Monthly Archives: April 2012

Wrapped Up in Typography

I came across this quote from typographer and designer Helmut Schmid,

“Typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced.”

I would like to add that typography needs to be worn.

Particularly in the form of these lasercut microfibre suede scarves. Wrap yourself up in this Lowercase scarf.

Lowercase Scarf - The Literary Gift Company

If you regularly overuse the ‘Caps Lock’ key you may prefer the Uppercase version, both come in black or white.

Uppercase scarf - The Literary Gift Company

Can’t decide between black or white? The Helvetica scarf combines the two.

Helvetica Long Black and White Scarf - The Literary Gift Company

I love these, I’d spend ages looking at the letters and seeing if I could spot any words in there. Scarf wordsearch – you’ll never be bored on public transport again.

They are available from The Literary Gift Company for £48, the Helvetica version is 40cm longer and is £54.

There are also coasters in the same design.

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Sunny Swedish Plates

These melamine plates are so happy and sunny I thought they might brighten your rainy Friday afternoon.

Plan to take them on your first summer picnic or get them for your kids.

You’d better eat your dinner quick before Mr Lion gobbles it up. He looks like he’s eyeing up your neighbours food too.

Lion Plate by Ingela P Arrhenius

Reenact The Tiger Who Came To Tea with this Tiger plate. I love his bewildered expression.

Tiger Plate by Ingela P Arrhenius

Their cousin the Cat has requested you have something fish-based please.

Cat Plate by Ingela P Arrhenius

The designs aren’t all animals, there is a happy clown, a sun and this apple plate which unfortunately won’t count toward your 5 a day.

Apple Plate by Ingela P Arrhenius

The plates are designed by Swedish illustrator Ingela P Arrhenius and are available from Lagom Design for £8 each.

Which is your favourite?

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Aubergine & Mozzarella Lasagne

For the last couple of weeks I’ve kept a food diary and it has been quite the eye-opener. Faced with my diet on paper, I can see patterns in my eating habits and how all those little ‘treats’ are in fact ‘regulars’. There are several improvements to be made and one of them is to reduce the amount of red meat I eat.

Lasagne is a favourite in our house, I’d usually make it with lamb or beef mince but I remembered back to a time when I ate much less meat and pulled this recipe out of my memory banks instead. I can’t remember if a friend gave it to me or whether I saw it in a magazine but it was at least ten years ago that I first made it. The dense aubergine and the chewy mozzarella add a nice texture that I think can be missing from a vegetable lasagne.

Aubergine & Mozzarella Lasagne

For the lasagne:

  • Garlic infused olive oil (basil infused would also work, or plain if you prefer)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 large or two small aubergines (mine weighed about 280g), cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 2tbsps)
  • 2 balls of mozzarella, sliced
  • lasagne sheets

For the topping:

  • knob of butter
  • plain flour
  • milk
  • grated cheese

Heat the oil in a pan and add the diced onion and crushed garlic. After five minutes or so add the aubergine and stir to coat in the oil. When the aubergine has turned golden add the chopped tomatoes and stir together. If I had any to hand I would have added a splash of red wine at this point. When it has reduced down a little, season and add the chopped basil leaves then turn the heat right down while you make the white sauce.

I make a white sauce by heating a large knob of butter in a saucepan, when it has melted I add a tablespoon of plain flour and stir until it has been absorbed, I repeat this until the butter and flour mixture looks like sand. Then I add a splash of milk and stir continuously until it is smooth and repeat until it is the consistency of a sauce. Season with salt and pepper and if you’re a perfectionist use white pepper so you don’t get black pepper speckles in your sauce. I think the trick to a lump-free white sauce is stirring and patience, I always get a little thrill when there are no lumps.

Put a layer of tomato and aubergine filling in a large rectangular or square dish, add a layer of mozzarella, a layer of white sauce, then a layer of pasta. Repeat. Top your last layer of pasta with white sauce and grated cheese. If you prefer a less rich dish, omit the layers of white sauce in the lasagne and just have it on top.

Put in an oven preheated to 180 degrees celsius (gas mark 4/350 degrees fahrenheit) for half an hour or so, until the pasta is cooked through and the cheese is golden on top.


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Red & White Vintage Threads

Yesterday after an unsuccessful trawl around my local shopping centre I was feeling disheartened. It would seem I’m in-between sizes as everything I tried was either too small or too big, the one dress that fitted was bright orange and I could foresee taunts involving Tango from my nearest and dearest.

When a sales assistant came and asked me if I was ok, as I’d been there “an awfully long time”, I decided it was time to head home. On my drive back I passed Mela Mela Vintage and popped in. They’ve got such a beautiful range of vintage clothes and although it’s always pot luck what sizes there are, they have some gorgeous stock.

First on my list of hankers is this red and white long 1950s sundress.

1950s red and white sundress with fountain print - Mela Mela Vintage

Such a beautiful cut that frankly left everything I’d seen on the high street in the shade and at £130 it’s a lot less than many dresses on the high street. At first I thought the print was of teacups with steam coming out but on closer inspection I saw they were actually fountains.

Fountain print sundress close up - Mela Mela Vintage

Although I loved it, I didn’t get it as I just don’t wear long dresses and after toying with the idea of getting it altered to be shorter, I decided that would be an awful waste of such beautiful material.

Also in red and white was this stunning 1950s crepe dress with embroidery and cut away detail. You’d have to wear a slip underneath this but a blue or yellow one would look great, or even a bright clashing pink.

1950s Red and ivory crepe dress with embroidery cut away detail - Mela Mela Vintage

At £175 it is a little more, but it’s in such good condition and still has the original belt.

I left with this plastic bunting style necklace from the 60s/70s which I picked from a lovely display of red, white and blue jewellery in one of the many display cabinets.

My bunting necklace from Mela Mela Vintage

At £25 it put a smile on my face.

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Clever Shelves

It seems I’m always on the hunt for a bookshelf of some description. I don’t like boring shelves, I want something clever and unusual.

This clever leather book shelf fits the bill beautifully and would be great for awkward spaces where you don’t really have enough wall space for a full set of shelves. The two tiers of leather straps can hold books or bottles. I’m thinking of hanging a couple as bedside tables for the books I’ve got piling up by my bed or to hold my recipe books or wine in the kitchen. It’s £89 from Rockett St George.


Clever Leather Book Shelf - Rockett St George

Also big on cleverness is this industrial style shelving unit that turns into a table. The wooden shelves can be used straight or angled and they fold out flat to form a table top. Available as a cream side table at £375 or a black dining table at £700 from Rockett St George.

Industrial Small Cream Shelving Unit Side Table - Rockett St GeorgeI don’t know whether you’d end up using it more in its table form than its shelf form, but it would be great to clear a room by folding the table up against the wall as shelves. Do you like multi-use furniture or do you think it’s better to get two different items?

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Buff Babies

A baby in a cute outfit always makes me melt and this picture had the same effect. Look at her little face!

Buff Baby Dumbbell Rattle - Maiden - Culture Label

Relax, the Buff Baby Dumbbell Rattle is made from lightweight plastic. What a great twist on a traditional rattle design.

If you know any exercise-loving new parents this would be a funny little gift for their offspring and if you want to go the whole hog and also get these gym shoe style socks that’s completely up to you.

Baby Gym Shoe Socks - Culture Label

The rattle is £8 and the socks are £14.95 and both are available from Culture Label.

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Man’s Best Friend Scarves

I’ll be honest with you. I can see the appeal of dogs and I really love the idea of them, but when I’m faced with a real dog I’m scared. Very scared. I always have been and unfortunately think I always will be. It doesn’t matter what breed or what size, until I get to know a dog I will be scared stiff of it.

When I was a kid I used to beg our next door neighbour to let her dogs come and play with me in our garden and then I’d remember how scary they were and spend the rest of the afternoon at the top of the climbing frame too frightened to come down, while two shih-tzus bounced up and down below me. My brother would be rolling around on the floor crying tears of laughter at how pathetic and deluded I was.

Things haven’t changed that much. If I’m on my bike and I see a dog off its leash, I’ll get off my bike and push it along until I’ve passed the dog. My husband will cycle on, shaking his head in despair and calling out a gentle reminder that the toy poodle busily sniffing another dog’s bum isn’t interested in chasing me.

These Man’s Best Friend scarves by Lisa Bliss at The Graduate Collection aren’t scary at all. In fact these rainbow dachshunds couldn’t be scary if they tried. Look how sweet they look with their little stumpy legs.

Rainbow Dachshund Scarf by Lisa Bliss - The Graduate Collection

The dachshund scarves are available with nine dachshunds widthways in mink or rainbow or with one big dachshund lengthways in turquoise or pink.

Pink Dachshund Scarf by Lisa Bliss - The Graduate CollectionAs the dachshund is long , the boston terrier is square and so is Lisa’s boston terrier scarf. Unlike real boston terriers you can choose from pink, yellow or green. I like that one head is picked out in a different colour.

Pink Boston Terrier scarf by Lisa Bliss - The Graduate Collection

Lisa’s scarves are 100% silk, manufactured in the UK and are £90 from the Graduate Collection who champion new and emerging designers in the UK. There are also six fox head scarves to choose from.

Until I can get over my fear of dogs, one of these beautiful scarves can be my dog substitute.

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Stationery Hampers

So here in the UK, today is National Stationery Day and to celebrate I’m hankering after stationery hampers.

Did you absorb that? Stationery hampers! I didn’t know such things existed until my lovely uncle emailed me with the news.

I love giving a hamper as a gift but mostly hampers are food related (and I’m all for that) but not all people are foodies. Other hampers are bath and beauty related but as someone whose skin breaks out at the mere suggestion of a smelly bath product, I assume it’s a bit of a risk for everyone. So I think stationery is a fantastic idea.

Bureau Direct start their hampers small with the Bureau Mini Stationery Hamper which, if we’re honest, is less of a hamper and more of a set. It contains a colour coordinated notebook and pen and prices range from £11.45 – £16.50 depending which colour and brand (Rodea, Leuchtturm or Moleskin) you choose.

Bureau Mini Stationery Hamper - Bureau DirectThere are three other hampers to choose from in smart black and orange packaging. The Rhodia Hamper is £26.95 and can definitely be described as a hamper as it has six notebooks of varying sizes and two pencils.

Bureau Stationery Hamper - Rhodia Hamper

The Super Hamper is £39.95 and is super indeed with five different sized notebooks, a pen loop, pen and a pencil.

Bureau Stationery Hamper - Super Hamper

The Ultimate Hamper comes with a massive 17 different pads, notebooks and journals, pen pot, luggage tag, black and coloured pen loops, two pens (including a Fisher Spacepen that writes upside down, underwater, from -30ºF to 250ºF, and in space), a pencil and some rather fancy paperclips. At £235 it is the ultimate present for the stationery lover in your life.

Bureau Stationery Hamper - The Ultimate Hamper

Bureau Direct are so excited about National Stationery Day they are giving everyone who orders stationery from them today a free gift and a chance to win a Lamy Joy calligraphy pen.

Tell me in the comments section which kind of hamper  you’d prefer – pamper, food, wine or stationery?

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Phony Plastic Party Glasses

As I’ve mentioned before, I do like things that aren’t what they seem. These wine glasses are designed to look like disposable plastic cups, but their glass stems make you look again.

Plastic Cup Replica Glass - Up To You Toronto

I reckon you’d get the same naughty thrill drinking out of one of these as you do from drinking wine out of a mug. Or is that just me?

They are $50 Canadian dollars each from Up To You Toronto plus postage, so they’re definitely a treat but I’m hankering after them nonetheless.

What do you think?

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Wedding Tea Towels

When we got married last year our wedding invitations reflected how me and the Mr met. We both work in safety & ‘Mr & Mrs Safety’ is how we are known, to his friends particularly.

Mr & Mrs Safety - Our Wedding Invite

I bought an image from Getty, designed them myself and had them printed by a friend at mates rates, they were cheap and cheerful and did the job. But if I’d seen The Original Wedding Tea Towel Company when I was getting married I would have been very tempted.

Instead of a card, invite your friends using a tea towel or bag that can be used and kept forever. Perfect for a save the date, an invite, favour or instead of a thank you card.

Choose your design from the Penny Friendly all black design at £40.

Penny Friendly - Wedding Tea Towel

Or a design from the Classic Collection for £50, like this Spring Hill design.

Spring Hill - Wedding Tea Towel

Or you may like one of the Boutique designs at £85. You can also create your own bespoke design for £160.

Wedding Postcard - Wedding Tea Towel

Once you’ve chosen your design, count how many you’ll need to see the full price. Delivery is free in the UK and it will cost you the price of a large letter to post them out to your friends and family.

For 100 guests including artwork from the classic collection you’re looking at around £325, which is about the same as some designed paper invites and certainly less than a lot of traditional favours and your guests’ reactions will be priceless.

Even though I’ve got no use for them I’m still hankering after them. So if you’re going to use them for your wedding, can you invite me so I can at least have one? Pretty please?

The Original Wedding Tea Towel Company can also do tea towels for birth announcements. If we’re blessed with another baby hankerer, I’ll definitely do that.

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