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Friday 28 September 2012

Sluttishly Boozy: Poet's Muse

When I take a sip of this I am instantly transported to 19th Century Paris. I don't know why this happens with this drink, but I feel I should be sat in a smoky bar talking philosophy and smoking Gitanes with handsome gallic men with impressive moustaches.

My friend introduced me to this back in the spring whilst I was visiting her in North Wales, she's a really talented artist and this is her tipple of choice. I completely fell in love with it and it's now also become my go-to inspiration drink when something just isn't working. It fixes everything, either the inspiration comes or I make another one and no longer care as I'm immersed in a smoky Parisian bar.

Don't be put off by the Pernod, I also looked at the bottle with disdain when I spotted it but my god it's wonderful! Gone are the days of Pernod and blackcurrant, it's due for a comeback and I'm leading the charge!

You'll need:
  • 25ml Pernod
  • 75ml chilled cloudy apple juice
  • 50ml chilled tonic water
  • squeeze of lemon
  • thin slice of lemon to garnish
Make it!

Mix everything together (I use a mug) then pour into a coupe glass and garnish with your lemon.

Les Chat, C'est Chic

While I don't agree with dressing up kitties in little outfits (seriously, put the sailor outfit IN THE BIN), stylish cats need a stylish cat collar. They need a Paris skyline collar from Poppy Seed Cats' gorgeous Folksy shop. They're so cute! And, if you look closely, you can see little tiny French cats on the collar design. I like little French cats.

Actually, little French cats remind me of Henri:

"They mock my French by why? My French is perfect." LOVE HIM. Henri is the best french cat. He'd like a nice collar, I think.

They're only £8, with just £1.20 postage. Now I just need a snooty French cat to buy nice things for.

Martini Movies

After our screening of The NeverEnding Story earlier this week, I've got a bit of a cinema bug. I would like to watch all of the films, in the dark, with a drink. But the thing about the cinema is that by the time I get out of an evening, I'm so hungry that I could eat my own arm and all of the nice restaurants have shut. I'm usually left eating a dirty pasty on the train home.

Martini Movies at London's One Aldwych is the answer.

The screenings are pretty early - films start at 6:30 (or 5pm on a Sunday) and they've got a pretty good season coming up. They're starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo this weekend but the schedule seems to be of the 'easy going block busters that you thought about going to see but missed because you were busy and the Great British Bake Off was on'. They've even got some Christmas specials planned and they throw in popcorn.

So what makes these screenings so special? Well they'll serve you a Grey Goose martini and then when the film has finished, you're treated to a three-course meal in the hotel restaurant. This is cinema worth dressing up for.

Martini Movies are priced at £42.50, with martini and dinner included in the price. This is the definitely my kind of cinema.

Sluttishly Savoury: Smoky Chilli Sauce

It's cold and miserable outside so get some heat going with this homemade chilli sauce, it's dead easy to make and is amazing on a bacon sarnie (also chillies are great for hangovers so it makes that bleary eyed medicinal bacon sarnie all the more potent).

You can buy chipotle chillies from most supermarkets, they are often in the posh food section next to the dried porcini mushrooms and really expensive balsamic vinegars, and Asda now do really ace jars of chipotle for about £2.50 that will last you ages. I use blackberry vinegar in mine as I really like the sweetness and fruitiness it brings but you could use sherry or red wine vinegar instead and add a tablespoon of golden syrup to add the sweetness if you prefer. The cherry peppers are in all the supermarkets in glass jars, go for the ones in vinegar rather than oil

The sugar and vinegar are preservatives which help extend the life of this in your fridge. I've had bottles in there for a month and the flavour improves every day but this sauce basically replaced my need for tomato ketchup so it never lasts very long. Dunk your chips in it, smear it over a scotch egg, pop it on your burgers and feel instantly warmed.

You'll need:
  • 250g cherry peppers, drained
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 chipotle chillies, chopped
  • thumb sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion granules
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 400ml blackberry vinegar (or red wine/sherry vinegar, add 1 tablespoon golden syrup if not using fruit vinegar)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Make it!
  1. Put the first 8 ingredients into a saucepan and warm gently, let it bubble for 3 minutes then add the olive oil and blackberry vinegar and continue to heat gently for another 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and blitz in a food processor/blender until smooth. You can strain it through a sieve for a really smooth sauce but I like it quite chunky. 
  3. Taste and add salt and pepper and perhaps a bit more golden syrup if you want it a little sweeter then decant into sterilised bottles and leave to cool before putting it on EVERYTHING.

Gluten Free: Poires Belle Helene

I know, it feels a bit pretentious using the French name for food. Roughly translated, 'Poires Belle Helene' means 'pretty Helen's pears', which sounds rather more like a euphemism than a dessert, so I'm sticking with the French on this one. The pears at my local fruit farm is still quite small, but the moment they start selling them, I have to buy some and this dessert is the perfect excuse!

I can't walk outside at the moment without being hit by the smell of lavender so I had to use some in this recipe - lavender and pears are a match made in heaven. If you don't have any lavender in your garden and your neighbours aren't cool with you 'borrowing' some of theirs, you can buy dried lavender in most spice sections of your supermarket, Barts do one.

You'll need:
  • 6 firm pears, peeled
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1l water
  • 2 tsp lavender flowers
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lenthways
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 80ml double cream
  • 10g unsalted butter
Make it!

  • Cut a little bit off the base of each pear so that they stand upright.
  • Put the sugar, water, lavender flowers and vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the pears and simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender (pop a piece of baking paper or a plate on top of the pears to keep them submerged). Leave to cool in the syrup.
  • Put the chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl and set it above a saucepan half-filled with just simmering water. Stir all the time until the chocolate and butter are melted and you have a glossy sauce.
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Etsy Pick: Little Green Shed

Little Green Shed is my Etsy Pick for this week. In fact, this little shop has been a favourite of mine for a while, I am surprised I have yet to tell you all about it already. It is filled with delightful graphic prints that I am hankering to purchase for my walls (darn purse strings). The print above, Sunset Trees, is reminiscent of the mid-century graphics that I am particularly fond of and at for £14.50 I am pretty sure it won't stay on my wishlist for long. 

It is the simplicity of the design yet the detail in the colour story of the Zig Leaf print that I rather enjoy. Mustard is such a classy colour, don't you think?

The Hawksbit print is part of a new series by Lou Archell of Little Green Shed. It is a digital collage piece combining a vintage drawing with geometric shapes. I like that it is quite striking and subtle at the same time. 

All the prints are printed on smooth archival fine art paper using archival inks. The prints featured here are all A4 size and priced at £14.50 but there are many more beautiful prints and postcards available in the Little Green Shed Etsy shop.

Margate Just a Kiss Away

One of my favourite places is the English seaside. There's an enchantment about a pier in the rain, walking along a blustery beach hand in hand with someone you love, every year seaside towns become strange. Like they're missing something. Suddenly without the sunshine, the ice creams and the sunburnt people lining the beach, they're laid bare.

That's why winter is my favourite time to go to the beach.

Margate is already having a bit of a turn around - thanks, at least in part, to the curious Shell Grotto, and the wonderful B&B The Reading Rooms. Don't believe me about the Shell Grotto, look at this madness!

But it's probably Tracey Emin's influence that seems to be pushing our interest in the direction of East Kent (even if the Telegraph did say her exhibition with the Turner Contemporary earlier this year was 'bordering on irritating').

This cup and saucer (£25 from Culture Label) is the perfect reminder of windy beaches, rough tides and biting cold walks along the pier. Maybe Margate really is just a kiss away.

Thursday 27 September 2012

The JOY Sale

Sorry if you've spent all of your pocket money on Liberty suitcases and caravan birdhouses, but there's more joy to share with you today. JOY are having a sale! Race you!

Preppy knitwear with glasses is making my heart sing. This cropped cardigan is now £15 down from £39, and there are a few sizes to choose from.

Just how gorgeous is this sunshine yellow tunic? You can't have a bad day when you're wearing yellow. Especially when it's less than half price and just £25.

Autumn might be creeping up, but the mornings are still very bright. These cats eye sunglasses are only a tenner.

This red bow dress is only available in a size 12 now, but if it'll fit you it's just £30.

One more piece of knitwear, because it's cold out. This powder blue jumper has £15 off and will look very cute with a little shirt and a pair of jeans a la Cher. (Clueless Cher, not Cher Cher.)

Chocolate-Covered Jelly Beans WTF!

So wrong. YET SO RIGHT.
I have a small list of things that shouldn't be amazing together but are:
  • Condiments on toast. Tomato ketchup or salad cream on thickly buttered toast is a winner, every time.
  • Christmas in July events (or September). I had my photograph taken with a £900 reindeer last week.
  • Redheads and orange. And yellow. Also, red.
To this I am adding chocolate-covered jelly beans. Seriously. These little things are incredible. I don't even particularly like jelly beans - I passed the Wonka-esque Jelly Belly counter in Selfridges last week with little more than an "Eeh..."  - but it turns out that, much like coffee beans, covering carefully-chosen flavours in proper chocolate is bloody amazing.

Posh(er) packets
This month the Dublin-based The Jelly Bean Factory are launching their gourmet jelly beans coated in Belgian chocolate (please, please come up with a snappier name. Suggesions, as ever, in the comments...) and because I will pretty much eat anything, I picked up a packet of the mint variant from the munchies shelf at work.

They. Are. Amazing.

Let me say that again with appropriate formatting. They are amazing. So amazing, in fact, that every person I offered some to this morning (nine) adored them, except the chap who balefully refused for reasons of Yom Kippur.

There is absolutely no reason why jelly beans should taste so much better with the addition of chocolate, but they do. They're like a completely different snack. The mint is cool, but not toothpastey, and you could genuinely offer them round as an outré after dinner chocolate.

These beans will also be available in cherry, raspberry, coffee and the slightly dubious "mixed fruit", which puts me in mind of those hideous crystallised arrangements that somehow always ended up under my family's Christmas tree 10 years ago. They cost £3.50 for a 110g packet and watch this space and their website for shop details.

Make A Little Birdhouse In Your Soul

Birds kind of rule my life. I’ll tell you for why – I am chronically superstitious. Birds are all over superstition like a rash. Here are just a few ways in which my life is affected by our feathered friends:
  • I’d rather shave my own eyeballs than see a lone magpie without greeting him in the proper, bad luck-banishing manner - “Hello Mr Magpie, how’s your wife and how are your children?”. This must be said aloud, which at best makes me look (and sound) like an utter knob, and at worst has people alerting the authorities of my whereabouts. 
  • Peacock feathers are unwelcome in my house, despite the fact that I love them. This means I will never own this peacock feather fan. Take a moment to absorb the gravity of this situation.
  • I consider robins to be reliable weather forecasters, which has led to a number of inappropriate clothing choices.
  • I am happy when a bird craps on me. That's not normal. 
So, you think this debilitating affliction has made me hate birds, don’t you? AU CONTRAIRE: I love them. I love them so much that I want to buy them all a new house to express the depth of my gratitude for their mere existence. A handmade caravan birdhouse, £38 from Strictly For The Birds on Etsy, would convey my feelings perfectly.

OOOMS' solar-panelled birdhouse charges up by day, and the perch glows by night. The theory is that the light will attract bugs to the box, providing a steady stream of night-time snacks for the bird family within. Now, that could be a load of rubbish. This might be nothing but a gimmick. I'm in love with it either way. It's £55 (plus £8 postage) from the OOOMS shop

Behold the robin in the teapot. This kind of chocolate box cuteness could be happening in your garden soon, for just £14.50 from the Eden Project shop (robin not included).

I long for a campervan. Until I get one, I’m happy to live vicariously through a superimposed blue tit. These are on pre-order at Firebox at £24.99, and will be in stock next month. Shortly thereafter, one will be hanging in my (communal, quite overgrown) garden. 

Urban birds haven't been forgotten in this avian extravaganza. These door number birdhouses are part of Mumbai-based designer Nishant Jethi's Living Typography project, specifically created to give the dwindling city bird population a safe place to nest. Unfortunately for us, they're not stocked in the UK yet, but if you're interested in ordering one directly from Nishant, you'll find contact details on his blog.   

Put up your new birdhouses (and give old ones a good clean) during the next couple of months. This will give your garden birds the chance to scope out where they’d like to set up home when spring arrives, plus they’ll have somewhere to shelter during the cold, snowy winter months.

Oh, and just one more thing:

You've been humming it since the start of the post. Don't deny it. 

Sluttishly Sticky: Atkins & Potts Syrups

We're not shy about making our own syrups when we need to. Whenever you need a syrup for cakes, cocktails or just for drizzling on desserts just give us a call, but what if you don't have the time? Atkins & Potts make some brilliant syrups that you can whip out at a moment's notice. I love this rose syrup for adding to cakes (try a cardamon spiced cake with some of this over it, it's amazing!) and as a base for a delicately flavoured ice cream. If you think Ras el Hanout with rose petals in the spice mix, then you can see how this syrup would work rather wonderfully in Moroccan dishes, too. I'm not really sure how many rose petals you'd need to make your own syrup but I'm pretty sure that £3.50 for 200g is a bit of a bargain.

This chilli balsamic syrup and glaze is a great combination of sweet balsamic vinegar with the warmth of chilli heat and is perfect for adding chef-y flourishes to plates, if you feel so inclined. It works well with salads and is even kind of amazing drizzled over strawberries.

Quinces will be in season quite soon, but the season is pretty short and they're not always the easiest fruit to get hold of. This quince syrup gives you all the flavour of quince without having to chop the blighters (seriously, for such a small fruit, it pus up a real fight). It's an ideal pairing with cheese, so stick some on your cheeseboard. This floral fruit syrup would be fantastic dribbled over ice cream, or pancakes, or waffles...

All of the syrups are £3.50 and you can buy them online, or in farm shops and delicatessens around the country. 

Design Porn: Liberty Print Suitcases

Old-fashioned suitcases make me want to jump on a train immediately (to The Crab & Lobster, please). Everyone hates wheelie cases. Everyone hates the person with the wheelie case. No one could hate you and all of your adorableness if you were carrying a Liberty print suitcase. They're back! In four yummy new prints.

See how yummy? They're not massive suitcases, but if you're a light-packer like me you'll have enough space for a little break away somewhere excellent. Just leave the hardback books at home.

They're every bit as timeless as you'd expect from Liberty. A little chinzty, a little twee, yet somehow still elegant. That's something that the Cath Kidston brand doesn't really pull off.

I wasn't expecting to like this one, but it's actually my favourite. The bright pink feathers are pretty ridiculous, and they'll suit my pretty ridiculous 'going on holiday hooray' mood. (Unless you get excited about everything on a holiday trip, it's probably best you meet me there to be honest. A day later.

Now, I don't really like this Liberty print. Cream Lanthe just doesn't do it for me. But I can at least show you the inside.

Each case is £65 and likely to sell out very quickly. Pick your favourite, pick a hotel, and go!

Let Her Eat Cake: Caramel Lemon Loaf

Not a summery, zingy loaf. This is rich and sticky. The only way to eat it is hot and smothered in butter (the cake, not you).

Caramel Lemon Loaf

You'll need:
  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 200g yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g dark brown demerara sugar
  • 175g self-raising flour
Make it!
  • Preheat the oven to 180c / Gas 4.
  • Grease and line a loaf tin.
  • Whisk together the oil, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is reasonably lump-free and the zest is rubbed in.
  • Sift the flour into the sugar mixture, then fold in the wet ingredients.
  • Bake for around 45 minutes, until cooked through.

Not so sew-sew: Haberdasher Me kits from Spinster's Emporium

In the world of crafty kits, all things are not equal. I want to make something I actually foresee using in real life (no, I don't want to make my own floral corsage, very much). I also want to learn some skill I could use again, should I venture out a creative odyssey of my own. In short, I want to make, not to make do. And I definitely want to make something using Spinster's Emporium's Haberdasher Me kits.

I found these in a rather roundabout way. I saw the above picture in a craft feature in the Australian mag Frankie. Truthfully, I was first captivated by the model's AMAZING hair and make-up. Then I looked down and realised how marvellous her sweater update was. I really like how it makes classic embroidery stitches look completely fresh. And how it makes a grey sweater look utterly adorable. So I googled the makers behind the feature, Spinster's Emporium, discovered they were based in Nottingham and then lost myself to their brilliant shop selling vintage fabrics, trimmings and wallpaper. And four brilliant little how-tos kits for £14.95 which actually includes the lovely design above, which I now know is called Kate.

Each of the kits contains material and an instruction booklet and is based around a different technique which you adapt for your own clothes pretty much as you'd like. So for Lou Lou you learn how to work with lace (with gorgeous vintage lace included in the kit).

Sarah teaches you all about applique and hand-embroidery.

And with Alexa you learn some neat fabric manipulation tricks.

With the focus on the skills, rather than the objects themselves, these kits should inspire some pretty creative clothes-embellishing. I think I want to try out the lace one next - how about you?

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Sluttery by Post: The Truckle Cheese Company

Truckle. It's one of the nicest words, isn't it? (Derived from the Latin for 'wheel', rather than 'cheese brilliance'). You know you're in for treats if someone mentions the word truckle. Truckle implies that you're not just getting a little bit of cheese, oh no. You're getting cheese that's all wrapped up and protected and looked after and will probably taste amazing. I think truckles remind me of Christmas. Perhaps it's their colour, but there's also something about sitting in front of the telly with a truckle of cheese all to yourself that's very Christmassy.

Thus, the word truckle makes me happy.

It shouldn't really be a surprise that The Truckle Cheese Company are getting me excited. I want to try ALL OF THE TRUCKLES! Their cheeses tend to be made from English cows milk, although you'll find a couple of goat's cheeses in their shop as well. Prices seem to be reasonable and rather dependent on weight. These aren't artisan cheeses (I'd head to Farmison for those), but if you're a fan of your cheddars then they're definitely worth a shot. I think people take cheddar for granted, but one of the simplest cheeses can often be one of the tastiest. I might always go for the brie first when presented with the perfect cheeseboard, but I'd definitely miss cheddar if is wasn't there.

Truckles from the Truckle Cheese Company start from £3.95 and I'm tempted to try every single one in the name of research and fantastic cheese dreams.

A Perfect Autumn Skirt From ASOS

ASOS check midi skirt, £45
This week, all I want to do is dribble over the incredible Mari Tote from Accessorize that Elizabeth wrote about. (Blue snakeskin? £38? Yes please!)

But in between rendering my keyboard both damp and a health hazard, I've been sighing over this  fantastic red check midi skirt from ASOS. Ignore the weird cowgirl does Grease in an opticians styling: this skirt needs something pretty and vampy to make the most of those lovely colours.

I saw it in this weekend's Fabulous magazine where they styled it with a pretty black shirt from - although given their poor customer service record among DS readers, you might want to shop around - and some black Jaspar Conran heels. Witness:
So preeeetty. Excellent styling, Fabulous, well done.
As the world's peariest pear, I am a huge fan of flared skirts of any length (my one and only mini could double as a lamp shade) and I really love the colour. The high waist nips you in, and you can pop a nice belt over it for extra cinch. Perfect for autumn and a reasonable investment at £45.

How would you style yours? (Douze points to anyone who says "With a creme egg.")

Ask the Sluts: Where are our favourite independent bookshops?

We've picked a new book for Sluttery Book Club! We're going to be reading Marian Keyes' latest, The Mystery of Mercy Close. It might have only just come out, but it's been long-awaited and the positive reviews are flying in quickly. Our live chat will be on October 15th, so you've got plenty of time to get reading.

And in the meantime? We're getting all excited about our favourite independent bookshops. This is where you'll usually find us on Saturday mornings.

Sian: My favourite bookshop actually isn't in the UK (I know, that's not very helpful). The Book Market at 11 Calle del Cauce in Torromelinos is one of my favourite places. It sells second hand books, but you can also sell your books back and this was a literary lifeline when I ran off to live in Spain three months.

And in this country? I'll always have a soft spot for the Castle Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye, because well... it's a bookshop in a castle. It's also got a fabulous view and a bench outside. And Clerkenwell Tales in London is so beautiful, like a little curated art gallery. These days most of my books come from The Riverside Bookshop by Sluttery HQ. But that might have something to do with the handsome bookseller.

Frances: One of my favourite things is my London bookshop map. It's published every year and maps out independent bookstores in the capital. I always fondly look towards my corner of the map where I can guarantee The Bookseller Crow will always provide me with an excellent new read if I wander in on a Saturday and Balham's My Back Pages has given me many hours of enjoyable rummage time amongst their secondhand books, and countless more reading them. I've not been but I long to take a trip up to Barter Books in the station in Alnwick. While it is them we can thank for the whole Keep Calm phenomenon, don't hold that against them. They also promise roaring open fires, coffee and cookies, and a model railway. All that AND books. Amazing.

Laura: I was born and raised in a town just 30 minutes’ drive from Inverness, but I didn't actually discover my now-favourite bookshop, Leakey’s, until a few years ago. Housed in an 18th-century Gaelic church, the shop is gasp-inducingly beautiful, and crammed with secondhand books. I could happily spend all day here.

I lived in Madrid for two years and, like Sian, a constant supply of books in English was a necessity. Foreign-language books in Spain are super-expensive when bought new from big chains, so J&J Books & Coffee was a favourite haunt of mine. It’s cheap and friendly – with great coffee, pizza, and cocktails to boot – and it has a brilliant trade-in system so you can swap your old books for new-to-you ones. And who can resist a bookshop that’s open until 1.30am?

Kat: In the strictest sense, I don't have a favourite that I buy from all the time. Isn't that appalling? For the simple reason that the books I buy I tend to get from The Kindle Store, or The Folio Society if I'm forking out for something special for a friend's birthday.

When I visit my parents, I love One Tree Books in Petersfield - it's been doing the coffee, cake, jazz and books thing for a trillion years - and in London I've a huge soft spot for the Oxfam Bookshop in Hampstead, which is just one of the most magical places in London. It has a vast selection of creakingly ancient tomes in beautiful covers, it's half-hidden down a little street and it always makes me remember why I love reading. I'm also dying to visit Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, but I suspect that's because I want his Reading Year present far, far more!

Caleigh: My absolute favourite bookshop has to be The Cottage Bookshop in Penn, Buckinghamshire.  It's two floors, crammed with second hand books ranging from chick lit and murder mysteries through to rare and antique titles. I could easily lose myself in there for hours (and often have). Be warned, you will leave with your arms full of books!

The first bookshop I ever visited and the one where I fell in love with reading was the Milngavie Bookshop, just outside of Glasgow. Whenever I visit my parents I still love to pop in and browse the shelves and have a cup of coffee in their wee cafe. There's a real community to this bookshop and I definitely feel like one of the family!

Got a favourite bookshop? Tell us immediately. And then run off to buy The Mystery of Mercy Close and join in next month's Sluttery Book Club.

Cute or Creepy: Melamine Butterfly Plates

Today I'm conflicted about plates (no, YOU'RE hungover and worrying about trivial things). Specifically these melemine butterfly plates from Rockett St George. They have all sorts of things going on that I really like: mega bright colours, butterflies, bold designs. Loads of ace stuff.

I'm just not sure if I want a MASSIVE BLOODY GREAT INSECT staring back at me while I eat my fish finger sandwiches.

They've just gone from really quite cool and cute to incredibly creepy in a pretty short space of time. They're probably reminding Sara of that time there was butterflies tangled in her hair. Butterflies are very unpredictable.

The designs are so beautiful, the bold colours are fab. I'm just not sure if massive insects really say fine dining (but then, no one has ever really 'dined finely' on plastic plates). On mugs, yes. Teapot? Perhaps. Plates? No.

What say you? Massive insect plates: cute or creepy? Love them or hate them, they're £24 and as much as I want to love them they're going to give me giant insect nightmares.

Design Porn: Kiran Ravilious

It's always exciting to find a local designer. When I stumbled across Kiran Ravilious' work, I was taken in by the beautiful simplicity of her block print designs like this green daisy cushion:
There's a lot of detail in there but it still looks clean and gorgeous and at £40, quite the bargain. Kiran was brought up in Singapore and has taken inspiration from that and her grandmother-in-law, Tirzah Ravilious, as well as plant life to produce her designs. I'm inspired to write words and schemes in this red fan notebook which is £6:
Continuing the pretty and practical theme, these tote bags have an inside zipped pocket which is stroke of genius. No more scrabbling at the bottom of a bag under books and tissues and half eaten packets of biscuits (what? No, of course that's not what's in my bag.... [it's totally what's in my bag]) to find your keys! They cost £18. I rather like this fern design:
Kiran is also working on aprons and scarves which should be available soon. Considering she only started three years ago, I'm excited to see what she produces in the future.

The Winners of our Short Film Competition

If you weren't at the Domestic Sluttery screening of The NeverEnding Story last night, you'd have missed us showing the winner of our first ever female filmmaker competition. We had so many excellent entries, but the standout winner for us was Prano Bailey-Bond's music video for House, by Cool Fun.

We absolutely loved this film! All awkward, kinky and quirky. It's hard not to judge a music video by the song as well (we quite like that too), but actually we think it's the video that makes this song shine.

And of course, there were a couple of other videos that we loved. Lauren Midwinter's fashion film The Undressed was a very close runner-up.

The film is so simple. We loved that it was all about sound, but it said so much more in a very short time frame.

And our last pick from the films is Casey Hennessy's Gingerbread. This dark comedy is really fun, and is beautifully shot, all while telling a great little story.

This is such a great collection of short films and we had so much fun judging that we promise to do another competition very soon. Congratulations to Prano, Lauren and Casey!

Wallpaper Wednesday: Cabanas by Thibuat

This wallpaper reminds me of Enid Blyton's circus books. Those books were enough to make me want a circus to pass through town and whisk me away, and then I'd have a teacher who was also a magician and that would be amazing. Because nothing could be more amazing than a teacher who could pull rabbits out of a hat and then tell you all about cognitive verbs.

Thibuat's Cabana wallpaper  might not have any rabbit in hats pictured, but it still takes me right back to reading all of those books as a child.

Big tops, tents, gazebos, all looking lovely and colourful, this wallpaper is pretty special. The design is a little old-fashioned, a little retro, and I think that stops it from being too garish. It slots really well into the room spaces on Wallpaper Direct and I think it would fit into any room. Ideally one that I live in.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Cocktail Hour: The Luck Dragon

We're very excited today. Actually, we're positively giddy. The Domestic Sluttery screening of The NeverEnding Story is tonight and we can't wait (you can still buy tickets, GO GO GO!)

Sure, you could watch it on DVD, but we've had a chat with the friendly barmen at The Prince Charles Cinema and they were happy for Nick to create a themed cocktail for the event. Obviously, we called it a Luck Dragon and they'll be just £4.50 at the bar tonight. And, if you can prove your name is (Seb) Bastian, we'll buy you one.

If you can't make the event (boo, hiss) but you want to watch The NeverEnding Story on DVD along with us, you'll need to know how to make your own Luck Dragon cocktail.

The Luck Dragon (serves one, but will scale up for pitchers if you feel like sharing with other Fantastia adventurers).

You'll need:
  • 50ml cloudy apple juice
  • 25ml lime
  • A dash of passion fruit juice (or a tsp of the real thing should you have some)
  • 50ml vodka
  • Ginger beer to top up.
Shake it!
  • Stir the base ingredients over ice in a tall glass. 
  • Top up with the ginger beer. 
  • Straw in, done!
  • Please turn off your mobile phones, the film is about to start.
Please do not attempt to fly your Luck Dragons after three or more cocktails. That's very irresponsible Luck Dragon behaviour.

Only the first five Sebastians will get a cocktail on us, we can't have hundreds of you turning up without your Luck Dragons and drinking all of the vodka.

The Data Necklace

Twitter necklaces aren't really 'my thing'. I don't want @sianysianysiany on a necklace and I don't want a little Twitter bird necklace. But a Data Necklace? This is a whole different ballgame.

"Much of what we do on a daily basis leaves a digital record of our activity behind us."

Tweets, texts, emails, Facebook messages that may or may not be visible to everyone, Foursquare check-ins. We're creating data all the time, without even thinking about it. With a little care and attention, it turns out to be rather pretty.

The Data Necklace was designed and created by Stef Lewandowski are made using software that shows how often specific words show up on your Twitter account, then those results are used to form the jewellery, with some of the tweets on the pieces of acrylic. It's totally personal to you, but it's so much more than just a personalised necklace. A personalised necklace will tell a total stranger what your name is, a Data Necklace means you can wear a snapshot of your life - who you are, who you love, what makes you happy.

Prices for these fabulous necklaces are kicking off at £150, and once 50 people have pre-ordered Stef can start producing them (and they will, I have no doubt about that). I think he's done something really special - data and technology are part of our lives now, we don't even think about the tweets we send or the messages we leave behind. But they have such a huge influence in design as well as in our everyday lives, it's lovely to see something beautiful come out of that.

Paul Clarke took these images, he's excellent so do be sure to check out his work. And his awesome red hair.
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