Thing I Am Loving – Erin Flett Pillows

 

What a shame my birthday has just passed, as I’m rather enamoured of these and can think of quite a few places they’d fit in our house. I may have to sneak one or two in.

The cushions are hand silk-screened on sturdy barkcloth by graphic designer Erin Flett in a variety of gorgeous on trend colours.

 

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I think this chair is crying out for one, don’t you? Going to see if I can get some in the shop too. Find Erin at www.erinflett.com and buy her pillows on Etsy.

 

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All About Me – 101 Things Update

 
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Self-portrait taken on my recent Shuttertour (reflected in some broken stainless columns outside the old WaMu building)

 

I got some bad news yesterday. 

One of the key things on my 101 Things in 1001 Days list was to repair the damaged ACL in my right knee, which has been very painful and stiff over the summer.

I first injured my leg skiing when I was a student and didn’t have surgery then because sports’ medicine was in its infancy and the recovery would have been long and traumatic.  Maybe I was badly advised then, I don’t know – my current doctor seems to think so – but the upshot is I’ve been living with it for years, getting used to living with the constant dull pain in my knee and thinking that one day, when high-powered jobs, pregnancy, moving to Seattle, having a young child etc. etc. were out of the way I would take the time to have it fixed.

That time was now and I went in for an MRI yesterday, so they could assess the extent of the damage. And it turns out it is much worse than I thought and that the knee joint is so full of arthritis that repairing the ACL would put me in a huge amount of pain. Which is all rather depressing.

My thoughts are turning now to aggressive arthritis management – I’m far too young to have a knee as painful and stiff as it currently is – and wanted to get any advice and help that the Internets have to offer. If you or anyone you know currently suffers from arthritis and has been helped by any sort of therapy, exercise, nutritional change, book, video etc. etc. then I really would LOVE to hear from you.

As a result of the above I’ve had to revise a few things on my list.   Instead of  ‘repair ACL’ , ‘do a triathlon’ ‘go ice skating’ and ‘run a 5k’, I’m going to ‘learn HTML’, ‘sign up for Pilates’, ‘go on an overnight sea kayaking trip’ and something else I haven’t yet thought of.  My revised list is here.

I’ve made progress on some stuff, but haven’t ticked off any one task as completed yet. I’ll blog about stuff as I achieve it – later this week I’ll be blogging about the fabulous Shuttertour I did last Friday with Valentina Vitols, which was the first step in ‘Complete 6 Photography Workshops/Classes’.

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Adventures in Knitting – Socks, More Socks and a Sock Monkey

 

I thought I’d update you all with a bit of knitting. My most recent finished project is a pair of socks I started knitting in the South of France. Socks are fabulous things to knit on holiday as they are so portable and the little wooden toothpick-like needles I use never get stolen by airport officials.

These socks became nicely imbued with seawater, sand and suntan cream and bring back many happy memories  – particularly of turning the heel sitting in a lovely cafe’ in Aix en Provence while sipping a citron presse’.  It’s one of the unsung pleasures of knitting – wearing the finished items always brings back memories of the actual process.

(The pattern is Hedera and the yarn is a Limited Edition sock yarn from Sundara Yarns.  All details are to be found on my Ravelry page).

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When people see my handknit socks, I always get told ‘you should absolutely sell those’. Which is very lovely and everything but if you add up the $25-$30 including shipping for sexy sock yarn and then conservatively estimate 20 hours of knitting at $8.55 an hour (Washington state minimum wage), it means that I’d have to charge at least $195 per pair just to break even.

So you can imagine how happy I was when a big hole started to appear in my previous pair of $200 socks. Desperate measures were clearly called for, so I sat down in front of my computer and an instructional video on YouTube and proceeded to darn my socks.  I felt just like a character from Little Women (minus the computer and YouTube obviously).

It wasn’t that difficult, was very satisfying and actually looks OK despite this being my first attempt (though it’s lucky the hole is hidden in my shoe).

 

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The darn from the inside

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And from the outside

 

Finally, don’t tell the Minx, but I am knitting her a sock monkey for Christmas.  Her name is Carmen Banana and she comes in a kit from Knit Picks with the patterns to make a huge wardrobe of lovely clothes. So far I’ve only made some assorted limbs, but I’ll keep you updated on my progress.  You will notice that I have ‘knit a sock monkey’ on my list of 101 Things.

 

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Things I Am Loving – Gurgle Pots

 

You were going to get a ‘Go Fug Your Room’ post today, but I’ve just discoved that my scanner software has been updated and I have NO CLUE how to operate it.  Sometimes I think there’s a conspiracy amongst software designers to make me grumpy.

But I digress.

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pfishI first came across gurgling fish pitchers when I was living in France as a student. The parents of one of the kids I was giving private lessons to would often invite me for dinner and a jump in their swimming pool afterwards (AND I got paid!) and at dinner would bring out their gurgling fish jug.

Air gets trapped in the tail-shaped handle, making a delightful ‘glug glug’ sound when it’s poured. To this day that sound will always remind me of chilled rose’ on a summer’s evening.  The jug was an fearsome majolica beast though, that looked something like this.

I’ve never wanted to have something so butt-ugly on my dining table, so you can imagine how happy I was to discover that the clever people at Gurgle Pots have reimagined the fish pitchers for the 21st century, giving them a simplified and streamlined design and producing them in a range of on-trend colours.

 

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Buy them here and listen to them gurgle here.  I bought mine (the aqua one in the top picture) at a little cookshop in Fairhaven in Bellingham. It makes the whole family smile every time we use it.

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Recipe of the Week – Brown Bread Ice Cream

 

Or ice cream as health food. Kinda.

 

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A week or three ago I was honoured to be invited to an ‘Ice Cream Social’ at the home of Seattle Bon Vivant. ‘Viv’ doesn’t blog much anymore but she is a huge presence on the Seattle foodie scene and I knew I was going to be in exalted foodie company.

So which ice cream to make? I wanted something that would be unusual enough to intrigue an American foodie crowd; something either very English or very Italian to reflect my heritage, and of course something utterly delicious. And that’s when I remembered Brown Bread Ice Cream.

This ice cream is as British as it comes, apparently made by the Victorians, and still served today in British restaurants and gastropubs, though you won’t find it in a British supermarket  (why on earth not? – Ed)

It’s also pretty quick and simple to make. I used Gordon Ramsay’s recipe here as my base but made several changes.

Ingredients

Olive oil, for greasing

75g (2 1/2 ozs) brown bread (I used 3  large thick slices of a well made wholemeal  or whole grain loaf without too many nuts or seeds)

75g (2 1/2ozs) soft brown sugar

250ml (1 cup) milk

250ml (1 cup)  double/heavy cream (American heavy cream is not as rich as British double cream but still works)

1 tsp vanilla extract (Gordon uses a vanilla pod, if you have one refer to his recipe above) 

6 free-range egg yolks

50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

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Method

- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6

- Make brown breadcrumbs by slicing thick slices of your wholemeal loaf, removing the crusts, letting them go stale over a day or two and then whizzing them in a food processor. If you’ve forgotten to let them go stale, just bake them for 30 minutes or so in a very cool oven before whizzing.

- Add the same weight in light brown sugar to the crumbs. I forgot to make precise cup measures., sorry. Suffice to say that you should make LOTS of the caramel breadcrumbs as they are delicious stirred into any shop-bought vanilla; so just make loads, keeping the weight of bread and sugar the same.  

- Grease a baking tray with a little olive oil using a pastry brush or spray. Spread out the breadcrumbs and sugar and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sugar caramelises. I burnt my first batch, so for the second batch I stirred the bread crumbs with a wooden spoon every 3 minutes until they were crunchy and caramelly – about 10 minutes in my oven. I highly recommend doing this. Watch the crumbs like a hawk anyway.

- Leave the crumbs to cool. When they’re cool, bash them with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser or similar, so that they’re crumby and not all clumped together.

- Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a bowl until thick, pale and creamy and then whisk in the cream, milk and vanilla extract. Transfer to a thick-based pan and cook gently over a low heat until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Pass through a sieve if you’re feeling fancy.

- Cool in the fridge overnight. Gordon forgets to mention this, but it’s imperative for my ice cream maker (the Kitchen Aid ice cream attachment)

- Pour the custard into your ice-cream churn and, just as it starts to set, add the breadcrumbs and churn until they’re stirred through.  Then put in the freezer to freeze completely. This ice cream benefits hugely from twenty minutes ‘ripening’ in the fridge before serving.

- I served mine with strawberries marinaded in sugar and lemon juice.

- If I were you, and if you were going to serve this to adults only, I’d definitely experiment with adding a splash of Baileys or Irish whiskey to the mix instead of vanilla.

If I say so myself this ice cream was super good – dense and rich, with a sweet chewy nuttiness – and it was fab to see the change come over some initially highly sceptical faces at the Ice Cream Social.

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Things I Am Loving – Mary Katrantzou Spring 2011

People often say that what’s seen on the catwalk will show up pretty soon in interiors, but it’s not so often that interiors inspiration shows up on the catwalk.

Greek designer Mary Katrantzou gave her first stand-alone collection at London Fashion Week, taking as her inspiration old pictures from The World of Interiors and Architectural Digest.

 

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Katrantzou heightened the colour and symmetry of the images in creating her digital prints, ending up with surreal but stunning patterns, colour combinations and abstractions.

She then went a step further by embellishing her prints with interiors-inspired accessories – chandelier necklaces, pelmet shoulders and curtain-like drapery, though it does start getting a bit silly when she goes into lampshades-as-skirts.

I adore these to pieces and would wear one of those little suits in a heartbeat if I were much taller, younger and skinnier and had been invited to a swanky gallery opening or some such. I’d also love to be able to buy the prints themselves to hang on the wall, or maybe made into separates or bags. And I bet Katy Perry is wetting her knickers just looking at these pics.

Magical stuff.

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The whole collection is worth looking at here. I first found it on my beloved TLo. {All images by Yannis Vlamos / GoRunway.com via Style.com}

Oh and it’s lovely to see from all the London Fashion Week reports, that the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo is being put to good use. I loved that architecture.

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All About Me – 101 Things

 

Or, welcome to my new life.

 

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Dawn over the I-5

 

Recently, and rather belatedly, I came across a goal-setting Internet meme called 101 Things in 1001 Days. 1001 days equates to about 2.75 years, which is a more substantial (and less daunting) time frame in which to get stuff done than the usual year of resolutions we set ourselves.

Since it was my birthday this weekend, and since I’ve got rather a big birthday coming up in 3 years time, I spent my birthday eve putting together my own list which I’m going to give myself 3 years to achieve. Putting the list together was fun -  the site DayZeroProject is very useful, as it both gives you a place to put your own list and lets you search other peoples’ for ideas (I’m PaolaCT on there).  Start Googling and there are also plenty of sites out there with other ideas.

I’ve tried to put together a list which includes a mixture of horrid stuff that needs to get done, self-improving stuff, things I’ve always wanted to do, downright treats and pie in the sky fantasies – a combination of  ‘quick wins’ and stuff that currently seems totally impossible.  Looking at it I feel inspired, excited and somewhat daunted, which I suppose is exactly the right mix of emotions.

I’m writing out the list here and will link to the full list somewhere on the blog in the coming days. I’ll give you periodic updates, especially when I’ve been able to tick something off. 

Currently I’m working on the sock monkey challenge (of which more anon), have completed 1 out of 80 cryptic crosswords, did a new thing this month (visted Ballard Locks) and am about to embark on the power walking and peanut butter challenges. This latter one is putting me in a cold sweat already. I am a peanut butter ADDICT.

If anyone else is inspired to make their own 101 list, do let me know, and very many thanks to Lou at Happy Serendipity and Nicole at MakingItLovely for their initial inspiration.

This is going to be fun!

I was hoping to give this list as the first page on a newly-redesigned blog, but unfortunately the mirrormirror technical support team (aka the Husband) has been rather busy with his proper job this week. Which only goes to prove that goal-setting is a dangerous exercise. But whatevs. I’m hoping to be back to daily blogging now. I’ve missed you guys…

101 Things (In No Particular Order)

 

1. Get a little red dress (I don’t usually do dresses, let alone red ones)

2. Volunteer at a food bank at least once a year (0/3)

3. See Niagara Falls

4. Attend the 2012 London Olympics

5. Lose 50lbs (0/50)

6. FINALLY Get the ACL in my knee repaired (as so many of my fitness/weight loss goals depend on this oneI’ve got an appointment to see the specialist this week).

7. Get my missing tooth replaced (I want to get my body as perfect as it can possibly be)

8. Finish a Babette blanket. (Still working on finishing my other blanket first).

9. Go somewhere in South America

10. Visit the Grand Canyon

11. Go to Santa Fe

12. Open ‘mirrormirror’ US

13. Organise all the photos on my computer

14. Do 30 straight days of Bikram yoga

15. Do a triathlon

16. Win something. Anything!

17. Break 5,000 followers on Twitter

18. Sell some photos.

19. Knit a sock monkey (Have plans for that one that I’ll talk about soon).

20. Get a personal wardrobe/shopping consultation

21. Acquire a sewing machine

22. Complete a sewing project

23. Learn to cook Thai food

24. Build raised beds and grow veggies

25. Finish landscaping and planting the front garden

26. Get whole house painted inside and out

27. Go sugar-free for 30 days (0/30)

28. Go to 30 restaurants I’ve never been to before (0/30)

29. Get visible abs (ha ha ha ha ha!  my abs don’t exist, I’ve NEVER seen them before)

30. Go to Hawaii

31. Visit Australia

32. Write up and catalogue all of my family tree research

33. Visit my aunt in Southern California

34. Eat 5 foodstuffs I’ve never tried before

35. Knit something in Fair Isle/stranded colourwork

36. Knit a complex lace shawl in silk lace

37. Get my blog professionally redesigned

38. Do one thing a month I’ve never done before (1/36) (yesterday I visited Ballard Locks in Seattle)

39. Organise at least 6 nights away with the Husband and without the Minx  (0/6)

40. Get mirrormirror mentioned in at least 30 print (0/30) and 30 online publications (0/30)

41. Visit New England in the Fall

42. Go strawberry and apple picking

43. Continue learning Spanish in the car with the Minx

44. Get a professional photoshoot done of the whole family

45. Clear my email inbox

46. Get a piano or keyboard

47. Take piano lessons

48. Do the Susan B Komen 3 Day Walk for the Cure

49. Go away with just the Minx for 3 ‘Mummy & Daughter’ weekends (0/3)

50. Visit the upcoming Picasso exhibit at the  Seattle Art Museum

51. Do the Theo Chocolate Tour

52. Get stock photos up on Getty Images or similar

53. Join a knitting group

54. Go razor clamming

55. Set up a mirrormirror  fan page on Facebook and get over 1,000 fans

56. Make a felted handbag

57. Make a piece of jewellery

58. Go to ALT Summit and the International Food Blogger Conference

59. Start a compost bin

60. Go jetskiing

61. Listen to 10 albums by artists I’ve not listened to before (0/10)

62. Complete all 80 cryptic crosswords in the Times Cryptic Crossword Book 14 (1/80)

63. Be a vegan for a week

64. Tidy my office

65. Learn to make Italian ‘sott’olio’ preserves – melanzane and peperoncini

66. Learn a little Mandarin Chinese with the Minx in the car

67. Go the Maison & Objet and the New York International Gift Fair

68. Get eyes checked for feasibility of laser surgery

69. Attend 6 photography workshops (0/6)

70. Make ravioli from scratch without even a pasta machine

71. Take a flying trapeze class

72. Take a day OFF on my birthday every year (0/3)

73. Write a letter for the Minx to open when she’s 18

74. Get signed up with a Primary Care Provider and arrange for an all-over physical

75. See 6 bands live 0/6

76. Read 20 ‘classic’ books I haven’t read before (0/20)

77. Drink only water for one month

78. Watch 5 Oscar winners for Best Documentary (0/5)

79. Get basement finished and fully habitable

80. Don’t complain about anything for a week

81. Have a garage sale

82. Unplug for a whole weekend (not phone, Internet, TV etc.)

83. Go ice skating

84. See 10 ‘classic’ movies I’ve never seen (0/10)

85. Scuba dive/snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef

86. Go white water rafting

87. Go snowmobiling

88. Run a 5k

89. Go for a month without peanut butter

90. Get more of my photos mounted and displayed around the house

91. Workout for an hour a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks straight (0/4)

92. Powerwalk for 30 mins a day every day for a month (0/31)

93. Take a photo a day for a month

94. Get one utterly fabulous piece of personal PR (I’ll know it when I see it)

95. Eat at the French Laundry, the Herb Farm and Chez Panisse (0/3)

96. Take the Minx to Disneyland

97. Sign up for a spin class

98. Go swimming once a week for 3 consecutive months (0/12)

99. Get a photo on Flickr’s ‘Explore’ page again.

100. Put aside $50 for every I task I complete to buy myself a fabulous birthday present

101. Donate $50 to charity for every task I don’t complete

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Things I Am Loving – Elena Kalis Underwater Photography

 

These glorious photos by Elena Kalis are making me want to stick a tutu on the Minx and dunk her in Puget Sound.

 

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The ‘Alice in Waterland’ portfolio is worth looking at in full.

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{All photos by Elena Kalis via Design Mom}

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Calling All Design Bloggers!

 

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I’m working hard behind the scenes at the moment to take things to a higher level round here, with a big focus on the ‘mirrormirror’ shop which has been sadly neglected over the past year or so.

I’m currently working on updating our PR mailing lists and was wondering if any of you design bloggers out there (particularly those in the UK)  would like to be added to the ‘Bloggers’ mailing list for news and updates on new products, sales etc.

I promise not to email you THAT often (I’m just not that organised) and any time you mention a mirrormirror product (or this blog) on your blog, you’ll be rewarded with my undying gratitude (ha!) and a reciprocal link on here. Please let me know if you give us a mention, so I can do that.

I’m also in the process of updating my blogroll and want to focus much more on smaller, up-and-coming blogs rather than on the biggies. If you’ve got a blog you think I should know about, particularly if it fits in with the stuff we talk about here – interiors, design, indie products, photography, food, knitting, crafts etc. – then please add a link to your blog below and I’ll take a peek.

Apologies for getting all self-promoting on you, but dangerous times call for dangerous measures. Anything you can do to support small independent shops and businesses, not just mine, at the moment is hugely appreciated I’m sure. 

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Things I Am Loving – the Knitting Clock

 

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{via Design for Mankind}

 

2010′s Time to Design Award was presented to Norwegian designer Siren Elise Wilhelmsen for her project Developing Time—Time Developing, a clock that knits 48 stitches every day, giving you a new 2 meter long tubular scarf every year. 

For her next trick Wilhelmsen wants to find ways to personalize the production of the knit, perhaps programming the machine to respond to movement, sound, and light.

It seems that this is a very distant and much more sophisticated relation of the Minx’s ‘knitting Nancy’ which has been keeping her entertained all summer.  She loves it when it starts ‘pooping’ yarn.

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I will be back blogging properly next Monday, hopefully with a blog refresh too, but loved the above too much not to share.

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