Monthly Archives: February 2012

Pancakes & Mrs Pepperpot

Pancake Day always makes me think of the Mrs Pepperpot books from my childhood and how she managed to make her and her husband 30 pancakes for dinner when she was the size of a pepperpot.

As I whisk the batter I remember the quirky illustrations by Bjorn Berg and the flyaway wisps of hair that had escaped from Mrs Pepperpot’s bun. My favourite bit was when her cat licked the plates clean so she didn’t fall in a sink of washing-up water. I’m still not sure why her husband didn’t help her?

Mrs Pepperpot's Busy Day-Alf Proysen

I’ll let my husband wash-up the pancake pans tonight after I’ve finished making them as the cats’ mouths are still a little mousey from the little present they brought in earlier.

If you’re hankering after a copy of Mrs Pepperpot’s Busy Day there are some copies on Amazon with the 70s/80s cover from a few pence.

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Suitcase Shelves

I was online looking for shelves and I stumbled across these beautiful vintage suitcase shelves by Quirks By Annie. I think they’re awesome.

Vintage Suitacase Shelves by Quirks by Annie

They are $100 which I think is quite reasonable but unfortunately for me they are all the way in California. Shipping to the UK is £35 and if a customs charge is applicable it could get expensive. I’m not that handy but I’m hankering after them, I wonder how hard it could be to make some?

If you’re wondering too, there’s quite a few tutorials online but I thought this one looked the most easy to follow.

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Pancake Prompts

This week is going to be great. How could it not be? It has pancakes in it.

I look forward to Shrove Tuesday for about three weeks but despite my anticipation I always end up scrabbling around for a recipe on Pancake Day. Along with many other things, I can’t keep it in my head. When I was little my mum had a frying pan with a pancake recipe printed on the bottom of it, although if you get one you may want to make a mental note not to turn it over to check a quantity once you’ve started heating the oil. I think I may have done that. What? That’s how you learn things.

A far nicer recipe prompt is this recipe print for Kath’s Go Faster Pancakes by Etsy seller Kate Sutton.

Pancake Recipe Print - Kate Sutton

I love the illustrations, the egg’s happy face and the mustachioed electric mixer more than make up for the rogue apostrophe in the title. The recipe looks good too, I’ve never added a whisked egg white but I’ll bet that makes for some gorgeous and fluffy pancakes. Having this print up in my kitchen all year round would definitely increase my pancake making and therefore my happiness.

Kath’s Go Faster Pancake recipe recommends serving with maple syrup and fruit but my favourite is the simple yet heavenly lemon and sugar combo. How do you like yours?

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Olive Drop

My all-time biggest hanker is olives. I love them. Spanish, Italian, Greek, green or black, stuffed with feta, garlic, anchovies, pimento, manchego, lemon, well anything really. I have not yet disliked any olive combination I’ve tried. I’m convinced they count as one of my five-a-day, but my husband laughs at me when I say that. They’re good for you aren’t they?

My daughter has inherited the olive taste. When I buy olives we carefully count them up and divide them fairly between us. I scoff mine in the space of a few minutes but my daughter savours hers over a day or so. Occasionally I give in to temptation, I try not to take them but when I open the fridge they call out to me. I thought she hadn’t noticed, but the other day as she was putting her share of olives in the fridge she warned me “Just to let you know Mum, I’ve counted these and I know exactly how many there are.” Rumbled.

The Olive Drop must be the perfect dining accessory for us, it’s designed by Ernie Bakker and based on Kerplunk so instead of me just stealing my child’s olives* we could make a game of it. It’s £22 from The Hidden Art Shop.

Olive Drop - Ernie Bakker

The Staffordshire made ceramic base is designed to collect the oil that runs down the sides of the hand-drilled acrylic tube so you can soak it up with bread. You can also use the bamboo sticks to eat the olives. I’d like to get this, the only thing putting me off is that I might end up with less olives.

It’s called the Olive Drop but I suppose you could use this for other food too. Small lumps of cheese maybe, pickled onions, grapes, Maltesers?

* Olives are the only food I steal from my child. She somehow manages to make her October birthday chocolate last until Christmas, her Christmas chocolate last until Easter and her Easter eggs last until the summer and I don’t take ANY of it, even when it is screaming at me from the cupboards. See how much self-restraint I have?

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My Wild Card Hanker

Today I received my best present ever. A Wild Card Boxing Gym t-shirt sent from my brother in the states.

It features the Wild Card Gym owner and legendary trainer Freddie Roach as a caricature on the back. Amongst other great fighters he trains Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan. You can see them in action in this tribute to the Wild Card Boxing Gym.

My favourite boxer Amir Khan trains at the Wild Card Gym when he’s in America preparing for a fight and I would love to see him spar there one day. I admire him as a boxer, his speed and combinations are amazing but I also think he is a fantastic role model. I’ve been to all but two of Khan’s UK fights since 2007 and I’m really hankering after tickets to his rematch with Lamont Peterson in May. But as it’s in Las Vegas I will be cheering from my sofa instead and hoping he regains his much deserved titles.

It usually surprises people how much of a boxing fan I am, it isn’t really in keeping with the other things I hanker after, but I absolutely love it. I fell in love with it as a teenager when my favourite boxers were Steve Robinson, Lennox Lewis, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Naseem Hamed. I’ve still got all their fights I recorded on video. Nothing gives me the same feeling of excitement and happiness that I feel when watching a boxing match, particularly live.

I’ve had a bit of a sad week but getting this t-shirt in the post has put a huge smile on my face. You can buy yours at the Wild Card Boxing Store.

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Super 8 Success

I was super excited to give my husband his Valentine’s gift yesterday.

At our wedding some friends, as a surprise, arrived with their Super 8 camera and took some fantastic footage of the day which they gave us as a wedding present afterwards. It was such a thoughtful gift and seeing it played back a few months later got me a little emotional. We really treasure it.

But even before we saw any footage my husband was really impressed and kept talking about how cool the camera was, so as soon as I saw this Halina Super 8 Camera on Three Jelly Moulds & a Wardrobe I knew I couldn’t let it get away.

Halina Super-8 Camera - Three Jelly Moulds & a Wardrobe

It was £25 which I thought was really reasonable, I just need to find some cartridges for it now so we can take some family footage à la The Wonder Years.

Three Jelly Moulds & a Wardrobe is a new online vintage shop which has some lovely and unusual pieces from 1960s tights to Art Deco spoons to cameras and even an Amstrad cassette. I almost bought this glass rabbit jelly mould and I keep looking back at it but I have a plastic version from the 70s and, as I make jelly all of twice a year, I don’t think I need another one. Although it would go nicely with the other rabbits/hares in my kitchen.

The camera is exactly as described on the website and arrived beautifully wrapped with a bow round it and with a vintage postcard attached. As my husband spent most of last night looking up all things Super 8 on the internet I think it’s safe to say that he loved it.

Does anyone know where I can get some cassettes for it?

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Valentine’s Day Vases

Are you straining under the weight of all the flowers you’ve received today? Not sure where you’ll put them all when you get home? Fear not, here are some vases for your perusal.

The Le Sack Vase available from Made In Design allows you to create the shape of the vase. Simply put in warm water to soften the PVC and shape the vase, when you’re happy with it put under the cold tap to freeze the shape. Repeat until you get bored. It’s available in quite a few colours and is £9.10.

Le Sack Vase - Made In DesignI really like the shape of this cardboard vase, it is has a smaller glass insert so you can use it with real flowers without fear of getting the cardboard soggy.

Urban Analog - Cardboard Design Vase

I spent most of yesterday making friends with a hot water bottle so perhaps it’s no surprise that I like this porcelain wall-hung vase by Silicium that is masquerading as a hot water bottle. This goes back to my love of things that aren’t quite what they first appear.

Hot Water Bottle Vase - SiliciumOn

Filled with flowers this Dog Vase would force a smile out of the most hardened Valentine’s Day cynic. From Australian company Raw Space.

Dog Vase - Raw Space

Continuing the animal theme with the crème de la crème of vases, turn these horse head vases by Jaime Hayon into unicorns by adding flowers. Available in black or white for £925 or 24K gold for £1480 from Vessel.

Horse Head Vase - Bosa

If you’re hankering after the unicorns but don’t have a grand to spend, there’s a similar (but not as stunning) unicorn vase from Raw Space that’s a bit more affordable.

I was going to include this baby head vase but wasn’t sure…

Baby Head Vase by Mud Puppy

What do you think? Nice or nasty?

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Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeves

I’m really going to town with the Valentine’s Day posts aren’t I? I think this one is my fourth. After tomorrow I’ll stop, I promise.

But in the meantime let me show you this jumper with heart elbow patches by ASOS.

Jumper with heart elbow patch - ASOS

I like the black version with the brown elbow patches as it’s quite subtle and you may not notice that they’re hearts straight away. It’s pure cotton and £35.

Jumper with heart elbow patch - ASOS

The cream version with the pink elbow patches I think is a little too much. Although I just had another look and it could grow on me. What do you think?

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A Roman Holiday

It feels so long since I’ve been warm that I’m hankering back to the last time I was, which was in Rome.

We went for our good friends’ wedding in the beautiful Italian hills about 45 minutes drive from Rome. After we had eaten, drunk and danced til we collapsed we spent a couple of days in Rome recovering at the Mario de’ Fiori 37 hotel.

This hotel is really special and is a fantastic place to hole up whilst in the city. You’ll find most of the designer shops around the corner on Via Condotti. A couple of minutes walk away are the Spanish steps and it was an easy walk from there to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum was a bit more of a trek but we took in some ruins on the way and had a gelato or two. You know, when in Rome…

The hotel itself is in a 17th century building which has been luxuriously modernised and has just seven rooms so it has a calm and personal feel to it. Members of staff are on site between 7am-10.30pm and you are given a front door key with your room key so you can get in outside of those times (although there is a night porter if needed). It feels more like you’re renting a luxury apartment than staying in a hotel.

There is no restaurant or bar, the hotel literally is seven rooms and the reception. But because of its location you are spoilt for choice in terms of food and drink nearby, so this doesn’t matter in the slightest and you can pre-order breakfast to your room in the mornings. The lady on reception was so helpful in recommending some nice restaurants and even drew us a map so we didn’t get lost.

The rooms are a beautiful mix of modern and traditional, most with original ceiling beams that have been painted white. Below is the Double Deluxe room we stayed in which has a king-sized canopied bed opposite a flat-screen TV with movie channels in a choice of languages, free WiFi and much to my husband’s delight, a Nespresso machine.

Mario de Fiori 37 Double Deluxe

There are two bathroom areas, one with a toilet and bidet opposite a mirrored wall and the other with a sink and impressive marble shower complete with seat if your legs are a bit tired from all that walking.

Mario de Fiori - Double Deluxe Ensuite

My only complaint is the bathroom doors. They are glass and have a sort of frosted hatching effect for privacy which works if you don’t have the light on, but if you switch them on your bathroom behaviour becomes visible to whoever is in the bedroom. Now I don’t mind my husband seeing me clean my teeth or have a shower, but I’m not so comfortable with him seeing me use the loo or the bidet, especially with a massive mirror reflecting the image so it’s visible from the bed. So either the bathroom light was off or we were shouting “Don’t look!” at each other as we went about our bathroom business. If we had come here in our courting days I think I’d have been mortified, but we probably came away closer because of it.

Please don’t let the bathroom doors put you off staying here. The Mario de’ Fiori 37 is a stunning place to stay, with staff that would bend over backwards to help you and an ideal location. Prices start at €130. But if you book via Mr & Mrs Smith there’s a special early booking rate and if you’re a Mr & Mrs Smith member just flash your card and you’ll get a free bottle of Prosecco and tickets to a museum. I of course forgot to pack mine.

Which museum would you choose tickets to?

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Swallows & Bees

I have some long-held hankerings about wallpaper. I’ve told you about my Florence Broadhurst wallpaper hankering which is yet to be realised. Here are another two designs I first saw about seven years ago and am still hankering after.

‘Swallows’ has circles of a repeat design of falling leaves which become birds and then become swallows as they reach the edge of the circle. I’m still torn between the black on white and the red on white versions but it also comes in the more subtle lacquer on blue and lacquer on cream. I love the chaotic feeling of this design but have just never had the right place to put it.

Swallows Red from Places and Spaces

‘Bees’ is a similar design with honeycomb in the centre of the circle which turns into bees and butterflies, a more orderly and feminine design which comes in aqua on mole, mole on aqua or my favourite black on pink. I saw the black on pink version in the ladies toilets of a pub in Battersea call The Duchess, they had decorated with gloss black bevelled-edge metro tiles and Venetian mirrors and it looked fantastic. In the flesh this one has a hand-stamped feel to it.

Bees Wallpaper from Places & Spaces

Both wallpapers were exclusively designed for Places and Spaces by Absolute Zero Degrees, are £60 per roll and available from Places and Spaces online or at their shop in Clapham, London.

Which would you choose?

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