Good Tidings We Bring

to you and your kin etc. etc.

It is impossible to describe how proud the Minx (and I) are of this little creation, made with an excellent kit from Dancing Deer Baking Co. which is packed in a useful box which is also the form around which the house is built. 

It’s the first time we’ve ever built a gingerbread house, but it certainly won’t be the last.  We were going to put dancing gingerbread men in the ‘garden’ but didn’t quite get round to it.

It’s funny how Christmas in the US is much more ‘Germanic’ than in the UK.  I suppose because the Puritans weren’t that into Christmas pudding, mince pies and Christmas cakes.

We’re flying off to the UK in a couple of hours time to indulge in unseemly quantities of Christmas pudding, crackers, mince pies, Christmas cakes and Strictly Come Dancing. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone who has visited this blog in the past year – I really appreciate all your emails and comments.

We’re flying back on the 2nd January, and I probably won’t be posting much much until then.  I’ve got big plans for next year though since, as from January, the Minx is going to be in daycare three days a week!  So I’ll have one more day to work on the shop and the blog.

Share

Ghostly

Di Overton is truly inspirational.  Not only is she probably the leading UK design blogger, but she has also just launched Ghost Furnitureher own line of furniture and accessories, which rework vintage finds from France and the UK to create desirable statement pieces with a contemporary and often witty twist.

Or, as Di puts it, ‘Bringing quality furniture back from the dead and making it hauntingly beautiful.’

Di and her husband not only created the (extremely lovely) website and did all the photography themselves but they also source and create all the furniture and accessories. I have to lie down just thinking about that amount of work.

Each piece is absolutely a one-off and each has a story to tell.

 

These are some of my fave pieces.  They really make me want to open up a ‘mirrormirror’ tearoom, just so I can decorate it with some of Di’s stuff.  Am fantasising about black walls with ghostly picture frames full of cutlery and teapots in fuschia and citron, with maybe some Pearl Lowe black lace tablecloths on the tables, a big black chandelier and seriously good afternoon tea…the cupcakes would need to be very goth and dramatic though, which might be a contradiction in terms.

Share

Bye Bye Blueprint

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth in blogland over the demise of Blueprint – Martha Stewart’s more upmarket guide to guide to stylish living, seemingly intended to be a rival to Domino and Real Simple.

I’m not entirely surprised.  I was a subscriber, but mostly because magazine subscriptions are so ridiculously cheap here, but didn’t enjoy it as much as its rivals.

I can’t help wondering though whether it was killed by its font.  Does it say ’fresh, fun, stylish design’ to you?  Because I think it looks prissy, fussy and dated and never really fitted in with the streamlined, uncluttered elegance I was sort of hoping for from the magazine.


I love that combination of chartreuse and lilac though – the bench not so much.  I’m indebted to this blogger for finding out that the colour is Benjamin Moore’s Beach Plum.  I’m thinking of a that sort of colour for our dining room, to complement our citron green rug.

Share

The little town that could

In the early years of the twentieth century, the town of Leavenworth in the Cascade mountains was a successful lumber and railway town.  But the re-routing of the railway brought economic ruin and by the middle of the twentieth century the town was on the brink of collapse.

So it decided, as you would, to reinvent itself as a Bavarian Alpine village, hold Bavarian-themed events throughout the year and turn itself into a tourist destination.

When we first heard about Leavenworth, we were very sniffy – how twee, how kitsch, how Disney, it must be!

Here we are in ‘Bavaria’

But this weekend we decide to venture forth in search of snow and Christmas and had the most amazing fun. And all only two hours from Seattle.

We sledded; listened to alpenhorns; ate wiener schnitzel, apfel strudel and wurst by open fires; visited the twee-in-a-good-way shops; stalked Santa; drank German bier; rode in a horse-drawn carriage through the snowy streets; and stayed to see the town lit up in one of the best Christmas light displays in the US.

The Husband is getting so excited about the beginning of the ski season.  What with househunting etc. last year he didn’t get the chance to go much but he’s ready to hit the slopes in a big way after Christmas.  And the Minx already has her salopettes and ski jacket at the ready (I’ve never seen a man so keen to buy children’s clothes), although the only thing she knows about skiing is a picture in her Miffy book.

Share

Gorgeous Things for Kids

Well, last week was an absolute nightmare.

Our hosting company managed to balls things up yet again.  While trying to correct a small issue with the graphics rendition of the site, they managed to disable the whole back-end interface – which made it very difficult to even see orders, let alone add new things to the site or update the stock. 

You can imagine how thrilled I was.  Fortunately after a lot of stressed emailing back and forth the issue is now resolved.

The other reason why I haven’t been blogging much recently is that I’ve finally got round to adding a Kids section to the site.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think it’s very important that kids get to experience good design from a young age in spite of all the garish Fisher Price nonsense that they are constantly surrounded with.

Interestingly the Minx loves all of the things I’ve bought for the site (of which quite a few have ended up in her room) and I’m hoping they’re the sort of things that she will treasure even more as she gets older.

So I’m trying to build up a collection of kid-friendly decorative objects, tableware and toys.  At the moment the collection includes cushions and posters from Atelier LZC,  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

utterly gorgeous limited edition collages from Lorena Siminovich,

and a selection of contemporary ceramics featuring that ever-hip design icon Miffy, which come packed in covetable gift boxes.

 

I’ve got few more items to add over the next couple of weeks, but I’d love to grow the collection much more over the next year.

If you, or someone you know, makes fab products for babies and kids (not clothes for the moment, but everything but) then I’d love to hear from you.  I’m looking for excellent quality and craftsmanship, visual appeal, and a refreshing lack of tweeness. Get in touch!

Share

Advent-ure

While the first week of December is a time of immense stress for Mummy, as we start receiving more orders in a day than we often do in a week – with all the attendant small crises that brings; it is a time of great excitement for the Minx.

She was really too young to understand much of what was going on for Christmas last year, but this time is really getting into the idea.

We managed to get ourselves organised enough to hang up and fill the family Advent calendar on December 1st (this doesn’t always happen) - a somewhat rustic affair made from linen and sackcloth that I acquired years ago at the Country Living Fair.

It combines little pockets stuffed with small embroidered dolls and little sacks ready to be stuffed with sweets and other goodies.

This year we also decided to incorporate some of the ideas for family activities I wrote about last year.

I thought a calendar full of activities would be a bit much for all concerned, but in amongst the pockets of this year’s calendar we’ve hidden notes with the following activities:

  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Paint the whole family’s toenails pink
  • Make a gingerbread house with Mummy
  • Buy and donate a gift to a child in need
  • Meet Daddy downtown for an evening ride on the Christmas carousel
  • Have hot chocolate with all the fixins’
  • Make Christmas cookies for the tree

So far the little embroidered dollies have been given short shrift, the sweets have been much appreciated and we wrote our letter to Santa today.

I was pleased to find this post on Lifehacker giving info on how to write to Santa and receive a reply.  Canada Post’s service appears to be free and they have a lovely website with special Christmas stationery you can design and make yourself on the computer. I couldn’t work out whether USPS even ran a scheme from their website and you have to pay for the Finnish service.

We spent a lot of time this afternoon printing Christmas stationery, drawing pictures of Santa and preparing a package to send to the North Pole (postcode H0H 0H0).  I will let you know whether the Canadian Santa manages to respond.

I also decided to brave the line at Nordstrom’s downtown this morning so the Minx could meet Father Christmas.  I have no idea why, but we were able to breeze in without queueing at all – we were told that normally you’d have to wait nearly an hour.

The Minx was utterly thrilled.

 

Share

Blog Symposium

In which I meet up with Cathy Scrappy and Megan Not Martha, we have a lovely Seattle afternoon and I nearly spend too much money on a chaise longue.

I’ve met up with Megan a few times before but it was great to meet Cathy and really interesting to talk about her work – probably stupidly, I hadn’t realised that she’s also the web editor for Domino as well as writing her blog. 

It was just so nice to be able to talk about the whole bloggy design world – it’s such a big part of my life and none of my other friends, either here or in London have much idea about it at all. 

And of course they are both very lovely people, but you knew that from their blogs.

We met up for brunch at Cafe Venus which was really rather fab, and not in the slightest bit WeightWatchers friendly and then wandered down to Velocity Art and Design where Cathy wanted to examine some Thomas Paul rugs in person. Please tell her to stop dithering on her blog and get this one because she clearly loves it.

When we were living in Belltown, I’d popped into Velocity’s Belltown location quite a few times and thought it was the sort of shop mirrormirror would like to be when it grows up. 

 

 

I was excited to see its new, much bigger, location, but have to say I was a bit disappointed.  The shop is full to bursting with Tord Boontje and other Artecnica stuff, which has been around in Europe for about 5 years now and is starting to feel a bit ‘last century, dahling’. 

We then made our way across downtown to one of Seattle’s hidden gems, Chartreuse,  which is a treasure trove of mid-century modern design - some vintage, some knock-off and some real, and I was excited to find a chaise longue I’ve been looking out for for ages. And it’s in the 15% off sale!

It’s incredibly comfortable and a good price – I’ve been trying to track down the originals on eBay but they sell for silly money and the shipping costs are always extraordinary.

The only thing I was slightly disappointed by was the range of fabric options – lots of browns and burnt oranges and terracottas, which are not really my thing at the moment. In an ideal world I would have liked it to be raspberry sorbet pink (not that I’ve cleared that with the Husband), but it looks like we’re going to have to get some sort of off-white and pray that the Minx doesn’t vomit on it too often. 

To round off our (glorious crisp and sunny) afternoon we went for a spin round the Sculpture Park and chatted some more.  It was fun, and I hope Cathy finds an excuse to come back to Seattle more often.

Share

Tedious Minutiae

I have joined WeightWatchers!  I have been very inspired by my friend in New York who has lost a ton of weight on their programme. 

It’s been OK so far – the online tools are really helpful and easy to follow since nothing is out of bounds - though I’m somewhat staggered by how small the portions are.  It needs to be done though, as apparently I look like this.

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  We’ve decided that we really like this holiday as we’re under no pressure whatsoever to spend it with family, can’t be bothered to celebrate it ourselves at home and so can instead go for a walk on the beach in the morning and get friends to cook for us in the evening.

This year we were treated to a fabulous turducken – a turkey, stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a duck.  Tony – now known as the Turducken King - had apparently spent the best part of 48 hours researching how to make it on You Tube, brining the birds, deboning them, assembling the whole thing and then sewing it up, and I have to say every single minute was worth it. 

It truly was the most delicious turkey-related food I have ever eaten, and I can now never eat normal turkey again, which might prove problematic.  It is possible that this is not a good time of year to be starting WeightWatchers.

 

Here are the Minx and her friends enjoying themselves enormously on the same day.  

The following day Seattle got its gladrags on and we went downtown for the morning parade and the evening lighting of the tree and star.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we’ve been here just over a year, we’re starting to do things again which we did at the same time last year – it seems odd to have actually started some family Seattle traditions.

Share

And so I’m back…

…from outer space yadda yadda etc. etc.

It’s funny how quickly you get out of the habit of things.

After our trip to New York, I was so fiendishly busy recently trying to get everything updated on the site for Christmas (and doing lots of Thanksgiving socialising) that blogging sort of went by the wayside.  And the longer I went without blogging the more difficult it seemed to get back into it. And suddenly it’s been nearly three weeks with nary a post.

It’s a shame too as the blog recently seemed to have gained a lot of traction and readership after the Design*Sponge interview and links from various other blogs, but I’m sure most of those new readers will have moved on to pastures new.  Self-sabotage is a great speciality of mine.

But anyway, those of you who thought you were safe from the tedious minutiae of my life, click away NOW.

Share