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.