Site moved to, redirecting in 1 second...

187 posts categorized "Ramblings"

17 June 2013

School’s Out for Summer


So henceforth there’s going to be an awful lot more of THIS going on in our lives.



School finished last Friday (I still can’t get over how LONG the school vacations are here), so we’ve got a summer full of camps and visits and trips planned.

I’m painfully aware that this is probably the last summer that the Minx will truly be my little girl (can you believe she’s already eight?) so I mean to make the most of it. I think it will be good for me to slow down a bit too. All the stress-related issues I talked about at the beginning of the year are much better, but I’m still not sleeping as well as I should and a summer of fun in the sun, relaxation, stress-free photography, reading, cooking and dreaming is just what the doctor ordered I think.

I’m hoping to get fitter (just started using a Fitbit yay!), learn stand up paddleboarding, read lots of books, do a few workshops, cook up a storm and host lots of parties.

We have trips booked to Menton again (leaving on Saturday!) – we have rented an apartment there for three weeks – and to Canoe Island, and Grandad is coming to stay. The Minx will be going on her very first overnight camp (leaving mummy and daddy to have our first consecutive nights away together since she was born).





I WILL continue blogging, but only when it really feels like the right thing to do (though I have got tons of things I want to talk to you guys about).  If you want daily updates though, please come and find me on Instagram

Instead this summer will hopefully be all about this












and this




I hope yours is too.

I’m hosting ‘Mom Camp’ tomorrow. In the morning I will be teaching five eight year olds how to make pie and then we’re doing on a photography scavenger hunt. Think of me…

05 February 2013





There’s been quite a lot going on behind the scenes here at mirrormirror global headquarters over the last month or two. The mysterious backpain has been coupled with days of utter and total exhaustion and nights of bizarre dreams, insomnia and very unrestful sleep. 

I read everything the Internet had to offer on piriformis syndrome – the clenched muscle in my left buttock that was squeezing on the sciatic nerve and radiating pain all down my left leg making it impossible to sit and often to sleep – and discovered that some people think it’s stress related, that the muscle spasms due to stress or anxiety in the same way that we might get a tension headache when we’ve got too much on our plate.

And just believing that I needed to relax and that the pain wasn’t due to a major structural issue, and that I could walk and sit as normal, immediately started to bring relief and now the pain is pretty much gone. I’m convinced that for me the pain was stress-related.  I can even feel the muscle start to tighten again if I get agitated. (If you think you might be going through something similar, you could do worse than check out John Sarno’s book Healing Back Pain. It’s a terribly written book and could be condensed into one chapter if you got rid of all the padding and filler. But I’m certain he’s onto something.)

As all this was going on, it slowly started to dawn on me that, what with being the mother of a young kid, moving countries, trying to run my business from afar and finding time to blog, I’ve actually been living with a mountain of stress for years. I’ve always been a very type A personality – rushing about everywhere, and with a ton of stuff on my plate – and although many of those stressors have now abated, I realised that  I had absolutely hit a wall, that the chronic insomnia I’d been suffering from since the Minx was born was not going to go away on its own, and that the exhaustion I was increasingly feeling  during the day was not exactly normal.

And then I started reading about adrenal fatigue – where you are literally running on empty and caffeine, - where your adrenal glands, worn out through years of pumping adrenaline and cortisol into our body in response to stress, stop producing the cortisol and adrenaline you need to make you feel wakeful and energetic and just respond to stress and anxiety. I was waking up exhausted, struggling through the day, getting more stressed, producing more adrenaline and cortisol in response to the stress and then ending up so stressed out that I had trouble sleeping. And the following day the whole vicious cycle would start up again worse than before. 

So I’ve been resting and relaxing as possible, clearing a lot of stuff on my plate and working with a naturopath to rebalance my sleep cycles. Hence the lack of blogging in recent weeks. The good news is that I think I’ve turned the corner. I’m sleeping better, though not always soundly, and the dragging exhausted feeling during the day has lessened. So I’m hoping to start up regular blogging again. To my one remaining reader, I have missed you!

Reboot – Part 2

The other big change has been in what I do with the rest of my life.

I closed mirrormirror over Christmas. It’s been pretty much on hiatus for the last couple of years and you might have noticed that I’ve been completely uninspired by it for the longest time. In fact you probably thought it was already closed.  It just became too complicated running it across the different time zones and since it seems that we are here in Seattle for the foreseeable future, I had to bow to the inevitable. It was HARD to say goodbye to my baby – at one point it seemed like we were running a successful little shop -  but I wasn’t doing right by her. Sometimes you just have to let go. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the shop in the past, by buying from it or promoting it. I really appreciated all your help and encouragement. I was hoping to hold a big sale before Christmas but all my health issues got in the way, so we do still have a bit of stock. If there’s any stuff you remember liking let me know and I can give you a fabulous price. I’ll also be hosting some ‘Bargains of the Week’ via the blog over the next couple of weeks and months.

As to what I do next, that’s a good question. All I know at the moment is that food and photography are drawing me somewhere.This blog is probably somewhere in the mix too. Where it’s all leading I’m not exactly sure but I’m intrigued and excited to find out. 

I’ve signed up to do ace commercial photographer Don Giannatti’s Project 52 PRO course, which is a year of critiqued professional level photographic assignments, which should help me build my portfolio. I’m renting some beautiful studio space so I’ve finally got a proper place to work. And  I’ve committed to working really hard at building my blog, my photography and my foodie credentials over the next year and I’m excited to see where I end up. Watch this space. And I hope you can join me on the ride.

And yeah, just while I’m supposed to be relieving stress we start our kitchen and bathroom remodel next week. Oh my lord!

Oh and as a further aside, our first Project 52 assignment is to ‘photograph a stranger’. Is there a Seattle-based blog reader whom I’ve never met who would like to meet up for coffee and a quick portrait session? I don’t normally take many people shots, except of the Minx, so I don’t promise they’ll be any good, mind you.  If you’re interested drop me a line.

02 January 2013

Walking in a Winter Wonderland in Whistler


whistlercanada (12 of 19)


Good morning dear hearts and a happy new year to you all.  I am BACK.  Thank you so much for all your good wishes and butt repair tips here, on Facebook and via email.  This thing has been a complete BITCH but I’ve got it down to mild sciatica in the morning and a sort of bruised feeling in my bum at all other times, so definitely making progress. I can also sit which is a Christmas miracle in and of itself. 


whistlercanada (1 of 19)


In case others think they might have the same problem I'll be writing a post in the near future about all the treatments I did and how they did or did not help.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season in the meantime.  We made our annual trek to Whistler, wherein I pack the Husband and the Minx off skiing and then take myself off on snowy walks with my camera and my thoughts. This year we had plenty of snow and plenty of sunshine and it was quite breathtakingly beautiful.


whistlercanada (4 of 19)


whistlercanada (18 of 19)


whistlercanada (16 of 19) whistlercanada (11 of 19)


One thing I did in Whistler was to read This Year I Will… which is full of tips and tricks for actually sticking to New Year’s resolutions.  One tip that is resonating hugely with me at the moment is to concentrate the mind and give the year a title.

So for me this year is going to be The Year of Getting Organised, The Year of Photography, and The Year of Getting Fit.  I like the idea of not making specific resolutions, but instead choosing areas of focus and attention.  That way I can accommodate my butterfly mind by doing lots of different things in a certain category and not have to beat myself up if I fail to keep specific resolutions.


whistlercanada (9 of 19)

whistlercanada (17 of 19)

whistlercanada (19 of 19)


Have you made any resolutions for 2013?  What will be your areas of focus?  Do you think I’ll actually manage to tidy my desk this year?


10 December 2012

A Right Pain in the Butt


winterberries (2 of 3)


So it turns out that I have something called piriformis syndrome, where a small muscle in my butt (just under the glutes) has tightened up so much (through sitting) that it’s pressing on the sciatic nerve and causing a lot of pain in my lower back, butt and right down my left leg.  Unfortunately sitting is incredibly painful and seems to make the pain a whole lot worse.

Things are getting gradually better after a lot of acupuncture, chiropractic, deep tissue massage, Rolfing, stretching, hot baths and heat treatments but progress is slow, and as you can imagine, blogging is almost impossible.

So I’ve reluctantly and sadly decided to stop blogging for a bit and just focus on resting my hip and getting treatment, hopefully back at the beginning of January.


winterberries (3 of 3)


In the meantime I wish you all a very happy holiday season, with lots of love and laughter.  I will miss you all horribly.


winterberries (1 of 3)


If anyone has had this and can recommend any treatmets that helped you, let me know in the comments.  I’m dying of frustration here.


14 November 2012

Leaf Apple Pie


leafapplepie (1 of 1)

leafcrustpie (4 of 6)


My back is still killing me, so trying not to spend too much time at the computer. I’ve now tried Rolfing, chiropractic and acupuncture without a whole load of success. If anyone has got any good ideas on how to treat lower back pain then I’d love to hear from you – especially about practitioners in the Seattle area.

In the meantime I made a Bramley apple and raisin pie, and had a little play while making the crust.


leafcrustpie (6 of 6)


I got a set of four different leaf shaped stamps/cutters at Williams-Sonoma a couple of years back, which I use all the time. Unfortunately they don’t have the same set for sale at the moment, but do have fall cutter sets that include at least one leaf.  And you could always make a pie covered in overlapping turkeys.


leafcrustpie (1 of 6)

08 November 2012



autumn (1 of 1)

Sorry for lack of recent bloggery.

I’ve aggravated an old lower back injury and sitting at my computer has been painful, so I’m trying to limit desk time for the moment. 

A combination of chiropractic, Rolfing, rest and light yoga seems to be helping though, so I’m hoping to get back to business on Monday.

Miss you guys!


06 September 2012

The End of Summer




It’s a sparkly, warm day today in Seattle but the leaves are turning just round the edges, the evenings are growing cooler, the Minx and I spent  yesterday picking blackberries and there’s definitely an undertone of autumn in the air.

We’re back after an incredible weekend at the Labor Day Family Weekend at Canoe Island French Camp in the San Juans and the Minx went back to school this morning.  My little tiny, itty bitty scrap of a baby has just started third grade.

It’s been a wonderful summer, but I can’t wait to start a new year for me too.  I have BIG PLANS and maybe this year I’ll even get to execute them.

In the meantime here are some photos of our weekend on Canoe Island. Man, that place is good for the soul.









11 July 2012

An Afternoon of Chocolate


chocolate flower cake-3546 

Just in case your life was lacking a little chocolate right now (yes, I thought so) here are some pics from the afternoon we spent making chocolate desserts and truffles under the watchful eye of master chocolatier Jean-Pierre Meignaud at Patisserie Camp on Canoe Island.

It’s going to be the same drill as before, no real recipes, just descriptions and food porn a-plenty.

First get yourself a bowl of properly tempered chocolate, some Pralissimo hazelnut paste (this stuff is GOOD) and a box of chocolate breakfast cereal. Yes, truly, something like Cocoa Pops or Cocoa Krispies. I feel so much better now I know that fancy pants patissiers use this stuff too.


chocolate flower cake-3448 chocolate flower cake-3450


Carefully mix the ingredients together and then use a ring mould to form them into a crispy chocolate base. You’ve just made the world’s most sophisticated, and delicious, Rice Krispie cakes.

Then mix together some more melted, tempered chocolate with the hazelnut paste and fold it into some whipped cream. Pipe this chocolate mousse onto the crispy bases.


chocolate flower cake-3469 chocolate flower cake-3474


So far so easy, n’est-ce pas?  Unfortunately it gets trickier from here on in.

Next use a knife to ‘wipe’ petals of chocolate onto a sheet of acetate.  The shape of your knife will dictate the shape of your petals.  Place the sheet of acetate into a plastic ‘gutter’ (half a plastic tube) to bend the petals slightly.  That just blew your mind didn’t it?


chocolate flower cake-3482

chocolate flower cake-3487 chocolate flower cake-3491

Or you could just swirl blobs of chocolate with your fingers.

chocolate flower cake-3504 chocolate flower cake-3506

Or comb out streaks of chocolate and again swirl them into grids.

chocolate flower cake-3507 chocolate flower cake-3510

It was amazing watching Jean-Pierre do this stuff.  He made it look incredibly quick and easy.


chocolate flower cake-3519


Finally use your chocolate shapes to decorate your mousse cakes. Adding a little gold dusting powder as necessary.


chocolate flower cake-3524

chocolate flower cake-3552 chocolate flower cake-3547


I’m just off to rustle some up for family supper tonight. Hahahahahaha.

We also made chocolate truffles that afternoon, but I have enough swoonworthy pics for a separate blog post.

28 March 2012

Blogging MY Way: Mirror Mirror On The Wall


So, as you will hopefully have realised, I’ve decided to take my blogging a bit more seriously in the last month or so.

Would you believe I’ve been pissing around in an unfocused and inconsistent way on this blog for about seven years now?  At the beginning of this year I decided it was time I either put up or shut up, which was one of the reasons I attended Holly’s class and have been thinking deeply about what I’m doing here.




Can I take this blog to the next level, make it more professional and maybe start earning a bit of money off it?  I’ve taken a couple of online classes on monetizing blogs and it seems I’m currently at the bottom end of what an advertiser would be looking for in terms of monthly page views and unique visitors, so my first priorities are to bump up blog traffic, redesign the blog so that it better accommodate some curated advertising and put together a press pack.

I’ve also been giving some thought to the ‘elevator pitch’ for my blog ie. a short, succinct way of encapsulating what I’m trying to do here.  I found the section of Holly’s class where we talked about this to be enormously thought-provoking, as the one thing I’ve struggled with over the past few years is knowing and communicating exactly what this blog is about.

This is what I’ve come up with so far:


Does that float your boat?  Does it sound like the sort of blog you would visit often and comment on?  I’m a chatty, opinionated extrovert, so the things I love most about blogging are chatting, sharing opinions, hearing what others have to say, learning new things,and making new friends,

And all that can only happen if there’s an engaged commentariat.  Which is where you guys come in.  I love it when you stop by and take the time to comment and chat and I’d like to make this a place you want to visit often and settle in for a cosy chat with a glass of wine and your gossip knickers on.

So this bit’s all about you.  I’ve set up this Urtak questionnaire to find out more about the incredibly intelligent, stylish and forward-thinking people who read ‘mirrormirror’. Some bits of information concerns the sort of demographic stuff that might be helpful for advertising in due course, but most of it is so I can help develop content that you guys want to read.

The great thing about this Urtak format is that you can answer as few or as many questions as you want, and you can also add your own questions for commenters here to respond to.  The questions I’ve seeded it with are delivered to you randomly.  And obviously feel free to share further information about your deepest, darkest personal secrets in the comments.  I won’t tell.

mirrormirror readership survey

Update:  It has been brought to my attention that the mighty Urtak won’t let you add questions without making you register etc. Stuff and nonsense.  If you have a burning question for the ‘mirrormirror’ commentariat, please add it in the comments and I’ll make sure it gets asked.


29 February 2012

That Was The Week That Was


Last week was a wintry week of knitting, hotpot, pancakes and new sweaters, with a haircut, a pedicure and some new pencils thrown in.


29thFeb (2 of 12) 29thFeb (4 of 12)
29thFeb (12 of 12) 29thFeb (5 of 12)
29thFeb (7 of 12) 29thFeb (6 of 12)
29thFeb (10 of 12) 29thFeb (11 of 12)
29thFeb (9 of 12) 29thFeb (8 of 12)
29thFeb (1 of 12) 29thFeb (3 of 12)


On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.


21 February 2012

Yeah, Our Cats are Dorks – Cat Bibs


I posted this pic of the cats to my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds yesterday and got loads of questions back about the dorky bibs I make them wear, which I realise I’ve never properly showed to you.


We started letting the cats outside last year when they were about six months old and it soon became apparent that between the two of them they are fabulous birders. Since, as you know, I have a bird phobia, you can imagine how much I was enjoying them bringing back tiny grey birds with their heads ripped off.  And I don’t think the birds were enjoying it very much either.

Deeply traumatised, I searched high and low online to see what could be done to stop them hunting and most websites informed me that it was an occupational hazard of cat ownership and that there was nothing I could do. 

Until I came upon – which sells thin neoprene bibs, which apparently stop cats from catching birds by slightly hindering the overarm pouncing action and disrupting the precise timing they need to catch their prey.

Since I was at the end of my tether I decided to give them a try.  And lo and behold they really do work.  Over the last six months or so I think they’ve only managed to catch one bird between them while wearing their bibs (despite still being quite successful hunters when they go out bibless). 

The bibs don’t seem to stop the cats doing anything else; they can still go in and out of the cat flap, climb trees and fences like crazy and jump prodigious heights with them on.  And after the first few goes, they didn’t seem to mind wearing them at all, napping with them, eating with them and even grooming them.  They do get a bit muddy in the Seattle rain, but, being neoprene, we just rinse them under the tap at night. I like that they make the cats more visible to traffic too, and they’re certainly good for striking up conversations with the neighbours.  All in all, they have transformed my cat-owning life and probably saved the lives of dozens of birds. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

I’m writing this post as a public service announcement to help anyone who’s having the same trouble as us with prolific bird hunting.  I would prefer it if we didn’t get into a conversation about indoor v. outdoor cats.  I know letting cats outdoors is frowned on in the US, but we live on a VERY quiet urban street and our house backs onto a bunch of well-tended gardens. They have had all their outdoor vaccines and are brought in just before sundown and not let out until sunrise. The cats ADORE being outside, they even go out in the snow, and if you saw them you’d understand that I could no more keep them in than keep Nicole Kidman off Botox.

20 February 2012

That Was the Week That Was


Last week was an Instagram week of hearts and flowers, grey skies, cuddly cats and a newfound love of the colour yellow.


instagramfeb20-1-of-10_thumb6 instagramfeb20-4-of-10_thumb2
instagramfeb20-7-of-10_thumb2instagramfeb20-6-of-10_thumb2 instagramfeb20-3-of-10_thumb3instagramfeb20-2-of-10_thumb3
instagramfeb20-5-of-10_thumb2 instagramfeb20-8-of-10_thumb2
instagramfeb20-1-of-1_thumb1 instagramfeb20-10-of-10_thumb2

On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.

13 February 2012

That Was The Week That Was


This was a golden Instagram week of baking, coffee and wintry walks, with a few signs of spring poking round the corner.


instagram Feb 13th (1 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (4 of 19)
instagram Feb 13th (5 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (8 of 19)
instagram Feb 13th (7 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (12 of 19)
instagram Feb 13th (11 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (13 of 19)
instagram Feb 13th (15 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (16 of 19)
instagram Feb 13th (17 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (19 of 19)
instagram Feb 13th (6 of 19) instagram Feb 13th (18 of 19)

On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram.  I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.


06 February 2012

That Was The Week That Was


It’s been an Instagram week of blue skies, sunshine and hearts, with a bit of bread baking and crochet thrown in.

It’s also been a weekend of attending Blogshop here in Seattle.  My brain is fried, by backside is numb and my Photoshop skillz are still frighteningly amateur as you can see.  But at least they exist, which they didn’t before the weekend.  I’ll tell you more about it during the week. (Above images are all Instagrams as usual, but silly old Photoshop doesn’t have a Polaroid frames tool such as I have on my usual blogging software).

Happy Monday!

04 January 2012

New Year, New Photography Me


I got a Christmas present that made me so happy it brought tears to my eyes, I’ve wanted one for so long.


greenlakeseattle (1 of 1)


As a weight-loss incentive the Husband said he would buy me a Canon 5D Mk II and this Christmas, since I am so close to goal weight (or I was before Christmas), he decided to put it under the tree for me.

This baby is fabulous and terrifying in equal measure – it has pixels and ISOs and features a go go and can produce some ridiculously amazing images.  Most of the professional photographers I speak to use it and love it, so I now no longer have any excuse not to produce top quality images.

And therein lies the rub.  I no longer have any excuse.  Before I could blame crappy images on my not so stellar camera, but now the only reason not to produce amazing photos is because I’m not a good enough photographer. 


greenlakeseattle (6 of 9)


Because I have to admit to myself that I am a photographer, albeit not yet a very good one. There is nothing, apart from maybe knitting, that gives me so much pleasure and satisfaction – how with the press of a single button, you can tell a story, capture a mood, transmit an emotion, or, as is too often the case with my photos, convey absolutely nothing at all.

So this is the year when I start to take this craft seriously – when I upgrade my kit, study hard, practise tons and put myself out there.  I still have no idea where, if anywhere, it all might lead, but I’m going to bust my ass getting there.

To kick things off  I’m going to finish up my Christmas photo book, have signed up for an online Food Photography course with Lara Ferroni, am committing to posting at least a photo a day to Instagram (I’m @mirrormirrorxx come and join me), will read the stack of photography books next to my bed, will start using Flickr again and build a photography portfolio website. One day I want to be worthy of my new toy, in a way that I’m just not at present.

This year I’m only making positive resolutions, no more thoughts of ‘giving up’ or ‘losing’, or ‘stopping’.  Instead I want to do things that help me grow and develop, take me to new places and bring me new opportunities.  I want to throw a metaphorical stone into a metaphorical lake and watch where the metaphorical ripples end up, and am super intrigued and excited to find out where this photo journey might take me.

Are you starting any new journeys this year?  Where do you hope to get to?  What do you want to learn or achieve?  Spill the beans and we can hold each others’ hand along the way.

I was just about to press ‘publish’ when this post by Tara Austen Weaver popped up on Facebook. Of course she talks about following through on all things intriguing so much more eloquently than I can.  I think she must have been reading my mind.

01 August 2011

Stopping to smell the roses




*Taps microphone nervously* 

Hello?  Is anyone there?  Well, that was a longer blogging hiatus than I bargained for. But I hope to resume normal service from here on out.

Here are some of the thrilling things which have been happening over the last six or so weeks.

- I completed my certificate in Advanced Interactive Marketing. Now to work out what to do with it.

- We went on holiday for three weeks to the UK and then to the Greek Islands.  It was idyllic. I of course have thousands of photos to bore you with in due course (haha! you thought you could come here without SUFFERING?)

-  I have been doing the (unbelievably crackpot) Dukan diet and have lost 18lbs in 8 weeks.  Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Sadly there is much further to go.

- Probably as a result of the above I went down with the worst cold I’ve ever had IN. MY. LIFE which laid me low for two weeks.  I was hoping to be back blogging a bit sooner, but this is the first time I’ve been able to type without snot dribbling all over the keyboard (possibly TMI?)

- As a result of the above I lost my sense of smell for about five days. This is one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. I haven’t realised before how very in love I am with my sense of smell and how much I take it for granted.

- We have painted our bedroom.  It looks lovely.

- We have created and planted up some raised beds. Vegetables are growing!

- I have been knitting

- Seattle’s long-delayed summer started about four days ago, only six weeks into the interminable school vacation.

- I have been making a whole metric shit-ton of jam. Jam is BANNED on the Dukan diet.

- I have missed you

I will of course be blogging some of this excitement over the next few days and weeks - together with the usual insightful and witty badinage on design and lifestyle issues of the day (yeah right – Ed) if you can force your way here through the dustbunnies and tumbleweed. 

17 May 2011

My New Baby


I’m sorry for total lack of bloggery recently. I have a big deadline coming up for my University of Washington certificate in online interactive marketing and my nose has been firmly to the grindstone (whatever on earth that means).

The tedium was briefly shattered last Friday by the arrival of a new baby to the house – in the slim, lightweight shape of an iPad 2.





I’ve been lusting after one of these for a long time – I don’t find my heavy laptop with its short battery life to be particularly portable and feel very tethered to my desk most of the time. So I’m hoping this will allow me to tend to emails from the coffee shop; catch up with reading sitting under the cherry tree and Tweet more easily from in front of the telly rather than just pecking at my iPhone like a squinty bird. 





It’s been a big hit since Friday – I’m really enjoying the Flipboard and Evernote apps so far and yesterday the Minx was at home sick and was educated via Math Girl – Addition House; Stack the Countries and Stack the States; DinosaurChess and Playtime Theater, all of which I can highly recommend.




The Husband, who works for Microsoft, was highly sceptical about letting yet another Apple product into the house, so I have to prove its worth by using it all. the. time.

If you have an iPad, how do like it? When and where do you use it? What apps do you like best and use most? Which apps help you work more productively? And which do you recommend for me? As you know I like art and design, blogging, food, photography, music, gossipy entertainment and fashion sites, politics and knitting. And more educational apps and games for the Minx would be good.  I’d also love to find a few more European-centric apps if possible.  And if you’ve got some good new iPhone apps then throw those in as well – many of those are also available for the iPad and in any case I haven’t upgraded my iPhone apps in ages either.


Except Angry Birds.  I’m nearly at 3 stars on ALL levels on my iPhone and when that’s done I never what to speak of that app again.

29 April 2011

They’re Getting Married in the Morning




On the night of Charles and Diana’s wedding I had gone with a bunch of teenage friends to see the fireworks in Hyde Park.  It was a warm July night and London was en fete. 

I’d promised my mother faithfully that we’d get the last bus back, but after the fireworks were over and we’d squashed through the gates of the park with thousands of other people, it became obvious that there was no hope of making it home. I remember having to queue for ages outside an old-fashioned red phone box to give her the news that no, I wouldn’t be coming home, and yes, we’d be spending the night out on the street.

We found a space with a pretty good view on the Strand near St Clement Danes (the Oranges and Lemons church) and sat down on the pavement to wait out the night. My overriding memory is of how happy and good- humoured people were – everyone, even the police officers, laughing and joking, cheering every little incident, letting small kids get to the front, sharing food with people (ie. us) who had brought none. 

What we saw was nothing like what you see on telly -  just the procession trotting past us in one direction and back again the other way. There were no screens and the ceremony itself was relayed over speakers. Diana’s dress was crammed into the carriages and we hardly knew what it was like until we saw it later on TV. And yet it was one of the best nights and days of my life.

I so wanted to be in London for this day, but couldn’t make it work.  If you’re there give London a kiss and a hug from me, I’ve been so terribly homesick this week and watching the beginnings of the coverage is making my heart ache.. I’ll be staying up all night watching the coverage in bed with the Minx, wearing pyjamas and my big wedding hat.  The Minx has her favourite princess costume and tiara all picked out. There’s champagne, the fixings for a full English breakfast and and Prince William’s favourite chocolate biscuit cake in the fridge and I’ll be Tweeting up a storm, come and  find me on @mirrormirrorxx

But it won’t be the same. Sniff.

07 March 2011

Cumming – the Fragrance


So we interrupt normal blog programming (insofar as anything is ‘normal’ on this blog), to talk about fragrance.




This Sunday afternoon, following a delicious brunch at Spring Hill restaurant in West Seattle with my dear friends eM and Uncle Beefy, we stopped by the delightful Knows Perfume fragrance boutique on California Avenue to sniff a few scents.

Twenty minutes later our senses were reeling as owner Christen Cottam talked us through our scent preferences and sprayed paper strips with gay abandon.  Knows Perfume specialises in small niche perfume ranges such as L’Artisan Parfumeur, Penhaligons and Juliette Has a Gun, rather than the big brands, and Christen has an encyclopedic knowledge of every one.

We were in between sniffs, when I spied a bottle of Cumming –  the celebrity fragrance from sexy, funny, androgynous Scottish actor Alan Cumming.  I’d vaguely heard that he’d produced one, but had thought it was entirely a joke, what was it doing in such serious perfume company?

Christen explained that it was actually fabulous  - with notes of pine, peat, rubber, whisky, leather, dirt and moss. Uncle Beefy tried it at once, and out of the bottle it was horrible – like rolling on an old beer-stained, smoke-imbued leather sofa in a sweaty club which has been cursorily wiped down with a cheap pine-scented cleaner.

So we continued chatting and sniffing and experimenting until Uncle B suddenly said ‘you know, this is actually smelling rather wonderful’. And it was. Sexy and earthy and natural and woodsy. 

So of course  I had to try it. Same nasty whiff of stinky jockstrap to start, but then on me it dried down to a most deliciously complex mix of vanilla, earth, pepper and orange peel – not like some of those overwhelming vanilla scents which smell like you’ve been smearing yourself with custard -  but more as if I’d been eating orange-scented sugar cookies and exuding them through my skin, with underlying sexy, sweaty undertones. Honestly my dears I was sniffing myself for the rest of the afternoon.


It smells EXACTLY like this video

The original commercially-produced Cumming has apparently been discontinued – the fact that it smells DISGUSTING out of the bottle probably doesn’t help -  but has been reformulated for extra longevity by the original perfumer Christopher Brosius and is now included within his range.  I know perfume is a highly subjective subject, but if it doesn’t work for you – and on eM’s skin chemistry it stayed resolutely ‘smelly wet sock’ – then chances are it will do wonders for your man, I couldn’t stop sniffing Uncle B either, though on him it smelled less vanilla-y and more earthy.

All proceeds from the perfume go to charity, so it really wouldn’t hurt to buy a little sample. I  am utterly obsessed.

15 February 2011

Separated at Birth


Haven’t done one of these for ages, but I saw a picture of the amazingly fabulous Grace Coddington at New York Fashion Week yesterday and it suddenly struck me who she reminds me of.

Casting directors start sharpening your pencils.


Elizabeth I of England Grace Coddington
Grace Coddington dressed up for the shows                                   Elizabeth I of England dresses down


14 February 2011

I Heart You Lots


No time for blogging today, but I couldn’t let the opportunity go past without telling you how much I love you all and appreciate your comments and emails.  Big slurpy smooches to you all.

Make sure you tell someone you love them today. Even if it’s only your mother.




I’m leaving you with a picture of the sugar cookies I made and iced a few years ago. Nothing so ambitious is happening today.


24 January 2011

Introducing Flora and Harriet


The Minx’s first word, when she was around ten months old, was ‘ca’ and ever since she’s been asking us for either a cat or a dog or (though not as frequently) a sibling.

Since we decided that a sibling was definitely NOT going to be provided, she was fobbed off with vague promises of a pet ‘when you’re old enough’, which turned into promises of a ‘cat when you’re six’.




The Minx turned six in the middle of this month, and we soon realised that she would not let us postpone the fateful day a moment any longer and we signed up to get emails from cat adoption agencies.

Last Thursday we unexpectedly heard of a kitten adoption event at a local shelter and after meeting them on Friday night brought home two small grey kittens on Saturday. So my weekend was spent somewhat differently than I had anticipated and our house has already turned into Grey Gardens.

Here they are – Flora has three white socks and a white bib and Harriet is completely grey.  I am realising that cat photography makes kid photography seem like a walk in the park.

And as you can see someone is absolutely besotted.

21 January 2011

Adventures in Knitting – The Decadent Cowl




So after the tiny needles and fiddly techniques of Carmen Banana, I was ready to knit something quick, easy and luxurious, low-stress and for ME.

I needed a cowl and found a pattern, which was apparently inspired by a wool and silk Burberry cowl which cost $750.

Because I didn’t have any suitable chunky weight yarn I decided to use two skeins of Sundara Yarn’s Aran Silky Merino held double, which is why this knit ended up being rather decadent (though since it cost nothing like $750 I consider it to be a bargain).




I highly recommend this pattern, even if you’re pretty close to being a beginner. It introduces a few intermediate techniques such as a provisional cast on, grafting (Kitchener stitch) and simple cables, but there are plenty of videos online you can watch to help with these and otherwise it’s very quick and easy with spectacular results.

The yarn I used makes a soft, dense and snuggly fabric with a slight sheen from the heavy silk content, which also helps it drape beautifully.

All in all it was a wonderful, stress-free, indulgent knit, except for the grafting bit at the end.  This is how  much yarn I had left when I finished, and any knitters out there will appreciate just how close to a heart attack I came.




Here’s a self portrait of me wearing it. The composition is somewhat odd as I’m holding the camera in my outstretched arm while looking at myself in the mirror. However it’s still better than most pictures of me the Husband takes.




As usual there are more details on Ravelry. Come and be my friend!

24 December 2010

Pssst! Don’t Tell the Minx




And she’s DONE.  I have to say that ears do help a lot in the beauty department. 

I have beads and findings to make her a necklace and some earrings and was planning to knit her a handbag and a hat, but even if I don’t get to finish anything else tonight, she’s in a fit state to go under the tree tomorrow.

There are also a ton of other little clothes to knit for her, but at the moment I don’t wish to look at her ever again. SO relieved that’s over.

All that’s left is to wish you all a very happy, peaceful and joyful Christmas. Thank you for all your comments, emails and suggestions over the year. I do love my little blog. And you guys of course. Have fun! xoxoxoxoxo

(Thanks also for all the lovely messages and emails about my ma-in-law. Sorry that blogging has been so sporadic recently. I will be posting a few updates between Christmas and New Year after we get back from Whistler).

20 December 2010

O Tannenbaum




Apologies for the lack of blogging recently. I had a slew of Christmassy posts lined up, but we had some sad news ten days ago.  My lovely mother-in-law, who had seemed to be on the mend after her illness in the run up to Thanksgiving, died suddenly and the Husband rushed back to England for the second time in a fortnight to spend time with his father and help organise and attend the funeral.

This time we made the decision not to send the Minx.  She still finds the concept of death pretty abstract, and we thought was still too young to attend a funeral.  We were so glad and relieved that she and the Husband had flown back to see his mother just before her death and that they all had some final precious memories to share.

So the Minx and I were left on our own last week, trying to be as Christmassy as possible. Single parents everywhere, I have absolutely NO CLUE how you do it.  We made our becoming-annual Christmas pilgrimage to Whistler yesterday, so Santa had to get all his ducks in a row before this weekend, and getting Christmas organised for a week on my own was incredibly stressful. Not helped by the fact that when my mind goes into ‘organiser super extreme’ mode, I find it unbelievably difficult to switch off and ended up with terrible insomnia. All of which is by way of explaining why blogging ground to a bit of a halt.

We were so fortunate that the Husband got on one of the last flights to escape from the UK on Friday and so we managed to get to Whistler safe and sound. I’ll be doing a few posts here – the Minx and the Husband are skiing, but I can’t ski because of my arthritic knee, so will be doing some extreme loafing about instead.  I won’t be able to catch up on Advent Calendar posts as I haven’t photographed all the new stuff (it’s super fun, though, more when we get back from Whistler) but I will keep you up to date with sock monkey progress. There’s still a lot to do, and only five days to do it, so it’s going to be a race to the finish.




In the meantime, the Minx and I did manage to decorate our tree last week when the Husband was away, and it amazed me yet again how much our tree has mutated from a tasteful gold and silver affair before the Minx was born, to a tasteless mishmash of colourful tat. But we love it anyway.

The prize for the most tasteless ornament goes hands down to this small creepy child with a candy cane growing out of her head.  It was carefully selected by the Minx on our first Christmas in Seattle when she was not yet two and every year is lovingly hung on one of the lower branches of the tree so it can admired all the more.




Do you want to share your decorations? Got any REALLY tasteless ones that we need to admire? Share a link to photos or to a blog post below.  (I’ve included a link to this blog post below, so you can see how the Linky works).

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list...

06 December 2010

Fancy Hotel of the Week – Poet’s Cove


So I celebrated Thanksgiving in a rather unconventional way by heading off with a girlfriend to the Canadian Gulf Islands – part of the same group of islands as the US San Juans, situated in the strait between Vancouver Island and Vancouver itself.




Snow was falling gently as I left the house early on Thursday morning to catch the Clipper and for a moment I was worried that me and my wheely suitcase wouldn’t even make it down our icy steps, let alone all the way to the islands. But I needn’t have worried – the crossing over to Victoria was as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and welcome rain was turning the snow to slush when I arrived.

The following day we took the ferry out  to Pender Island.  It’s only a short ferry crossing from Sidney, near Victoria, and then about 20 minutes drive on Pender from the north island to the south. And this is what we saw as we turned the last corner.




Poet’s Cove is a modern resort, spa and yacht marina tucked into a tranquil and stunningly beautiful bay. My friend and I were lucky enough to stay in a two-bedroom cottage with its own personal outside hot tub, so we spent a lot of time drinking prosecco in the tub, watching dreadful movies curled up in front of the fire, doing the crossword and knitting, having treatments in the fabulous spa and dining on top notch comfort food in the relaxed and busy dining room.

The decor is in the modern ‘lodge’ vernacular which one finds so often in the Pacific Northwest and is all about the fireplaces and cosy sofas, high ceilings and a few interesting craftmade pieces.





The staff were absolutely lovely. Nothing was too much trouble – here they are keeping brunch buffet open for us, so that we could fit in our spa treatments before they stopped serving brunch.


IMG_2255 IMG_2191


And while the resort was tremendously relaxing for the body and mind, Mother Nature was busy weaving her magic on our souls.  An old Native American chief is buried close to the resort and you can see why he’d want to live out eternity looking out at views like these.


IMG_2126 IMG_2142



IMG_2214 IMG_2217



A big highlight was when this little chap came out to play close to the marina.  This beautiful mottled seal was a star in the making, giving us a ten minute display of incredible underwater athleticism and seemingly revelling in his audience. 





No wonder we looked somewhat drunk on fresh air, beauty (and possibly the odd caipirinha) by the end of our stay.


Apparently this place gets understandably busy in the summer, though I’d still love to return then – I think the family would love it.

And if you live in the Pacific Northwest and are looking for somewhere fun for a weekend, even in the depths of winter, then head off here. It’s where even the seals come to relax and play.

25 November 2010

Snow Day


Or this is why I haven’t been blogging.

After complete and total snow-fuelled carnage on the icy, steep Seattle streets (this city is as laughably bad at snow as London was)  yesterday dawned crisp, clear and glorious. And yes my neighbours do need to look into insulating their roofs). 




After a two-hour journey back from school the previous day, the Minx was understandably pleased not to be going to school, especially when this is what we ended up doing.



IMG_1979 IMG_1973


IMG_2025 IMG_2032

IMG_2035 IMG_2052


IMG_2059 IMG_2068


We went sledding, made a very unfeminine snowgal, drank hot chocolate with whipped cream, made chicken noodle soup, watched a Tinkerbell movie and altogether had a wonderful time.

And I’m so glad we did, because today the Minx and the Husband set off for England to spend the long weekend with his mother who is in hospital with kidney failure. They’re away for five days, which is by far the longest time I’ve been away from the Minx since she was born.

I’m sad not to be with them at Thanksgiving – this holiday, which meant beans to me when we first arrived, is one of the most beautiful American traditions, and I’m going to miss celebrating tomorrow, though I’m glad to share the Husband and Minx with my mother-in-law.

Instead I shall be spending Thanksgiving morning on the Clipper heading to Victoria on Vancouver Island, off to spend a weekend of laziness with a girlfriend out on the Gulf Islands.  As a consequence blogging over the next few days will be light to non-existent.

And  the whole thing has made me so grateful that I have my health and my own small family the rest of the year. To all those of you celebrating, I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and good health and happiness in the year ahead.

22 November 2010



This is what’s going down in Seattle this morning.



In a miraculous first the Minx’s school DIDN’T decide that an inch of snow meant a snow day, so she went off to school well bundled up and practically bursting with excitement.

Because it’s so close to the sea, Seattle doesn’t actually get much snow, but by all accounts we’re in for a hard winter this year.  And snow this early in November is amazing.

Here are a couple of shots I took out in the garden. You expect to see snow on berries and evergreens but on autumn leaves and lavender?



IMG_1922 IMG_1933






05 November 2010

Remember, Remember the 5th November


I always do, and not just because it’s Guy Fawkes Night



Here’s a photo I apparently took on 7th November 2006.  The view had been even worse over the previous two days, and that chink of light in the distance was a new and welcome development.


Four years ago, me, the Husband and a very small Minx woke up (at 2.30 am I might add, due to the Minx’s jetlag) in an apartment overlooking Puget Sound, ready to begin our new adventure in Seattle.

Record-breaking (so we later found out) torrents of rain were sheeting down the big glass windows, we had no decent food in the apartment, the Minx was bored with the eight books we had brought in our carry on luggage (the rest of her toys were following with our stuff) and was letting us know in no uncertain terms and we were utterly exhausted through sleep deprivation and getting everything packed and organised for our move.

If I’d had a return ticket I would have been on the next flight back.

You too can reminisce by reading my blog entries back then.

We intended to be here for only three years, but yes. four years later we’re still here with no plans to return. Life is a funny thing.

02 November 2010

Voting Works!




Well my lovely cute little chickadees.  Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Food Ninja competition, I apparently won the ‘Best Blog Post’ category and soon a cute and extremely funky looking Zojirushi rice cooker will be mine. 

Thank you so much to all who voted.  I’m completely amazed and tickled pink, especially as I can now tick off ‘Win something, anything’ from my 101 Things list, for a total of 3 things completed.

So you see voting thing works. There’s another teensy vote going on in the US today. Regular readers will probably know which side of the fence I’m on (I’ll give you a clue, two weeks ago I went to see Obama at a rally in Seattle) but I just wanted to urge everyone to get out and vote, whatever and whomever you’re voting for.

I can’t vote in US elections, but know full well how much impact they have, not just for Americans but for the rest of the world. And the whole world benefits from a vigorous, informed and engaged American electorate. So if you have a vote, count yourself lucky and go out and use it!

A propos, has anyone actually used a rice cooker? Are they useful? What sort of stuff do you cook in them? Are they good for brown rice and pilafs as well as Asian white rices? Where the heck am I going to find space for it in my kitchen?

28 October 2010

Food Ninja Competition – Vote for ME!




Pretty please?

So voting has opened in the Food Ninja competition.  If you’d like to see me tick the item ‘Win Something – Anything’ off my 101 Things list then please go here and vote, vote, VOTE.  (Actually you should go there anyway, because there are some fabulous blog posts, recipes and photos to browse).

My ‘Peperoncini and Melanzane’ blogpost is entered in the blog post category.  If you don’t vote, you know I’ll be bugging you again and again for some competition or other over the next three years until I finally win something, so why not get it over and done with now? You know it makes sense.

And yes, I hugely appreciate it.  I’ll try and come up with some special celebratory recipe by way of a thank you.

29 September 2010

All About Me – 101 Things Update

Self-portrait taken on my recent Shuttertour (reflected in some broken stainless columns outside the old WaMu building)


I got some bad news yesterday. 

One of the key things on my 101 Things in 1001 Days list was to repair the damaged ACL in my right knee, which has been very painful and stiff over the summer.

I first injured my leg skiing when I was a student and didn’t have surgery then because sports’ medicine was in its infancy and the recovery would have been long and traumatic.  Maybe I was badly advised then, I don’t know - my current doctor seems to think so - but the upshot is I’ve been living with it for years, getting used to living with the constant dull pain in my knee and thinking that one day, when high-powered jobs, pregnancy, moving to Seattle, having a young child etc. etc. were out of the way I would take the time to have it fixed.

That time was now and I went in for an MRI yesterday, so they could assess the extent of the damage. And it turns out it is much worse than I thought and that the knee joint is so full of arthritis that repairing the ACL would put me in a huge amount of pain. Which is all rather depressing.

My thoughts are turning now to aggressive arthritis management – I’m far too young to have a knee as painful and stiff as it currently is – and wanted to get any advice and help that the Internets have to offer. If you or anyone you know currently suffers from arthritis and has been helped by any sort of therapy, exercise, nutritional change, book, video etc. etc. then I really would LOVE to hear from you.

As a result of the above I’ve had to revise a few things on my list.   Instead of  ‘repair ACL’ , ‘do a triathlon’ ‘go ice skating’ and ‘run a 5k’, I’m going to ‘learn HTML’, ‘sign up for Pilates’, ‘go on an overnight sea kayaking trip’ and something else I haven’t yet thought of.  My revised list is here.

I’ve made progress on some stuff, but haven’t ticked off any one task as completed yet. I’ll blog about stuff as I achieve it – later this week I’ll be blogging about the fabulous Shuttertour I did last Friday with Valentina Vitols, which was the first step in ‘Complete 6 Photography Workshops/Classes’.

21 September 2010

All About Me - 101 Things


Or, welcome to my new life.



Dawn over the I-5


Recently, and rather belatedly, I came across a goal-setting Internet meme called 101 Things in 1001 Days. 1001 days equates to about 2.75 years, which is a more substantial (and less daunting) time frame in which to get stuff done than the usual year of resolutions we set ourselves.

Since it was my birthday this weekend, and since I’ve got rather a big birthday coming up in 3 years time, I spent my birthday eve putting together my own list which I’m going to give myself 3 years to achieve. Putting the list together was fun -  the site DayZeroProject is very useful, as it both gives you a place to put your own list and lets you search other peoples’ for ideas (I’m PaolaCT on there).  Start Googling and there are also plenty of sites out there with other ideas.

I’ve tried to put together a list which includes a mixture of horrid stuff that needs to get done, self-improving stuff, things I’ve always wanted to do, downright treats and pie in the sky fantasies - a combination of  ‘quick wins’ and stuff that currently seems totally impossible.  Looking at it I feel inspired, excited and somewhat daunted, which I suppose is exactly the right mix of emotions.

I’m writing out the list here and will link to the full list somewhere on the blog in the coming days. I’ll give you periodic updates, especially when I’ve been able to tick something off. 

Currently I’m working on the sock monkey challenge (of which more anon), have completed 1 out of 80 cryptic crosswords, did a new thing this month (visted Ballard Locks) and am about to embark on the power walking and peanut butter challenges. This latter one is putting me in a cold sweat already. I am a peanut butter ADDICT.

If anyone else is inspired to make their own 101 list, do let me know, and very many thanks to Lou at Happy Serendipity and Nicole at MakingItLovely for their initial inspiration.

This is going to be fun!

I was hoping to give this list as the first page on a newly-redesigned blog, but unfortunately the mirrormirror technical support team (aka the Husband) has been rather busy with his proper job this week. Which only goes to prove that goal-setting is a dangerous exercise. But whatevs. I’m hoping to be back to daily blogging now. I’ve missed you guys…

101 Things (In No Particular Order)


1. Get a little red dress (I don’t usually do dresses, let alone red ones)

2. Volunteer at a food bank at least once a year (0/3)

3. See Niagara Falls

4. Attend the 2012 London Olympics

5. Lose 50lbs (0/50)

6. FINALLY Get the ACL in my knee repaired (as so many of my fitness/weight loss goals depend on this oneI’ve got an appointment to see the specialist this week).

7. Get my missing tooth replaced (I want to get my body as perfect as it can possibly be)

8. Finish a Babette blanket. (Still working on finishing my other blanket first).

9. Go somewhere in South America

10. Visit the Grand Canyon

11. Go to Santa Fe

12. Open ‘mirrormirror’ US

13. Organise all the photos on my computer

14. Do 30 straight days of Bikram yoga

15. Do a triathlon

16. Win something. Anything!

17. Break 5,000 followers on Twitter

18. Sell some photos.

19. Knit a sock monkey (Have plans for that one that I’ll talk about soon).

20. Get a personal wardrobe/shopping consultation

21. Acquire a sewing machine

22. Complete a sewing project

23. Learn to cook Thai food

24. Build raised beds and grow veggies

25. Finish landscaping and planting the front garden

26. Get whole house painted inside and out

27. Go sugar-free for 30 days (0/30)

28. Go to 30 restaurants I’ve never been to before (0/30)

29. Get visible abs (ha ha ha ha ha!  my abs don’t exist, I’ve NEVER seen them before)

30. Go to Hawaii

31. Visit Australia

32. Write up and catalogue all of my family tree research

33. Visit my aunt in Southern California

34. Eat 5 foodstuffs I’ve never tried before

35. Knit something in Fair Isle/stranded colourwork

36. Knit a complex lace shawl in silk lace

37. Get my blog professionally redesigned

38. Do one thing a month I’ve never done before (1/36) (yesterday I visited Ballard Locks in Seattle)

39. Organise at least 6 nights away with the Husband and without the Minx  (0/6)

40. Get mirrormirror mentioned in at least 30 print (0/30) and 30 online publications (0/30)

41. Visit New England in the Fall

42. Go strawberry and apple picking

43. Continue learning Spanish in the car with the Minx

44. Get a professional photoshoot done of the whole family

45. Clear my email inbox

46. Get a piano or keyboard

47. Take piano lessons

48. Do the Susan B Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure

49. Go away with just the Minx for 3 ‘Mummy & Daughter’ weekends (0/3)

50. Visit the upcoming Picasso exhibit at the  Seattle Art Museum

51. Do the Theo Chocolate Tour

52. Get stock photos up on Getty Images or similar

53. Join a knitting group

54. Go razor clamming

55. Set up a mirrormirror  fan page on Facebook and get over 1,000 fans

56. Make a felted handbag

57. Make a piece of jewellery

58. Go to ALT Summit and the International Food Blogger Conference

59. Start a compost bin

60. Go jetskiing

61. Listen to 10 albums by artists I’ve not listened to before (0/10)

62. Complete all 80 cryptic crosswords in the Times Cryptic Crossword Book 14 (1/80)

63. Be a vegan for a week

64. Tidy my office

65. Learn to make Italian ‘sott’olio’ preserves – melanzane and peperoncini

66. Learn a little Mandarin Chinese with the Minx in the car

67. Go the Maison & Objet and the New York International Gift Fair

68. Get eyes checked for feasibility of laser surgery

69. Attend 6 photography workshops (0/6)

70. Make ravioli from scratch without even a pasta machine

71. Take a flying trapeze class

72. Take a day OFF on my birthday every year (0/3)

73. Write a letter for the Minx to open when she’s 18

74. Get signed up with a Primary Care Provider and arrange for an all-over physical

75. See 6 bands live 0/6

76. Read 20 ‘classic’ books I haven’t read before (0/20)

77. Drink only water for one month

78. Watch 5 Oscar winners for Best Documentary (0/5)

79. Get basement finished and fully habitable

80. Don’t complain about anything for a week

81. Have a garage sale

82. Unplug for a whole weekend (not phone, Internet, TV etc.)

83. Go ice skating

84. See 10 ‘classic’ movies I’ve never seen (0/10)

85. Scuba dive/snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

86. Go white water rafting

87. Go snowmobiling

88. Run a 5k

89. Go for a month without peanut butter

90. Get more of my photos mounted and displayed around the house

91. Workout for an hour a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks straight (0/4)

92. Powerwalk for 30 mins a day every day for a month (0/31)

93. Take a photo a day for a month

94. Get one utterly fabulous piece of personal PR (I’ll know it when I see it)

95. Eat at the French Laundry, the Herb Farm and Chez Panisse (0/3)

96. Take the Minx to Disneyland

97. Sign up for a spin class

98. Go swimming once a week for 3 consecutive months (0/12)

99. Get a photo on Flickr’s ‘Explore’ page again.

100. Put aside $50 for every I task I complete to buy myself a fabulous birthday present

101. Donate $50 to charity for every task I don’t complete

07 June 2010





I’m back, sort of.

I wanted to see if I missed blogging, and I did, a lot, so I’m glad to be back in the saddle. The bad news is that my computer sounds like a jet fighter just before take off and this is my last week of freedom before the Minx finishes school for the summer vacation (can you believe it?) AND we’re off to Europe in two weeks, so I probably still won’t be able to blog as frequently as I would like, but let’s see how it goes. 

In addition I have been having THOUGHTS about refocusing the blog a bit.  Which, I hear you say, won’t be difficult, since it currently has no real focus at all.

Firstly I’d like this to be more of a ‘salon’ type blog about the design-world with lots of vigorous discussion in the comments, and a bit of an antidote to the ‘bunnies and unicorns’ type of approach taken by some other blogs. So I’ll be casting around for more ‘Go Fug Your Room’ type stuff and other things for us to discuss.

Secondly, I’m getting more and more into my photography and feel that it’s taking me somewhere. I have no idea exactly where it’s going, but I’ll be using this blog to experiment more and see what happens. 

Thirdly, I’m going to introduce some more regular features so that I have a bit of a framework for my blogging week and you can come here with a bit more of an idea whether to expect tulips or chairs or knitting. I’ll be introducing some of these over the coming week.

Thanks so much for all your lovely messages and comments, I missed you!  Mwah!

In other news Seattle is ‘enjoying’ one its interminable rainy springs. I know I shouldn’t expect the fabulous Seattle summer to start until early July but all this rain in June is somewhat depressing, particularly as it seems you’re even having summer in ENGLAND this year. But the lavender is peeking out, so I’m hoping this portends of better things.

04 June 2010

What Home Means to Me


stopping to smell the roses

 IMG_6650  image

Photo from Twins Garden Style Blog 


 Image from Yarnstorm


sticking to my knitting

IMG_6648 image

Image from Brooklyn Tweed


Image from Attic 24


baking lots and LOTS of cake





eating tons of pasta and drinking lots of wine




 Print from Jenn Ski on Etsy


Image from Lara Ferroni 


ogling my bread bin, still my favourite thing in the house



being constantly amazed by the bounty of our incredible cherry tree



Image from Canelle-Vanille





entertaining friends



Pinned from 



admiring the crazy awesome view that still makes me catch my breath every time I glimpse it



It’s true, Seattle really is seeming more and more like home.


Yes, I’m back! But only briefly. I’d forgotten that I’d signed up to participate in the Pin It Forward blog mashup organised by the amazing sfgirlbybay and showcasing the incredible talents of Pinterest, the fabulous new online pinboard tool, which lets you save inspirational photos from around the web. I am going to be using it A LOT in the future.

Tomorrow don’t forget to go and visit Being Tazim, to find out what home means to her. I, in the meantime will be back on Monday. I have been having THOUGHTS.

14 May 2010




I’m going to stop blogging for two weeks.

As you can probably tell from the lacklustre recent posts, I’ve been finding it difficult to motivate myself recently and there’s so much other stuff I’ve got to sort out.

So I’m taking a week or two to organise all my clothes, my desk, my photos and the shop, do some exercise, get the garden ready for summer and refresh, rethink and refocus this blog a little.

I will be back. Have fun and don’t miss me too much.

30 March 2010

Weekend Photos

This weekend I made a cheesecake for the school’s Gala auction



admired the sun shining through my new (vintage) Pyrex {from ZellesAttic}



over-exposed a tulip



admired foliage in the Japanese Garden 





had coffee and cake at the Essential 




and put up the Easter tree




I have spared you images from our trip to Ikea.

19 March 2010

Blossom Watch – Day 3

It’s been the most GLORIOUS Spring day here in Seattle and although at first glance it doesn’t look like much has changed.



If you look closely you’ll everything is now tinged with white




And in some corners of the tree things are getting VERY exciting indeed.




In more breathtakingly thrilling news from my garden, the first tulips are out.




17 March 2010

Blossom Watch – Day 1


The immense cherry tree in our tiny backyard is one of the very last cherry trees to flower in Seattle and is currently absolutely PREGNANT with blossom buds (about three weeks earlier than normal), so I thought it might be fun to follow its progress in the days ahead.





I know I owe you guys lots and lots of updates – painting the living room, my weight loss (ha ha!), and the office tidy up. They’re on the way, but I need to take pictures and its very grey here as you can see.

08 March 2010

Some Random Oscar Thoughts


Since I spent five hours sitting on my couch yesterday until my backside was literally numb, I might as well get a blog post out of it, so here are some random Oscar thoughts.

Best bits of the night were Kathryn Bigelow’s win for Best Director  - yet another big crack in the glass ceiling – and Meryl Streep proudly announcing that she was wearing Chris March. Yes, cuddly Chris March, my all-time favourite Project Runway alum. 


Mery Streep Oscars 3


She looked radiant and much better than she often does on the red carpet – the dress looked comfortable, age appropriate (take note James Cameron’s wife) and she looked like she was having a blast wearing it. And unlike many fair people she can really carry off white – it makes her flawless skin look like alabaster.

I thought it might be by him as it was reminiscent of the dress he designed for her for the Golden Globes, so I hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration for both of them.

Last night the over-40s really schooled the ingenue crowd in how to take the red carpet by storm.



Sparkly, glowy Helen Mirren once again made me proud to be British and was once again one of the best dressed of the night.   Demi Moore proved that Rachel Zoe really does know what she’s talking about, though I think that dress would have been nicer in a colour that didn’t so exactly match her own skintone.

Unfortunately SJP, having heard my comment last year that she was too old to dress like an ingenue, went completely the other way and decided to channel Nancy Reagan circa 1976 wth Barbra Streisand hair. 

I was conflicted about the dress as I wanted so much to like it – it was unusual and different and pretty from the back – but in the end it was just too shapeless for her and it wasn’t really helped by the bits of tin foil stuck randomly all over it, nor by the enormous char sui bun made from mismatched hair pieces that she stuck on her head.

 97516959-thumb-420x608   97515700-thumb-420x674

J Lo’s dress has been getting a lot of inexplicable praise this morning.  Personally I thought it looked as if it had been put together in a Project Runway-esque challenge out of miles and miles of bubble wrap and staples, in order to hide the unfortunate stunted conjoined twin she has joined to her hip (I kept expecting to see a little face peeking out from under that side bustle). And isn’t it the convention that you go a little more understated if you’re only presenting?

She is, however, the only woman on the planet who can almost pull something like this off.  And she has the sparkliest eyes I’ve ever seen, as if they’ve been embedded with diamonds or something. If anyone knows the makeup trick she uses to achieve that then I’m all ears.

97515978-thumb-420x695 97517890-thumb-420x631


Sandra Bullock (who gave a charming and touching speech and who this weekend also went in person to pick up her Razzie for worst actress – giving her thousands of kudos points in my eyes) decided to come dressed as an Oscar and looked better on the red carpet than she usually does.

Sandra Bullock 4     Sandra Bullock 3

Her hair is spectacularly glossy and shiny too, but if you’ve got big ears then the last thing you want to do is tuck your hair behind them and really show them off (take note also Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres on American Idol, who have turned that show into a mesmerising big ear fest).  So I shall cross my fingers and pretend that Sandra pulled her hair into a simple updo and wiped that eyeball-searing gunk off her lips at the same time.

Speaking of unfortunate hair, I did tweet last night that it was a shame Mo’Nique was wearing a cauliflower on her head.

MoNique-2010-Oscars(1)I take that all back this morning as I learn that her electric blue dress and GARDENIA in her hair was her personal tribute to Hattie McDaniel, who also wore blue and gardenias as the first ever African-American winner of an Oscar back in 1939.  (She was apparently forced to sit alone at a table next to the kitchen during that Oscar awards ceremony. SO glad things have moved on a bit since then.)

Frankly I do think Hattie McDaniel (see her acceptance speech here) wore it better and Mo’Nique would have looked a lot less severe with looser hair.







Speaking of larger black ladies in blue. I adored Gabby Sidibe’s infectious exuberance and excitement at being a part of the whole shebang, but her dress was utterly ruined by sticking that cheap-looking applique right over her stomach. Proving once again that designers don’t have a clue how to dress anyone over a size 0. Her upper arms could have done with a tad more draping as well.

Oprah gave us all a lesson in how to be a ‘larger black lady in blue’ but I can’t find a decent picture of her anywhere.










As for real howlers, disappointingly there were no really bad dresses aside from Charlize.

Miley Cyrus – would someone get her off my screen PLEASE? – had me screaming at my television all night in an effort to get her to stop slouching. I think she was afraid that her boobs would just pop out if she pulled her shoulders back.  And visible tan lines is not a particularly classy look.









Vera Farmiga’s dress looked it was single-handedly doing one of those fan dances that strippers do and I kept on expecting a nude woman to jump out from behind it. The colour was absolutely glorious though.

Vera Farmiga 1 Vera Farmiga 3

Diane Kruger looked like she’d been through a shredder and was on the verge of being throttled by a boa constrictor. A traumatic evening.

Diane Kruger 3 Diane Kruger 5

Zoe Saldana looked like she was emerging from one of those retro three-dimensional fold out Christmas decoration thingies. I liked the top of the dress but all the can-can flounces were far too much.  This dress was one of the Minx’s favourites, and if you’re one of the Minx’s favourites then you know you’re indeed on shakey ground tastewise.

82nd Annual Academy Awards Arrivals pPCj3lP_BWUl 82nd Annual Academy Awards Arrivals QAqTv4ItZGLl


And finally dear old Kate Winslet. Why do you always have to dress like a dowager duchess?  I know you’re on a quest to be Britain’s next national treasure, but you’re still young.  Would it really kill you to have a little fun with your clothes? Another dress that looks like armour, another bad case of helmet hair. And this time it looked like you’ve been visiting Madonna’s colourist, and we all know that’s not a good thing.


Kate Winslet 1

One final note for the Oscar producers. The show itself was as lame as centipede that’s had all its legs cut off. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were utterly AWFUL. And I speak as someone who’s just started watching 30 Rock on DVD and has turned into a raving Alec Baldwin fan.

However, a star double-act was born before our very eyes. Tina Fey and Robert Downey Jr. were hilarious while dishing out the award for Best Original Screenplay and should have been hired on the spot to present next year. I’d pay to watch that one.



Oh and one very last aside. Whatever happened to these two? Grizzly Adams and his partially melted blow-up doll.


22 February 2010

Tweet, Tweet


Being at the forefront of technological innovation as I am, I’ve just arrived in the world of Twitter. Still trying to figure it all out but my handle is mirrormirrorxx (yes, very naff, but the best I could do).  Who are good/witty/amusing people to follow? Do you guys find Twitter useful? Or is it just another huge time suck? (Like I don’t have enough of those in my life). Will I be seeing you there?

Tweety stacking salt and pepper pots above by Hannah Tofalos are from mirrormirror.

12 February 2010

Happy Valentines’ Day


Don’t you just hope you’ll be getting one of these?

04 February 2010


Site Blocked - Mozilla Firefox 232010 45319 PM

You may be seeing a bit more of me round these parts, and a bit less of me on Facebook. And, you never know, I might even be getting some productive work done on the shop.

I’ve finally faced up to the fact that I have absolutely no self-control WHATSOEVER and have a found a little app which rations my usage of ‘time-leeching’ websites, such as Facebook, The Huffington Post, Ravelry and er, Perez Hilton. LeechBlock is pretty easy to set up though it only works with Firefox and not Internet Explorer.

It allows you to restrict the amount of time you spend on a site or a group of sites and even set up times when access is totally blocked.  You can easily add sites to the list by right-clicking (or doing whatever it is that Mac people have to do).  The whole thing is password-protected and the Husband holds the keys to the kingdom.  It’s amazing how much more time I seem to have, and horrifying how desperate I am to access the sites during the short periods when they’re available to me.  My name is Paola and I’m an Internet addict.

Now they just need to invent something like this for the fridge…

03 February 2010

Musings on Knitting and Life


Remember this?  I started knitting this lace shawl/wrap thingy back in April last year after finding myself in Portland with nothing to knit and a fabulous yarn shop close at hand which sold lots of colours of Seasilk.

Well, here it is today, washed, pinned out and ‘blocking’.  And utterly and completely and totally FINISHED. It just needs to block and dry and then you can see it in all its glory.


It’s the first bit of true lace I’ve ever knitted and I must admit that it’s been somewhat of a struggle. The actual knitting wasn’t that tricky, though I did have to learn how to cable without a cable needle, but keeping track of where I was in the pattern was hard (the cable edgings had a pattern repeat of 8 rows and the diamonds in the middle in rows of 12) and managing laceweight yarn is a nightmare, with stitches dropping all over the place. It didn’t help that the main times I knit are either when watching TV, knitting socially or keeping an eye on the Minx. This job required FOCUS and tons of it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to rip back to a lifeline, undo several rows or spend ages dropping back through the pattern to fix some silly little mistake I hadn’t noticed at the time (and being a Virgo I’m afraid I just can’t leave mistakes). On several occasions I had to abandon the project for weeks or even months on end, so fed up was I by the slow progress and the repetitive pattern.  On more than one occasion I wondered whether I would actually ever finish.

But I kept plodding on, picking it up after it had been abandoned, relearning the pattern, knitting a bit here and a bit there and forcing myself to tink back to fix mistakes.  In December last year I vowed that I wouldn’t start anything new until I had finished all my works in progress. I’m not normally so persevering, and this could so easily have ended up as a tangled ball at the bottom of my knitting bag, but the silk yarn was beautiful and expensive and I really wanted to wear the finished article.  And so I pressed on.

And it occurs to me that knitting is a bit like life – if you keep going; if you keep adding stitch after stitch after stitch; if you pick things up and start again however difficult things may seem; if you force yourself to go back and fix mistakes; if you keep doing the right thing however little progress you appear to be making, if you just take a deep breath and apply some focused concentration to the job in hand, then one day, instead of a tangled mess, you will find that you’ve created something special and beautiful, of which you can be very, very, very proud.

Proper pics soon. More details, as usual, on my Ravelry page.

Funnily enough when I was researching my family tree last year I discovered that I am descended from a long line of Spitalfields silk weavers. And here I am 200 years later, still ‘weaving’ silk.

02 February 2010

More Nice Mentions



(And believe me, when you’re as amply chested as I am,  you need it… )

I  haven’t done a More Nice Mentions for a bit, but I do like to share the link love.

My interior styling post was mentioned by Whorange and Shelterrific.

Not Martha is thinking of buying a Nook.

The Times (the real proper London version, not that New York based upstart) Online’s Alpha Mummy blog mentioned the Hello Kitty plane, as did A Modern Mother.

Urban Casita found us through the Homies. (UC is great by the way, do check it out).

Bushra at Fudgeit threatened to bake cupcakes using cupcake wrappers from mirrormirror but we never found out what happened in the end.

Anna Burns at Oh Hello Friend loves the Stacking Egg Cups and Stacking Storage pots.

Liz at Violet Posy thanked us for sponsoring her blog.

The Steel Cut Garland found its way onto House to Home (the website of Ideal Home, Livingetc, Homes and Gardens etc). It also appeared on Rdekko.

And some old links I’ve only recently become aware of. Design Crisis likes peacocks. Urban Nest also likes peacocksOhdeedoh likes Miffy. My Pretty Penny wants a shower cap.

Thanks everyone for the mentions! I really appreciate all the support – especially those of you who link to the shop (links are SO precious for an online shop). If you’ve mentioned either the blog or the shop recently and I haven’t linked back to you, please let me know, so I can include you in the next round up.

{The card above is from Etsy-based Letterpress artist Kirtland House Press.}

11 January 2010

Jessica Eskelsen - Photography

I love getting comments on the blog because then I get to read your blogs and you really  a gorgeous and talented bunch aren’t you? 

Last week ‘Jess’ commented about running, so I went to her blog and discovered that she’s a pretty amazing photographer. I love the moody otherworldly atmosphere she achieves.  It’s ‘atmosphere’ that transforms a technically competent photo (like the ones I take) into something special and I’d love to know how to achieve it more often in my own work. Check out more of her beautiful photography here. {All photos below copyright the very talented Jessica Eskelsen}





Speaking of comments, I’d love to get more commenting/conversations going on this blog. That way I can have one of those blogs like Decorno’s where she writes nice short posts and then gets lots of lovely and interesting discussion from her commenters while she puts her feet up and watches telly.

What makes you comment on blogs? Are there any things that stop you from commenting?  If you’ve been lurking on this blog but have never commented, why not? (<- she says, hoping to trick you into commenting :) Is there anything I can do to encourage more comments on this blog? Won’t it be embarrassing if this post gets no comments?

07 January 2010

A New Me – January 2010


               November                                         December                                                     January                         



               November                                          December                                                   January

Not sure what these pictures prove except that I need to wash my hair.  It looks like I’m a little blurrier round the post-Christmas edges but not by too much.

Well, last month was a DISASTER.

I got sick with the mother of all colds and felt absolutely dreadful in the run-up to Christmas and couldn’t move without exploding into a hacking heap of mucus. And what with mirrormirror busyness in the run up to Christmas and the Minx and the Husband being sick and getting under my feet, I think I’ve managed about five days of exercise in the past month.

And of course on top of that was all the Christmas food and alcohol and candy and parties and chocolate and entertaining and comfort eating because I was miserable with my cold and PORK PIE from the British shop in Vancouver etc. etc. And yes, I do know these are all excuses.

So I  was absolutely terrified to step on the scale this morning, and seriously considered skipping a month. Instead, knowing how heartbroken you would all be if I did, I took my courage in both hands.

And the scales said 172 pounds (12 stone 4lbs) AGAIN. Which makes this the first Christmas since I was about three I think that I haven’t put on a ton of weight. Which I actually consider to be a bit of a result, as I was convinced I had put on around 5lbs.

Anyway, this unexpected semi-good news has boosted my morale enormously and I’ve managed to get back into my exercise regime as of Monday. As well as Wii-based strength training and Cardio Coach rowing I did my first ‘Couch to 5k’ Podcast this morning. These podcasts are designed to be used with Cool’s Couch to 5k regime, which if you do it 3 times a week over a period of 9 weeks, gently eases you, through a combination of walking and jogging, into being able to run a 5k.

Just think, by mid-March I should be able to run 5k in 30 minutes, which, if you saw me creeping along the Burke-Gilman trail like a geriatric buffalo this morning, is a little hard to believe.  I like the podcasts as they eliminate all need to time yourself with a stop watch or anything – you just follow the recorded instructions -and I like bouncy the techno-dance music which keeps me motivated.  I started using them last summer but had to give up after two weeks because of crippling plantar fasciitis. My foot is feeling a lot better now, but I’ll be doing lots of my plantar fasciitis stretches (pulling my toes up and back towards my shins) to make sure.

Does anyone else what to ‘Couch to 5k’ Along with me? I promise you couldn’t be a worse runner than me IF YOU TRIED.

Nook Review

So this year I decided to ask for the new Nook e-reader from Barnes & Noble as my Christmas present. I’ve been avidly using both Amazon’s Kindle for iPhone app and Barnes & Noble’s E-reader iPhone app (both available for free) and decided it was about time I got the real thing.


After reading many reviews we decided to go for the Nook rather than the Kindle 2, though it was a bit of a gamble as the Nook is brand new and was only delivered to stores just before Christmas so it was impossible to do any sort of real-life comparison.

I chose the Nook mainly because a) it wasn’t Amazon, with whom I have a love/hate relationship b) its Android operating platform allows for future software updates which means it can be upgraded without buying a new machine c) it allows you to ‘lend’ books out to someone else (though only for two weeks) d) it reads PDFs, which will be great for knitting patterns and other stuff.  Synching with the Barnes & Nobel iPhone e-reader is apparently coming soon, and will be delivered via a software update.

I don’t have a Kindle 2, so can’t compare it with that, but I can compare it with er, an actual book. And so far I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.


The Nook screen comes in two parts. The upper ‘e-ink’ screen which is where you do your actual reading and a colour touch-screen below which is where you navigate.  To ‘turn the page’ you push small buttons on the sides. There has been some grumbling online about how slow everything but this was apparently solved by a software upgrade that was waiting for me when I unpacked my Nook. Certainly I have no complaints. The touch screen is pretty good, though not quite as responsive as the iPhone and ‘page-turning’ is MUCH quicker than turning the page on an actual book. 


The grey e-ink screen is at first somewhat disappointing for someone who is used to spending all day gazing at a bright computer or iPhone screen, but it is designed to be easy on the eyes, easy to read and economical on battery life. I have to admit that when I’m reading it I sometimes forget that I’m not actually reading a real book – I’ve even caught my eyes wandering to the left to see what’s on the ‘other page’.

Another huge advantage is the size and weight.  It’s about the same size and weight as a small old-fashioned cloth-covered hardback (an illusion which is also fostered by the cheap cloth-covered cover we gt for it).  I like to read in bed and it’s really easy and manageable, moreso than the actual book would be – I’m currently reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, which apparently clocks in at 560 pages and 1.9lbs in real life.

In short, I’m a complete bookworm and I’m sold.

04 January 2010


They’ve gone.  This morning the Minx and the Husband left brandishing brand new light-up shoes, a brand new and utterly hideous Ariel backpack and a brand new Hello Kitty umbrella (and that was just the Husband haha!) and a soft quietness descended over the house.

Apologies for the longer than anticipated blogging hiatus. Our first Christmas in North America has been hectic, sociable and, as the Minx would say, extremically very fun.

I’m currently in the middle of setting up the mirrormirror sale, so here’s a quick peek of what we were doing on Christmas morning instead of going to the pub.  More substantive blogging tomorrow.

Yes, my lovelies, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is me, not Angelina Jolie, whizzing through the trees

Ziptrek Image 6-04

Ziptrek Image 6-08 

Not nervous in the slightest. Oh no.

Ziptrek Image 3-06

Here’s the Husband showing off
And here are some more images from our amazing morning in the Whistler tree canopy.





Yes I really did zoom down there

I’m somewhat scared of heights, so my emotions on Christmas morning ran the gamut between extreme terror and extreme thankfulness that I was still alive. And not a drop of alcohol in sight. 

Thanks Ziptrek Ecotours!

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!