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Make-Your-Own Knickers

28 Mar

Thanks to the lovely people at Flo-Jo’s Boutique, you can now make your own beautiful fancy pants knickers!

The patterns are available in gorgeous prints like the cherry gingham one above, and also blue gingham, black gingham, gypsy rose and, my favourite, vintage rose:

The kits, which sell for £12.50, include a graded pattern to fit sizes 8-18, knicker material, gusset material, frilly elastic, ribbon and a label reading “Handmade by me.”

If, like me, you don’t have a sewing machine (yet), you can also buy beautiful ready-made knickers from Flo-Jo. This pair, upcycled from a gorgeous vintage silk scarf, would be my pick:

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Pretty Thermoses

19 Mar

It feels as if spring has really sprung around here this week and that, of course, has started me thinking about picnics in the sun. Or, more likely, Cornish summers being what they are, tea and a pasty in the car in the rain. Either way, I’m going to need a new thermos and here are a few of my favourites.

The Classic Penguin Stainless Steel Flask, available from The Gifted Penguin for £16.99

The retro Beano flask, £17.99 from gottohaveit:

A William Morris anemone design flask from the V&A,  £13.75 at Present Provider:

The Albertus thermal flask, £20 from Berry Red. I like the turquoise one with the pink top best:

A lovely cricket thermos from Ladybird books, £14.95 from The Gifted Penguin:

The Scrabble stainless steel flask, only £8.99 from Great Gifts Etc.:

A thermos featuring Celia Birtwell’s Mystic Daisy print, £15.95 from House of Fraser:

But I think my top pick is this gorgeous mini leather-bound flask from Beg (the bicycle people) for £29.50. It also comes in a larger size for two people:

Happy picnicking!

Mr. B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

1 Mar

Bath has no shortage of lovely bookshops (including the amazing Topping’s), but Mr. B’s holds a special place in my heart.

In addition to a great selection of books over three floors, lovely comfy chairs, book groups and author talks, there’s the wonder of THE READING BOOTH. You pay £3.50 for 30 minutes of peace, quiet and bliss. Close the door to the world, sink into a big leather chair, enjoy coffee or tea and Mr. B’s cookie jar, and lose yourself in a stack of books, audiobooks or music of your choice.

I think my favourite thing about Mr. B’s, however, is the gorgeous giftwrapping.

It’s a beautiful way to give a present to a friend … but I’ve been known to have books for myself giftwrapped because it looks so nice. And when I open my book, it feels even more special.

So next time you’re in Bath, take a walk down John Street and spend an hour or three at Mr. B’s.

Subversive Cross Stitch

13 Feb

Subversive Cross Stitch has some delightfully vulgar cross stitch patterns, but I chose one of their slightly less offensive offerings for my beloved on Valentine’s Day.

I bought an inexpensive frame at Mr. Cohen’s Shopping Emporium, along with some black card, and slapped it all together.

Don’t look too closely at the stitching. I had to do it when the aforementioned beloved was out, which meant stitching in a mad rush with failing light. And please don’t mention how off-centre it is. I know.

And I should probably have pressed it before framing, but it’s not easy to fit these things in in a small house on a weekend with a nosy husband afoot.

Wrapped  up in red tissue with a pink bow, it almost looks like a proper present. It’s just a shame the whisky-filled chocolates I ordered didn’t arrive in time, but I don’t imagine he’ll complain about getting them on the 15th.

Good news: The chocolates arrived!

Bad news: I just noticed that I forgot to stitch the apostrophe. Damnation.

Scented Macaroon Drawer Thingies

8 Feb

Think that’s something to eat? Think again!

Poule de Luxe sells gorgeous very real-looking scented macaroons for you to tuck into your drawers and make all your clothes smell scrummy. They’re made in Provence and look so much like the real thing that I might be a bit worried about making a terrible teatime mistake.

For £26, you get six macaroons and a little bottle of lavender oil. You add a few drops of oil to the macaroons and there you have it. They’re reuseable as well.

My friend Liz (of the fabulous Feasts and Festivals blog) told me about Poule de Luxe and now I’m lusting after their mohair wraps and cream linen nighties as well as the macaroons. The nightdresses are made from smooth, fine linen and are all named after breeds of chickens, which is a lovely bonus! Fancy a Chantecler, anyone?

Hot Water Bottle Covers

1 Feb

My friend Barbara, who can make anything and make it beautifully, gave me a gorgeous handmade hot water bottle cover for Christmas. I believe she made it from a Welsh blanket. I should really have photographed it a month ago because it’s beginning to look a little ‘loved’ – but that only makes it all the more precious to me.

If you’re like me, you can’t possibly go to bed at this time of the year without a hot water bottle. Or a hottie, as it’s usually known in my family. For some reason, my husband calls it a bot-bot, but that’s just plain wrong. It’s a hottie or, if you’re feeling a little bit frivolous, a hottle-bottle. But never a bot-bot. Perish the thought.

Anyway, on the off chance that you don’t have a crafty friend like Barbara, I thought I’d share some of my favourite hot water bottle covers available in shops and online:

Here’s a beautiful hand-knitted cover from Ageeta. It can be made in a variety of colours and patterns, but this one would be my pick:

And a lovely cotton-linen Corsica cover from étoile home:

And here’s a stunning classic 100% cashmere cable-knitted cover from Plum & Ivory:

Or what about a luxurious velvet quilted cover? These lovelies are from Graham and Green:

And here are some  more beautiful hand-knitted covers. First this one from Seven Gauge Studios:

Or this one from Catherine Tough:

Or perhaps this lovely fairisle cover from Papa Stour. I love the ruffle:

Papa Stour also has another of my favourites, this felted jacquard cover:

For something a little less cuddly, what about these very tasteful lightly-quilted linen covers from Volga Linen:

Or these cheerful flowery printed covers from Alison Capeling:

Or this pretty V&A collection cover, available at Argos:

Or what about a slinky silk cover like this ivory one from Made in Silk:

And for those days when you just can’t bring yourself to get out of bed and face the day, there’s always this one, available from The Gifted Penguin:

Tillie Mint House Number Plaques

17 Jan

If we had a numbered house rather than a named one, I’d buy one of these gorgeous signs from Tillie Mint in a minute!

The red cherries design above is my favourite, but I’m also quite partial to these two:

Cox & Cox numbered vases

7 Jan

I picked up these lovely numbered vases in the Christmas sale at Cox & Cox and they’re already my favourites! Flowers are pretty scarce in the garden at this time of the year, so I just cut a few bits of greenery and popped them in. But I’m already picturing them in spring, each holding a perfect single tulip.

Newlyn Cheese

14 Dec

I had my first visit to the new Newlyn Cheese shop today, and what a treat it was!

It’s very small, but perfectly lovely and filled with the most delicious cheeses, biscuits, bread, chutneys, etc.

And who could resist cheeses with names like Miss Muffet and Ticklemore Goat?

I came home with wedges of Miss Muffet, Rachel and Cornish Blue. Miss Muffet is soft and mild and I bought it for my Gouda-loving husband. Rachel is quite possibly the yummiest cheese I’ve ever tasted. My mother-in-law thought it smelled of goat, but my sister-in-law and I were smitten. It was apparently named for an ex-girlfriend of the cheesemaker and is described as “sweet, curvy and slightly nutty.” Hah! I had to buy some of the Cornish Blue because last month it won top honours at the World Cheese Awards, the first time in a decade that a British cheese has won. And it beat 2,600 other entries!

World Cheese Awards … now why aren’t those televised?

I very nearly also bought some of the Yarg wrapped in wild garlic leaves, but decided to leave that for a future visit. And I’m confident there’ll be plenty of future visits.

Drop Scones

3 Nov

Today I came across this wonderful Stuart Gardiner bag (and matching tea towel):

The perfect gift for the peacenik/foodie on your Christmas list!

Of course, that picture immediately made me hungry for drop scones, which I haven’t had in years. My mother used to make them for me when I needed comforting (i.e., school trouble, boy trouble or work trouble). Most people say they’re best warm and freshly made, but I always liked them cold, slathered with butter and strawberry jam.

Drop Scones

Ingredients:
225g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
1 egg
50g butter, melted
300ml milk

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together to make a smooth batter. You may not need all the milk, or you might need a bit more.

Heat up a griddle or heavy frying pan. Grease it if needed. Drop the batter in by small spoonfuls. When each drop scone bubbles, flip it over and cook until the other side is golden brown.

I make mine small and dainty, so I got about 30 out of the mixture.

Simple, delicious and peace-loving.