Thursday, 26 April 2012

Come Back Soon!

Next weekend we are going to stay with some old friends who have just finished renovating their London flat. It's been quite an enterprise spreading out over some eighteen months and it is, by all accounts, absolutely beautiful. I want to find something for the hostess to say thank you that they can keep as a house-warming gift and it's a bit of a tricky one because someone who pays this much attention to her habitat isn't going to want just any old trinkets on display. It can't be too big or over-styled. It doesn't have to match but it mustn't stand out a mile either. When William Morris (respectful pause) said: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful", he might as well have had this lady in mind. So I've gone window shopping and found a few lovely ideas for gifts that I hope will ensure we will be invited back....well, that and my toddler not breaking anything! 

OK! I know I said not too stand out but what stylish kitchen wouldn't benefit from this classic little splash of colour. It's quite small anyway at 18cm x 24cm (which is not even as big as an A4 sheet) but there are larger versions available and the prints are designed to fit standard frame sizes. Pop it in a clean white contemporary one and wait for the gasp.  

1. Tray of Asparagus Candles from £9.95

A few years ago, a good friend gave me a single, taller version of one of these for my birthday because we had spent some considerable time together working setting up a fruit and vegetable co-op and had legumes coming out of our pores as a result. I may light it one day but I prefer to keep it on the windowsill of my kitchen along with a bit of Sophie Conran and an enamel bucket with herbs in it. I've never seen the like of it until now. In my view, this tray of miniature versions is a domestic goddesses dream. Devine as a shelf display and so perfect for your summer evening table spread. Tealights. Schmeelights! 

This is a bit of an old favourite of mine because it pretty much covers all bases for a house-warming gift. Elegant and personal, it can top hand-written notes, stamp labels and finish off envelopes and never once fail to impress.

I'm not generally one for gift baskets...unless they look like this! A simply charming box of delights from Northumberland-based home and vintage emporium RE. Each box contains an extending toasting fork, long matches in a galvanised metal container and a bag of marshmallows for toasting. Original for those blessed with a good old-fashioned open fire, I think this would also make a thoughtful engagement or wedding pressie too. 

I recently bought one of these as a birthday gift for my "present desert" of a brother and he actually uses and rather likes it. Choose from several designs also including The Gherkin and The Trellick Tower in a number of different colours. They are un-fussy and look really cool. Be careful though! The cost is for a single bookend which, to be fair, was made perfectly clear in the blurb, but which I completely missed. Maybe I'll get him the pair for Christmas...eek out the value of my find before the whole frustrating process starts up again. 

Yes. I know. It's a giant pebble with a ring in it but you've got to admit it's a bloody magnificent thing. There are a couple of other splendid looking ones such as a bowling ball and an oak block on the site but this one has sunday lunch at The Ship in Newton Ferrers written all over it taking me back to whole wealth of happy childhood memories. It would look amazing holding open any door and my guess is, it's probably quite good at its job.

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Babies Who Lunch & Birds Who Fly

I just bought one of these Totseats £24.00 for a friend who is expecting her baby early next month. It's the sort of invaluable thing whose use you can only really appreciate AFTER you've had a baby which is why it is such a vital gift. Available in a range of lively fabrics and fitting almost any chair, this portable pack away highchair just slots into your baby bag. Put down that layette set and cuddly toy! This is the sort of thing a new mum really needs. And I was particularly pleased that I got this little beauty for a complete bargain through a half price offer on family deal site LittleBird. I've only been a subscriber for a couple of months and I've already used them twice. This is twice more than I've used a similar (discretion, valour etc.) site in the past two years! (I mean - how many electrolysis sessions and eyelash extensions does a girl really need!) A lot of their deals are confined geographically to the London region but not all - such as subscriptions and shopping offers. Anyway, I'm a fan and heartily recommend checking them out. Bon appetit!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Special Event. Special Baby

In two weeks we're off to the smoke again for the Christening of my oldest friend's daughter; the gorgeous Georgina.  Little G (as she is affectionately known) is almost two years old and I now find myself charged with the task of finding an original and meaningful gift for this very special little girl on this most special of events. Practical is (almost) totally out of the window on this one but I must confess that 'keepsakes' in the traditional sense of the word does leave me a little cold. Somewhere in between is the answer. Here are my findings...

I recently bought a pair of these for my own daughter (now 16 months). They appeal to me not just because they are insanely cool but also because they have a timelessness about them that means that at some stage in the future they will no doubt end up in some keepsake frame of her early clothing that I will feel obliged to create for her bedroom. 

It's not just because she's a girl! The fun kids get out of mimicry would make this lovely set of toys appeal to any child and I particularly love the fact that you can spread it out on a table top for extra authenticity.

I can't tell you how much I love this company's stuff. It's just out of this this world and what I particularly love about this bracelet is that it is suitable for a little girl but can become a piece of jewellery for a young lady too. Timeless genius! 

There are a number of different styles of this chair from The Little Ark but I've have a real obsession for egg yolk yellow at the moment. It maybe a bit of rebellion against girly pink. Choose from labradors, chickens, elephants and rabbits in a rainbow of colours and the parents will thank you because it will look classic and chic in the nursery amongst the forest of plastic. 

Girls names are so pretty. What better way to celebrate a new life than something that simply records the important facts. Intricate and elegant. Say no more! 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

What? No Gift List.

On Saturday I shall be attending the wedding of a couple who have opted not to have a giftlist. This is highly unusual. A card containing details of a couple's gift list is as common to the invitation envelope as an RSVP postcard nowadays. It's more practical than anything else. Not doing so means you run the risk of some duplication amongst your wedding presents (it's another fondu set darling!) or worse, receiving nothing at all ; ). I'm always slightly put off by couples who ask for money to put towards something like a house deposit or the honeymoon but I do think that emerging modern alternatives can be both innovative and meaningful such as asking people to donate to a charity the couple support or to give wine or champagne to build a stable of bottles with which to launch a hundred celebrations in the future. So what to give? Especially when the couple in question seemingly have 'everything'. I've been window shopping to find some present ideas that will help push your name right to the top of the thank you card list.

Stylish, elegant and timeless. A total no-brainer.

Apart from anything else, the design of this is utterly edible and the humour clear but not tacky.

Check out this site for a wealth of original, vintage and upcycled pieces in many different styles.

Food: the second thing every couple wants when they get back to the Honeymoon Suite ; ).

Orange blossom is associated with love and commitment so you score points for originality and depth of meaning.