Sunday, 20 January 2013

Ceramic Perfection

Check out this glorious handcrafted ceramics business on Etsy: CircaCeramics. I've book-marked it for my Birthday and Christmas shopping list this year. Lovely bold colours and line-drawn graphics. There is something for everyone here and my mug cupboard is looking a little shabby these days.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Christmas is coming...

Ooooh! I'm back. It's been (I'm scared to look) too long since I went virtual shopping. Where have I been? Well, for want of a better word, working. That and I've had a complete dearth of occasions to buy presents for but there's now only about 9 weeks until Christmas and I'm raring to go. Plus I've found some lovely places to go for a wander. The list starts here!

1. Personalised Branding Iron for Steak from Hunter Gatherer £24.95 

I would file this magnificent idea under a) what to get for a man, subsection i)...who has everything and ii)...who doesn't particularly like golf. I can see it hanging proudly in the shed with all our barbeque tools just waiting for the summer.

This is wonderful and would make a great addition to anyone's kit from groceries to the beach particularly since we're all trying to avoid the dreaded carrier bag these days. I remember being deeply covetous of a friend's shopping tote that had an unusual line drawing printed on it and I've never found anything comparable... until now. 

The only dilemma with this stunning print is deciding what lucky room in the house is going to get it: A splash of colour in the kitchen, a thought for the day in the bathroom or maybe a cheerful addition to a nursery or child's bedroom. Beautiful.

Got a little one in mind with a nursery to beautify? Try this beautiful jersey string with colourful dots from one of my favourite design houses at one of my favourite children's boutiques. Danish company Maileg are not that well known on these shores but Sister's Guild stock their classic and unique creations in abundance.

A thing of beauty and suitable for just about anyone with taste. It will last for years and the more battered they get, the more charm they retain. I can remember when my school satchel finally fell apart after years of being dumped and stuffed and dragged about in corridors. It took some defeating. It wasn't as nice as this one though. 

Happy Christmas Shopping All!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Fantasy Shopping Trip

I need a pick me up and quick. Too much work and not enough shopping makes me want to SURF! It's my birthday in just under a month and I've decided to create my ultimate present wish list (hubby take note) with a wander down my Fantasy High Street. Let's go!:

1. Cinderela B Bea Bee Silver Necklace from House Knutsford £23.00

I am extremely discerning about jewellery and this is exquisite.

I want this, full of wild lavender, in the middle of my kitchen island.

Place settings are close to my heart at the moment. I would love to spread my table with these lovely things, filled with herbal sprigs.

I recently found an old wooden, towel rail and screwed it into the island in the kitchen. Now all I need is one of these!

I've got yards of linen in my studio just waiting for this.

An "A" please Michael! ; ) 

Happy Mum, Happy Baby

Today I had a lovely chat with a friend about the latest ingenious inventions in baby gear and, out of that, I want to pull together some gift ideas for new mummies as I seem to be beset by them at the moment. When you have a baby, you are spoiled rotten with presents. It's a lovely time and people are very generous. Ever since I became a mum, I have discovered that the best presents are often those that have some benefit the mum as well as the baby. This is because, as you soon discover, there are things that you NEED to make your life infinitely easier but you don't actually KNOW you need them until you have charge of your child. Likewise, during pregnancy, there are about a billion things you become convinced you do need and actually have little use for at all. Using those hoodie towels with my daughter, for example, was like trying to wrap a blancmange in an envelope - frustrating and chilly. So get a load of these amazing ideas now currently on the market. Some are practical, some are pretty, some are both. All are a flippin' Godsent! So next time you have to buy a new baby present, give something different and clever and leave the flowers and layette sets to the amateurs:

1. Totseat from £18.00

The brilliance of this lovely sling as a gift is that new parents very rarely think about where their baby will sit when out and about and they want to be out of the carseat. I gave one of these to a good friend last month and she was delighted with it. They roll down into a pouch you can keep in the baby bag and fit almost any chair. The comforting softness of a sling keeps the little ones happy and supported long before they can go into a highchair.

2. BuggyTug £3.99 & TugTrio £9.99

Here's something rather wonderful that wasn't around when I was looking for new baby gadgets for my daughter but I really could have done with. The Buggytug is a wrist strap that securely attaches your wrist to your pram. It brings fantastic peace of mind for you when you temporarily really do need that second hand. Similarly, the Tugtrio is an ingenious extension of the same idea. A lovely gift that comprises the Buggytug plus a Toddletug which is a strap for an older child to hold onto that is also attached to the pram and finally and (so crucially) the Teddytug designed to counter that sense of mild bereavement you get when a much loved toy gets jettisoned out and lost when out and about. I know it well. Sniff! 

Nobody tells you in NCT classes how much babies and toddlers like to empty things. It has to be something to do with the repetition or the urge to discover. Whatever it is, it is a real pain to discover tissue boxes and wipe packs have been decimated while you're back was turned for half a minute. Someone's been paying attention though because they went and invented Wondercubes. Lovely, colourful box-shaped toys containing a string of multi-coloured swatches for the little darlings to empty to their heart's content over and over again. Check out the website because there are different styles and extra accessories you can buy to mix things up a bit. Wonder-ful!

4. Crayon Rings by Timothy Liles from £3.50 for six

For those who like the added dimension of a bit of genuine art. These lovely diamond rings are made of child-safe wax crayon and come in six different colours and are derived from a concept by artist Timothy Liles. Little fingers can slide through them easily for hours and hours of rampant scribbling fun.  They only seem to be available from America at present but you can order them through Ebay. You may think they're gimmicky but talk to me again after an afternoon of picking crayons up every ten seconds! It's a great idea.

3. Car Tidy from The Mod Mobile on Etsy £12.34

Fact: Babies create crap. At the end of each day, your car will be strewn with a fresh layer of used wipes, tissues, snack packets and food remnants. And once you've got said child and all their paraphernalia out of the car and into the house, it's understandably tempting to avoid venturing out again with a plastic bag to clean up. I love these funky waste collectors from The Mod Mobile's Etsy shop. The strap fits around gear sticks, suit hooks and headrests. I reckon I need at least six for my car but one would be a great starter for ten and makes a very original and thoughtful pressie for the new parent who "has everything".

6. Ma Petite Princesse by Maileg at Sister's Guild £5.50
When I announced I was pregnant, a group of older ladies from work very thoughtfully gave me a set of pretty satin baby hangers which I still treasure. Then, when my daughter was born, another friend gave me a lovely set of Maileg wooden hangers very similar to this lovely one, above, from online boutique Sister's Guild. Now I finally realise their true value because baby girls only live in babygros, t-shirts and leggings for a very short time before you want to buy them about a million pretty dresses...dresses which need hanging up! Now, I have started a small collection for her to keep for her own children one day. I bought her this one last year. It's a near obsession.  

At first, I turned my nose up at these hooks because I thought they were too expensive. Two years later and thirty quid down on cheap plastic alternatives and I realise I was wrong. There has been a lot of criticism about buggy hooks because of the risk of the weight of the shopping tipping the pram but, what I say is, you've got to be a real idiot to let that happen and sadly stupidity is not a crime in this country. Honestly, there is only so much you can carry on your shoulder or in the under-basket of a buggy and it is a good place to keep your handbag accessible and in sight. We should give mother's the benefit of the doubt and assume that they won't attempt to hang a £90 Tesco shop from them. Actually, I often hang my keys on mine so I don't have to lose my mind searching for them in car parks. 

You can never have enough baby blankets. I knitted three small ones for my baby before she was born and received two further handmade ones as gifts after she was born. They are invaluable and it's good to have a few as they quickly get coated in all manner of crud and need endless washing. Advantages? They are comforting, they keep babies cosy warm, they can lie on them on grass and cover the pram on a sunny day at nap time and about a million other things. Never underestimate the usefulness of a beautiful knitted blanket. I love the range at Lily+Sid because they have that lovely vintage handmade look and are unisex so they make a great present for a girl or a boy. Prepare to be popular!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Bathroom Bliss

I am in the unusual position of having a week where I am not looking for a present. This rarely happens so I've taken the opportunity to go shopping for bathroom treasures for myself. I am about 99.9% happy with our bathroom - we've got all the essentials - but one thing it presently lacks is extraneous decoration - bits and bobs. Sadly, this is not the kind of bathroom that will take well to driftwood ornaments, signs that read "To the Beach" and great big letter friezes compelling me to "bathe" or "wash" and other such imperatives. Such things are very popular at the moment and rightly so. But if I tell you that this  bathroom has quite a busy patterned duck egg blue wallpaper and a dark brown tiled floor with white woodwork, tiles and suite you will appreciate that anything of that nature is going to make it look WAY too busy and quite probably smaller (God help us!) So the purpose of this post is to find things that are clean, unobtrusive and have a simple elegance. I'll need hooks, hand towels, artwork and ornaments for the window sill. Here's what I found:


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Two For Tea

My toddler has been invited to her first proper birthday party so this calls for a big post.  In honour of her mate Esme's 2nd birthday (and because HM's recent insatiable interest in the content of my jewellery box has indicated that she is a real girl now) I will break things down into two important shopping areas. Outfit and present. Let's start with the clothes!:


The retro look: So funky and pretty without being too pink and girly. Gorgeous!

The casual chic look: I can just imagine how gorgeous this would look with some white pedal pushers and bare feet.

The classic elegant look: A touch more formal but absolutely to die for and the vintage rose print makes it truly spectacular.

The junior fashionista look: I love the punky-ness of this pretty little skirt casually paired with a faux-fur jacket and bother boots. Adorable. 

I've just ordered a pair of these for her along with a couple of other styles from the Skeanie website which now ships to the UK. Paediatrically-approved and much more stylish than anything Clarks has to offer, I anticipate becoming a regular. 

They look sort of edible don't they? Love them.

Reassuringly sturdy while being irresistibly dainty.


Fun, educational and so pretty. I love the vintage box too.

Slightly pricer but timeless, tasteful and classic. Something to keep forever. 

Most two-year old girls will be getting into art by now in a major way. These collections of stamps in sweet little bags will keep them well occupied while creating their daily masterpiece.

Edible. That is all.

Pretty to display in a bedroom and perfect for toting about all those little everyday essentials like toy cars, bangles and small toys.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

God Save The Queen

It's self-present time! Every now and then I get to have something too. I want a Diamond Jubilee souvenir  tea towel that I can frame and display in my kitchen to commemorate what I suspect will be the only 60th ascension anniversary celebration I am ever going to get to be a part of. I'm not into fine china and original art is beyond the budget currently so a tea towel in a simple box frame is the inexpensive, yet devastatingly effective, solution to my needs. That said, I have prepared a wishlist and  here are my top five designs:

Superb colour palette, the feel of a fine art print, a lovely rendering of St Edward's crown and makes appropriate and clever use of the wartime propaganda style without looking like yet another clone of the "that poster". Love. Love. Love.

Playful and eyecatching; I love the corgis and the monotone and distinctly patriotic feel. Incidentally, there are four other unrelated tea towel designs in their Folksy shop that are also little magic works of art and would also look fabulous in my kitchen. I particularly love the Bacon and Champagne ones. 

Exquisite illustration and I particularly love the little splashes of red and the subtle understatement of the handwritten script. Beautiful!

Here we have a beautiful landscape design available in a range of colours. I love the explosion of vintage fonts and the fact that they have the feel of old bank notes. Something a bit royal to read while waiting for the tea and cucumber sandwiches. 

Finally, this design for a commemorative tea towel and four others like it we're featured in the blog of Birmingham-based designer Rachel Khor on 15th April. They are not currently available in her Etsy shop (at the time of writing) but the originality of the design and the pretty simplicity of it makes them well worthy of this list. Have a meander. This design is available as a set of four A4 poster prints for £17.99

God Bless You Ma'am!

Friday, 11 May 2012

She's A Lady

I've had a request for 60th birthday gift ideas for mum. An excellent challenge. I think we want to keep this one out of the ordinary. At the same time, what has this particular kind of special woman NOT received from her children over the years. I take up the gauntlet with the following suggestions and I hope that she won't be disappointed...

1. Ivory Freshwater Pearl Earrings by Highland Angel £ 22.00

Simple. Beautiful. Elegant. Timeless. The perfect gift for a lady. 

For the mum who likes to cover her walls with meaningful things, I strongly recommend that you go have a look at what Cherry Pete have in their trove. The work of art they can produce for you is can be available in a number of different finishes from unframed finish to xxl - stretched canvas.

For the crafty mum (children please take note). Choose from a range of superbly detailed cross stitch kit cushions from this beautiful website. There are a number of designs from this boutique from insects to cupcakes to birds and cameos but, given the year, I like this one the best. And, as a little added bonus, What Delilah Did, offers free UK delivery. 

I've collected these for some years and my most recent one came from my husband on our last Anniversary. They look wonderful on a dressing table, window sill or adorning a dresser in a guest bedroom. They come in all shapes and sizes, new and antique but I think this one from Lavender Room is particularly pure and pretty. 

A business that goes WAY above any beyond, the Biscuiteers' delicious edible greetings cards come in beautiful hand-illustrated gift boxes that can be recycled as trinket or keepsake storage. 

Thursday, 10 May 2012

No Brainer of The Month

I just found this and it is, hands down, my new absolute ultimate recommendation for a new baby gift. Available now in a whole rainbow of colours from the completely edible baby boutique Tuppence & Crumble for £19.95. It's completely out of this world! 

Enough said.