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23 posts from March 2009

31 March 2009

My New Toy

The vintage Dutch yarn swift I bought off Ebay arrived yesterday and it is so much more beautiful than I hoped - a beautifully carved and lovingly constructed work of art.  I love it to bits.

Here it is posing with some new yarn.  Ravelry is going to bankrupt us.

Why is all the equipment and stuff associated with knitting just so gorgeous?  It used to be so much easier to resist in the days of utilitarian metal needles and scratchy acrylic yarn.


We Have A Winner!

In its wisdom the all powerful Random Number Generator chose Jessica from Esthetic-Eclectic (which is a very fabulous new blog BTW) as its victim and she will shortly be receiving the four pretty puzzle books.


Jessica, if you're reading this, get sorting your receipts and please get in touch with your postal address (I'll also email you)

The rest of you - go and clean out your handbags and manbags immediately.

30 March 2009

Making An Easter Tree

People have been wondering what an Easter tree actually is.  I think it's originally a Northern European tradition (Swedish? German?) but is becoming increasingly popular in the UK.  We never had one when I was a child but I've made one every year since the Minx was born.


They're very easy to do.  Just put some florists' oasis/foam in a bucket; stick in some branches, (either flowering tree branches or some twisted willow as I've used here); cover the top with sphagnum moss; decorate with little wooden pastel-painted eggs and ornaments, and finish off with peculiar pompoms.


I found our little decorations, by Gisela Graham, a few years ago on Ebay, but I see that for US peeps Williams Sonoma is getting in on the act with some pretty wooden eggs, which are even on sale if you want to snap some up. If you were one of the crazy people who doesn't like my pompoms, I sup-pose some pastel satin bows would do at a pinch.


26 March 2009

Seattle Chocolates

Talking of pretty patterns, I know I'm supposed to be doing Weightwatchers, but a couple of these chocolate bars from Seattle Chocolates just happened to fall accidentally into our shopping trolley at the weekend.

Of course I only had one or two squares (who are you kidding? - Ed) but I'm pleased to report that they taste just as gorgeous as they look.

seattle chocolates

Oh and the below would make an extremely acceptable Easter egg substitute.


25 March 2009

The Pompoms from the Black Lagoon - Another Adventure in Felt


507-1_mediumI don't know quite how I got to this page on Ravelry but when I saw this pattern for peculiar Easter tree decorations, I knew I had to give them a try.










I used a yarn called DROPS Eskimo which is a super bulky (super chunky) 100% wool yarn from Norway and simply wound the yarn round mine and the Minx's hands to create not very prepossessing bundles of yarn, tied in the middle with cotton thread. 


Six minutes each in the Wonderful Wonder Washer transformed them into furry alien pompom creatures.

Here they are drying out and basking in the sunshine.


The Husband thinks they look like these


I, on the other hand, am trying to decide whether they're really really cool, or really, really naff.

I'm tending towards the former, but can see that from a certain perspective they might look like very chewed and disgusting dog toys.

Are these cool or crap?

24 March 2009

Giveaway! - Pretty Puzzle Books

Everyone seems to be doing pretty patterned bookcovers nowadays - I posted recently about the Virago special editions and Penguin has recently got in on the act with foiled hardbacks designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, which I would dearly love to own. (More images here).


You too can now jump on the patterned book bandwagon with the new Spring collection of gorgeous little puzzle books from Andrews McMeel and the Puzzle Society


Each book is about the same size and shape as a Moleskine notebook but features a different, beautiful, embossed, foiled or flocked cover. It makes sense really - we take care to find pretty notebooks and pens to stash in our handbags, why should puzzle books be ugly?


To have a chance of winning all four of the books pictured, just tell me in the comments below what is the prettiest or ugliest thing you currently have in your handbag.  I'll keep the competition open for a week and choose the winner using an unbribable random number generator (though you are welcome to try bribing ME). I'm also happy to ship anywhere in the world. You will need to make sure you leave an email address with your comment so I can contact you if you win.

Good luck!

I am so tempted to keep these for myself, as they really are rather attractive, but the chances of me finding a spare moment for puzzling, are, shall we say, somewhat remote.

23 March 2009

The Dilemma of the Sh*t Brown Stairs

Slowly but surely, the colours for the main room are coming together (yes, I know it's been ages but I'm still searching, vainly so far, for the right pink- and yes, I know you told me to paint it green).

One question on my mind at the moment is what to do with the stairs, which face directly into the main living room and are currently painted the most revolting shade of diarrhoea brown.


I've posted up a couple of ideas here and here with other staircase inspiration, but was flicking through an old Livingetc yesterday and came across this picture of Orla Kiely's staircase in London which I rather like (though it is intrinsically a much more beautiful staircase than ours).  Though not in red.


What do you think? Have you seen any other good painted staircase ideas anywhere? I'm worried that painting a stripe will add an extra layer of complexity that the room doesn't need, but it IS much more fun than just painting the stairs white.  The other option of course is just to find a door to replace the one which is currently missing, which we may still do whatever we end up doing with the stairs.

In the Background

Yesterday we went for a walk in Seattle's rather splendid arboretum (say what you like about this city, but it is incredibly good at trees).

It's been a long snowy winter in Seattle terms, so the spring flowers are only just unfurling, but it was a lovely day for a walk with my newly cleaned 60mm lens, which I am very happy to have back in my arms.






I've been using some of these images as desktop backgrounds and if you'd like to do the same, please feel free to nab them (got to my Flickr, select the image, choose 'All Sizes', open the 'Large' size, right click on the image and select 'set as desktop background').  Please remember that all images are my copyright.

Speaking of desktop backgrounds, check out the Kindred collaboration between Holly Becker and Heather 'Ez' Pudewa, who have collaborated with a number of artists to produce free artist desktop backgrounds (also downloadable notecards and gratitude notes).

19 March 2009

This Makes Me Proud To Be A Quarter Welsh

Yet another awesome video

It's About Time


FINALLY I get to pick some daffs out of the garden.  It's been a long, cold winter here in Seattle.

18 March 2009

Sabotage - or You Just Died and Went to Cupcake Heaven

I'm back doing Weightwatchers  and getting back on the Wii Fit again as, due to extreme laziness, I haven't lost any weight since I posted this

This has of course led to every blog I read to enter into a conspiracy to see who can post up the most enticing/intriguing pictures of cupcakes they can find. 

So, in a spirit of 'if you can't beat'em, join 'em' and with apologies in advance for sabotaging your diets here they are.

First up gorgeous things from Aussie Hello Naomi {via Whorange}


CropperCapture[2]  CropperCapture[3]


Then cupcakes that look like burgers, so you can beat two junk food cravings at once (from here {via Twig and Thistle}


Chocolate Guinness cupcakes with Bailey's buttercream (I am SO stealing that idea) to celebrate St Patrick's Day from Trophy Cupcakes (available through March 31st for all Seattleites).


Finally this has been around the blogsphere a bit but I am DETERMINED to make him some day {via Violet Posy}.


17 March 2009

These Do Make Me Happy

Just wanted to share a couple of recent kitchen purchases.


The Minx takes a packed lunch to school every day, which has become the bane of my life (why am I always packing her lunchbox at midnight?).  However I am greatly cheered up by these little washable reusable 'ziploc' bags from Etsy seller Evelyn Fields, made from unbleached cotton.  I always feel bad using real Ziplocs, so these bags make me feel good in all sorts of ways.

And we all love our new melamine spoon from Zac Designs  (though it's not nearly so environmentally friendly).

16 March 2009

More Adventures in Knitting

IMG_0028 Just another quick update before this turns into a knitting blog. Since I have no other projects which are remotely close to completion I promise no more knitting for some time.

The pain-in-the-ass socks are finished.  And I don't even like them very much.  They're very baggy and saggy - a combination of knitting a size too big (the pattern didn't have instructions for Small Adult); very soft cashmere/silk yarn and a pattern with no real ribbing to it.  But they're nice enough for wandering round the house and GORGEOUS in bed.



Apologies for the extremely crap pictures. These were the last pics taken with the point and shoot. I've got my old camera back now - it's unrepaired because the repair would have cost too much, we've decided to go for a camera upgrade instead! Though this will have to wait due to this month's surprise $2,000 car repair bill.



The yarn barf is turning into this - a scarf knitted from silk and seaweed. I'm enjoying this as the pattern is piss easy and it knits up quickly as it's mostly made of holes. The yarn itself is utterly gorgeous, has beautiful drape and sheen and the colour is amazing, imagine silk dipped in blue-black ink.  It does seem ridiculous to be knitting this though, when it was snowing at the weekend and the sky is leaden grey.

We did manage a brief afternoon of sunshine yesterday though so I rushed out to take photos.



These Would Make Me Happy

Flower radiators from Hellos.  A mere £460 ($650 - good grief, the pound is crashing through the floor) for each flower.

Made of aluminium and available in a variety of coloured, matte and shiny finishes.





12 March 2009

Yarn Barf

This is what I am working on today.


Why oh why do people insist on selling me yarn in skeins? I am hopeless with them. The yarn is absolutely gorgeous though.

In other news, I have finished a project.  Pics to follow when it has finished blocking.  And I have just purchased a vintage yarnwinder thingamajig on Ebay at vast expense.

11 March 2009

Light Up My Life

Jona Hoad is a UK-based lighting designer, who specialises in wallpaper-like lighting panels and lighting installations for hotel bars, restaurants and your house if you've got enough money.


Here are some pictures from the DeVigne Bar in Marylebone and the Vanilla Bar in Soho. Sometimes I do like a bit of spangly overthetopness.








I also liked these pictures from his website, which reveal that things are not always as they seem in the world of interiors photoshoots.




10 March 2009

Spreading a Little Love

Whenever anyone links to the blog or, better still, the mirrormirror shop, I like to say 'thank you' by including a link in my right hand toolbar.

However, I thought I'd take a leaf out of MadeByGirl's book and make my 'thank yous' a bit more prominent every so often, as it's nice to spread a bit of link love around occasionally.

So here are a few recent mentions that haven't yet made it to the side bar.  This month it's a nice mixture of old favourites and new discoveries, so do go for an explore. Please let me know by email or in the comments if you linked to me recently and I haven't included you, you'll definitely be on the next list.



First up is a great piece about the mirrormirror shop in NWSource, the website of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you're a Seattle-based reader then this is a great source of shopping intelligence put together by shopping editor Alison Brownrigg (who used to run online boutique Petaline, so you know she knows her stuff).


Next is the ever-fabulous Not Martha, who mentioned my plans to make a chandelier on her blog, which lead to me getting lots of useful advice about light fittings from her ever-practical readers.


MaryT at Shelterrific linked to my post about hearts on furniture in her Valentines round-up.


Did you know that the fabulous Velocity shop in Seattle now has a fabulous Velocity blog - Simpatico? Well now you do, and thanks for a couple of recent shout-outs.


Finally Bijou Kaleidoscope wrote a fabulous post about Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and mentioned us. 

Thanks to everyone!

09 March 2009

Adventures in Crochet

Holly at Decor8 has been writing a fabulous series about unleashing your creativity, which has made me decide that this is the year I learn to crochet.

I have a couple of super scary projects I'm contemplating (to be discussed when they've percolated a bit more) but have told myself that I can't buy the yarn for anything big until I've finished the incredibly tedious blanket of doom. In the meantime I'm attempting a few simple projects, so I can see what this crocheting lark is all about and whether it really is for me.


My first project was a cover for the orchid the Minx gave me for Valentines Day.  I adapted Erika Knight's bottle covers from Simple Crochet and used some string I found in our useful drawer and a length of fine chartreuse ribbon I found at the bottom of my knitting bag which I must have bought for some project I can no longer remember.


It wasn't difficult, though string and ribbon are not the most forgiving of media, and has encouraged me to persevere, though the Husband did take one look at the finished article and said, "Isn't that all a bit macrame'?" and I couldn't really disagree. 

Here's some crochet that actually looks good. Found via the Style Files and available here if you can read Dutch, these are all crocheted in polyester so are good for outdoors.  I'd love some for the deck.



More details in my Ravelry notebook.  Come and find me there.


04 March 2009

Public Service Announcement - Matte Stephens Giveaway

When we were talking paint colours recently (still dithering about that and waiting on a couple of samples) a couple of you mentioned my little Matte Stephens painting, which I picked up when Matte gave his talk at the Lab last year.  It was originally intended for the Minx's room, but I've decided that I love it far too much to waste it on her.


I bought the picture because, although it's supposed to be a picture of Matte's wife Vivienne, it reminds me of the Minx, and the fir trees and umbrella are just SO Seattle.

Those of you who spend a lot of time in the American blogosphere will certainly have seen Matte's work before - much of his talk at the Lab was about how he had been quietly plodding along with his art for years, before becoming something of an overnight sensation, with lots of interesting projects in the works.

However, for those of you who don't know him so well he has an Etsy shop here full of prints, and a blog here. You can also buy original works here at Velocity. And as of today he is giving away these three new pillows on his blog. 


I hope you appreciate how much I love you, as by telling you this I am severely impacting my own chances of winning.

Here's Matte and Vivienne at the Lab last year


 Just updating to say that, just in case you're not lucky enough to win, the pillows are on sale at Urban Outfitters at a very reasonable price.

03 March 2009

mirrormirror on the telly?

We knew it might happen, but it seems from customer feedback that the Hannah Tofalos stacking eggcups appeared on UKTV's Market Kitchen.


I don't suppose any of you saw it, or better still recorded it?  We'd sort of given up on it happening so hadn't been watching and I would love to see mirrormirror's 15 seconds of fame.

Go Love Your Room - Victorian House in London

I was awash with nostalgia after seeing these pictures on Crooked Shmooked of the quintessential London Victorian house. Most of our friends with kids in London live in houses like this and if we had stayed in London I'm sure it's the sort of family house we would have ended up buying.  (This particular house is not far from where we lived in Notting Hill in London and in an area we were definitely considering moving to).

Vast swathes of houses like these were put up in the 19th century all over London, and while this is certainly not on the cutting edge decor-wise it's a very well done example of the genre, is quintessentially London and the sort of decor I love. If you want to use it for a photoshoot all details are here.


Come in! The encaustic tiiles inside and out are very Victorian and very typical, but the colour of the front door is fresh and modern and the beautiful stained glass is again a very Victorian idea, though I'm not sure if the glass in this particular door has been restored and modernised.



I've sat in so many rooms like this, with beautifully ornate fireplaces, a large bay window and an ugly telly tucked in the corner, because no one knows quite where to put it. Not sure about the sofa though.



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Got to love the that Paul Smith 'Love' needlepoint from the Rug Company.  It's the companion piece to the one hanging in Carrie Bradshaw's redecorated apartment and something I'd love to have here in Seattle, if only George Bush and Gordon Brown hadn't stolen all our money.


I wish twinkly interior light strings were more prevalent in the US.  We had them all over the flat in London and you can generally find good examples at Habitat and Graham & Green.  Unfortunately the voltage is all wrong for the States (which we forgot about when we shipped some twinkly lights back for the Minx's room last year).


Pretty much everyone in London has extended into the loft to get a bit more space.

02 March 2009

Yet Another Awesome Video

As someone who is in the process of knitting thousands of interminable small stitches for my blanket, I do hope this video was made by some sort of camera trickery, and not by someone knitting every frame.

Come Into My Garden - February

I'm going to do this series of monthly blog posts again as I do like looking back on them when the weather is gloomy and it's lovely to see the garden developing year by year. I've also found them enormously helpful for thinking about what else needs to be done. So these posts are mainly for me.

If you're still reading, here for comparison, is what the garden looked like last February (about six months after it had been installed) and here is what it looks like now.


Everything's filled out a lot more, and even in the depths of winter it has more structure to it than last year. And I'm pleased with how the chairs brighten up even the gloomiest of days.

We've had a lot of snow by Seattle standards this winter and spring seems much further away than it did this time last year, so thank goodness for the hellebores which are romping through the shade garden at the back under the tree and looking truly amazing. I think they may be my favourite plants in the world (they certainly are at the moment).


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The garden designer paired them with sarcococca ruscifolia or sweet box, which this year has beautiful glossy evergreen leaves and shiny black berries - a truly inspired plant pairing. The flowers of the sarcococca are small, white and insignificant, but also give off a most beautiful scent.

I'm also liking the way the hellebores work with the pink-edged heucheras and tiny pink cyclamens I planted last year. Unfortunately the heucheras to the other side of the tree don't appear to have made it through the winter - a shame as they also work hugely well with geranium Anne Folkard in the summer and only one little snowdrop of all the ones I planted last year has so far appeared.  A flurry of snowdrops below would be perfect, so I will buy some more in the green now and try and get them established next year.

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The nandinas have also been in berry and really quite pretty, though I was intrigued to note that this time last year they appeared to be in flower.  The vegetable patch is looking a bit sorry for itself with only the rocket and a few tiny carrots showing through, whereas this time last year we had broccoli and lettuces. Last year we already had tiny narcissus in flower, and this year they're hardly poking up above the ground.

And, finally, in really sad news, I think the snow has done for the beautiful mature orange tree which had been put in by the previous owners. (There appear to be two trees - I'm assuming a male and a female - the one that seems to have died is the female fruiting one).

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             Last February                                                              This February

But really this February, it's been all about the hellebores.


Notes to self: Buy couple of extra hellebores. Plant more snowdrops and tiny cyclamens in pink and white.  Replace dead heucheras next to daphne. Replace orange tree?