Tag Archives: books

Tinned Fear

I’m not a big Halloween fan, I’m normally hiding with the lights off pretending I’m not home when Trick or Treaters come knocking. This year I bought a few oozing eyes from Poundland but I’m hoping no-one comes so I can eat them all myself.

I might be tempted to host a children’s Halloween party if I could give tinned fear away instead of party bags though.

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies - Range of Childrens' Tinned Fear

The tins contain sweets and children’s’ stories by bestselling authors.

There is tinned fear scary enough for adults too. I love the names especially ‘A Vague Sense Of Unease’…

Hoxton Street Monster Supplies - Range of Tinned Fear

Both versions are £35 for a set of five or £8 each from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.

I also love the Salt Made From Tears range.

Happy Halloween!

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Masquerade

Do you remember the book Masquerade by Kit Williams?

Masquerade - Kit Williams

Published in 1979 it gave clues to a buried treasure, a jewel encrusted hare in a ceramic pot apparently worth around £5000. If you’re interested to know how to solve the puzzle, Kit Williams published a follow-up book with the solution.

Many a morning I spent eating my Shreddies flicking through the pages of this wonderful book in the mid 1980s. Although the treasure had been found by then I marvelled at the illustrations and loved how the text framed the pictures, this book is probably responsible for my appreciation of typography.

The British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age exhibition at the V&A is displaying the golden hare jewel from Masquerade for the first time and available in the V&A Shop are these gorgeous hare stud earrings and ring.

Hare Stud Earrings - V&A ShopHare Ring - V&A ShopThey look less like the jewelled hare treasure and more like the beautiful illustrations of the hare. Which I think is the right way around. Both are available to pre-order at almost 1979 prices of £5 for the earrings and £6 for the ring.

The exhibition is running until 12th August 2012. Will you be making a trip to London to see the treasure?

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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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A Little Light Reading

Books make me really happy. When I’m feeling a bit down, I like to seek solace among books.

Book shopping is one of the rare occasions that I favour physical shopping to online shopping. I have a method. I work my way round the shelves alphabetically gathering books as I go until I’ve got a nice stack. I read the blurbs of each of them again, compare them in my mind and put a couple back.

I delve inside the remaining books and skim a paragraph or two to taste the flavours of the writing. A couple more books will find themselves nestled back on the shelves. Finally, and I know I shouldn’t, I’ll look at the covers and naughtily judge them before reading the blurbs again.

I can lose hours whittling my pile down to the one or two books that I will eventually buy. It gives me the same pleasure I used to feel as a child choosing my weekly sweets in the newsagent on a Sunday.

I blame my mother, the librarian. She brought me up to love and cherish books, as well as instilling in me the importance of alphabetisation. So when I see products made from books, I can’t help but flinch a bit. It seems wrong somehow but they’re so often very beautiful. Like this Light Reading Chandelier.

Light Reading Chandelier - Lula DotBut Lula Dot make an excellent case for upcycling disused books. For example, I had no idea that there’s no infrastructure set-up to recycle books because of the low-grade paper and the gluey spines. When you consider the huge number of books that will only end up in landfill sites it seems such a terrible waste not to make something beautiful out of them instead. Especially when the result looks like this…

Light Reading Chandelier close up - Lula Dot

The Light Reading Chandelier is by Lula Dot and sold for £340 for delivery in the EU or £440 for international shipping. I’d love to have a peek through some of the pages and see what books have been used.

Have a look at Lula Dot’s project on book partitions, I’d like a corner of my house set up with a couple of these, a comfy chair to curl up in and my favourite book to read. What’s your favourite book?

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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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Folded Heart Book Decorations

When I came across these book decorations, I thought ‘how clever’ followed by ‘they hurt a book!’ but then I read that they don’t cut the pages they fold them down, which makes it even more clever.

Folded Heart Book Decoration by Stuff by Losy Posy

There are three versions each at £25, a children’s book, a romantic novel and another version with more manly titles. Each version has a choice of two titles with corresponding coloured ribbon.

Children's Book Folded Heart Book Decoration by Stuff By Losy Posy

I think the Water Babies one would be lovely for a christening or first birthday, they also include the original dust jacket which would be nice to frame separately. The other versions could make nice wedding or mothers/fathers day presents.

What do you think, pretty decoration or grievous book harm?

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The Case-Book of Sherlock Hankering

This year Sherlock Holmes has been a regular fixture in my life. But now the BBC’s series has ended and I’ve seen Guy Ritchie’s latest Holmes offering, I miss him. I’m hankering for more of the consulting detective.

I pretended it wasn’t me that was missing him and bought this Wordsworth Library Collection of The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes for my husband. As the name suggests, it is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories in one book with Sidney Paget’s wonderful original illustrations. Nearly 1500 pages of Holmes and Watson should keep me going.

The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes - Wordsworth Library Collection

I love this book entitled ‘Elementary, My Dear Watson’ written and beautifully illustrated by Amber Whitney. It’s an ABC book so is really meant for kids but it’s so lovely, I’d definitely have a read before letting any kids get their hands on it…

Elementary, Mr Dear Watson - Amber Whitney

Also entitled Elementary is this typographic print by Typaprint on Folksy, a modern take on the classic Holmes silhouette.

Elementary! A2 Typographic print - Typaprint

Maybe I could bring the stories to life and host a Sherlock Holmes night, I could assign characters with these wine glass charms. Although the person who gets 221b Baker Street might not have much to do… I’ll take that one.

Sherlock Holmes Wine Charm Set - Winslow Rye

I can remember being terrified as a little girl at my Granny’s house watching The Hound of the Baskervilles on television, it certainly didn’t help my fear of dogs. Oh dear, this is bringing it all back to me.

Which Sherlock Holmes story is your favourite?

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Hawksmoor at Home

Hawksmoor serve the best steak I have ever tasted in their three restaurants in London – Covent Garden, Spitalfields and Guildhall. I mean it’s melt-in-the-mouth amazing.

We went to the Covent Garden restaurant a few weeks ago as a treat for my husband’s birthday and it was glorious. We started with cocktails in the bar area from their extensive list, it took about 10 minutes to choose as the descriptions were all so wonderful. In the end I went for a Hawksmoor Fizz and my husband was won over by the description of shipwrecked oak barrels that the brandy for his Shipwreck Sour was aged in.

The decor of the basement restaurant is stunning, with dark wood parquet floor, leather chairs and solid tables it is what I imagine a gentleman’s smoking room to be like (but with no smoke). I almost expected to smell sandalwood when I walked in. There’s a beautiful row of mismatched sliding doors that separates off part of the restaurant and had me hankering for our own version at home.

When I booked the table I mentioned we were celebrating a birthday and the staff were so friendly and gave us each a glass of Prosecco and my husband’s pudding on the house. Ordering is slightly different here if you are having steak. You choose from the different cuts available on the day and order and pay by the weight so that everyone at the table eating steak shares the same cut of meat. Be warned, if you start ordering the Chateaubriand it can get expensive quickly, but there’s also an express menu so it is possible to spend much less.

We had a fabulous birthday lunch, the highlight for me (apart from the steak) was the peanut butter shortbread with salted caramel ice-cream. Heaven in each salty, nutty, creamy, caramel mouthful.

This was our second visit to the Hawksmoor but for us it’s the kind of place we’d only go to as a real treat. But now Hawksmoor have put their recipes in a book ‘Hawksmoor at Home’ I can try to recreate the dishes at home.

Hawksmoor At Home

Don’t think it’s just steak in this book, the recipes are so varied and there’s lots of information. The sauces are inspiring, the Stilton Hollandaise recipe is at the top of my list to try. As I’ve mentioned before I’m quite scared of cooking seafood but the guides on preparing seafood in this book are clear and not at all scary looking. The cocktails sound delicious and there is a whole chapter on trifles.

So far I’ve made the Potted Smoked Mackerel which was very fishy but creamy too and had a nice tang of horseradish. The pickled cucumber to go with it is really simple but tasted wonderful and cut through the buttery fish perfectly.

You can order Hawksmoor At Home for £20 and all proceeds go to Action Against Hunger. It says on the website that shipping is ten days but mine was delivered within four days.

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Splendid Stamps from Yellow Owl Workshop

I’ve written about the LCD card from Yellow Owl Workshop before but I had to mention their stamps. There are some nice scenic stamp sets which would be great for kids but there’s lots of grown-up stamps too, I’m particularly hankering after the ones in their stamp activity kits section.

Make sure you take all the credit for your culinary creations and label your food gifts with this lovely red ‘From the kitchen of…’ stamp set.

From the kitchen of stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

If you like to share a good book but also like to get them back, stamp your books with this bright green stamp. That owl will give any greedy book borrowers a stern look.

Book plate stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

Or stamp your own place cards, gift tags or noughts and crosses game. These are all $19.50 and include a natural rubber stamp mounted on a maple block, ink pad and coordinating coloured pencil. I may have to explain the mix-tape gift tag to my younger gift recipients but I’m really hankering after this one.

Mixtape stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

Yellow Owl also have some cute place stamp sets. London features stamps of Big Ben and a double-decker bus, and just look at the Paris one below with the Eiffel Tower and café table and chairs. There are also sets for New York, San Francisco and Italy.

Paris stamp set = Yellow Owl Workshop

If you want to have a go at carving your own stamp Yellow Owl Workshop sell a kit to help you do just that. It comes with a Print Workshop book autographed by the author Christine Schmidt, a lino cutter and blade set, rubber block to carve your stamp from and an array of envelopes, cards and gift tags for you to show off your stamp creations. If you’re not confident carving freehand there are some templates included to help you. All this for $40 which I think is pretty good.

Carve a stamp kit - Yellow Owl Workshop

What stamp would you create?

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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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