Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Muddy Boots

Don't you just love a happy ending? We certainly got that from Aberdeen Angus burger company, Muddy Boots' appearance on BBC2's High Street Dreams. The lovely Roland and Miranda came across brilliantly and one could only wish every success to their venture to return to their farm in Worcestershire and give the consumer a truly delicious burger. I was reminded of them today when their latest newsletter popped into my inbox with the news that they are launching soon in Waitrose. Even better they'd teamed up with the other High Street Dreams success story, Mr Singh's Chilli Sauce at the BBC Good Food Show and have created a lovely collaborative burger recipe - inspired! We should all get barbecuing this one:

Mr Singh's Hot Chilli Boots Burger

(Makes 6 burgers)
5 x Muddy Boots Classic Burgers
15ml Mr Singh's Chilli Sauce (or a little more if you like it really hot)
30g drained kidney beans
40g mature cheddar cheese

Put the chilled/defrosted Classic Burgers into a bowl
Add the Mr Singh's Chilli Sauce
Crush the drained kidney beans and add to the bowl
Grate the cheese and add to the bowl
Mix really well with your hands and separate into burgers again

Grill, fry or BBQ for 4/5mins either side or oven cook for 20mins (turning once).

Serve with a nice cold glass of local ale.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Gift Ideas for Men

Impossible. Buying presents for men that is. Luckily The Handpicked Collection has got it taped. Their selection of gift ideas for guys is brilliantly thought out and manages to cross that tricky territory between presents men love to receive (books, books, books) and presents we love love to give them. I'd highly recommend their Leather Perudo Set and ultra smart weekend bags.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A Secret from Saigon - Cochine

I'm very excited to write about this one, as I've watched the brand grow from an idea into simply the most covetable, yummily luxurious range of home scents. Cochine is a new collection of fragrances which have been translated into hand wash and body lotion, reed diffusers and candles - all presented in packaging that's so beautiful you can't throw it away. The scents are all of Vietnamese origin and each one is worthy of being a stand alone scent to wear. I think I might be one of the fussiest people on this planet when it comes to perfume (I can name 5 that I would even consider wearing and I am one of those irritating people who will sit down next to you on the plane having tried everything on in duty free)so I am eagerly awaiting the launch of Cochine Eau de Parfum. I can't decide if it's the soft, fresh floral Water Hyacinth and Lime Blossom, the richer, oh so feminine, Vietnamese Rose and Delentii or the heady summer garden that is the Gardenia and White Jasmine that tickles me most. But all of them make me want to woop with joy! Really!

They should be retailing soon in the UK...watch this space.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Tom Ford Jennifer Sunglasses

A new addition to my lust list, alongside a Violet Lake bikini (Domino top, Tiffany bottom) are a pair of Tom Ford Jennifer sunnies. They're frames are feather light for summer (which might have just arrived?) and lots of colours mean that one pair just wouldn't be enough. I'd like brown and purple pleeease!
Sunglassesdirect have them for a good price.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Nest Goodies

I'm looking for a flat to buy and find myself coveting things I've never really thought about before...nesting I think it's called. A perfect source of inspiration is Nest Goodies a gorgeous blog that picks out gorgeous things for your home. I'm loving the Sleepy Owl Hooks Natalie wrote about yesterday (how very appropriate that wise owls are in)and I defy you to make a visit without finding something you find yourself wanting very, very much.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Den Kit - High Street Dreams

As an aunt to 6 nephews ranging between 5 and 11, I was thrilled to hear about The Den Kit on High Street Dreams with Jo Malone and Nick Leslau last night. That age group of boys are impossible - finding gift ideas that they haven't already been given 5 of at their last birthday party or think is utterly dull is like the quest for the Holy Grail. Are they just warming up for the endless birthdays and Christmases to come when really all they want is list of books from Amazon?

But I think I've found the answer to all my Christmas gifts! If you missed the programme, the kit is a cool green napsack containing all you need to create a hideaway in the woods (or maybe just at the bottom of the garden) - rope, tarpaulin, cammo pain, tin cup, mallet, pegs etc...all that's missing is a bow and arrow.

I love it because it gets children outside...away from their computers, the wii, covered in mud, learning about wildlife, having proper fun. Just as it should be.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Hello M. Bond...my name is Violet Lake...

...you know the scene...Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in that white bikini...a look we all hope we emulate as we emerge from the shallows on our hols. Some of us less successfully than others (more running, less toast, more running, less toast). Thankfully some help is at hand with the launch of Violet Lake – a gorgeous swimwear brand which has been created to give women glamorous flattering bikinis which fit and can be worn in an almost endless combination of ways. Each of the four styles of top and bottom comes in eight complementary colours which if you’re lucky enough to own the full collection would give you 1,024 different bikinis. Now that’s what I call choice. All the bikinis are aptly named after Bond girls which just adds to the Riviera gorgeousness.

Check out their fantastic website www.violet-lake.com which has an ingenious bikini mixer to show you how your particular combo choice would look. Well it shows you how it would look on their utterly beautiful Victoria’s Secret model…more running, less toast…

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Mirror Mirror

It's not for the faint hearted but I am very excited about the latest piece from iconic British designer, Jake Phipps.

His new Stellar mirror is a statement piece to the extreme, but what an awesome statement to make. I love the fact that it's as much (maybe more?) about the frame than the reflection staring back and the multi facets means it will throw light and shadows around the room - an ever changing artwork in itself.

Mirror, mirror, this surely is the fairest on the wall?

Monday, 10 May 2010

100 Days: Sketched in Marble

It was snowing in Devon this weekend. Or that's how it looked when I was in the garden of sculptor William Peers...a magical layer of white covered the trees and grass - even the bluebells. But this wasn't snow, it was the pure white dust coming from the sculptures emerging from the rough marble blocks in his studio.

Peers has recently opened an exhibition of 100 sculptures created in 100 days at the John Martin Gallery in London and I think we need to get in there quick if we want to take one of these beauties home. Hints of Hepworth, Brancusi and Moore are clear in the - I have to touch this - curves of his works. They're the kind of piece that you want to rest your hand on while you try and untie the knots in your head. We all need one of these - justify it as therapy to your bank manager.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Rag & Bone on Kings Road - Surely Not?

I regret to admit, I am old enough to remember the rag and bone man who used to visit our street in W2 with his horse and cart. Sadly this sight and his cry of 'old metal' (more 'ohmeaaaaaal' actually) is long gone from the streets of London.

Fantastic then to find a homage to the ingenuity and conservational practice of these traders in the form of a pop-up shop in Bluebird, Kings Road. Rag & Bone is the British born, NY raised fashion baby of David Neville and Marcus Wainwright and for a limited time we can get access to their ultra wearable, downtown-chic collection in the gorgeous Bluebird garage.

Their launch party last night saw the founders' public school mates in their suits rubbing shoulders with a seriously beautiful, far too cool for school, crowd.

We particularly coveted a gorgeously soft stripy jacket and the most glam cardigan/jacket I've seen. Well worth a visit - I recommend a early evening trip followed by cocktails upstairs in the Bluebird bar...with all that art deco glamour, we could almost be in Manhattan.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Moth Boxing

Ok, so it's not exactly balmy spring weather at the moment but no one can deny how gorgeous everything is looking - as the cherry blossom fades the apple blossom is taking over and the chestnut trees and lilacs look heavenly.

There is one fly in the ointment though. Or rather a moth. Or two, or hundred! I have a true paranoia of the little creatures and can't express enough gratitude to Total Wardrobe Care who seem to have solved the problem this year. All you need is a couple of moth boxes (to catch the blighters when they're hatched) and some of their scented oil to stop them laying in the first place.

I hate the idea that I might be speaking too soon but (whisper) I haven't seen a moth yet...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Election XX

Has anyone else noticed the rather brilliant choice of music for the BBC's election coverage? It's almost the best bit about the whole - frustratingly undynamic - campaign...can't one of them put their head above the parapet?
Rant aside, the band are called The XX and are popping up at festivals all over the place this summer. If you haven't got tickets to any of these, download their eponymous album on i-tunes, turn lights low, volume up and enjoy.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

I'm looking forward to the Animal Art Fair - opening tomorrow at Fulham Palace. It's the first year for this new art show and it brings together 40 established artists exhibiting a range of art from sculpture to sketches - all animal focused. Brilliant Hamish Mackie will be there with his stunning sculptures and I'm intrigued to see more from Terence Kirkwood - his Siamese cats are fantastic fun.

Tickets are £10 - which seems great value set against a trip to the zoo or safari... the other ways to see this many gorgeous animals in one place.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Union Jacks - so 2009 or here til the Olympics?

We have an ongoing debate in the office about Union Jacks...were they last year's BIG thing or is the great flag going to be plastered on everything until 2012? It's not that I don't love our flag - it has to be the coolest of all (am I the only person to have only just realised it's the cross of St. George over the cross of St. Andrew? Don't laugh. And more importantly where's the Welsh Dragon?!) but I just am feeling it's being abused a bit - and perhaps losing its majesty. Having said that I have found some things I still think are gorgeous and the word on the retail street is that it IS here for the foreseeable future as we get passionately patriotic for the Olympics. Rule Britannia I say.

Brit Clutch Zip Wallet from Aspinal

Union Jack Wash Bag from The Handpicked Collection

Mini Union Jack Keyring from Accessorise

Friday, 26 March 2010

Another Welsh Wonder

This one comes in the form of The Felin Fach Griffin, also in the glorious location of the Brecon Beacons. Run by Charles & Edmund Inkin (brothers not 'married'), this is really best described as a restaurant with rooms - the rooms are lovely but the food is the star. As Jay Rayner in the Guardian wrote "The kitchen at the Griffin means business." Ingredients are locally sourced in most cases - from locally reared game to superfresh seafood and the sweetest vegetables - and the flavours are simple but interestingly combined and perfectly balanced. I'm drooling as I write in fact with memories of crab in little pots, a glass of crisp prosecco while sitting in their garden after a happy day at Hay Festival. The relaxed and cosy restaurant is just the place for long lunches and languid dinners and best of all...dogs are allowed.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Sophie Hulme AW10

Lucky me got an invitation to the preview of clever Sophie Hulme's A/W10 collection. Her designs really are brushed with the stroke of genuis. This season follows her signature paradox style of the structured, stylised and sing out loud feminine. Some designs use perspex and brass as decoration...on a shoulder, bag, pocket flap and in complete contrast others feature an enormous soft bow. I love this bib necklace. Best of all she does a diffusion line for ASOS which is a little gentler on my wallet. I'm getting the teapot jumper - see below.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Pots of Love

I wanted to thank some very special girlfriends for being, well, very special. The perfect idea came to me through the Handpicked Collection website - a cute pot full of jelly sweets, shaped as hearts and kisses. So I sent a pot each to said special people at their work with a message to say thank you. The response I got was just too gorgeous - 'nearly cried' one of them said the other was an email written in different colours throughout (not easy as you'll know if you've tried it!). So the love was just pinging all around and I was a happy chappy to know that a little thing can bring such smiles.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

How do you get two whales in a car?

You have to say it out loud really for that one to work. Over the Severn Bridge of course! And I would thoroughly recommend that everyone does this on a regular basis. Admittedly I'm biased as it is my homeland and I love it with a passion. If you're not as lucky as me to have family there (no sniggering please), and can gather a large crowd, you could rent the gorgeous Felin Newydd which nestles majestically at the foot of the Brecon Beacons. It sleeps up to 18, has huge open fires, four poster beds, roll top baths an enormous kitchen and is exactly how one might dream up the perfect (albeit rather grand) house. If you're not sure you can find that many friends prepared to brave the Welsh wilds, you could also rent Blaencwm which is no less luxurious but more of a hilltop hideaway.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Dogs, Cats & Bags

Wilbur & Gussie is the wonderful, humorous but uber glamorous handbag company named after the founders' favourite dogs and cats. Which immediately makes me like them more. And perhaps more importantly their bags are beautiful - clutches of different sizes all united by a classic sense of glamour with a twist of the unusual. Their signature motif is a sparkly, bold brooch pinned to the front - be it a brightly coloured French cockerel or a lustrous black and silver beetle.
I need one of the latter to match my lustrous black Beetle...
I am also deeply coveting one of their cuff bracelets which perfectly indulges the tiny shred of punk in me (and I mean tiny).

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Mr & Mrs Smith

Oh how we love them - these gurus of the sexiest most beautiful hotels in the land. Mr & Mrs Smith have grown from a book and a website directory to a full booking service, four beautiful books, cds of lazy weekend music and an excellent member's club.
They're running a drool-worthy competition with The Handpicked Collection - click here to enter and win a weekend away at The Morrison in Dublin and £500 to spend on gorgeous things at Handpicked.

Friday, 12 March 2010

If I Were a Dress

I'd be a Poppy from Libelula. Spanish for Dragonfly, Libelula has the prettiest, most feminine, gorgeous to wear clothes created by the wonder designer that is Sophie Cranston. I can't be alone - Vogue interviews her here . I can't recommend visiting her studio highly enough - she knows about girls and their curves and how to get the best of them.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Skinsense by Oskia

Face it. In terms of how we look, what's more important than your skin? I've got a new secret that makes no secret about why it works so well. Oskia is a brand new British skincare brand that focuses on the nutritional importance of skincare ingredients. They use cutting edge but entirely natural ingredients to prevent ageing and improve skin texture and appearance. Finally a solution to anti ageing that doesn't sacrifice our desire for natural qualities.
I recommend their Bedtime Beauty Boost which really does nourish your skin at night and their Micro Exfoliating Balm keeps your face peachy bright throughout these eternally wintery days.
Their monthly newsletter is an excellent source of tips for keeping healthy and beautiful - you can sign up here.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Thomasina's Back

It's been over five years since Thomasina Miers braved the heat of the first Masterchef kitchen and won the title. In that time she's been a busy girl - written 4 books, opened 3 Wahaca restaurants, written a regular column for The Times and somehow found time to get married and overhaul her house in Kensal Rise. Her latest book has just been released - Mexican Food made Simple - and we're loving it. Recipes vary from the Wahaca signature Tamarind Marguerita to the healthiest, freshest, zingiest Cerviche. It's perfect summer party food and really is simple to make - which gives us more time to sip Tequila (never downed according to Miss Miers) and enjoy the long summer nights...bring it on.
Signed copies are now available from The Handpicked Collection - a website of unusual and inspiring gift ideas.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Handpicked Collection

My first secret...or not such a secret I think as lots of people are talking about this company. The Handpicked Collection is a cracking collection of the kind of presents and gift ideas that you want to give and would also love to receive. Their online gift store is easy to navigate, not overcluttered and they have an excellent giftfinder to help you narrow your choice down easily.

On my wishlist are their Pure Cashmere Poncho that you can wear five different ways(how clever is that?), Dragonfly Necklace and a Partridge Jewellery Tree on which to hang it for the rare moments it's not round my neck.

Give them a try - they have a no quibble return policy so if you're not 100% happy then you can send it straight back at no cost.