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187 posts categorized "Ramblings"

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.

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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

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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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

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

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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.

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

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

11 December 2009

Memo to Self

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{via the Bedlam of Beefy}

10 December 2009

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.

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              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.

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                             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

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.

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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.

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The now traditional Christmas tree decorating photo was also taken. 

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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!

26 November 2009

Giving Thanks

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Just heading into the Thanksgiving weekend here – always a slightly strange for us as Thanksgiving still means diddley squat to us Brits (though the Minx is starting to get more enthusiastic about it); we don’t have family here to spend it with; and most of our friends are with their families.

I’ve been feeling strangely lacking in mojo over the last few days, so I’m going to spend to take a few days off, relax, exercise, sleep, knit and sort out some stuff.  I’ll be back on Monday, but in the meantime if anyone wants to stop by and tell me what your best methods are for the regaining of mojo, I’m all ears. 

In the meantime here’s a sneak peak of crochet project number three.  And for all my lovely peeps in the US, happy Thanksgiving!

(I’ve been knitting up a storm over the last month or so, just not photographed everything. And I was a bit worried that this was turning into a knitting blog behind my back. But I’ll have a knitting update soon, I promise I bet you can’t wait.)

06 October 2009

Conversations with the Minx

 

As we are driving past Seattle’s baseball and football stadiums

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Minx: That’s Safeco Field!

Me: Who plays there?

Minx: The baseball.

Me:  And who plays at Qwest Field?

Minx: The Sounders! (We recently went to a game.) We had to sing ‘go home Chelsea’! (Chorus of ‘go home Chelsea’ from the back seat). But there were no girls (the Minx is a keen soccer player).

Me: Who else plays at Qwest Field? (Silence) The Seahawks play at Qwest Field. We haven’t been to see them but they play American football.

Minx: Do they have girls?

Me: No, girls don’t usually play American football.

Minx: Is there nowhere in Seattle that I can go to watch GIRLS?

How do I explain that one?

29 September 2009

Last Drop of Summer

or the final chapter for this year I think in ‘If My Daughter Ever Complains About Her Childhood I Will Refer Her To This Blog’.

Seattle July '091 

We spent the weekend at Lake Chelan, about three and a half hours drive from Seattle, high in the Cascade mountains, where the cooler temperate coastal climate of Seattle and its surroundings meets the desert of Eastern Washington. The climate and landscape seemed very Mediterranean and the lake itself reminded me a little of the northern reaches of Lake Garda in Italy, though sadly without the charming jewel-like lakeside towns and delightful Italian restaurants.

Much kayaking and swimming  – in crystal-clear lake and pool – was accomplished and a great time was had by all.  And a good job too, because we got back to find that autumn has finally arrived with a vengeance in Seattle. The words ‘freaking cold’ came to mind this morning.

We’ve got no more weekend trips planned (at least until the end of the month, when the Minx and I need to go to Canada to renew our visas) and I’m relishing the idea of hunkering down a bit with knitting and house stuff – it’s been a long, long, but utterly fabulous summer.

18 September 2009

Getting Old

It’s my birthday today and Seattle is rewarding me with the most glorious sunny day imaginable.

The long hot summer of 2009 continues its magic, I’ve picked myself some flowers from the garden, and I’m feeling very lazy, very grateful and very content.

Real birthday celebrations are happening tomorrow, so I can spend the day with Minx, and then on Monday both the Husband and I are taking a day off to go on a very exciting hot date, of which more anon.

See you on Tuesday!

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Cute antique milk bottle vase is from Casapinka’s fabulous new Etsy store.

04 September 2009

Reboot

Seattle July '09

Here’s the Minx enjoying her idyllic Pacific Northwest summer 

I’ve been waiting for this moment for nearly five years.

Yesterday the Minx went off to kindergarten (for UK readers that’s the equivalent of ‘infant school’) clutching her new Tinkerbell lunchbag in her sticky little mitt and I got my life back.

I fell pregnant with the Minx two months after deciding to start mirrormirror and was seven months pregnant when the website actually launched.  The Minx was three months old when my then business partner decided it wasn’t for her and eighteen months old when we moved lock, stock and barrel to Seattle while continuing the business in the UK.  So really I’ve never been able to work on the business without fitting it round the needs of a tiny child.

And although I’ve had varying amounts of childcare, since the Minx was born I have never before had the unbelievable luxury of five (albeit short) days a week at my disposal, instead of cramming in odds and ends and bits and pieces of work round the childcare.

So there are going to be some big changes round here.

- First up I really want to start developing this blog. Thanks to my diehard readers for sticking with it even when I’ve hardly been updating. I do love writing it though and now I’ll be able to update it at least daily. So stay tuned.

- Next, there are some changes happening with my poor neglected little shop back in the UK.  I’m not quite sure yet how they’re going to pan out, so no news yet, but stuff IS happening behind the scenes.

- Lastly and, most excitingly,  I hope to launch the US version of mirrormirror early next year, depending on when our green card comes through and I can legitimately work out here. Please keep you fingers crossed that it’s soon.

I’ve got tons of other ideas bubbling up, but we’ll start with this stuff for the moment and see how things pan out.  I’ve also got nearly five years of neglected filing and a disastrous email inbox to take care of.

17 June 2009

Cherries

The good news. THIS is what you get when record-breaking rainfall in the early part of May is followed by a month of continuous unbroken sunshine and temps in mid to high 70s.

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The bad news. These pics were taken from an upstairs window and the tree is so big we will hardly be able to get any of these.  Any ideas on how to get these little beauties down and into our gaping mouths?

03 June 2009

Beetle-mania

So here is the new baby.  She's not exactly the colour I would have liked (we saw a fab orange one which was just out of price range) but she's cute and nippy and the Minx loves her very much. We are in ongoing discussions about her name - I favour 'Myrtle' but the Minx pefers the alliteration of 'Belle' (though we should be grateful that Aurora, Ariel and Tinkerbell have not yet come up as options).

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I am naturally wondering whether any embellishment is in order - or would that be unspeakably naff and cliche'd?

Options include.

Retro flowers from TonyaBug on Etsy

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Daisies from the Daisy People

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Fabulous and fabulously expensive offical Beetle decals from Mibo.

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Daisy tail light covers

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and er, 'eyelids'

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and, just in case you have money to burn, daisy hubcaps

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Just in case I have any readers left after my shameful lack of blogging in recent weeks, here is a poll.

 

05 May 2009

Cars & Tulips

I'm back!

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Thank you so much for all your good wishes. I was quite taken aback by how badly affected I was by the shock of it all. The first couple of days I was all over the place and after that I was very, very tired - presumably as the adrenaline left my body.  Fortunately the only major physical injury was to my tongue, which I managed to bite, and to my jaw, which I think was bruised by the seatbelt and which seemed slightly misaligned and made eating hugely difficult.  I've had some bodywork though, and if you are in the Seattle area I can't recommend my chiropractor Dr Ted, who straightened my back out, or the magic fingers of Anne the rolfer - who managed to straighten my jaw out - highly enough. 

The car was a complete write-off though, so we're currently in the market for a little practical runaround. My head tells me that I should be getting a little fuel-efficient and practical hatchback, though such things are as rare as hens' teeth in the land of the Hummer, but my heart is telling me to get a VW Beetle.  If anyone's got any experiences, good or bad, to share then I'm all ears. 

This might have to be a light week of posting, as I've got a lot to catch up on with mirrormirror, but here are some photos from the annual tulip festival in Skagit County that we went to the weekend before last. I'm also writing some posts over on Shelterrific if you can't get enough of me.

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30 April 2009

Crash Diet

Just to let you know that I was in a car accident on Monday.  All pretty much OK, but I've been taking some time to rest. I was amazed by how shocked and discombobulated I felt for a day or too afterwards and I'm still feeling rather tired and unable to concentrate.

I appear to have sustained some damage to my jaw and bit my tongue hard, so eating has been rather painful and difficult. It's getting better and I'm having treatment, but in the meantime I'm living on a diet of Greek yogurt, mashed potato, applesauce and soup.  Please do not mention steak or crusty bread in my presence.

I hope to be back posting next Monday. Don't miss me too much!

19 March 2009

This Makes Me Proud To Be A Quarter Welsh

Yet another awesome video

17 February 2009

Be My Valentine

These are the Valentines that were exchanged in the 'mirrormirror' household this weekend. I wonder if you can guess who got what.

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A Jean Pelle candlestick.  Sometimes dropping hints via your blog actually works. My vintage lucite owl likes it too.

 

The beautifully packaged Chocolate Pie Chart from Mary and Matt, perfect for the geek in your life.

 

A tee-shirt featuring parachuting Bambis from Etsy shop Circles and Squares. This is NOT the Husband.

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 A heart-shaped Hello Kitty pendant necklace with matching bracelet (I have no idea what has become of the bracelet though)

17 January 2009

Life is for Sharing

When I first started working in the City I used to commute into Liverpool Street Station every day.  I miss London SO much. Best TV advert EVAH.

10 January 2009

Picasa for Mac

Christmas 20081

 

The Husband only offers tech support for PCs so there's no way I could ever get a Mac, however much I might crave the ethereal beauty of their designs.

And I have been able to keep my jealousy under control because, to date, only PC users have been able to use Picasa - Google's utterly, fantastically, amazing and FREE photo editing software, which I use for pretty much all my photo post-production and to make clever collages like the one above.

Now though, not only do all you Mac users get to taunt me with the slimness and whiteness of your laptops, but you can also sign up for the Picasa for Mac beta.  I hate you all.

05 January 2009

Pretty Buildings

We are back. UK was fab.  I have flu. Off to bed.  Christmas 2008

Here are a few pics of lovely OLD buildings....and one or two new ones.

10 October 2008

More Lipstick on a Pig

In these troubled economic times (I'm starting to suspect that mirrormirror is not going to have a particularly good Christmas), I thought readers in the UK at least would appreciate this exemplar of learned political discourse from here in the US, as Americans go about the process of electing the leader of the free world.

To be fair, this comes from Fox News, which is not exactly noted for its unbiased opinions. For more sensible analysis and opinions (and proof that not all Americans are certifiably insane), this site is aces www.fivethirtyeight.com.

29 September 2008

Gwyneth Obnoxiously Opinionated Paltrow?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

18 September 2008

Some updates

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 September 2008

Lipstick on a Pig

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The last sandcastles on the beach

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The last lunch by the sea

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The last strawberry lemonade                                                  The last margaritas on the deck

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The last popsicle princesses

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The last vestigial sunset through the trees

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

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The last chance to watch the moonlight on the water

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The last chance to have a candlelit dinner with friends

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

13 September 2008

Mrs Thomas's Book of Household Management

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

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

God, this blog spoils you lot sometimes.

09 September 2008

Back

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this is why I haven't been blogging 

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

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

But anyway, just to get things back on track.

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

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

- Travelling on ferries

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Eating pistachio icecream.  I like pistachios.

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

- Photographing new stuff for the shop.

 

Things I have NOT been doing.

- Following my eating plan

- Exercising

- Gardening

- House stuff

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

Normal blog service will now be resumed...

11 July 2008

Wii Fit and Paul McKenna Weight Loss Challenge

OK, so this is all very off topic and self-indulgent, so if you're here for some nice pics of cushions or something then it's probably best to go now.

As I've mentioned before, I've not been very happy with my weight since the Minx was born (and was hardly thrilled with it beforehand, to be honest).

I was doing Weight Watchers at the beginning of the year and managed to lose a bit, but I do find all the weighing and measuring and logging food etc to be very tedious, and I really didn't feel it was improving my already warped relationship with food.

I've recently been reading a book by Paul McKenna called I Can Make You Thin which I've been finding really interesting. 

He's very 'anti-diet' and instead suggests following four simple rules.

- Whenever you're hungry, EAT.  I've been trying this for two or three days and it's a revelation to be able to go and find food whenever you feel hungry, instead of trying to hold out until the next mealtime.

- Eat what you want, not what you think you should.  This is amazingly difficult to get my head round. So many foods are labelled 'bad' in my head. But I've been trying to consciously examine what my body feels it needs when I'm hungry,  and not eat stuff I don't really like and which isn't emotionally satisfying just for the sake of it, or else eat treat foods just because I can.

- Eat CONSCIOUSLY and enjoy every mouthful.  Again, really difficult for me.  I'm always picking stuff out of the fridge or eating on the run or at my computer without really noticing what goes in my mouth.

- When you think you are full, STOP eating.  The most difficult one of all.  I actually eat quite a good diet, with very little junk and processed food.  But I do eat the most enormous portions (not helped by living with someone who's 6'2" and naturally skinny).  I just love my food. So now I'm trying to pay attention to when my body feels full, and it's scary just how small portions have to be.

And that's it. The rest of the book is full of NLP stuff and before-and-afters and also includes a self-hypnosis tape, which is relaxing if nothing else.  He's also put out a 90 Day Success Journal, which is probably a bit of a waste of money as it mostly encourages you to record whether you followed the rules with a daily inspirational thought, but I've got it anyway as I like the thought of having a bit more focus for 90 days. 

In addition I've finally managed to score a Wii Fit  which, on the first day of using, appears to be much, much more fun than going to gym, though I don't quite understand why. So I'm going to commit to playing on the Wii Fit for between 30 and 60 minutes every day for the next 90 days to get some basic exercise in.

And that's it.  I'm doing this post to challenge myself to stick to this regime for the next 90 days.  I'll post updates every couple of weeks (Paul McKenna suggests weighing yourself only every two weeks if that) and hopefully some gobsmackingly gorgeous AFTER shots at the end of September when the 90 days is up.

This bit is absolutely not self-indulgent.  In fact it's probably one of the scarier things I've ever done.  But here are some BEFORE pics of me in tight-fitting clothes, online for all the world to see. 

IMG_6279 IMG_6280

15 June 2008

Free magazines

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I'm having a massive clear out ahead of the imminent arrival of my crazy Italian rellies (who hopefully do NOT read this blog) and have decided to limit myself to only a year's worth of magazines. 

So if anyone in the Seattle area fancies getting their sticky mitts on back copies (from before June 2007, going back to 2005 in some cases) of Elle Decoration UK, Homes & Gardens UK, Vogue UK, Domino, Real Simple, Elle Decor then please contact me quick before they go in the recycling bin.

31 May 2008

What Posh Has For Lunch

INorOUT_VB_1

So, you're Posh Spice and you're off for lunch at New York's latest powerhouse restaurant Lever House, where a whole brigade of chefs is ready to tantalize your tastebuds with exquisite morsels.

So apparently, according to fashion blog Fashion Addict Diary you order

- a mixed green salad with balsamic vinegar

- steamed veggies

- a fruit plate

- sparkling mineral water

04 April 2008

Inspiration

So, I know we've been somewhat mean about her in the past, and that she's recently had a facelift, and is no doubt Botoxed to the hilt and airbrushed to the max, but good grief, her Madgeness is looking HAWT in her latest vid.  And very inspirational to those of us who may be past our first flush of youth.

The song is the best thing she's done in ages too.

27 February 2008

You know you're addicted to design when...

...you're reading your daughter a bedtime story and admiring the Marimekko wallpaper and cushion.

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From That Pesky Rat by Lauren Child

18 February 2008

An Entirely Satisfactory Evening

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A bowl of linguine alle vongole  from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries (the clams in this part of the world are so good and so cheap).

A bar of Green & Black's Almond chocolate (if you couldn't get this in Seattle I would have returned to the UK by now).

The definitive BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (the perfect Lizzie Bennett, eat your heart out Keira Knightley) on the telly.

Some knitting.

No, I've not exactly become American quite yet.

17 February 2008

Instant Contraception

We've been doing the tourist thing this week, as friends from London have been visiting, which has meant three kids aged three, two and one in the house.

I take my hat off to any mother who has more than one child - one child can be considered an excusable mistake, but any more is sheer lunacy.

Anyway, they went yesterday and this morning the Minx is out with her father and I am revelling in the quiet and trying to make sense of the chaos.  And recovering from the terrible cold which is of course inevitable when you hang around kids.

They can occasionally be cute though.

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16 February 2008

I'm a lucky girl - part 1

Sometimes the Husband gets things so right.

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Bouquet from Fleurish - the best florist we have come across in Seattle.  I love how they enclose a little card telling you what's in the bouquet.

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Also much loving the use of ripening blackberries in the bouquet - though I have no idea where they get them at this time of year.

09 February 2008

Washington counts

jimmy smitsFor the first time I think in like EVER, Washington state gets a chance to influence the presidential nominations (usually it's all sewn up by Super Tuesday or even before, and this year nobody thought that Super Duper Tuesday would be anything other than decisive).  All the candidates were in town yesterday, and people I've been speaking to seem really excited that they get a chance to make a difference.

I'm loving the fact that the 'script' for this election appears to come courtesy of the West Wing's scriptwriters - young, idealistic, minority Democrat v. old guard, maverick, not completely insane Republican.  Though even the WW didn't think to throw a credible female candidate into the mix.

Interestingly Washington votes via the public caucus system, which means that everyone has turn up at a neighbourhood location and vote in person. There also appears to be a state primary, but that doesn't apparently count for anything, so just colour me confused there.

Here are local bloggers Not Martha and Decorno's takes on the matter.  I really wish I were eligible to go to a caucus as it would be a fascinating slice of American life. 

As a woman I still believe it's an honour and a privilege to vote, so if you're a Washingtonian just get out there and do it.  I don't really care who you vote for (as long as it's not Huckabee) but if anyone fancies casting a vote for Obama on my behalf then be my guest.

Interesting discussion here, via Swiss Miss, on what the fonts used by the different candidates in their campaign literature say about them.

06 February 2008

Two Countries Separated by Common Bed Linen - Part 2

sheetsAs an amusing postscript to our previous discussion about the difference between a duvet and a comforter, Metafilter asks, 'Do British people use sheets?'.  Cue lots of Americans horrifed by insanitary British habits.

04 February 2008

Where to go in Mexico?

Map image

We're thinking of going to Mexico in March and April, but don't know where to go. Any suggestions?

We need a nice beach for the Minx but would also like to find somewhere with a bustling Mexican vibe and traditional Colonial architecture, but not too touristy - which I think rules out Acapulco, Cancun and possibly PV -, and not too remote either as I fancy sitting in little cafes and restaurants and watching the world go by.

And any recommendations for beautiful, smallish (and cheap!) boutique-y hotels would also be much appreciated.   It is possible that the things I desire are not actually available in reality.

Let me know all your ideas - I know next to nothing about Mexico, so the smallest bits of information would be useful. Thank you!

02 February 2008

For Mothers Everywhere

01 February 2008

Resolution Watch

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Another image from my Green Chair Press calendar

So how am I doing?

Get thin - I've lost a stone (14lb) since mid November! Still a ways to go though, but thrilled since WeightWatchers really does seem to be working.

Get dancing - Not quite yet, but have just completely Rolfing session 4 and can't describe how much better my whole body is feeling.

Get organised - Bedroom/office still a tip.  Top priority at the moment as we have friends from the UK coming next week and it's EMBARRASSING.

Get making - I've done my beading class.  Need to find another beading project to make.  

Get going on the house - Have got various meetings lined up with remodelling people, architects and painters.  Have bought nice furniture (of which more anon) and have decided on colours for main room and Minx's room (of which also more anon).

Get photographing- launched my daily photo diary Today I Am Mostly

Get blogging - still don't seem to have time to do all that I want with the blog 

Get rich - January's revenues were up about 40% on last January!  But then last January was very, very bad for some reason.

16 January 2008 in Ramblings | Permalink

26 January 2008

From the sublime to the...

I just wanted to introduce you to the work of another hot new jewellery designer... me!

I took my first jewellery-making class - 'Beginning Beaded Jewellery' -  at Fusion Beads the other evening and this is what I came up with.

They took us through the basics of making the little chain link loops that join the beads together and then had us rushing about the store choosing beads and findings to make our earrings. Talk about a kid in a candy store - I felt like one of the designers on Project Runway rushing around Mood in a very stressed way, while trying to 'design' something on the fly.

In the end I chose a mixture of gold-filled findings, Swarovski crystals and pearls and black wooden beads for texture, though realise now that there are so many things to think about - such as weight and size -  other than just colour and sparkle.  These would be a lot nicer, for example, if the square clear crystals didn't line up exactly with the bottom of the hoop.  You also really don't want to look too closely at my loops - they aren't very round or robust at all. 

They took me forever to make - we were shown how to thread a bracelet and add a crimp beads and a clasp at the ends, but I really didn't have the time (in a three hour class!) to thread anything.

But I'm hooked, it really was the most tremendous fun, though I now have a huge new found respect for anyone who makes jewellery. I've bought a set of little tools and a mat and will try a couple of the 'recipes' on the Fusion Beads inspiration pages so I can practise my loops and crimping before doing 'Beginning Wire Wrapping' next month.  I have a feeling this is going to become a horribly expensive hobby.

I photographed the earrings on my new rug!  Just a sneaky peak before I show it to you next week.  It really is the most exquisite thing but I need to tidy up the bedroom before I do.  And yes, I do realise I've had about five months since actually ordering the rug to tidy up.

16 January 2008

Resolutions

The 'January' page from the beautiful letterpress calendar I got from Green Chair Press

I know, late again.  But I had a birthday party to organise.

Even though I didn't do particularly well with last year's, (I failed in all of them except the last one) here are my resolutions for this year since writing things down is supposed to make them happen (I may have to get this book).

Get thin - last year I resolved to lose 2 stone (28lbs).  I didn't manage to do that but am thrilled to have lost 11lbs so far since starting WeightWatchers in November.  Finally something seems to be working and I'm actually finding it comparatively do-able, so now there's no excuse.

Get dancing - I made that resolution last year too, but had to give up salsa dancing after two sessions because my left foot was in agonizing pain.  Lots of chiropractic over the past year has done a lot to sort out my foot and back problems (though spraining my ankle badly in the summer didn't help). I've also just started a course of ten Rolfing sessions, which, although fairly excruciating while it's happening, could turn out to be the best thing I've ever done. So ballroom dancing classes here I come!

Get organised - now that the Minx is going to school for one extra day a week I've got a bit more time to do all that deep-seated organisational stuff instead of chasing my tail all the time. I might even get round to unpacking all the stuff we brought from England. We even went to Ikea this weekend to buy storage and organisational things.  The first project is my workspace in our bedroom.

Get making - I've recently realised that I live round the corner from one of the most incredible bead shops I've ever come across and they run jewellery-making classes.  So I've signed up for Beginners' Beading and Beginners' Wire Wrapping.

Get going on the house - all the house remodelling stuff rather ground to a halt last year but now I'm full of ideas and raring to go now.  First up I've lined up a consultation with this lady (who comes highly recommended by Daily Candy -Seattle).  I'm hoping she will be able to help me cut through all the design overwhelm that is bogging me down at the moment and also help me source stuff in Seattle and the US in general. I need to tidy before she comes though.

Get photographing- this year I want to take my photography to a whole new level, both with my new table-top studio and also in general.  Maybe even open a little Etsy shop to sell prints and postcards of my work.  We'll see.

Get blogging - Now I've got more time, I  also want to take this blog to another level.  Not a design blog per se, but include lots more design inspiration, lots more house stuff and lots more photography.

Get rich - last year I resolved to double mirrormirror's revenues.  That didn't happen, though when we do the annual accounts this year, I'm hoping that we'll see it became a lot more profitable after ditching the PR company. But I feel like it's in a great place currently.  I'm loving working with my friend Diane back in the UK, so hopefully things will be staying as they are for the foreseeable future, which gives us a fab platform to work off. And if I now have 50% more time to dedicate to the business then revenues must go up by at least 50%, no?

04 January 2008

Minx Eye View

I was not the not the only person who had my camera out this Christmas.

Here I am in a (surprisingly good - most of her other photos are of people's groins or elbows) photo taken by the Minx with her new camera.  I fear resolutions must be made.

Additional photo-editing (and quite possibly the photo itself now I think about it) courtesy of Nell Robins, using the camera's sophisticated inbuilt software.

And a Happy New Year...

Christmas is a time to feast with friends

take arty pics of the Christmas pud

Have a post lunch nap

by an open fire

while waiting for Santa 

Picture courtesy of Ben Robins

to bring the most enormous trainset

Picture courtesy of Ben Robins

For taking arty photos of chandeliers

and winter trees

And strolling along the South Bank on a glorious sunny day

 

and seeing old friends

And looking extremely grown up in one's Christmas cape

and going up in a big wheel

and taking more arty pics of it from below

   

for tweaking your BFF's nose

and pulling faces on a carousel

 

and watching the New Year's Eve fireworks through the trees.

We had the most wonderful time in England.

Bear with me while I unpack, recover from the Minx's jetlag (have been awake since 4.15 am) and do a ton of mirrormirror admin. Happy New Year!

22 December 2007

Good Tidings We Bring

to you and your kin etc. etc.

It is impossible to describe how proud the Minx (and I) are of this little creation, made with an excellent kit from Dancing Deer Baking Co. which is packed in a useful box which is also the form around which the house is built. 

It's the first time we've ever built a gingerbread house, but it certainly won't be the last.  We were going to put dancing gingerbread men in the 'garden' but didn't quite get round to it.

It's funny how Christmas in the US is much more 'Germanic' than in the UK.  I suppose because the Puritans weren't that into Christmas pudding, mince pies and Christmas cakes.

We're flying off to the UK in a couple of hours time to indulge in unseemly quantities of Christmas pudding, crackers, mince pies, Christmas cakes and Strictly Come Dancing. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone who has visited this blog in the past year - I really appreciate all your emails and comments.

We're flying back on the 2nd January, and I probably won't be posting much much until then.  I've got big plans for next year though since, as from January, the Minx is going to be in daycare three days a week!  So I'll have one more day to work on the shop and the blog.

30 November 2007

Tedious Minutiae

I have joined WeightWatchers!  I have been very inspired by my friend in New York who has lost a ton of weight on their programme. 

It's been OK so far - the online tools are really helpful and easy to follow since nothing is out of bounds - though I'm somewhat staggered by how small the portions are.  It needs to be done though, as apparently I look like this.

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  We've decided that we really like this holiday as we're under no pressure whatsoever to spend it with family, can't be bothered to celebrate it ourselves at home and so can instead go for a walk on the beach in the morning and get friends to cook for us in the evening.

This year we were treated to a fabulous turducken - a turkey, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a duck.  Tony - now known as the Turducken King - had apparently spent the best part of 48 hours researching how to make it on You Tube, brining the birds, deboning them, assembling the whole thing and then sewing it up, and I have to say every single minute was worth it. 

It truly was the most delicious turkey-related food I have ever eaten, and I can now never eat normal turkey again, which might prove problematic.  It is possible that this is not a good time of year to be starting WeightWatchers.

 

Here are the Minx and her friends enjoying themselves enormously on the same day.  

The following day Seattle got its gladrags on and we went downtown for the morning parade and the evening lighting of the tree and star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we've been here just over a year, we're starting to do things again which we did at the same time last year - it seems odd to have actually started some family Seattle traditions.

29 November 2007

And so I'm back...

...from outer space yadda yadda etc. etc.

It's funny how quickly you get out of the habit of things.

After our trip to New York, I was so fiendishly busy recently trying to get everything updated on the site for Christmas (and doing lots of Thanksgiving socialising) that blogging sort of went by the wayside.  And the longer I went without blogging the more difficult it seemed to get back into it. And suddenly it's been nearly three weeks with nary a post.

It's a shame too as the blog recently seemed to have gained a lot of traction and readership after the Design*Sponge interview and links from various other blogs, but I'm sure most of those new readers will have moved on to pastures new.  Self-sabotage is a great speciality of mine.

But anyway, those of you who thought you were safe from the tedious minutiae of my life, click away NOW.

02 November 2007

Treat or Treat

I wonder why the Minx likes Halloween so much?

This picture comes courtesy of Laurie, who is wondering whether to start up a business photographing children. I am, of course, trying to persuade her she should.

31 October 2007

Separated at Birth

This will mean beans to anyone in the US, so I suggest you carry on trick or treating and come back again tomorrow.

 

                         Kelly Brook                                               Edwina Currie

29 October 2007

Magnolia

Some of you may have seen this on my Flickr.

It's a photo I took at Kew Gardens ooh, about eighteen months ago, but I was wondering if it might work blown up big and printed on canvas.  I'm a bit worried that it might be too blurred and/or too pink. What do you think?

Hehe - thought I'd take advantage of all the people visiting from Design*Sponge to get lots of free decorating advice...

23 October 2007

Things I've Learned The Hard Way About Product Photography

I've been spending a lot of time over the last few weeks or so on product photography and had an interesting chat with Megan Not Martha about it a few weeks back, so I thought it might be useful for those of you with Etsy or Ebay shops to put together a list of things I've learned through trial and error about photographing and styling.

I don't pretend to be any sort of an expert, but since the initial mirrormirror photoshoot where we did the styling and a photographer friend came and shot the images, I've done the styling and product photography for mirrormirror myself.  

Most of what I'm going to say below is nothing but common sense.  But these are all mistakes I've made not once, but several times.   (Mind you, it's possible you've got more common sense than I have.)

  • Get the best camera, and particularly lens, you can afford.  My photography has dramatically improved since I bought a dedicated 60mm lens for my Canon EOS 350. There is a reason why pros have all that fancy gear.
  • Use a tripod.  It's a pain to adjust it, but you'll thank me I promise. Perfectly sharp shots always look best.
  • Experiment with depth of field (how blurry the background is).  I try to shoot a number of shots at different apertures so I can choose how much or how little of the background I want to blur out.  But always have at least part of the picture perfectly focused and sharp.

Maybe the photographer was drunk.  Early prototype of the shot that was recently featured in Homes & Gardens.

  • Make sure your camera and lens are clean.  It's a pain to have to Photoshop out fluff on the lens from otherwise great shots.
  • Underexposure can be corrected.  Overexposure can't be.

Never knew a shiny printer could be so useful

Cropped and lightened.  How did you get that reflection?
  • I don't use artificial light, preferring to take my chances with daylight.  Mostly because I wouldn't know where to begin with lightmeters and suchlike.  Remember though that bright sunlight will give you dark shadows, without the subtlety that you see through the viewfinder. Soft diffuse light is generally best unless you want your pic to look really 'summery'.

Hard dark shadows work in this case (I think) 
  • White light is best.  I've learned to my cost that light diffused through sheer green curtains will give everything a sickly green cast.
  • Crumbs and dirt will always, always, always show up. It's easier to brush them aside than spend hours photoshopping them out.
  • Creases.  Always show up more in front of the camera for some reason. Copious ironing is essential. Unfortunately.
  • Check what's in the background.  I photograph in odd corners of my house, so unattractive piles of filing always seem to get in the shot.

Hey nice cot!
  • But remember, the crop tool is your friend.

Hey presto, no more telephone point or scraggy bit of torn watercolour paper

  • Collect beautiful linens and fabrics - which are not too patterned and distracting.  They're the easiest backdrop.  Use any fabrics that come to hand - teatowels, bath towels, napkins, pillow cases. 

I hope that changing table is clean

 

 Very obviously a baby muslin

Shot which has appeared in The Times amongst others

 

Is it usual to eat brownies off an old pillowcase? 
  • Collect beautiful and interesting objects. Small things which can add a bit of life or beauty to an image.  I've photographed products on books, bars of chocolate and matchboxes amongst other things.  Cakes, biscuits, fruits and flowers are cheap additions for a hint of human interest. 

Fame at last for my old teddy

Books are a great prop
  • Use Picasa for most photo enhancing applications.  It's much easier than Photoshop.
  • Identify the elements you want to highlight and focus on them. Make sure patterns, labels, jewels or other design elements are clearly visible and pin sharp..
  • Jewellery needs a lot of adjusting to make sure it hangs properly. Focus on arranging the necklace not the model.
  • Having said that, get the model to comb her hair and touch up her make-up between shots.

Get a hairbrush!
  • Look out for unwelcome reflections in mirrors and windows.  Photographing mirrors is a nightmare for this reason.

Oh and check out Abigail, Ursula and Corey for very different, but wonderfully effective ways of styling products.

Has anyone got any more tips they'd like to share? Or seen other great online stylists?