Moving On

I am writing this surrounded by packed up boxes, trying to steel myself for yet another evening of sorting and packing.

Tonight is our last night in the flat.  In every direction all I can see are boxes and memories.

 

This is the flat I bought eleven years ago as a single girl, though my boyfriend at the time I was buying it soon became my fiance and then my husband.

This is the flat where I spent the night before my wedding and to which I came back as a new bride.

This is the flat which has seen me return late and leave early for four different jobs and it was at this desk overlooking the street that I decided to start mirrormirror.

This is the flat which has been stuffed full of cushions, candles and packing boxes for the best part of the last two years.

This is the flat where I suffered through four miscarriages and where I discovered I was pregnant with the Minx.

This is the flat where I had a terrible bleeding episode while pregnant and was convinced I was miscarrying, only to find that the baby was still safe and sound.

This is the flat which we brought our baby home to after a worrying week in the Special Baby Unit, where we tiptoed around introducing her to every room.

This is the flat where I sat breastfeeding for hours at a time feeling depressed and miserable.

This is the flat where my baby learned to walk and learned to talk.

This is the flat where we decided to go to Seattle. 

This is the flat where I’ve spent the happiest years of my life so far.

The photos are not very good, being quickly taken one evening to send to a journalist.  You must also remember that normally the flat is covered with a thick layer of bright plastic toys.

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Origin-ality (embroidery)

So I was just tidying my desk (the packers are coming in tomorrow!) found a couple of business cards and realised that there were a couple of people from Origin I still wanted to mention.  And yes, I’m well aware that everyone else in blogland finished discussing Origin aeons ago.

First up is Hannah Lamb, who makes all manner of quirky hand-sewn pieces, including these rather splendid pin cushions, which I would have bought if I were at all the sort of person who uses a pin cushion.

 

Someone who is definitely the sort of person who uses a pincushion is Claire Coles, whose beautifully embroidered vintage wallpaper is a huge favourite of mine. If and when mirrormirror opens a shop, you can guarantee that I will specially commission one of her large embroidered wallpaper pictures for the wall.

When we were first setting up mirrormirror, we went to visit Claire at her studio.  It was so interesting seeing her work – not just wallpaper, which she sources on eBay, but also embroidered tea cups (not terribly practical) and furniture. 

This time round we had a brief chat about getting a couple of her smaller artworks onto the site as special order items and I need to follow up on that pronto quick.  In the meantime even her business cards are stunning.

Other people who’ve been writing about Origin (more efficiently and comprehensively than me) include Karin Eriksson (on Whip Up and also on Design* Sponge) jewellery designer Abigail Percy and Joanna at Atelier 455, who’s written a ton of insightful posts. It’s a mark of how good the show was that we’ve all been able to write about such different people.

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New stuff

What with my recent illness, staffing problems and moving issues, I haven’t been able to order in as much new stuff as I’d like for Christmas (one day I’m going to be able to dedicate as much time as I’d like to mirrormirror). 

However I’ve just photographed and uploaded a few new bits and pieces, which make me very happy indeed.

They include super soft lambswool hottie covers handknitted by Ruth Cross (who contacted me after I blogged about her in May); gorgeous hand dyed silk cushions backed with tweed, from textile designer Jyoti Sigouin (please don’t buy these – I love them too much); the Californian piggy banks; some new beakers from Karin; some stacking salt and pepper pots to match our eggcups; some leather jewellery rolls in gorgeous colours and a beautiful box of aromatherapy bathtime treats (soaps, bathmelts and shower scrubs).

Still got one or two new bits and bobs to photograph and am off on the hunt for some new jewellery next week, so hopefully the site will look a bit fresher next time you take a look.

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Random niceness

Oh goodness, I’m supposed to be busy, busy, busy.  We are now finally leaving the country on the 4th November, which is, count’em, in 9 DAYS time.  And in 5 days time we have to move out of our flat.

So of course I’ve been clicking on blogs instead.  

Here’s a little round up of things which tickled my fancy.

Cally made the most stunning table decoration for Diwali.

Rebecca made scrummy cupcake tee-shirts as party favours for her son’s baby friends.

Helen and I stalked David Schwimmer as he was filming in Columbia Road – though I only got to get a peek of this gorgeous filmset (sadly not a real shop) as it was covered with a sheet (to keep out the sunshine?)

Alison at Brocante Home found the most gorgeous old cover from House and Garden.

And I fell in love with the idea of using tiny works of art on a large white expanse of wall when looking at these pictures by Kate George on the Papa Stour website (found via Oh Joy).

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Cake wars

After Helen regaled me such delicious cupcakes, I had to retaliate with a madeira cake when she came round yesterday afternoon for her first mirrormirror wrapping session.

There’s something very satisfying about baking a madeira cake ( I use Nigella’s recipe).  It’s literally easy peasy lemon squeezy (since it contains lemon juice and zest) but for some reason the fact that it’s so old-fashioned and traditional pleases me greatly.

I discovered some time ago that it is so named not because it comes from the island of Madeira, but because it is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of madeira wine (one of my favourite drinks in all the world).  Unfortunately we didn’t have any madeira in the house yesterday, so had to make do with a glass of sherry.  How matronly and respectable I have become.

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Origin-ality (jewellery)

The most frustrating thing about doing this job is falling in love with particular pieces, being desperate to feature them on mirrormirror but knowing that the wholesale price will just make it impossible for me to sell it and make the sort of margin that makes sense for me.

I don’t blame the craftspeople at all – after all they need just recompense for their talent, for the many hours of work they’ve put in and often for the top quality raw materials which they use in their work.  

But going round Origin had me wincing with frustration – so many gorgeous but expensive things for which very few of my customers would be willing to pay the retail price.

I’ve seen Hannah Louise Lamb’s gorgeous cutouts and inlays in silver at various exhibitions.  The examples she had on display were all hideously expensive (particularly the ones I really liked, as is always the case) but I see that she has cheaper pendants and earrings on her website, so might engage her in conversation at some point.

 

Also there was Cally‘s great heroine Grainne Morton.  I love, love, love her work, but it’s just too expensive formirrormirror.

On a similar theme was this enamelled jewellery from Jane Moore which was, as they say, close but no cigar (what on earth does that mean?)

 

On a more contemporary note I also liked Joanne Thompson’s beaten silver hoops (particularly in their simpler and less hoop-y incarnations; a silver bracelet I tried on looked stunning)

 

 

and Alison Macleod’s combinations of matte silver hoops, semi-precious and plastic hoops from bra-straps (yes, really).

 

I’ve just realised that I’ve still got more to talk about but I’ve got some new products that I promised myself I’d get onto mirrormirror today so there’ll be more from Origin very soon.

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I ‘heart’ my blog

 

Less than two weeks ago I was on the point of exploding with stress.  My sister-in-law had unexpectedly decided not to continue with the mirrormirror fulfilment and all plans for our departure were in disarray. 

We were even seriously considering sending the Husband out to Seattle on his own while I stayed in London with the Minx until I managed to get everything sorted out and had someone else lined up.

And then I posted a little ‘advert‘ on the blog.  I don’t know what I expected to happen, if anything. It seemed to be the longest of longshots that someone reading might be able to help but since I was fairly desperate I decided to give it a go.

And then offers of help started popping into my inbox.  I had no idea how many truly lovely people read this blog. Within a few days it became obvious that I would be able to solve my problem, it was just a question of talking to all the various ‘applicants’ to see who fitted the bill best. 

Today I am thrilled to announce that I’ve found the perfect person.  I’m going to post a little introduction to her in another post as there’s someone else I want to introduce to you, but suffice it to say she also has a blog and makes a very, very fine cupcake indeed (which is, of course, the most important criterion).

Astonishingly enough I was emailed by someone else who lives within a hundred yards of Ms Cupcake and is very keen to be involved, although she didn’t want to take the whole job on as she many other commitments. What are the chances of that happening?  So now, not only do I have a person lined up, but she also has back up and I have a long list of people who might be able to take the job on if for some reason it doesn’t work out.  I really, really love my blog.

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Origin-ality (silver and ceramics)

Better late than never, I thought I’d post up my thoughts on Origin, the fabulous new London craft fair, which has been taking place over the last two weeks in a superb new venue in the courtyard at Somerset House.

The purpose-built pavilion was wonderful – spacious and full of natural light – and the show itself was the perfect size -  loads to see, but ending before that point when your eyes glaze over and you never want to see another hand-knitted teapot ever again.  And we were lucky enough to go on two occasions when it was warm enough to have lunch afterwards outside on the terrace overlooking th Thames, such a fab thing to be doing in October in London.

Anyway, highlights for me included Sian Matthews’ amazing bendy pewter doilies (which looked great bent round a coffee table)

 

and etched silver bowls on matching acrylic mats.

and Lynn Miller’s funky silver and acrylic salad servers and ice cream paddles (which would make a great Christening gift – fancy being ‘born with a silver ice cream paddle in one’s mouth’).  I’m clearly going through a silver and acrylic moment.

In ceramics I loved the handpainted vases and platters from Alexandra Mitchell and Annette Bugansky’s wonderful ‘knitted’ vases (also some fabulous ‘knitted’ ceramic buttons).  I’m going to be exploring whether we can get some of their products onto mirrormirror.

I also treated myself to a ‘ceramic butter dish that looks like Tupperware’ from the lovely Johanna at YoYo Ceramics and am also investigating getting her apples and Pears kitchen tidies into the shop.

The absolute ceramics highlights for me though were finally meeting up with one of our favourite suppliers and blogging superstar Karin Eriksson and seeing the work of the amazing Kate McBride, who makes incredible rococo-style porcelain, which at first glance looks like it should be in Buckingham Palace, but which reveals all sort of witty modern references when you examine it more closely.

I’m not entirely sure her work would fit into my house (just imagine the dusting!), and it really is too kitsch for school, but the absolute highlight of the whole two weeks for me was the sublime madness of her enormous and literally awe-inspiring rococo porcelain lovers’ chess set, complete with large porcelain figurines representing the chess pieces and a standalone porcelain double bed and wedding chapel that the pieces could retire to half way through the game (don’t ask) .  Apparently Selfridges have commissioned a couple (which will retail for £750) and I would have got one in for mirrormirror, but it’s not exactly mail-order friendly.  Unfortunately Kate doesn’t yet have a picture of it available on her website.

 

I’ve just realised that I’ve got loads more people to mention so I think there’s scope for another post tomorrow

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Guinea pig

I was somewhat flattered to be asked to participate in a survey which will be used to research a comparative study between UK and US bloggers. Well, I was flattered, until I found out that Sarah, who is writing the paper, found it extremely difficult to find female bloggers in the UK and basically wrote to all the female bloggers she could find on Britblog.


A map of the blogosphere from http://datamining.typepad.com

Anyway, Sarah has set up her own blog in order to organise her research and encourage debate, which looks like it will make for very interesting reading.

Thanks so much for all your good wishes. I’m feeling tons better now and am hoping to resume proper blogging service forthwith.

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It’s Back!

Oh I know I’m the saddest person on the planet but my Saturday nights are now complete with the return of Strictly Come Dancing

 

 

I thought I would miss the irrepressible enthusiasm and cheeky grin of Darren the Dazzler, but the shy smile of Mark Ramprakash (what is is with cricketers and ballroom dancing?) and the rather obvious charms of Ray Fearon have the potential to fill the void.

The great thing is that the Minx loves the ‘dan-sing’ as much as I do and we spent a very happy evening jigging round the living room together.

Please, please, please let it be on Bittorrent  – otherwise this is yet another Seattle dealbreaker.

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