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Friday 28 May 2010

Friday Outfit Fun: the style classics

It's Bank Holiday weekend (in Blighty). It's bound to rain. What outfit can possibly beat the elements and look perfectly polished, no matter what?

When in doubt, I always turn to a fail-safe classic combination. Some may say boring, but I say 'pah!' to that. Invest in classic pieces like these and nothing will work harder in your entire clothing collection. Inject a little personality with your own take on an otherwise traditional look: a sequin skirt; colour-popping tights or a huge bow a-top your head.

In my book, these pieces are The Holy Grail of outfit-building - not forgetting the all-important slash of pillar-box red lippy to sex it all up a bit:

Dita bag, £35 Oasis
Aviator Sunglasses, £12
Breton stripe top, £45 Whistles
Quilted patent pumps, £88 French Sole
Linda Trench, £78 GAP
Ruby-Woo lipstick, £12.50 MAC

Picnic Time: Moomin Flask

Ah, the Moomins. Strangely melancholic, eccentric yet gentle, large-snouted surreal creatures from Finland. As a child, I was a bit bewildered by them, but now I'm hopelessly infatuated, and pester my beloved to take me to Moomin World every time the topic of holidays comes up (heaven help him when the Harry Potter theme park opens).

So predictably, I love this retro Moomin flask from Cloth Ears, which comes in its own presentation gift box. Decant a tropical cocktail into it, find a shady spot in your local park, and picnic away to your heart's content whilst reminiscing about the Moomins. And all for only £12.99 (booze not included).

Bag Lust: Knomo Laptop Bag

I LOVE Knomo bags. In my hunt for the perfect laptop bag, I've been staring at these babies wide-eyed ever since. This bag is actually my perfect laptop bag. I know that. I'm pretty sure I'd go into meetings with this and kick some serious business ass. Or at least look very swish when I'm working from cafes.

But, this Knomo bag is very pretty leather which means it's £245. It's an investment, right? A very pretty, shiny investment.

Design Porn: The Tulip Lamp

How gorgeous is this luscious tulip-inspired floor lamp, by the French Bedroom Company? Made from a uniquely textured paper-like fabric, it's designed to be soft to the touch and to diffuse the light softly around the room, mixing artistic sculpture with interior design.

It doesn't look too sturdy, so you'd need to be careful of clumsy wine-caused tumbles around it, but it's got that ethereal fairytale thing going on without being too obviously kooky. At £595, it isn't cheap, but if you take into account that it was originally £695, then maybe you can convince yourself that by buying it you'll actually be saving £100. A tidy sum not to be sniffed at, I'm sure you'll agree. Or at least that's the logic I'll be sticking to...

Bollocks To Baking: Star Bakery

One of the many fabulous things about being a Domestic Slut is that people want you to eat cake. And when the cake is as delicious as the ones I received from Star Bakery, it is a very great pleasure indeed!

Star Bakery are a small bakery based in Nottingham and specialise in making cupcakes for whatever occasion takes your fancy. They also do larger cakes and cookies if cupcakes aren't quite what you're after.

Star Bakery deliver everything themselves and the lovely Liana delivered a new 'picnic' box of 9 lemon and vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, complete with forks and napkins ready for picnic fun! The frosting is perfectly swirled and a good depth - not too much but not too little while the sponge is moist and not too crumbly. The lemon ones had a subtle flavour which was refreshing but not overpowering. The vanilla and chocolate ones were rich but again not overpowering.

If you're after a special treat for a special occasion (and live in the East Midlands!), then I'd recommend giving Star Bakery a call.

You can contact Star Bakery at [email protected] or on 0115 840 1640.

Sluttishly Vegetarian: Peppers with Feta and Pesto

This dish is super-easy, colourful and summery, and the sort of thing you can easily sling together after a hard day at work. I love the combination of sweet pepper, salty feta and tangy pesto. Serve it as a starter for four people, or a main course for two alongside some cous cous with toasted pine nuts.

Peppers with feta & pesto

You'll need:

  • 2 red peppers, halved and de-seeded
  • 1 block of feta cheese, cubed
  • 4 tbsps pesto

Make it!

  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Divide the feta between the pepper halves
  • Drizzle a generous tablespoon of pesto into each of the pepper halves
  • Bake on a tray for 20 minutes, until the peppers are cooked and juicy

There are heaps of ways you could make this recipe your own - how about swapping cubes of halloumi for feta or using coriander pesto? Just don't tell your friends how easy it was...

Thursday 27 May 2010

How to stay the night without becoming a bag lady

Here's an often over-looked problem of modern courtship: if you're planning on staying the night at your partner's place, how do you carry all the things you need around? I'm not just talking about things for the night, it's also the change of clothes and the cosmetics for the next day, all on top of the tons of stuff I cart around everyday - a big old book, packed lunch, diary and notebook etc etc. My history with overnight packing attempts is long and unfortunate: I've left stuff behind on tubes or pushed hygiene to the limit with my attempts to carry less toiletries. I've even been stopped and searched by a policeman on the basis of my over-sized overnight bag.

I'm still far from mastering this and am open to receiving any useful tips you have on this subject. In return I will share my recent break-through with this tricky issue. The bag pictured has changed my life. Though it is nowhere near the prettiest bag we've featured on this site, it's probably the one of the most useful. The reason is simply because you can get masses of stuff in it and somehow it doesn't seem to get too bulky. For example, last weekend I managed to fit in two changes of clothes, including a pair of shoes, and a bottle of wine, as well as all my usual 'stuff'. Delightfully, no policemen asked to look inside it. Because the design looks reasonably smart you can keep up the pretence of being professional at work and best of all, because it's got a drawstring, everything is kept safely inside with no fear of your pants falling out onto the tube platform.

As a bonus, it's not too many pennies either, costing £29.99 from Urban Outfitters. Similarly shaped options that are pretty and practical include this similarly shaped studded drawstring bag from Joy for £35 or this Reiss bucket bag for a much pricier £245.

If you've any tips on how to deal with packing for staying over at their place while still keeping up all appearances of prettiness and professionalism, do add them to the comments below. I (and the female population) need to know!

Home Office: Pigeon-holed Shelving

How cool are these little pigeon-hole shelves from Graham & Green? Usually pigeon-holing of any kind is a bad thing. Very very bad. But in this case, it's just very pretty. It's got 12 little shelves and cubby holes and even little places for labels. Although I'm fairly sure my labels would be "stuff" and "thing I don't need" or "more stuff". Very useful indeed.

If you want to pigeon hole all of the bits and bobs you have no use for, it's £65 from G&G. I'd quite like that desk lamp too.

Sluttery Interviews: handmadecharlie

Want to know more about our latest sponsored seller handmadecharlie? I had a chat with her earlier this week about her very very pretty jewellery over on All Things Original.

Tell us more about your range and what you do.

My name is Charlie Deeley. I studied Jewellery and Silversmithing at degree level, and have always dreamt of running my own business. Earlier this year, took the plunge and started handmadecharlie!

My contemporary silver jewellery has a vintage feel. I love to incorporate found fabrics and paper into my work. The handmadecharlie collection features a selection of retro floral prints, delicate snippets of pattern are preserved beneath a layer of clear resin.

What's a typical day like for you?

Sometimes I wish I had a typical day! Since I started handmadecharlie, everything has turned upside down. My business is taking its first baby steps at the moment, as things have taken off I have been able to devote more and more of my time to the business. I have a day job, if you like, for just a few days a week. It helps to pay the rent and keep me in polka dot dresses!

The days spent in my workshop are the best sort of days. I'm an early bird; by 7 o'clock I'm normally checking my emails with a cup of tea in my hand. Then it’s down to the workshop to put together any orders that have come in. I always have a 'to do list' on the go, my brain is mush without one. So the rest of the day is a mixture of designing, making and re-stocking sold items. Normally with a few hours devoted to photographing my work.

What inspires you?

Nature inspires me. I grew up in the countryside, so when it comes to aesthetic inspiration I will always come back to flowers and plant structures. My workshop has a view out over the garden. Right now there are blue tits nesting in the old oak tree. It’s so lovely to watch them coming and going. Quite distracting in fact!

What's next for you and your designs?

Right now I am very excited about a new collection of designs. I am returning to my silversmithing roots, creating a range of simplistic silver jewellery. It all about the flower petals and curly tendrils! I am set to have a new collection for the summer.

Which other designers on All Things Original should we check out?

I love Cassia Beck's photography. Such beautiful vintage images taken with an old school camera. I particularly like the hedgerow shots, cow parsley and buttercups in the sunlight, lovely!

Sluttishly Easy: Smoked Mackerel and Potato Dauphinoise

I don't use cook books anymore. I buy them. But I tend to use recipes I find online. But then I found Domestic Slut Alex S perusing one of my Nigel Slater books, Real Food, and I'd honestly forgotten I'd bought it. Despite the fact that it has a whole section on potatoes.

That's right, a whole section.

So I thought I'd have another flick through, pick something at random and go nuts in the supermarket. My pick was potato dauphinoise with smoked mackerel. It sounded easy, it looked scrummy and I've been meaning to make dauphinoise for ages. I've always thought it was very complicated. But it's not! Hurrah! It's been a long time since I've eaten mackerel as well, and I've never cooked with it.

But this is lazy girl cooking. My favourite kind. Throw everything in a dish and forget about it. Then come back in an hour and you'll have a tasty dinner that's all creamy and lovely. This was a perfect meal and that half I was saving for lunch somehow got eaten...

Serves 2 (I faffed about with Nigel's recipe, so I didn't have to share with anyone else)

You'll need:
  • 300g waxy potatoes (no peeling! hurrah!)
  • 200g smoked mackerel fillets (I used peppered)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
Make it!

Thinly slice the potatoes and lay in an ovenproof dish. Break the mackerel fillets into pieces, removing the skin (icky, no one likes the skin) and lay with the potatoes, repeating with potato and fish until the dish is nearly full. Add the bay leaves.

The mix up the cream, milk and mustard (the mustard takes a fair while to mix in, and most of it actually didn't - take note Mr. Slater). Pour over your fish, pop in the oven on 190c/ Gas mark 5 and cook for about an hour. Serve with asparagus and a giant smile. Look forward to your potato coma.

Bollocks to Baking: Hope and Greenwood chocolate bars

We've already written about the old-fashioned loveliness of Hope and Greenwood and their worthy claim to being 'purveyors of splendid confectionery.' I'll admit that on my visits to their shop I've always been a bit overwhelmed by the prettiness of their sweets to pay much attention to their chocolate bars. I won't be making this schoolchild error again.

A couple of the bars arrived with me on Monday tea time, when it was really, really warm. I decided to devour them at great speed 'before they melted'. In fact they were just too tasty to stop scoffing.

Chocolate lovers should try out the Blackforest Cherry gateau bar. The bar itself with its white and plain chocolate swirl looks almost too good to eat. Luckily I didn't let that stop me as it was a great sweet treat. The black cherries that inspire its name give it a taste a bit like the Green and Blacks Cherry bar but less sweet. That's a good thing in my book.

The Lemon Drizzle bar was also very pretty, with a white chocolate base decorated with scrawls of plain chocolate and candied lemon peel pieces. However, pause first if you're considering buying this for a chocoholic. It tastes truly scrumptious, like lovely lemony milkshake or sorbet or indeed lemon drizzle cake. Despite the large cocoa content, it just doesn't taste so 'chocolatey'. That really didn't bother me - your fondness for it will depend on how desperate you are for that chocolate hit.

Both bars come in a darlingly dotted box decorated with Hope and Greenwood's distinctive logo. They cost £4.99 each so, yes, perhaps too pricey to devour in one sitting (no matter how hot or greedy you are). But oh so scrummy.

The Coolest Coat

Well done, Karen Millen. It's just slightly too warm at the moment to warrant buying this, but I'm so taken with it. It's the perfect summery/springy trench coat. I love the colour (which would actually look stupid on me - I'm blonde). The double collar is a fancy touch, but then Karen Millen do excellent fancy touches, don't they?

The sleeves look stunning pushed up, and if you get caught in the summery rain, you'll look fabulous in this. Especially in giant sunglasses. Not that I need an excuse to wear those more than I do.

At £175 (down from £250), it's pricey, but this is very much an investment piece. Even in yellow, this is a classic.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Saving the Pennies: Cash Machine Piggy Bank

This is one of the weirdest homeware items I've ever seen, and I can't decide if it's insanely ugly or sheer genius. Although it might look like an eighties nightmare or something from Back to the Future, it's actually a hi-tech, battery-operated piggy bank. It takes both coins and notes, you get your own fake credit card to operate it, and it makes all the lights and sounds of a real ATM. And, in a slightly surreal twist which I'm sure would make everyone happier about their overdrafts if real cash machines adopted it, you get special songs from it if you use it on Christmas or your birthday.

It's made by the Science Museum, and it's available from Amazon for £27. And it looks trickier to raid than a jam-jar of 5ps next to the front door. But if, like me, you usually ransack the piggy bank to collect enough change for a midnight quest to the off-licence for tequila and crisps, that could be a good thing...

Shooting from the hip (flask)

As much fun as festivals are, they are not the place for looking glam. Not unless you're Kate Moss anyway. And those girls who manage to look fabulous without having washed their hair in four days. How do they not have mud on their maxi dresses?!

But, just because you're almost certainly going to look rubbish for an entire weekend, there are some things you can do to make yourself look a little more presentable. Not drinking booze out of a plastic bottle is one of them. Stop that, right now. You are not 14.

Instead, pick up one of these hip flasks from Urban Outfitters. They're £10 each, and come in all sorts of pretty colours and patterns. These are my favourites:

Pretty, no? A fabulous way of hiding all of your gin.

This croc pattern flask might be my favourite. Whichever you choose, they're so much better than drinking out of a lukewarm diet Coke bottle.

Wallpaper Wednesday: Franklin Wall Sticker

How cool is this wall sticker? I think you'd have to find the perfect wall for it - most of the time I do my very best hide plug sockets, but it works so well with one! Maybe a light switch would work just as well?

Either way, this Franklin-inspired wallsticker (emailed to us by the beady-eyed Devon Keller) is going right to the top of my 'want right now' list. Even if I have to put an extra plug in my house just to make it look fabulous.

It's £29 from Hu2 Designs.

Tasty Tapas: Discover Unearthed

I don't know about you, but I love tapas. Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a grazer when it comes to food. I just can't commit to one big dish, and tapas lets me flirt with lots of different flavours without having to settle for just one option.

So when I received a lovely package of goodies from Unearthed, a groovy food company that specialises in bringing delicious continental foods to the UK, I was ready to cosy up with a bottle of wine and take my pick.

The three tapas dishes came complete with reusable terracotta bowls to cook them in - always a bonus for me. They're pretty foolproof to heat through in the oven in around twenty minutes, and the terracotta helps to keep the dishes warm while you sip your wine, wait for your pals to arrive or otherwise dither around the kitchen.

Pork meatballs were moist and succulent, with a sweet yet smoky chipotle sauce. The white bean tapas with manchego (or posh cheesy beans) were a bit average, but tasty (as cheesy things tend to be). Best of the lot was the moreish chorizo in mojo pepper sauce, a traditional Majorcan dish with zingy paprika and peppers. Watch out for the oil though (especially if you're in your best party frock). Our chorizo produced a projectile stream of paprika-hued oil when we stuck a fork in it, so probably best to prick them before you cook rather than risk redecorating the dining room!

Unearthed products can be found in Waitrose, or visit their website for more information on the range.

Folksy Find: Vintage Train Ticket Bag

Ah, the romance and glamour of old-fashioned train travel. Doesn't it just make you want to load your luggage trunk onto a stream train and flutter a handkerchief from the window as you chug out of the station in search of your long-lost sweetheart?

At least that's what I'll be fantasising about as I slog off to work on a hideously claustrophobic commuter train with this beautiful bag slung over my shoulder. Made with a rare vintage-inspired Robert Kaufman fabric, it's printed with old-fashion train tickets and costs £29 from Uniquely Different on Folksy. Can I get mine with a handsome chap in an old-fashioned sailor outfit, please?

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Cocktail Hour: Angel Face

This cocktail derives from the French brandy Calvados. I'm pretty certain that there's no better type of brandy than apple brandy (although Jane might argue that cherry is best). There's something about apple and brandy that goes so very well together. So this cocktail will be full of yum. Especially since there's gin in it too. Wahey!

You'll need:
  • 25ml Gin
  • 25ml Apricot Brandy
  • 25ml Calvados
Shake it!

Mix everything together in a cocktail shaker and stir together with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

Flickr image from khrawlings' photostream.

Tina Tsang's Wonderland Cutlery

Is everyone over the whole Wonderland thing now? Wow, that didn't last very long, did it? Fabulous. Now I can go back to liking fairy tales, without feeling like I'm a child. A child who jumps on the bandwagon at that.

So I want this Wonderland cutlery from Hidden Art Shop. It's so very pretty, and the details are lovely. Sure, it's pewter so it's not cheap (erm, in fact each piece is £42) but these are more collectors items rather than something you're going to eat your breakfast with. But, I love Tina Tsang's stuff, and these are no exception.

Design Porn: Zelda Wong

I love these seasonal necklaces from jewellery designer Zelda Wong.

There's spring.


Autumn (you can see where this is going, can't you?)

And winter!

They're all made of silver, and they're £55 each. Which one is your favourite?

Butterfly Accessories from Rock 'n' Rose

With her hatred of butterflies, Domestic Slut Alex won't be impressed with these butterfly beauties, but now that summer seems like it's finally here, they're an exotic alternative to flower fascinators.

Not everyone would be able to pull them off, and if you overdo it you'd be in danger of looking like a kooky folk singer, but combine them with natural make-up and a plain maxi dress and you'll be rocking the Woodstock look whilst still staying gorgeously glam.

The ring is £15 and the headband is £22, from Rock 'n' Rose.

Home Office: We have a strategic plan...

It's called *doing* things.

Could these strategic plan prints be more perfect? They're much better than those Keep Calm and Carry On prints (although I quite like those too). These are the perfect print for putting above my desk, so then I remember to actually do things, instead of looking at cute puppies.

It's an excellent plan. We done Baltimore Print Studios (and Vikki Chowney for directing us there in the first place). $30 well spent.

Monday 24 May 2010

Cupboard Lust: Cloud Salt and Pepper Shakers

We've shown you several strange salt and pepper shakers over the last year or so. From clockwork walking robots to sinister ceramic faces and bizarre birds, there's apparently no end to the diverse designs we can find. So now the sun is finally shining, it doesn't seem too depressing to show you these nimbus cloud rainshakers. Made from plastic, the cloud-shaped creations will make you smile whatever the weather. They're £9.95, from Giftlab.

What do you think? Would they give you an unwanted reminder of winter, or make you feel sunnier when you re-enact dramatic thunderstorms over your dinner?

Shoe Porn: Nautical Office Flats

I'm not the biggest wearer of flats. I'm actually a bit on the short side, so I'm always going to favour high heels. Actually, the higher the better. But, if I'm running about London they're just not practical (not that that actually stops me). A few of you have asked us to find some pretty flats, so I'm kicking off with these nautical-inspired flats from Office.

They're fun, but not overly cutesy. I don't do cutesy. Instead, these are the kind of shoes that will brighten up an outfit without very much effort at all. And here's the thing: If there was a high heeled version, I'm pretty sure they'd look really ugly.

These don't, these are super pretty. And they're only £30. Might just convince me to start wearing flat shoes more often.

Etsy pick: Polaroid cities charm bracelet

Now that the weather is picking up, it's normally the cue for me to start wistfully thinking about holidays: where I'm going to go, what I'm going to wear, what I'll get to eat. Regretfully all the news of ash clouds and striking cabin crews we've had so far this year has slightly taken the edge off my excitement and my passport is still gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

Luckily a little wander in the imagination is still free and viable and that's where this Polaroid cities charm bracelet comes in. Made by Staffordshire-based She Draws, its charms are made of dinky 1 inch high bits of plastic, illustrated with seven fabulous cities - London, Brighton, Venice, Paris, Barcelona, Edinburgh and Berlin - giving plenty of fuel for travel fantasies. It's also cheaper than a return flight at $23 and, if that volcano keeps playing up, I'm focussing on the fact that most of those cities are just a short train ride away.

Sluttery Travels: Sweat Shop, Paris

I love the idea of Sweat Shop (and it's yet another bullet point on my 'reasons to go back to Paris' list). Not unlike a cyber cafe, but with sewing machines instead! So you can go grab a coffee, and sew up that cushion cover you've been meaning to finish.

The sewing machines are just €6 for one hour, or €25 for a day pass with tea and coffee.

There are 10 Singer sewing machines dotted around the cafe, and one communal table. There are also workshops throughout the week. Which is a good thing - I'm rubbish at sewing. Something tells me if I was living in Paris and could pop into Sweat Shop each week, I might get really really good at it.

Sweat Shop is at 13, rue lucian Sampaix, 75010 Paris, M Jaques Bonsergent. You can check out more images over on their blog.

Dream Dress: Molly Polka-Dot Bow Dress

I am infatuated by this Molly dress, by Lunacy Boutique. I fully acknowledge that it might look like an eight-year-old's party frock, but for me that just makes it all the more alluring.

And it's adjustable too: the baby-pink halterneck straps can be detached to make it a strapless style, and the ruched skirt hem can be undone so it falls into a more traditional prom design. So, it works in several ways, meaning I have even more of an excuse to splash out the £69 it costs. Or at least that's what I'll be telling myself.

What do you think? Too cupcake-cute, or does the fifties-shape and grandma's curtains-inspired floral print somehow combine to form something far more wonderful than the sum of its parts?

Friday 21 May 2010

Blogs we love: What Katie Does

I've been a fan of What Katie Does for a long time now. If you're looking for excellent design, with a London slant, this is where you should head. Of course, Katie doesn't just focus on London, there's all sorts going on and her travel posts are always really interesting (I was lucky enough to meet her on a trip to Brussels last year, her photos are heaps better than mine).

The best thing about What Katie Does is that Katie doesn't focus on just one thing. This is obviously something that the Domestic Sluts approve of. One minute there's a snazzy photography post, the next she's trying embroidery at The Make Lounge, or Japanese cooking. If you're lucky you might see the occasional post of her kitty Mr Yoni as well. He's cute as a fluffy little button.

Katie makes good design look very easy. She's got a great eye, and her illustrations are excellent. If you're looking to be inspired and your RSS needs a little more pretty (and purring) in it, head over there.

Outfit Pick: Summer's here, get your skirt on

I was given a 'no dresses' rule for this week's outfit pick, which made this one far more difficult to put together than usual. I am such a dress girl that I've all but forgotten how to put an outfit together if a good frock isn't at the heart of it!

But I gave it a go, and here's what I came up with. I wanted to create a balance between the girly aspects (the lace top, the jewellery, the sheer printed skirt) and the tougher pieces (the western-style jacket, tooled leather bag and chunky sandals) and hopefully you like the finished look. Just dump the jewels if it's too twee for you!

Techno wings print skirt £35 Topshop
Nude lace camisole £14 Miss Selfridge
Indigo denim cropped jacket £40 Topshop
Patty leather strippy platform sandals £65
Leather embossed belt £15 New Look
Hawthorn circular bag £45 Ollie & Nic
'You Keep Me Captivated' necklace £17 Hannah Zakari
Sweet Flower Earrings £8 Hannah Zakari

Sluttery Interviews: Elsy & Vine

See that sponsored item at the top of the page from All Things Original? That's by Elsy & Vine. I popped the kettle on and had a bit of a chat with her this afternoon.

Tell us more about your range and what you do.

Elsy & Vine is knitwear to dress your home in! I design and produce beautiful tactile accessories made to make you feel warm and happy inside.

What's a typical day like for you?

OK, a typical day. I get up and make tea, breakfast, sandwiches etc for the household, if I’m feeling brave I’ll try and engage the teenage daughter in conversation. I take the son to school. Once everyone has got to where they need to be I take my glamorous assistant, Lola out for a walkies. Lola and I then successfully ignore all domestic duties and head straight out to the little studio in the garden. She chews bones. I crank the old knitting machine up. Lovely husband bought me a super automatic knitter so I can sit at my desk and watch the knitting magically appear!

I do all the normal things; answer e-mails, do a bit of surfing, check my fave blogs, sort post etc. No two days are ever the same; some days I work in my sketchbook on new designs, some days I’m sampling the said new designs, other days I’m stock building. Come tea time I appear slightly dazed from the studio and start faffing around pretending to be doing something BIG and fundamental to the smooth running of the household, when actually I’m just waiting for husband to realise that he and the children haven’t been fed and ‘would I like him to get tea on?’ (love that man!). Come the evening I take up the hand knitting…

On other days, I’m part of the fabulous knitwear design team teaching at Winchester School of Art.

What inspires you?

I have come to realise that my inspiration comes mostly from childhood memories; holidays in the 70’s and 80’s, big holiday parks, lots of sand, sunshine and slightly stale caravans and chalets! I combine this with a love for simple graphics. Also, I have discovered that I have a big collection of vintage/retro china which is definitely going to play a part in future pieces. Oh, and I have a BIG thing for wooden buildings...sheds really! I always imagine my cushions in sheds.

What's next for you and your designs?

Next...I am as we speak keenly awaiting the launch of a few new products that I’ve been working on….’view from the car window’, ‘clouds’ and ‘not another garden centre’ which will be available through All Things Original from June.

Which other designers on All Things Original should we check out?

I am feeling very jealous at the beautiful pieces made by Karen Hilton, her Queen (1,2,3..) would look particularly gorgeous on my sofa and I love Clare Nicolson.

Check out more from Elsy & Vine over at All Things Original.

Wall Candy: Friends Don't Let Friends Drink White Zinfadel

Now me, I'm not the fussy type when it comes to booze. Give me a sugary, syrupy liqueur of almost any kind, or a bottle of house red, and I'll be happy. And drunk.

But those of you with more discriminating palates might like this wine-themed wall art, by MarleneDesigner on Etsy. It'd make a great tongue-in-cheek present for that friend who you somehow always seem to end up a tad too inebriated with every time you meet up. Or framed in a kitchen or dining room to remind guests what kinds of wine you do and don't like next time they need to bring a bottle.

It's 24.99USD, and there's several different similar designs, so whatever your taste in wine, there's sure to be one to suit you. Unless you're a Lambrini girl. In which case, well, there's not much we can recommend. Except maybe branching out from the bottom shelf at the supermarket.

Green Fingers: Enamoured with Enamel

I adore enamel. On everything. You get a lovely colour, hardwearing stuff and a nice vintage feel. I spotted this enamel watering can over at DotComGiftshop and I really really like it. I'm temped to do up the garden a bit this weekend (I bet as soon as I do that it'll start to rain). I'm not very green-fingered, but I think buying things that a pretty is always a good place to start. It's only £11.95 too.

Etsy Pick: Squid Linens

I may be very strange, but I find squids (or is it squid?) pretty cute. It's something about their big googly eyes and the way they waft along serenely. And if like me, you are a squidophile, what could be better than drying the dishes with this quirky tentacled tea towel?

This screen printed towel is made by the Squid Ink Kollective, who also do a nice line in narwal and pug themed t-shirts. You'll need to wash it in cold water and iron it afterwards (it's linen), but I think that's a small price to pay for hosting such a bevvy of creepy-cute cephalopods on your kitchen towels.

The set of two costs $30 and shipping to the UK is $7.50.
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