Monthly Archives: March 2012

Below Stairs Of Hungerford

Have you visited Below Stairs of Hungerford? I found it yesterday and have already lost quite a few hours looking through all their stuff. It is an Aladdin’s Cave of amazing finds.

This General Post Office leather Gladstone bag is definitely my favourite item for four reasons. Firstly, it is unused, secondly it has G.P.O on the side, thirdly it is £200 & finally it is just beautiful.

Unused Leather Gladstone Bag L17 - Below Stairs of Hungerford

I think this 1900/1920s letter rack is wonderful, in fact I’d like it in our hallway. Our house was built in 1926 so it would fit right in. It’s £75.

Letter Rack - Below Stairs of Hungerford

There are so many jelly, ice and entrée moulds on this site it is fantastic, there’s even one in the shape of a tongue! They are mainly copper so are pretty pricey with some of the more ornate ones for sale at around £300. This tiny unused teardrop entrée mould is just gorgeous and as it’s small, so is its price tag of £16.

Copper Entree Mould, 9 Available JM94 - Below Stairs of Hungerford

The kitchenalia section is very impressive with gadgets from coffee grinders to whisks to apple peelers, coveted items as copper saucepans and even a 1940s electric oven and a recipe book from the same era.

Mrs Beeton's All About Cookery B13 - Below Stairs of Hungerford

Need a new washing machine? What about the 1928 ‘Wonder Washer’? So much nicer looking than our white goods, if not as practical.

Copper Washing Machine WP11 - Below Stairs of Hungerford

There’s a great range of old enamel signs and advertising materials, one that had me hankering was this pre-war copper ashtray from the hotel where my husband and I spent our wedding night.

Richmond Hill Hotel Copper Ashtray A20 - Below Stairs of Hungerford

I could show you more and more but go on over and have a browse, Below Stairs of Hungerford have an amazing range of quirky pieces. I really enjoyed looking through the more unusual sections such as the police equipment, medical items and old postboxes. I think I may have to make time to go and have a look in person at their shop in Berkshire.

What is your favourite item?

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Lights & Shades

I’ve been hankering after a turned wood standard lamp base that isn’t super expensive for ages. I found this Cotswold one at Scarlett Plum for £80 which is half the price I’ve seen similar elsewhere. Isn’t it nice?

Cotswold Standard Lamp Stand - Scarlett Plum

Now I just need to decide what shade to pair it with.

I could go monochrome by adding these amazing black beetles shades. They match the napkins I showed you last week. These lampshades are a collaboration between Quincy Lampshades and Warbeck & Cox and cost £40.

Black Beetles Lampshade - Quincy Lampshades/Warbeck & Cox

This knitted Starlight lampshade by Betty Knitter is very cosy looking and £55 for large or £25 for a small one.

Starlight Lampshade - Betty Knitter

Lush Designs have created this beautiful Fox & Cubs lampshade in three colours. I’m slightly torn between the neutral shade and the more foxy red and black. A small lampshade is £31 and the larger one is £44 and you can choose between a pendant or a lamp fitting.

Fox & Cubs Lampshade - Lush Designs

 Maybe I could try my hand at making my own lampshade at Quincy Lampshades’s workshop in Bristol in June. It’s £28.25 so could work out cheaper than buying one.

Have you ever made a lampshade? How hard is it?

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My Motto From NYC

Last time I went to New York was almost three years ago. This Motto poster I saw in Reed Space really struck a chord with me. It was just what I needed to see, at exactly the right moment, to help me start doing things a bit differently and break through some mistakes I kept making.

Motto - Staple X Cole Winston Moss

Motto was the result of a collaboration between C. W. Moss and Staple Design based on a phrase from founder Jeff Staple. It was the first poster Staples Design did.

“If you’re just doing things in the moment & not reflecting on how you could do them better, it’s very unlikely you’ll improve.

The takeaway!

Focus on technique, even during playtime. Mindless participation is not enough. Knowing you’re doing something wrong isn’t the same as doing it right. Once you’ve isolated problem areas, think about how you can avoid making mistakes. Performance gains come by recognizing flaws you’d like to pretend don’t exist.” Jeff Staple

I love the quote and the way Moss brings it to life with his illustration is genius. I’m so pleased that I bought this when I did as it doesn’t look like it’s available to buy anymore. But there’s so much interesting stuff over at Staple Design and Moss’s website and plenty to hanker after in the Reed Space Online Shop that I’m sure you’ll find your own inspiration.

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Notes On Origami

For our wedding I had the romantic notion to make an origami ‘beating’ heart for each guest’s place card. Until I made two. I realised that for almost a hundred guests it would take me hours. So I gave up and we had badges instead.

Despite giving up so easily, I still like the idea of origami presents and when I saw this Bespoke Origami Writing Set by Love Racoons Illustration it had me hankering.

Bespoke Origami Writing Set by Love Racoons Illustration

Write your note on the plain side of the origami paper and with the aid of the origami folding instructions, turn your note into a lily. The pack is available from Designers / Makers and is £6 for a set of five envelopes and origami sheets. The printed designs include foxes, wild flowers, cupcakes and hearts, swallows and stars.

How lovely it would be to open an envelope amidst all the bills and junk mail with a handmade lily note inside.

If you’re interested to see the ‘beating’ heart I was planning, here’s a nice tutorial from a guy called Rob:

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A Mouthful of a Cake Exhibition

At the weekend my friend Cristina and I went along to the Squires Kitchen ’26th Annual Cake Decorating, Chocolate and Sugarcraft Exhibition’ in Farnham. Cristina is a wonderful baker and she was looking to expand her cake decorating tool kit and I tagged along happy to look at the cakes with the motivating factor that there would probably be free cake.

There was a whole hall exhibiting cakes of all shapes and sizes including suitcase cakes, ring pillow cakes, birdcage cakes, lace cakes and any other shaped cake you’d care to imagine. It was awe-inspiring to see what can be done with a little patience and a lot of skill. There was also lots to buy; books, magazines, cake tools, moulds, cutters and a huge variety of paste, paints and glitters.

After my initial disappointment that there wasn’t any free cake, I perked up when I saw there were free workshops run by some big names of the cake world. As it was a sell-out exhibition it was very difficult to get into any of the workshops. We couldn’t get into Debbie Brown‘s mini class, but we did manage to have a chat with her afterwards and she gave us an overview of how to make these gorgeous sugarcraft babies out of Rice Krispie cakes and she made what looks very difficult, sound surprisingly easy. Her book Baby Cakes has some amazing recipes for any baby-related events you may have coming up.

Debbie Brown Cakes: Baby Cakes

Unfortunately we didn’t get into Carlos Lischetti or Alan Dunn’s workshops either as they were too full. However, for the last workshop of the day we arrived super early, queued for 45 minutes and managed to get ourselves a great view in Peggy Porschen‘s mini class ‘Boutique Baking – Raspberry & Rose Dome Cake’.

Peggy made a beautiful dome cake by lining a dome mould with joconde sponge and filling with layers of fresh raspberries and German buttercream (a custard based buttercream). She then talked us through icing the finished cake and showed how to make sugar flowers and decorate the cake to perfection.The mini class was 45 minutes long but was very detailed and I was impressed with how much she covered. I was also impressed that we all got to taste the cake at the end which was utterly divine and convinced me to buy her new book. Alas, they had sold out so I will have to wait for the general release of Boutique Baking on 24th May.

Boutique Baking by Peggy Porschen

For those of you who are serious cake makers, Peggy is running a full length workshop on how to make the same cake later in May. It’s pricey at £385 but you get the book included and you will learn some fantastic skills. Or choose from a whole raft of other courses at her Academy.

For those of you who are serious eaters (I fit into this category) and would like to try some of Peggy’s cakes, then pop along to her Parlour in Belgravia.

Until tickets go on sale for the ’27th Annual Cake Decorating, Chocolate and Sugarcraft Exhibition’ in 2013, have a look at Squires Kitchen’s huge array of goodies and tools to help turn your cakes into works of art.

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Wipe Your Mouth

For me, napkins make dining feel a bit more special. The process of smoothing the linen over your lap, or better still tucking it into your collar, helps to whet the appetite and prepares the subconscious for the freedom to dine with abandon and without a second thought to ruining your clothes. Got food all round your mouth? No matter, you can delicately wipe it off with your napkin without looking like a glutton.

Saying that, my Dad and step-mum are the only people I know who actually use napkins every day at their dining table (kitchen roll doesn’t count people!). After eating at their house recently I thought it would be nice to get some napkins at home. Here are some of the ones I’m hankering after.

Subtly remind guests of their table manners by giving them Polite Napkins to use, you can always resort to holding one up if you notice any elbows on the table. By Imogen Luddy they are available in grey or green at £10 each or £35 for a set of four of one design.

Polite Napkins - Imogen Luddy, Bouf

I really like these beetle napkins by Warbeck & Cox but maybe not for the squeamish? Available in green or black at £20 for a set of four. The same design is available in all sorts of other products too.

Beetle Napkins - Warbeck & Cox

Personalise your napkins for all your regular guests. The generic ‘guest’ and ‘the girlfriend’ will mean you won’t have to update them every time your tastes change. By Jonny’s Sister, they are £9 each or £30 for a set of four.

Personalised Napkins by Jonny's Sister

I’ve not seen anything similar to these lovely Another Rainy Day napkins and an extra bonus is they’re dark and are less likely to show any stubborn stains. Made in Ireland by Handmade By Me, who also do custom designs if you know what you want your napkin to look like but just can’t find it anywhere.

Another rainy day napkins by Handmade By Me

Do you think fabric napkins are too muh faff to wash and iron or do you enjoy the luxury of using one?

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But How Are You Doing?

We all know people who love talking about themselves so much they hardly stop for breath. They may pause at some point and ask “But how are you doing?” but this is more due to social norms than their desire to know the answer. They half-listen to your reply with glazed eyes whilst making a mental list of what else they wanted to tell you.

In my experience people who do this usually fall into two categories. The hyperactive, fast talking type that just has too much excitement bubbling away inside that they flit from one OMG subject to another. Or the perennially depressed type that talks round and round the same subject never to make a decision.

Lene Bladbjerg has captured this perfectly in her hand pulled Me Me Me print.

ME ME ME Limited edition handpulled screenprint - LeneBladbjerg

Heck, at various points in our lives we’ve all probably been that person too.

So let’s listen quietly and when it gets too much, give them this print as a not-so-subtle hint. It’s £58.90 and a limited edition of 100.

How do you respond to people like this, smile sweetly or shout over them?

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Junk Bear

Today I came across Junk Bear and his ‘junkdar’ and I’m so glad I did.

Not only was my mood brightened by the Jaffa juicer‘s description (designed to be sung to ‘I Like To Move It’), but I found these beautiful and sexy 1950s French glass mugs.

French Blue Cups - Junk Bear

Aren’t they gorgeous? The set of six is just £15.

There’s a whole section of old cameras for you to choose from including a Super 8 camera and a camera with bellows. A portable record player for vinyl lovers, plus a toys and games section. I’ve never seen a Cress Board before, but I’m hankering after one now and thinking of all the messages I could leave on it.

Cressboard-Junk Bear

Junk Bear is full of wonderfully quirky pieces but to be honest I’m not sure which you’ll like best, the items for sale or the descriptions of Junk Bear dating flapper girls and wrestling crocodiles. I think regular visits will be needed to keep my mood lifted.

Now the song is in all our heads, let’s just go with it. All together now, “Physi-cally fit, physi-cally fit…”

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DIY Baby Tail

Since writing about baby tails I’ve found a handy version for any of you hankering after the mermaid one but unwilling or unable to pay the £70 price tag.

Mermaid Cocoon Knitting Pattern - 4aSong

Order the knitting pattern from Etsy seller 4aSong and knit your own mermaid baby tail cocoon (or ask someone nicely to knit it for you) for $4 plus the cost of the yarn.

4aSong have plenty of other sweet patterns, admittedly not all very practical, there are lots of novelty ones for photo shoots. But this one would keep little legs warm out and about in the buggy or during a daytime nap.

If any of you give this a try I’d love to hear how you get on…

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Well Wishes

After the subject of wishes yesterday I realised I left out a big wish tradition, but this Wishbone Card from Present & Correct reminded me.

I don’t know how it slipped my mind, it was such a big wish producer when I was little. My Granny would reward me with pulling the wishbone if I helped clear the plates from the table and I’m sure she knew which end to give me as I always seemed to get the wish.

Wishbone Card - Present & Correct

There is space for you and someone else to write your wishes on the back and the card is perforated so it can be split down the middle. Even better than a real wishbone it seems both of you get your wishes – result!

This card could be used for loads of events – good luck card, birth of a baby. But I think my favourite would be as an alternative to a wedding wishing tree or guest book, collect up well wishes from all your guests on these wishbone cards instead.

What would you use them for?

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