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15 posts from September 2008

29 September 2008

Sincerest Form of Flattery

At what stage does inspiration and imitation tip over into plagiarisation?

Being in an Orla Kiely frame of mind recently, I was amused to note this at Land of Nod this weekend.


And these in the Pottery Barn Teens catalogue

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And here's a bit of original Orla Stem print, just to compare.


Gwyneth Obnoxiously Opinionated Paltrow?

So Gwyneth Paltrow is apparently starting up her own 'lifestyle' website, entitled, somewhat peculiarly, GOOP.


At the moment, it's a strange little two-paged affair - click on any one of the icons above and you get a vacuous and somewhat patronising little essay about how Gwyneth has created her own very lovely life - the very loveliness of which I'm sure has NOTHING to do with the many millions of pounds she and her husband earn. The site is currently as content-free as its owner, though it does promise that in due course it will be full of fabulous hints and tips so that we too can lead lives as fabulous as hers.


I'm sure Gwynnie is hoping to become the next Martha Stewart and I don't fundamentally have a problem with that.  After all, isn't that what all of us 'lifestyle' bloggers are secretly hoping might happen to us?  And it's not just that I find her profoundly irritating as a person - as you know I'm not overly keen on Martha or Nigella as people, but blimey, do they have some great ideas.

And that, I'm afraid is my problem with GOOP.  I just don't believe that Gwynnie will have anything to say that will interest me.

GwynethPaltrowPA_468x845After all, would you take fashion advice from someone who, with all the money and stylists in the world, manages to look like she forgot her trousers on the red carpet?










Or take interiors advice from someone who, with all the money and interior designers in the world, has a house that looks like a somewhat soulless collaboration with the Sugar Plum Fairy?

masl15_paltrow Gwyneth_Paltrow's_dining_room_internet_image

As part of the festivities in the run-up to this year’s Oscar telecast, Laura Ziskin, 79th Annual Academy Awards® producer, has announced “A Celebration of Oscar Fashion” – a live event in the Academy's Grand Lobby presenting a unique retrospective of Oscar fashion. Pictured here in one of the dresses displayed: Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph Lauren at the 71st Academy Awards® on March 21, 1999.
Or indeed, take foodie advice from someone with a concave chest?


And anyway how can we trust her taste when she is married to HIM?

Will you be taking lifestyle advice from Gwynnie?  Or are there any other celebs who you wish would put together a lifestyle website? (Personally I can't wait for Sarah Palin's).

24 September 2008

The Lab


For all Seattle readers, this is just to let you know that tonight's Lab is all about the growth of modern architecture in Seattle and features Richard Corff founder 360Modern.  Unfortunately I can't be there yet again (the Minx's new school keeps organising events for new parents on Wednesday evenings, and I feel these should take priority for the moment).  But if you go, I know you'll have fun. 




All images from 360Modern.

New Atelier LZC

I've finally pulled my finger out and got some new stuff on the site.  First up, some new products from groovy French design trio Atelier LZC, who continue to renew and develop their aesthetic and whose stuff I just love, love, love.

This also marks mirrormirror's first foray into greeting cards and stationery other than notebooks, and they seem to be selling well so far, so if you produce beautiful greetings cards, please let me know.

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Set of 6 general purpose double-sided greetings cards with detail of back and front. 

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Set of 6 more kiddie-oriented double-sided greetings cards with detail of back and front. 

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Set of 20 postcards in a book.  Actually I love how these complement each other so much I'm wondering if I can somehow just frame them.

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Two different Japanese-influenced print tea towels

23 September 2008

Go Fug Your Room (and Yourself) - Kelly Wearstler

Or, Kelly Wearstler - WTF?

I know that American design sensibilities are different from European ones.  Americans seem to like more fuss, clutter and ornamentation than Europeans are used to. I think this is because minimalism was a European thing and its philosophy of clean lines, simple shapes and less clutter seems to have permeated our culture a lot more, even if we wouldn't consider ourselves minimalists.

Having said all that, I just can't understand the American adoration of interior designer Kelly Wearstler.  An ex-topless model, champion of Hollywood Regency style, author of many books, and judge on interior design reality pogramme Top Design, she's probably the equivalent in status to a Kelly Hoppen or Tricia Guild in the UK (though with very different design sensibilities) and very much admired.

But I. just. don't. get. it.

Here are pictures from her recent spread in Domino magazine.  Am I really the only person who thinks this looks like a wealthy Arab just ran amok in an early 80s motel? (With apologies to all wealthy Arabs with taste). Isn't all the gold and shiny stuff and horrendous layered pattern and blocks of marble and overstuffed leather and fussy knickknackery just, well, hideous?  Can someone please explain what I'm missing here?






All images from Domino 

By the way, these are the ways she chooses to wear her hair, in public, nay, even on telly.  There doesn't appear to be any coercion involved. Thank goodness she's beautiful.




Image from (the amazing Project Rungay boys also blog Top Design).


22 September 2008

Make It Work

IMG_8194My life is now complete.  Look who's just appeared on my desk.  My very own Tim Gunn talking bobblehead!

The Minx thinks my 'funny man' is quite hilarious and keeps sneaking up behind me and making him say 'carry on' or 'FAB-U-LOUS' or, of course, 'make it work'.

His benign and smiling presence  and inspirational catch phrases are actually strangely motivating. I think old age is getting to me.

18 September 2008

Some updates

It's my birthday today and I'm feeling lazy (and old), so only a very small post.

First up fruit flies.  I was sitting with my friend at the playground yesterday evening, watching our kids trying to kill themselves and discussing fruit flies (as you do), and she suggested using a solution of apple cider vinegar and washing up liquid in the trap, which apparently kills the flies stone dead.  I will combine this with the cling film method and report back.

untitledNext, one of Megan Not Martha's lovely commenters has pointed out that there is a knitting pattern available HERE for yesterday's 'cappuccio'. I would love to knit it, but don't think it looks half as wonderful here as it does below.  Do you think it's just because they've used an acrylic yarn? I think I will give it a go, but in merino or cashmere.  Can anyone recommend a fabulous merino or cashmere chunky weight yarn?  (Is chunky the same as aran weight in the UK?)

Finally if you want to know what your name would be if Sarah Palin were your mother, then click here.







17 September 2008


Although the temperature is set to rise to the high 70s today, my mind is starting to turn to snuggly things, in particular these gorgeous knitted pieces in 100% merino wool from Italian online store Sartoria Vico (found via Not Martha). 


They have created a range of simple but interesting and often multifunctional knitted pieces, each available in a range of colours. I love the way the website is a arranged, with clear photos and simple illustrations.



Incidentally 'cappuccio' - pronounced 'ka-pu-cho - simply means hood and 'sciarpone' - pronounced 'sharponay' - means big scarf. I'm wondering whether these will be knitty overkill with last year's knitted Uggs which had to be surgically removed from my feet come the end of winter.

16 September 2008

Aubergine (Eggplant) and Pistachio Salad


This is for the many people OK, one person, who has been clamouring for the recipe.

I first encountered this under a friend's pergola in the West Country (I believe she had pulled the recipe from a magazine) and haven't stopped eating it since.  It is divine.

Slice up a couple of nice, firm, shiny aubergines (eggplants - why are they called eggplants?) lengthwise. The slices should be about 1cm or half an inch thick, not so thin that they get burnt to a crisp and not so fat that they take for ever to cook.  Coat the aubergine slices with olive oil (I find the spray stuff you can buy invaluable for this sort of thing) and then grill them. As in all things (sadly) too much oil is better than too little. They are sublime cooked on an outdoor gas grill or barbecue, but work very successfully on a normal indoor grill.  Take care not to burn them.

When they are golden brown and soft as butter, take them off the grill and shred them into thin strips in a shallow bowl. If they seem ridiculously oily, pat them with some kitchen towel.  Halve about a punnet of cherry tomatoes or other small, sweet tomatoes and stir them in.

In the meantime make a pesto in your food processor from a big bunch of mint, three or four tablespoons of shelled pistachios, a couple of cloves of garlic, some salt and pepper and a stalk of lemongrass if you have it to hand (it's not necessary but adds a certain je ne sais quoi).  Add the juice of half a lemon and enough olive oil to make a  pesto-y paste.  Then stir the pesto into the tomatoes and aubergines. 

The great thing about this dish is that it gets better and better as the flavours mingle.  Make it early on the day you're going to serve it and it will sit quite happily in the fridge. I always make it with two aubergines so that I have plenty left over for lunches etc. 

Serve with grilled chicken or lamb, a little rocket salad, a hunk of delicious bread and an enormous glass of rose'.

15 September 2008

Lipstick on a Pig



This blog really isn't the place for political stuff, though some days it doesn't feel right to be wittering on about cushions and cupcakes.  Today is one of those days.

I used to work in the City.  I stuck at investment banking for about nine years until I worked out that I hated it.  And one of the things I hated most was this feeling that we were putting lipstick on pigs and never really admitting they were pigs. But today the chickens and the pigs as well are coming home to roost.

As an outsider to the American political process, it has been fascinating and terrifying to watch it from the 'inside'.  I had some idea when back in the UK that abortion was a big issue here.  I had no idea that even with so much negative crap going on, it would still be one of the most important issues on the agenda. People here don't believe me when I say that back in the UK I don't have a clue where top politicians stand on abortion, that it's hardly even mentioned.

Amazing as it may seem, I feel nostalgic for the British political process.  For discussion that, however sleazily or simplistically, still focuses on things like taxation, healthcare, education, the Iraq war and the environment.  Here, the discussion is all about abortion, teenage pregnancy, lipstick, guns and where Sarah Palin gets her glasses.

Americans, and the rest of the world, deserve better than that.

Here, for what it's worth, is some of the most insightful and funniest commentary so far. (Sorry I can't embed a video as NBC has had all the ones on YouTube deleted).

La fin

For about twelve short but glorious weeks of the year - from the end of June to the middle of September - Seattle is the best place to be on earth. 

For the last couple of weeks we've been enjoying the most glorious Indian summer, temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s (around 25 degrees) and cloudless clear blue skies.  This weekend was another such but with added poignancy.  The slight chill on the breeze in the morning and the leaves starting to turn red round the edges told their own story.  The weather is supposed to turn colder by next weekend, so this weekend was full of small goodbyes.

IMG_8119 IMG_8144 IMG_8138

The last sandcastles on the beach


The last lunch by the sea

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The last strawberry lemonade                                                  The last margaritas on the deck


The last popsicle princesses


The last vestigial sunset through the trees


The last chance to watch the lights come on over Seattle and the sun glinting off the downtown buildings


The last chance to watch the moonlight on the water


The last chance to have a candlelit dinner with friends

It was also the last chance for some crazy drunken dancing under the stars but I've decided to spare you the photos

13 September 2008

Mrs Thomas's Book of Household Management

This is hands down the grossest thing I've ever posted, so those of you of a delicate constitution please look away now.  This handy household tip is intended only for those of you who are plagued by fruit flies as I currently am. (Is it just a Seattle thing?)


Take one small bowl. Put a piece of overripe fruit in the bottom (they are appear to be very partial to pineapple). Cover with clingfilm and pierce several small holes in the top. Ha ha! The flies are clever enough to work out how to get into the bowl, but too stupid to work out how to get out.

God, this blog spoils you lot sometimes.

11 September 2008


I want to be Orla Kiely -  design one (possibly two) iconic fabric designs, and create a whole global empire. 

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846207_m 842622_m

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It can't be that hard surely?

All available from Heal's in the UK.  God, I miss Heal's.

10 September 2008

The Naked Chef

I never quite worked out why Jamie Oliver was called the Naked Chef in the early days. I do, however, have all of his Naked Chef cookbooks and they are some of the most oft-referred-to cookbooks on my shelves.

Yesterday was the Husband's birthday, so I decided to bust out Jamie's 'Party Cake' from the Return of the Naked Chef.

Fortunately I was ably assisted by my very own almost-naked chef - much the best way to be when it's a hot day and chocolate icing is on the menu - who helped with the baking and was in charge of design and decoration.

At this stage it looked almost healthy


At this stage it looked almost classy


OK, so scratch the classy bit


Oh well, everything looks better by candlelight

09 September 2008



this is why I haven't been blogging 

I can't believe how long it is since I've blogged.  I'm not sure what happened, but we've just been trying to make the most of the summer here in Seattle and my blogging mojo just seemed to get left on a beach somewhere.  And funnily enough this is a busy time of year for mirrormirror what with all the pre-Christmas ordering and PR to work on.

Thank you so much for all your kind and concerned comments and emails - I'm sorry I just abandoned you without a word - and I'm touched (and somewhat astonished) that people have been missing my somewhat random musings.

But anyway, just to get things back on track.

Things I've been doing over the last month in no particular order.

- Loafing about on beaches (including another trip to Cannon Beach, still the most photogenic place on earth)

- Travelling on ferries

- Eating Dancing Deer chocolate brownies (perfect for picnics).

- Watching the Olympics (we managed to get a live stream of the BBC's coverage to make up for the godawful coverage provided by NBC.  You have to feel sorry for Americans sometimes.)

- Getting really stuck into Project Runway.  And Project Rungay.  Leanne is my hot, hot favourite. I just wish I'd found my way to her Etsy store before she got famous.

-  Finally watching Season One of the The Tudors and realising it is much better than I thought it would be.  And what a lustbunny Charles Brandon is.

- Researching my family tree.  And finding out that I come from a long line of Londoners and craftspeople.

- Making aubergine (eggplant) and pistachio salad over and over again.  It is SO good. 

- Eating pistachio icecream.  I like pistachios.

- Getting into a new school routine. The Minx is finally now going to school four days a week, although they are much shorter days, with more commuting.  But finally it feels like I have time to focus on stuff.

- Photographing new stuff for the shop.


Things I have NOT been doing.

- Following my eating plan

- Exercising

- Gardening

- House stuff

- Reading and commenting on other blogs (except for Project Rungay and er, PerezHilton). Sorry fellow bloggers.

Normal blog service will now be resumed...