Month: May, 2010

Summer gardening for anyone, anywhere – it actually worked

Anyone who berated me for being overly hopeful about the radishes my sister and I planted a few weeks ago, and there were a few, can gobble humble pie. It actually worked.

Summer inspiration: down by the sea

Maybe it’s the onset of summer and imminent seaside fun, maybe it’s a longing for simple and natural beauty, maybe it’s because blue and white look so good together, or perhaps it is just my ongoing obsession with my new white walls… whatever the reason, I’m in a stripped-back, pared down beach house frame of mind.

So I thought I would scout out some inspiring pictures, and share the love before the long weekend sets in.

nautical interior accessories

Images via Real Simple, Decor8, Roomenvy and Daniel Hurst, Saídos de Concha, Trisha Brink Design on Flickr.

Folksy love-in: ceramic herb labels

After being told by you guys about Folksy, the UK’s version of Etsy, I think it’s no bad idea to showcase products from there instead of transatlantic goodies that you cannot buy so easily. So… for our first Folksy love-in, I decided to let my green-fingered enthusiasm roll and post these rustic little ceramic herb labels, £5 by Little Brick House.

ceramic herb labels

ceramic herb labels

They also sell other quirky ceramics – including heart decorations and textured planters. It’s all great value and handmade with love.

little brick house

Summer gardening for anyone, anywhere

I would be lying if I said anyone in my family bar my very clever father had noticeably green fingers. It’s not that we don’t collectively yearn for home-grown flowers, veggies and fruits – but actually making it happen has always been trying if not traumatic.

So, given the wonderful weather this weekend, my sister and I decided to plump up her little Cotswolds cottage with a few home-grown treats, namely tomatoes, radishes and strawberries – all Duchy Originals, so we are expecting tasty results. We came back from the garden centre armed with ready-prepared compost, seeds and even a pretty wicker fence for the ultimate rustic touch.

What we did may not yeild the results we dream of, but it was cheap, fun and so easy a toddler could do it. You should try too – wherever you live.

What you need: a pre-made growbag (£2.89, Homebase); a wooden spoon or something to make holes with; seeds (check out Homebase’s seed selection); a growbag fence (£9.95, The Eden Project), to make it pretty; hope and enthusiasm.

What to do: cut out squares in your growbag, dig holes to the recommended depth for your seeds, scatter, water, frame with the fence and watch them grow…

gardening compost and seeds

(I should note that the point of this post is to inspire hesitant/uninspired gardeners, not to claim that we have any gardening expertise). We will report back in a week or so if anything pops up…

People we’re loving: To Dry For

I cannot stress enough my loathing of stained, past-it teatowels. Drying up is bad enough; at least do it in style.

Well, over at To Dry For, you’ll find the funkiest selection around, with designs from Penguin, Unity Peg,  Lovely Lovely and current new favourites Thornback and Peel…  And you might even find yourself searching for things to wash up.

Cash vs. credit: elephant bookends

elephant bookends

Wood and aluminium bookends, £43, Artisanti; Wood bookends, £19.99, Cargo

People we’re loving: Holly’s Houses

holly's houses stamps

In Nepal last year I bought some beautiful stamped writing paper with matching envelopes, each with a detailed black and white dragon print on the front. If you’re thinking, ‘my god, what a traveller cliché’, you are wrong. It looks great. It ignited within me a nostalgic love for good old-fashioned rubber stamps, and I often wish I was the conscientious kind who has enough time to trot off to art shops and build a really good collection, with – in an ideal world – the perfect, witty stamp for any letter or mood.

But I recently heard about Holly’s Houses and think what she does is the perfect solution. A Central Saint Martins graduate, Holly-Anne Rolfe makes personalised stamps, watercolours or sketches featuring any home or design. Perfect for important presents, weddings, birthdays… the whole shebang, really. The best part is, she can do it from photos, so you don’t have to worry about getting her there.

She’s a bargain too – prices start from just £75 for a black and white illustration. Visit Holly’s Houses for more info.

Matryoshka madness part II

My friend Brady in LA just sent me these matryoshka skateboards, and I had to post them. They’re too cool.

matryoshka skateboards

For more designs check out Blueprint Skateboards. May the matryoshka madness continue.

COLLECT 2010 at the Saatchi Gallery

Yesterday I went down to the Saatchi Gallery in London’s Duke of York’s Square to check out this year’s crafts exhibition, COLLECT 2010. Run by the Crafts Council, and in its seventh year, the show comprises a mind-blowing array of pieces from galleries across the globe, of such artistic skill and vision that the word craft – to me at least – hardly seemed appropriate. From jewellery to glassware to wooden carvings and fantastic sculptures, the show celebrates all things handmade, and with all of it for sale you need bags of self restraint to leave empty handed.

As well as offering so many inspiring creations to look at that it’s hard to know where to begin, the COLLECT exhibitions perform a deeper function – they remind you of the sheer pleasure of looking at artefacts made by hand, with love, over time, purely for art’s sake. We should all be inspired by the renewed popularity of making stuff yourself, which I have unashamedly embraced if only on a comparatively tiny scale, and with sites like Folksy and Etsy growing by the day and fostering a whole new approach to the art of handmade wares, the act of taking the time to make things which could be churned out of a factory is becoming more and more valuable.

collect 2010

As Grant Gibson, editor of (surprisingly slick and un-grannyish) Crafts Magazine says, “be in no doubt that the ability to make things – and make things well – matters.” Let’s hope it always will.

COLLECT only confirms this, and if anyone is in London this weekend you would be mad to miss it. They are also running tons of free events for all visitors, check out the details here.

Peep show: white rooms

Obsessing over the imminent decoration of my little loft, which is currently a rather grubby shade of white, I have spent most of my time recently pondering the merits of off-white versus chiffon white versus misty white versus stone white… and so on.

No one warned me how many shades of white there are and how impossible it seems to be to find The One. So while I wait for my carefully chosen samples to make their way to me, I thought I’d turn elsewhere for some white inspiration:

white rooms

white bedroom

white bedroom

white room

The third room above makes my heart sing. Oh for a pair of elephants to guard the foot of my bed.

Images via Apartment Therapy; Cococozy; Country Living; Channel 4; HGTV; A daily dose of design.