Site moved to, redirecting in 1 second...

« November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »

24 posts from December 2009

24 December 2009

We Wish You A Merry Christmas


Whistler could not be more Christmassy.



With many, MANY thanks for all your support, comments, suggestions and advice over the year. I’d slip a little something in all your stockings if I could.

Here’s to a hugely happy, healthy and properous 2010. From my family to yours – Merry Christmas!

23 December 2009

The Homies 2009


Ooh, please vote for me. I know there’s not a snowball in hell’s chance that my peculiar little blog will get close to winning, but it would be good if it weren’t too embarrassing.  And at the same time you also get to check out a ton of fabulous proper home blogs.

22 December 2009

Christmas Decorations on Tour


You’ve seen mine! Now show us yours.

This is a very lazy on vacation post with the idea entirely stolen from Liz at Violet Posy

If you’ve done a blog post about your Christmas decorations, lack of decorations, other holiday decorations, beautiful decorations that you’ve seen round and about or anything else festive that you’ve done and want to show off then use the fun widget below to post up a link to your blog.

It will be running from now until 6th January or Twelfth Night or the Epiphany, the day when decorations are traditionally taken down in the UK (or else you face a year of bad luck).

I’ve added a link to my post and to Violet Posy to get you started and show you what it will look like.


21 December 2009

Whistling While I Play

I’m in Whistler watching the snow fall gently on the already laden fir trees, finishing up on some gentle emails as the mirrormirror Christmas season draws to a close – a Christmas season which was not half as bad as it could have been, so thanks so much for all your support. Clare back in the UK has done an IN-CRED-IBLE job, learning the ropes and keeping everything on an even keel over the Christmas period and we’re both feeling happy and optimistic about the year ahead.


The current view from the Whistler webcam.  I am not so crazy as to actually be out there.

The Minx is in ski camp, the Husband is off on the slopes and I’m trying to decide whether to knit, read, watch TV or get up off my ass and check out the pool and fitness centre. The horrible cold I’ve been struggling with these last few days seems to be departing. The cupboards are full of proper English food – we stopped off at the English food shop in Vancouver on the way to Whistler and bought pork pies, Scotch eggs, proper English bacon, a Christmas pudding, Mr Kiplings Cherry Bakewells and Jelly Babies for the Minx. This afternoon I’ll pull on my cold weather gear and wander into the village.  Hot chocolate, playing in the pool, building snowmen and buying a baby Christmas tree for our apartment here begins at 3pm when the Minx finishes skiing. Later on this week when the weather improves I’ll go tubing, ziplining, sledding and snowmobiling.

Life is GOOD.

If you want to read something a tiny bit more substantive from me then check out the gift guide I wrote for Shelterrific* published today.

*Only if you’re not my husband or daughter

Last Orders

You can’t procrastinate any more! It’s time to get shopping.



Orders placed on mirrormirror today before 2pm will go in the mail today First Class and should therefore get to a UK recipient before Christmas.  Oh and we’re offering FREE shipping on all orders over £25.

The picture above is of the Tarina Tarantino Red Carved Lucite Bracelet, a snip at £25 and also available in aqua blue, pink and black.

19 December 2009

It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We’re off to Whistler on Sunday to spend Christmas there with friends.  It will be the first time we haven’t gone back home to the UK for Christmas since we came out here, and I think we’re all feeling a little nonplussed (Christmas and England very much go together for the Minx).


It will also be a little strange to leave Seattle, especially now that the house is looking so festive and cosy.  But we’re all looking forward to snow and skiing (the Husband and the Minx) and relaxation and knitting and reading (me) and seeing Whistler in all its pre-Olympic finery.

I had the tripod up so I thought I’d take some pictures of our decorations. It’s all a bit of a mish-mash but I’m so fond of all the individual elements.

What with owls, wooden deer, a new little bird (from Amy Ruppel) and various snowy/furry things our mantelpiece has inadvertently taken on a bit of a winter woodland theme.



In pre-Minx days our tree was quite strictly silver, gold and crystal, but it’s become rather more eclectic and colourful over the last few years.  I was going to tie some big bows on it in an attempt to bring it all together, but that just didn’t happen this year.



Gingerbread men and candy canes now mingle with a little embroidered horseman from the V&A (known affectionately as John of Gaunt  - my ultimate fictional lustbunny from Katherine).


Each member of the family has their own embroidered and sequinned initial.


Here’s the little baby carriage we bought when I was pregnant with the Minx.


And there’s the little baby angel we bought the year after.


This frankly creepy creature – known as the Candy Cane Child – was picked out by the Minx when she was two and is adored by her more than all the other decorations put together.


While I am a sucker for tiny 18th century shoes.


IMG_2670 IMG_2477


Looking at these photos, I have made one definite resolution for 2010.  NO. MORE. EGGYOLK. YELLOW. WALLS.

18 December 2009

Jolly Cookie Jar

I found this recipe for layered cookie mix last year on the Williams-Sonoma website and the Minx and I had fun making jars to give to some of her friends and godparents.

This year we decided to make some for her teachers.


This is a great project to do with young kids as they can be genuinely helpful, measuring out the different ingredients and patting it down into layers.  I got the jars quite cheaply at Ikea but they were much bigger than suggested in the recipe, so we had to stuff them with coloured tissue paper. I like the decorative effect and it means the teachers end up with a bigger jar to put the cookies in afterwards.  As you’ve probably guessed the Minx chose the colour schemes for each teacher (and she had very precise ideas for each one).


You could use any cookie recipe for this though the one given in the link above works very well as it makes for some interesting layers  - brown sugar layered between white sugar and flour, and layers of nuts, cherries, rolled oats and chocolate chips.  Recipes for hot chocolate mix, with chocolate chips and marshmallows would also be good.

All the recipient needs to do is stir in butter, eggs and vanilla and then bake the cookies, using the recipe provided on the label.  The recipe in the book tells you exactly what to write.


Next year I’m thinking it might be quite fun to decorate the jars with glass paints.


The Williams-Sonoma recipe comes from Kids in the Holiday KitchenI picked up the book this year as we’d enjoyed the cookie jar recipe so much last year. There are lots of fun projects for kids – including makes, not just baking , though I was a little perturbed by how unhealthy some of them food was– yes that is a chocolate brownie covered with buttercream and crushed candy canes you can see above. Also not all of the projects come with pictures, which is a great shame. But overall I think we’ll be using this book a lot.

16 December 2009

The Hello Kitty Plane

You would not believe the amount of Hello Kitty crap the Minx is going to get in her stocking (or if you’re in possession of a five year old girl maybe you would).

I do have to question the business logic behind this Taiwanese Eva Airways Hello Kitty plane though – is your average business class passenger really in Hello Kitty’s target market?

Please don’t show this post to the Minx, she will be demanding we go on holiday to Taiwan.


Fortunately too big for the Minx’s stocking


You’d think they could do a Hello Kitty butter pat too. 


I’m sure Mr Taiwanese Businessman is THRILLED




Actually I do think most of the branding stuff here is rather lame. But the Minx would have exploded with excitement at this point.

Teux Deux

This looks very, very, VERY useful.


Uber-cool design blogger and web designer swissmiss has had this simple and free little To Do app built.  I’ve been playing with it this morning and my productivity has already increased! (Or maybe that’s because the Minx is back at school).  It looks nice, has been well thought out, has no distracting fancy bells and whistles and will soon be an iPhone app too.

My only slight quibble is with the name. Being a pretentious European with a degree in French I’m finding it very difficult to pronounce it ‘Too Doo’ as I’m meant to, but instead keep calling it Teuh Deuh in my head. This does however give it a nice Ta-da!ish quality.

{via Not Martha}

Petrossian Hot Chocolate on a Stick

About this time last year I did a little blog post on Petrossian’s very exciting-looking ‘Hot Chocolate-on-a Stick’ – big chunks of chocolate on sticks specially designed to be stirred into hot milk.

Petrossian somehow found my post and very kindly offered to send me some to try. Sometimes this blogging business is very hard, but someone has to do it.  Today I have a sick little Minx at home, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment with decadent hot chocolate.


Each chunk of chocolate comes packaged in its own little box. My only criticism of this product is that the packaging could be SO much more exciting, as it is it doesn’t give much of a hint of the pleasures lurking within.


There, that’s more like it.  There is after all nothing more attractive than a large unadulterated lump of chocolate. The Minx and I decided that our Snork Maiden and Moominmamma mugs (we are great fans of the Moomins) would be most appropriate. If you’d like some of your own they are available here from FinnStyle in the US or from the DesignShop in the UK.

The chocolate blocks are designed to be enough for 8 fl oz of hot milk, so only one is enough for two Moomin mugs as they are quite small.


The blocks seem to be made mostly of Belgian chocolate, with cocoa powder and heavy cream.  Petrossian recommends eating them within 2-4 weeks. I expect all ours to be used within 2-4 days.


All you need to do is stir the stick into warm milk or cream. It takes a minute or two for the chocolate to fully melt into the milk, but it’s worth the wait. 

This hot chocolate is seriously divine, not too bitter, not too sweet, just really rich, creamy and chocolate-y, with no clumps of unstirred powder. It’s like the gorgeous stuff you get in European ski resorts. You could add whipped cream or marshmallows, but honestly this doesn’t need it. The Minx pronounced it ‘yummy’ and devoured it in about 5 seconds flat, so it’s not too sophisticated for kids either.

You can get yours here.They cost $18 for 6 individually packaged 1.3 oz chunks, which will make six enormous mugs-full or 12 perfectly reasonable cups-full.

Thanks Petrossian!

15 December 2009

Adventures in Knitting - The Joy of Socks (and Hats)


For some reason knitting socks was not such a big thing in the UK when I was living there, though I hear it’s now growing more popular. In fact for most of my knitting life the closest I ever got to hand knitted socks was reading about them in Little Women and since I’ve always knitted on long, straight needles I couldn’t even fathom out how it was done. And I couldn’t begin to understand why on earth anyone would knit socks when they were available for a few pounds for a packet of 5 pairs at the supermarket.

Everything changed when I arrived in the US, the land of fanatical sock knitters and incredibly beautiful sock yarns. You may remember I knit my first pair back in 2008 and had a few less than successful attempts thereafter. But I was starting to understand how addictive it is to knit them.

This summer I knitted the second pair of socks of which I am inordinately proud, using this Twinkleberry pattern and a Limited Edition Sundara sock yarn in the Mango Madness colourway. For those of you on Ravelry, here are the details.




I absolutely ADORE this yarn and am now really appreciating the joys not only of knitting, but of wearing hand-knitted socks. The weather has been unseasonably very cold in Seattle recently but my toes have been toasty warm and they are so, so comfortable, as they are knit precisely to fit my feet.  I LOVE them and can hardly bear to remove them every evening. I wore my first pair of socks to ribbons and am frightened I’m going to end up destroying these.  In an ideal word, I would have a pile of gorgeous hand knit socks from which to choose. Must. Knit. Faster.

In other orange knitting news, I spent a few September evenings knitting a couple of little seasonal hats for my dear friend, the Instant Hausfrau’s, new boy twins.  Well they were seasonal back then. I’m only posting about them now as Ms Hausfrau was having a little trouble locating both hats, both twins and the camera at the same time in order to take pictures. Which is entirely understandable. After the Minx was born I was having difficulty locating my head. More details on my Ravelry page.




Happy Halloween!

13 December 2009

Oh Tannenbaum

Just when you thought there was nothing new under the sun in regards to Christmas trees, here is the extremely beautiful and, as far as I know anyway, very original ‘tree’ outside the Space Needle here in Seattle.  It’s made of interlocking spherical ‘cages’ wrapped with thousands of tiny white lights.

{I was going to say, please excuse crappy iPhone pics, but actually it’s really rather staggering what you can do with a little mobile phone camera nowadays}

IMG_0206  IMG_0200


11 December 2009

Memo to Self


{via the Bedlam of Beefy}

New Products, Lovely Mentions and FREE International Shipping


We’ve just had a new delivery from French design studio Atelier LZC and I will be adding several new products to the site over the next few days.

First up are two stunning new sets of teatowels – the Potager set, featuring vegetables and kitchen utensils


atkitchtt2  atkitchtt3

and the Nature set, with birds, butterflies and foliage


atnaturett2 atnaturett3

All four of these teatowels would also look wonderful framed (the Potager ones would look great in a kitchen I think) and I love the idea of using a pretty teatowel to wrap round a bottle of wine for a VERY acceptable hostess gift.


I’ve been having a mini blog PR blitz recently and the store has been mentioned by the following utterly fabulous and extremely discerning blogs Not Martha, Shelterrific,The Bedlam of Beefy and Violet Posy. Thank you all SO much for your help and support.

Stupidly I was so busy offering their readers FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING on all orders that I forgot to offer the same to you, my lovely and very much appreciated readers.  So go to mirrormirror, place your order choosing ‘free shipping with offer code’ when you come to check out and then use the code ‘jingle bells’ in the ‘how did you hear about us box.

(Any overseas orders placed over the weekend will be shipped on Monday and should be with the recipient in time for the big day.  UK readers you still have the rest of the week.)

And A Partridge In A Pear Tree


I don’t normally like just linking to other people’s posts directly without adding ‘value’ or ‘insights’ of my own, but seriously if you haven’t already seen this incredible stand-up gingerbread partridge in a pear tree on Not Martha then I suggest you rush there straight away, where you’ll find lots of additional pictures and full instructions.  Much better than anything you’ll find round these parts anyway.


{picture from Not Martha}

10 December 2009

Some Photos and a Calendar


One of my main resolutions for next year is to really work on my photography and sell some of it through the shop.

I really like the simplicity and ethereal quality of these photos by Kitty Rogers, available to purchase through her Etsy shop.






And most particularly I love her teeny tiny calendar – 12 little (business card sized) calendar photo cards on a tiny easel. In fact, I love it so much that I’ve just ordered one for daily photography inspiration.


{found via Lobster and Swan}

A New Me – December 2009

So, I’ve been working out all month, and I was thinking that my eating had been pretty good – smaller portions, lots of fruit and veg, cutting right down on the evil white carbs -  so I jumped on the scales on the 6th December expecting great results.

IMG_1966 IMG_2485

              November                                                                            December

Only to find that I weighed 172lbs, for a grand total weight loss of nothing, zip, nada, zilch, NOTHING. My body is ridiculous sometimes. I truly think that the last few years of sitting on my backside working from home has taken a terrible toll on my metabolism.

IMG_1964 IMG_2484

                             November                                                                        December

I was feeling pretty despondent but thought I’d do this month’s photos anyway, for completeness’ sake, but was quite heartened when I put them side by side, as I really think there is a difference. What do you think?

I do feel HUGELY much fitter and my clothes do seem to be fitting better, so maybe I am toning up/building muscle after all. And I’ve definitely got the exercise habit at the moment, which is great news.  I’ve bought a couple of books I’ve been recommended on kickstarting your metabolism, so I’ll report back when I’ve read them.

How did everyone else do this month? Better success than me? Thanks for bearing with me - checking in like this and thoughts of doing a triathlon next year are focusing my mind wonderfully. (Speaking of which, I really need to start dropping some serious poundage if I’m really going to be able to do the tri – like that’s going to happen in December)

Anyway, see you on January 6th (or thereabouts)

Update:  I thought I’d let you know how I’m refining my regime each month, as this is basically an ongoing '’transform my body’ experiment.  I’m currently alternating strength training days with high intensity interval training days courtesy of the aforementioned Cardio Coach.  I’m coming to the end of the EA Sports Active 30 challenge which is full of killer squats and lunges (presumably why my thighs are looking a little more toned in the pictures above) for my strength training and have Jillian Michael’s new Wii game lined up next. Will let you know what that’s like. I’m also cycling more, trying to fit in a bit more swimming and walking more, but will be focusing more on those in January.

I’ve also been making some modifications to my diet (such as eating more protein) based on the books I’ve been reading, but I think they deserve a post to themselves, which I will do when I’ve read them.

09 December 2009

Fancy Hotel of the Week – the Scarlet


A UK friend of mine and occasional blog commenter stayed a couple of weeks back at this brand new hotel in Cornwall and thought I would love it as much as she did. And from the pictures she was right.  We used to go down to Cornwall nearly every year when we lived in the UK and it’s another place I miss horribly.  I MUST get to this hotel sooner rather than later as it looks amazing (though annoyingly it doesn’t appear to take kids).


The building itself is a fabulous purpose built affair, making the most of sea views and built to the highest eco-standards by architects Harrison Sutton.


This is the wonderful bar area.  Love the colours and the mix of chunky wood and leather.


Like the seating and the low hanging lamps, though wonder if they’d be annoying if you were actually in the bed.


Pretty colours, though the big wooden boat is a bit of a Cornish cliche. Kelly Wearstler should look here to see a more successful use of statuary though.





More lovely colours, prints and unusual lampshades in the library and lobby.



And everywhere fabulous sea views. Why are there no hotels like this close to Seattle?  Cornwall does actually remind me of the Pacific Northwest a lot. Maybe I should open one. 

{All images from The Scarlet’s website.  Check out more from their gallery here.  And they have quite an interesting blog here about the trials and tribulations of building a hotel. Interiors by Max Bentheim Interior Design}

Get Your Holly On


Design bloggeuse extraordinaire Holly Becker over at Decor8 is running an e-course in January called Blogging Your Way  which will talk about becoming a more successful blogger and include tips on photography and styling. And I’ve signed up!

I really want to take this blog to the next level in the new year and work on my photography/product styling, so it seemed like a great way to do this in a focused way and kickstart the year. And get to meet other bloggers online.

There are apparently a handful of places left if you want to sign up  - all you need is a blog, a camera and $119 for the seven week course. All deets and registration here. I’ll keep you updated with how it’s going in January and maybe share some of the assignments on here, if they’re shareable.

{image via Decor8}

Christmas is Coming….

I’ve finished crocheting my Snowflake Garland.  It was very quick and easy and everso slightly addictive. So much so, that I might make some more as gift tags.




The Minx and I referred to that seminal work Usborne Activities – Christmas Cooking at the weekend in order to prepare our Christmas party offering. These were made from a basic Victoria sponge cake cooked in a roasting tin to make one big flat cake. The cake is then cut into twelve squares and ten triangles, covered with butter icing (by me) and decorated most tastefully by the Minx with bits of Twix as the tree trunks.


The now traditional Christmas tree decorating photo was also taken. 


Update: Oops, I forgot to give pattern details for the crochet garland. You can download a free PDF here.  It’s a US pattern, so UK readers should remember to translate it from US crochet terms to British crochet terms, but that’s very simple. Details of the garland I’ve made are here on my Ravelry page, for those of you who are on Ravelry.  If you are, do come and be my friend!

05 December 2009

Christmas is Coming…


The air is buzzing with excitement (the Minx) and panic (moi).

The enormous Advent calendar stuffed full of tantalising little packages, which was sent by the Minx’s lovely godparents, is hanging up and revealing its secrets.


Christmas decorations courtesy of the Minx (with help from me on the actual cutting) are starting to go up


(for real proper grown up snowflakes check out Uncle Beefy, take a look at this incredible gallery of real snowflakes or make some on your computer here  - the Minx and I have been having tons of fun with this little program and there’s no little tiny bits of paper to clear up afterwards).

New papier mache baubles from Crate & Barrel are on display.



And the snowflake garland I’ve been crocheting for the fireplace is now finished, blocked and ready to be starched and hung.


We’ve got a fun and festive weekend lined up. Our friend is visiting from Victoria and tomorrow we’re going to decorate the tree, do some Christmas baking, hopefully get to Urban Craft Uprising, go to a party in the evening, and then off, weather permitting, to Leavenworth on Sunday.  

I hope you’re all less panicked than I am.  What special things are you doing for the holidays?

04 December 2009

Contemporary Dolls House – the Lundby Stockholm


One of things I like best about Facebook is how it lets you tap into your friends’ collective brains for ideas. Having reached a bit of an impasse on contemporary dolls houses – either too expensive, too not available in the US, too discontinued or too babyish, I made a plea on Facebook as a last resort before buying something a little more traditional.

Eliza Truitt, Seattle photographer extraordinaire, mentioned how much she’d enjoyed playing with her Lundby dolls house as a child, which she thought was still being produced.  A quick search online revealed this, the Lundby Stockholm, an extremely desirable residence with lights (I would have KILLED for a light up dolls house as a child), two decks and a swimming pool in a drawer.


The absolute coolest thing is all the fabulous furniture which is available. Come and have a look around.

stockholm_interior_1  stockholm_interior_2

stockholm_interior_5 stockholm_interior_9


Lundby is a Swedish company that has been going since 1947.  They make two other houses, each with their own furniture and lights, though you can also swap furniture between the houses. (I see the Gotland summer house in the Minx’s future).  There’s even fabulous vintage furniture available on Ebay. 

Lundby stuff is available in the US at Cheeky Monkeys, but it is ferociously expensive.  A better bet is to do as I did and buy from the UK. Lundby stuff can be found on though they won’t ship the actual house to the US.  I ended up buying a ton of furniture from Creative Toy Den here. There’s even an Lundby advent calendar with dolls clothes, accessories and Christmas decorations for the house which I am itching to buy.

So that’s me sorted for Christmas then.  If she’s very, very lucky, I might even let the Minx play with it occasionally.

Abigail*Ryan Homewares

Our favourite jewellista Abigail Percy and her beau Ryan Bell of Chick Stud Earrings fame have been working day and night (at least according to their Facebook status updates) on their new range of home textiles, based on Abigail’s stunning botanical drawings.

Their beautiful and unusual teatowels and scatter cushions are made from 100% cotton or 100% Pure Irish Linen, hand printed in the UK and hand-sewn in the duo’s Belfast design studio.


I love the colours they’ve used and they’ve done a fantastic job with the styling the images as well. Definitely thinking about getting some of these in the shop after Christmas. In the meantime they’re available online from Abigail*Ryan.

01 December 2009

Contemporary Dolls Houses – The Ones We Didn’t Get


Shhhh. Don’t tell the Minx but I’ve Santa’s been shopping for a dolls house for her.  Although I know full well that at the moment she would be most happy with some horrific Barbie affair, I wanted to get her something a more funky and cool, that she would appreciate more as she grew older.  And let’s face it, this present is just as much for me as it is for her.

So the last few days I’ve been surfing round the rather exciting world of modern dolls houses.

Here are the ones I didn’t end up getting.

Bozart Kaleidoscope

Designed Laurie Simmons for PMW Architects. I have wanted one of these ever since I first saw them but for some unfathomable reason they’ve been discontinued and are now only available on Ebay if you’re lucky.  I may still have to buy one for myself one day.




Minimii Arne Jacobsen House

Minimii was founded by a Danish design duo who were looking for a contemporary dolls house and decided to build one based on Arne Jacobsen’s own villa in Charlottenlund.




The company will also be producing mini Arne Jacobsen furniture. Unfortunately the products are not yet available (due early 2010 and it looks from their website like they may be horrifically expensive).


The Dolls House Emporium – Ocean Drive

For a brief moment we considered braving the huge shipping costs and buying this from the UK. Fortunately it is not available to ship the US.



Plan Toys Green Dollhouse 

Somewhat less esoteric is this dolls house which features its own wind turbine, solar panel and recycling bins. Not that the Minx would have any clue what to do with these features.  We did consider this one, but in the end decided that, while it would be perfect for her now, it might seem a bit babyish in a couple of years.



We got something else in the end. I am beyond excited about it.  Seriously and not sarcastically. More tomorrow.