Dear Reader,

I have been keeping something from you. Remember that we went on a crazy family trip to Seattle and California at the beginning of February? Well, there was method in our madness. The Husband was actually flying out for a job interview with MSN at Microsoft HQ in Redmond.

And they offered him a job. And they made him an offer it would be incredibly foolish to refuse. So yes, later this year we are moving to Seattle for a few years.

It was an extremely difficult decision for me. I just feel like I’ve settled into a great routine after the upheaval of having a baby last year, and in the last few months it seems that mirror mirror has really started to take off (we’ve had an awesome Mother’s Day and March in general) after working so hard at it for over two years, right the way through pregnancy and the early months of motherhood.

But the role is a career-defining one for the Husband and the money will transform our family finances which have been looking a bit precarious since we’ve been investing so much in the business. So we don’t really have a choice – I can’t stand in his way on this.

I have, however, made two conditions. One, that we come back in time for the Minx to start full-time education in the UK. This opportunity has come at a perfect time, in that I think the Minx will be fairly portable until she is five or so. After that I really don’t want to put her through the upheaval of moving school AND country, though obviously I might change my mind when the time comes and we’re having too much fun. And of course there’s going to be all the trauma of BEATING her American accent out of her.

My second condition is that at all costs I want to keep mirror mirror going. I actually think it’s going to be excellent news for the business. We will be in a position to hire someone to take on the day-to-day running of the business out of the UK, which will leave me with more time to find new suppliers (can’t wait to start buying from all those fabulous designers I keep reading about on the US design blogs) and expand our marketing.

The other good bit of good news is that by the time my husband has worked out his notice and he’s got his working visa sorted out it looks like it’s going to be October before we go out there, so, for any customers and suppliers who might be reading, it will be business as usual for the time being, and I get to enjoy one last summer in Notting Hill.

Because the truth is, dear reader, that I don’t really want to go.


Grendma Chic (sic)

He he! Does anyone out there speak Russian? Can you translate this page? Are they being rude? What is a grendma? Getting lots of traffic off this today, so I presume they’re being complimentary.


Not to worry, I’ve found a online Russian translation site and this is apparently what the first paragraph says:

It can to you already lusciously, but me, at present, only and ???????. House. With ??????????. Slightly. With pink glaze. And native, as old cowards. Well all right, not cowards. But you have understood me.

Even later…

I’ve now found a website that will translate the whole page. Impeccably. (Am secretly very thrilled to have Russian fans – world domination can’t be far off.)

Later still…

This is all getting a bit silly. We’re now (courtesy of our Karin Eriksson beaker) apparently in the Russian Interior Design Handbook. Check out today’s wonderful translation.


The mind boggles

In pre-Minx days, the Husband and I would often unwind by taking ourselves on relaxing breaks to country cottages, where any unwinding would soon be undone by fiendishly-competitive and stressful games of Boggle. (For the uninitiated, in Boggle you have three minutes to find as many words of three letters or over hidden in a grid of 16 randomly chosen letters).

Since the arrival of the Minx I had thought my Boggling days were behind me, but no, toddlers are now going unfed, eggcups are going unsent and husbands are being ignored because I have discovered online Boggle ! Played against other people! Whose scores (if they are genuine) are ludicrously better than my own.

And to think I thought I didn’t have an addictive personality.



Finally got a copy of the Mother’s Day coverage in Metro. I hadn’t realised that two of our products were covered – the stacking egg cups and the aromatherapy bath melts. It seems that this time the celebrity inspiration behind the choice of products was Nigella Lawson, this time under the title ‘Mother Hen’.

I’m finding it interesting to see which celebrities the magazines are associating with our products. I know it’s basically a load of nonsense, but I would file both Nigella and Thandie Newton under ‘intelligent and classy’ which I think are pretty good brand values for mirror mirror to be associated with.

And at least they’re both infinitely better than Jordan.


Metal and graphics – part II

Today I am a little bit obsessed with this image from UK jeweller Abigail Percy’s degree collection (found, like everything else at the moment, through Cally’s wonderful blog). Apart from the glorious colour scheme (gold and aqua are my colours of the moment), it’s that use of the two different but complementary media – the design in the metal completing and carrying through into the graphics – which is doing it for me again.



Oh how I wanted to enjoy this book.

In my third year at university I spent an incredible year ‘teaching’ (I use this term loosely) English in Perpignan in South West France. A very good friend of mine from uni was doing the same thing in Carcassonne, about 70 km or a shortish train journey to the north east, so I spent many weekends visiting her there or touring the area.

In the 1200s the region around Carcassonne was the battleground of the Albigensian Crusade, as the Northern French attacked the ‘heretic’ Cathars of the Languedoc in a landgrab disguised as a religious crusade. The history of that time is one of sieges, massacres, burnings alive and a land lost – the whole intermingled with stories of hidden treasure, Templar knights and, of course, the Holy Grail.

Everywhere you go in the region there are echoes of this past – in the funny old bookshops where books on Rosicrucianism and Occitan share shelf space with Tarot cards and crystals; in the sounds of the tourist industry cashing in on the romantic splendour and isolation of the Cathar castles; in the eccentric treasure-seekers who still flock to Carcassonne and Rennes-le-Chateau in the belief that the Holy Grail is somehow hidden around the next corner; and yes, in a certain wistful melancholy that still clings to some of these castles if you visit early in the day before the tourist hordes arrive.

And so, years before Dan Brown made the Holy Grail sexy, I became completely besotted with the Cathars and the history of the crusade.

Kate Mosse (sic)’s book is a timeslip novel set in present-day Carcassonne and its 13th century parallel. Its central characters are, unusually, female; it is tolerably well-written and the bits set in 13th century Carcassonne are evocative and apparently well-researched. Unfortunately the plot also features people being banged on the head every other chapter; two female heroines, without an ounce of common sense between them doing everything they can to put themselves in danger; two comic-book style female villainesses and the most incredibly fantastical and lazily-written denouement.

But, most unforgivably of all, the book is deadly dull. I didn’t care enough about the heroines, the tangled plot was far too knotty for me and I kept confusing the vast cast of characters and their similar-sounding French names (and I speak French). One day I’m going to analyse how Dan Brown can write shockingly bad novels which keep me turning pages faster than a windmill on acid, whereas I plodded through this one like a seaside donkey and can’t now, two weeks after finishing it, tell you much about the plot. And, oh, I so wanted to love it.

By the way, the press reviews quoted in the first few pages are EXTREMELY kind (and one of the reasons why I decided to buy the book), far kinder indeed than the customer reviews on Amazon. Could it be anything to do with the fact that the author is the co-founder of the Orange Prize for Fiction and a big literary cheese?


Metal and graphics – Part I

I just love the thinking behind the new Nokia L’Amour range (and what a gorgeous website as well).

For so long we have been conditioned to believe that technology should be sleek, spare, functional and modern, that it seems surprising to see technology decorated just for the sake of it.

Furthermore, I love the way the designers have worked with the media at their disposal – integrating the patterns on the screen graphics and the etched metal casing in a really pleasing way and going one step beyond just sticking a pattern on the box, as with the Limited Edition Sky+ boxes or the Cath Kidston radio (from Cally’s blog). Even the advertising blends in and is part of the concept (thanks to Cally’s blog for this link to the animated online ad ) – the print advertising is also pretty fabulous.

I think the Nokia screensaver is particularly lovely and original in the context of a mobile phone (the etched case is perhaps a bit ornate for my taste). By way of an experiment we resized the leaves from the mirror mirror website and added them to my phone as a wallpaper. Though it’s not as striking as the Nokia design, I think it works pretty well and makes my rather boxy, clunky phone much easier on the eye and satisfying to the girly part of my soul. (I also hate to admit how much absurd girly pleasure I get from my Swarovski crystal phone charm).


So, where do we stand on burning books?

One of the more unfortunate side effects of the Minx learning to walk is that she can now follow me round the house clutching her favourite book and gazing at me with a pleading expression (the child is the most unbelievable bookworm – I’m not sure whether to feel very proud or tell her go outside and go skateboarding or something).

I say unfortunate because nine times out of ten that book is ‘Miss Polly Had A Dolly’ for which the Minx has conceived a passion bordering on obsession. This morning I had to go through it with her no less than eight times before she left for nursery. Is it very wrong of me to be currently plotting a particularly spectacular demise for both Miss Polly and her Dolly? The Oxfam shop is too good for them.


Cracking PR

Mad day today.

A friend popped round for coffee this morning with her 3-month old baby boy (the Minx was beside herself as he has an extraordinary quantity of strokeable hair – I think she thought he was a kitten).

As we were chatting away about matters diverse, I realised that order after order for our Hannah Tofalos eggcups was popping into my inbox. Finally my brother called me to say that – unbeknownst to me or our PR company* – the eggcups had been featured in Metrothe freebie newspaper given out at Tube stations with a huge readership of London commuters.

The bad news is that we were quite low on stock so they sold out rather quickly – I’m sure I could have sold them ten times over. The good news is that as a direct result of that feature we took the biggest single order we’ve ever taken. So all-in-all a VERY satisfying mirror mirror day. But must fly now as it is 11.30 pm and I still have eggcups to pack.

*I haven’t yet been able to get hold of the feature – the PR company is working on it – so instead here is a quite delightful picture of smooth blue eggs which I found in the Comments box on a Decor8 post.



A nice bit of coverage today in Reveal. Our Japanese print toilet bag and rose-topped aromatherapy bathmelts were shown on a page of Mother’s Day gift ideas, apparently ‘inspired’ by Thandie Newton. I couldn’t quite work out how exactly Ms Newton had inspired these products, except that her aqua gown is the same colour as the trim on the washbag. But Thandie Newton is just the sort of celebrity I’d like to have associated with mirror mirror so I’m not complaining.

Was amused to note that the stringy-haired, stringy-armed, one-eyed alien had – by virtue of wearing a pale pink dress and some diamond jewellery – ‘inspired’ a collection of oh-so-pretty rose pink, silver and glass objects which you could never in a million years imagine Madonna ever having in her house.