a triptych.  

We haven't printed it up yet, but even seeing Jessie on the computer screen has made the Minx utterly ecstatic.   

24 May 2007


Here's a post for friends and family only.  I put this together for a family portrait I've commissioned and thought the pictures worked really well together.

More about the family portrait when it's completed.  I'm VERY excited though.

22 May 2007


I've been tagged by Lottie to reveal seven random facts about myself.

  1. I'm short.  5'1" to be precise. Any shorter and I'd need a booster seat. Mostly I don't mind, though it makes some things difficult - seeing out of car windows (not ideal if you're driving), reaching things down from supermarket shelves, buying clothes etc. 
  2. I have a thing for tall men. The Husband is 6'2", though the tallest person I've been out with was 6' 4".  Even I had to laugh when I caught glimpses of us both together in shop windows.
  3. Speaking of whom, I met the Husband in the kitchen at his ex-girlfriend's birthday party.  I passed him a stuffed pancake, looked up into his eyes and knew.  We've been together ever since.
  4. I can touch my nose with my tongue.  Men seem to find this fact endlessly fascinating.
  5. I previously worked in the City, in the strategy department of a huge multinational corporation and as a management consultant before realising that I much prefer cushions and jewellery and pissing about on the Internet. So now I'm poor and er, happy instead of ridiculously wealthy as all my City contemporaries now are.
  6. I studied French and Italian at uni and have lived for longish periods of time in the South of France, Switzerland, Milan, Rome, New York and now Seattle.  I'd move to the South of France tomorrow if I could.
  7. Several hundred years back in the day I was a semi-finalist in Capital Radio's London-wide disco-dancing championship and danced in front of a huge crowd onstage at the Lyceum in the Strand.  I could cope with the embarrassment because I'm incredibly short-sighted and used to take my glasses off before going to discos (as clubbing used to be called).  Which led to me entering all sorts of strange dancing competitions and copping off with lots of ugly men. Fortunately I won a number of dance competitions that year and used my winnings to finance my first pair of contact lenses.

Helen, Leela, Pink, Shannon, Abigail, Rebecca and Terramia consider yourselves tagged.

Go Blake!

Sign held up by Blake at his homecoming concert


I'm sorry but I love this Robin Thicke song and the below made me come over all fangirly.


21 May 2007

Bag Lady

One of the most unwelcome things about motherhood is the fact that I have to lug a huge bag full of stuff around with me EVERYWHERE I go. 

Admittedly it's not as bad as it used to be, but I still routinely have nappies, an Elmo beaker, snacks, assorted books, bibs and cutlery, wipes etc. etc as well as all my own gubbins dangling about my person. 

My old velvet carpet bag bought on Portobello Market is finally giving up the ghost and so I desperately need a new bag.

If it were winter I would be buying this gorgeous hand-felted messenger bag by the super-talented Jamie Irene. (I first saw these at the Urban Craft Uprising and they're marvellous - beautiful soft felting with really lovely heavy distressed leather straps).


If I didn't have to lug so much stuff I'd buy one of her Sweet Thang bags, but I'm a bit afraid things will fall out the top, and I really need a messenger to keep my hands free.








And if I were having a winter wedding I would definitely consider one of these.









Unfortunately, having said all that we're just, finally, coming into summer, and it so isn't the season for felted wool.  Has anyone got any good ideas for where I can find a gorgeous summer-weight messenger bag?

19 May 2007

Press Release

I realise I've been so caught up in moving house and thinking about doing it up that it's been the longest time since I blogged about the business. 

It's been chugging along quite nicely for the last few months, though not growing as spectacularly as I would have wished, as I just haven't been able to focus on it as much as I would like.

Hello, my name is Paola, and I'm a magazine addict...

But hopefully things will be changing going forward.  The big news is that last month I let go of our PR company.  We've worked with Plum pretty much since mirrormirror was founded and for the first year or so they did a fairly good job for us - getting us coverage in most of the broadsheet newspapers and spots in magazines such as Vogue, Glamour, Marie Claire, Homes & Gardens and InStyle.

But I think they got a bit complacent last autumn and call-ins and coverage started to to dry up.  Unfortunately for them this coincided with me adding a 'how did you hear about us?' button to the site which meant that I could finally monitor exactly how much profit was being generated via press mentions.  And it wasn't enough to justify the high cost of the retainer.

So, from now on, and for pretty much the first time ever, we're going it alone, which feels rather scary.  We're in the process of compiling an in-house press list and are going to be developing a journalists' newsletter and image library. 

The good news is that this has freed up a chunk of change each month to spend on different forms of advertising and marketing and introducing more new products, which will make life much more fun.

If you're a journalist yourself, or edit or write a fashion or design blog and would like to be added to the email list then please contact me. I promise to send you no more than one email a month (and that's only if I get myself super organised!)

17 May 2007

More Kitchen Inspiration

Pic from Sunset via  Decor8

Holly over on Decor8 has just posted this picture as part of a discussion about purple and I am madly in love with it for all sorts of reasons.

Loving the mix of aqua and lavender and may now have to revise my kitchen colour scheme to include some of the latter (wouldn't a really knocked back lavender look lovely with my breadbin?)  Loving the way this mixes traditional elements such as subway tiles and wood planking with more contemporary elements such as stainless steel, up-to-date colours and freestanding pieces.  Just loving that breakfast bar/island thingymajig, period.

The photo is of course made by the splash of orange in the middle, though the curly display stand thingy is the only thing in the kitchen I don't like. 

I'm SO excited about the deck!  Mr Handyman is doing the most incredible job, and while there has been, as the Husband would put it, a certain amount of 'feature creep' and it's taking longer than billed, the end result is going to be spectacular. Photos soon.

15 May 2007

Blaker Girl

Pic taken on phone, so not very good quality

So any street cred I might once have possessed was torn to shreds on Friday, when the Minx and I found ourselves in the square in front of the Westlake Center cheering for Blake Lewis, Seattle's representative in the final 3 of American Idol, on his homecoming tour.  

I know he's a bit of an 80s throwback (I just love the way the American Idol judges seem to think that beatboxing has only just been invented) but then so am I and I like the fact that he's into dance music and is trying to do something a bit different on AI . Anyway, I went along mostly out of curiosity - and because it was something different to do with the Minx - but actually ended up having a pretty good time.  Though I still reckon that Blake will end up being a much better producer than he is a recording artist.  I'm sure the powers that be are dreading a possible Blake victory as Blake is clearly a prominent member of the Seattle underground hip-hop scene and it's not going to be easy getting him to make the requisite album of syrupy goo.

The clip below is long, but includes Blake's version of Keane's Somewhere Only We Know and a duet on Baby Got Back with Sir Mix-a-lot.

Blake comes across as a very typical Seattleite - very pleasant and down-to-earth with an endearing geeky eccentricity and a total disregard of what other people might think.  I like Seattleites very much.

I'm finding it fascinating to see at first hand how much Americans identify with their cities and states.  While Europeans seem to focus on monumentally important national rivalries, here it's all about the state. While it would never do to admit it, Seattle is quietly thrilled about Blake. Look for me and the Minx in the crowd when they show the clips on telly on Wednesday night.

Editing to say:  My forehead appeared on international telly last night peeking from behind a sign during Blake's homecoming.  In order to spot it you would have to a) know which sign b) watch it frame by frame in HDTV.

And no UK peeps, I'm not telling you the result...

14 May 2007

Garden Desires

So here's the brief I gave Brian the garden designer.

- Colour scheme as above.  Lots of orange, purple and hot pink with dark purple and dark green foliage and maybe the odd splash of lime green.

- 'Messy' planting contained within strong structural shapes

-  A tiny camomile lawn somewhere (a romantic dream of mine ever since reading 'The Camomile Lawn')

- a little herb garden

- a 'New Dawn' rose.  Both my previous gardens have had one and it will make me feel at home

- room for one of these under the cherry tree

- a patch of earth where the Minx and I can grow things ourselves.  She has so far announced that she would like to grow a 'hee-yooooge punkin' as in the seminal gardening tome  'Meg's Veg'.

I think we need a bigger garden. 

In the meantime someone who calls himself Mr Handyman is coming tomorrow to pressure wash the roof deck, stain the furniture, paint the deck floor and fix plexiglass to the railings to make it more kid friendly. So hopefully there'll be some before and after shots to show you before too long.

13 May 2007

Even More Thoughts on American Life

Source: Wikimedia

So there I am buying lunch in the supermarket.  Already in my trolley are the makings of a delicious endive and avocado salad (my current salad favourite du jour), and a fabulous loaf of crusty artisanal bread.

All I need is a triangle of ripe smells-like-old socks, oozing, melt -in-the-mouth, profoundly savoury unpasteurised Brie de Meaux.  Instead all there is the fat, flabby, bland and tasteless pasteurised stuff, which is as much like the real thing as Anna Nicole Smith was to Marilyn Monroe.  

What sort of crazy country is this where any kid can play with guns, but you can't buy unpasteurised cheese for love nor money?  And how sorry do I feel for Americans who have to go to Europe to be able to taste proper Brie?  And just how sorry am I feeling for myself at the moment?  Because this craving just isn't going away.

12 May 2007



On our last day in SF the fog rolled in.  

11 May 2007

Hotel Vitale

One of the very best things about our San Francisco trip was the hotel. 

Hotel Vitale is a brand new building on the Embarcadero, close to the fabulous Ferry Building and with views of the Bay Bridge.

Click to enlarge. For individual pics see Flickr.

The building itself is no great shakes architecturally, it was panned when it opened and is so boring that I found I hadn't bothered to take any photos of it, but the interior design, by San Francisco-based design company McCartan is inspired.

To a basic palette of naturalistic neutrals - limestone, wood, and textured fabrics in earthy browns, beiges and moss greens - the designers have added a pink plastic love seat; glamorous light fittings at every turn; nature photographs dotting the walls; a sprig of lavender above every door; adorable green velvet chairs; a gorgeous glass table lamp hanging from the ceiling; an amazing shrouded chandelier in the round bar; and lights in the corridors made of pressed flowers.

The whole vibe was of easy relaxed glamour, just perfect for San Francisco.

Even the slippers (which *blushes* I somehow seem to have acquired) were inspiring.



I like putting together collages of design details from groovy hotels.  I find them a good way of getting a quick overview of the hotel's design concept and feel. Why not pay a flying visit to the Cotswold House Hotel , La Coluccia and the Chromata while you're here?

09 May 2007

California Dreamin'

I haven't felt heat like it since we were in Sardinia last year.  That dry soaks-you-right-through-to-the-bones heat of the Mediterranean, which makes mornings sparkle, early afternoons in the dusty city unbearable, and evenings soft and luxurious.

I'm told we're lucky to experience such heat in San Francisco, though I would be feeling a bit luckier if I were lying by an infinity pool drinking caipirinhas.  Instead I'm either shepherding the Minx from trolley bus to cable car, or chasing her round the Bay Cruise boat, or, worse still, across the Golden Gate Bridge. Tourism wih a baby really is not all it's cracked up to be and with the Husband working all day and schmoozing by night I haven't yet been to a single groovy shop or gallery.  

Am seething with frustration.  'Snot fair.

05 May 2007

Garden Design

So on Wednesday I had my first chat with a garden designer.

The previous owners had plans drawn up last year to redo the front and back yards and we're piggybacking off the plans they had done to get the back garden sorted out (the front garden will have to wait until next year or until we win the lottery).

I'm a bit nervous about the process as we didn't do as much research as we should have done into Seattle-based designers, nor did we get any competitive quotes - the completed plans lying on the kitchen countertops were just too tempting, as the was the fact that the company specialises in organic gardening. But Brian seemed lovely and very amenable to my ideas (which he called 'fun'. This could of course be a euphemism.)

I've never worked with an interior or garden designer before and I'm really looking forward to the experience. I sort of know what I like when it comes to gardens, but don't know much at all about what goes where, what grows where and how to group plants together. Fortunately the climate in the Pacific North West is so similar to that of the UK that many of the plants I love the most should grow well here.

At the moment the garden is decidedly oddly configured, with a down-at- heel patio that seems to be expressly designed to draw you away from the lawn and towards the very un-picturesque driveway, and with a wall round the lawn which acts as a barricade. Even the Minx seems confused when she goes outside as to whether she's 'allowed' to climb the steps and run about on the lawn.

We're going to rejig the previous plans somewhat so that there is a definite progression from a pretty seating area to a small area of lawn; some sort of fence and gate to the left to trap in the Minx, and lots of underplanting round the tree (which is currently a mass of weeds).  As for planting - I didn't even look at what the previous owners had requested, as I've got a pretty good idea that their taste will not exactly coincide with mine.

03 May 2007

Kitchen Inspiration

Look what the postman brought me today!

It's apparently a genuine 50s enamel breadbin found in some warehouse in Holland.  Or that was the Ebay seller's story anyway.  Actually the condition bears this out - its definitely vintage and is in pretty much mint condition, with the manufacturer's sticker on the lid. 

And it goes very nicely with my butter dish (china made to look like vintage tupperware, I'm definitely going to get some of those in the shop) and my very favourite Le Creuset spatulas.  The colour scheme for the downstairs kitchen is now pretty much a done deal, I would say.


I love the way that French design trio Atelier LZC - one of our very favourite suppliers - continually re-invent their offering, while remaining very much true to their original aesthetic. 

Though they still produce the silhouetted, naturalistic birds, flowers and butterflies that made them famous, in recent seasons their work has become more stylised and naif, using charming folksy images such a matrioschka dolls, eggs and for this season, peacocks. 

We've just added these little hanging objects to the mirrormirror site and there's something about the earnest expressions on their faces, which I find particularly adorable.

I photographed them hanging on the twisted willow branches left over from my Easter tree and they look so good I don't want to take them down.

Peacocks are obviously in the zeitgeist too as Maryam in Morocco and Tara on Vancouver Island have both just written great peacock-y posts.

SPECIAL SHIPPING OFFER FOR OVERSEAS READERS: Until the end of May, any blog readers  anywhere in the world can buy any Atelier LZC product (with the exception of mirrors) from mirrormirror and just pay standard UK shipping. Just select the Standard  (£3.95) shipping option from the drop down list.

01 May 2007



From Flickr

From Flickr

From Flickr

From Flickr

My tulip photos have led me to peek at some 'Flower' groups on Flickr and I was totally bowled over when I came across these ethereal flower photos by Poesie, which are some of the most exquisite photos I've ever seen on Flickr or anywhere else for that matter. Poesie indeed.

Give yourselves a treat and check out her Flower and Pastel sets.