Monday, 14 April 2014

Easter gifts

Not too long now until the long weekend that Easter brings and if this lovely weather we're enjoying sticks around, what a lovely treat that will be?

If you want to avoid buying somebody chocolate for Easter, there's still time to order a gift online. Here's some of my favourites that I found.

You can't go wrong with these cute egg cups from Graham & Green and below British company Hop and Peck

Lovely Easter gifts for children are a plenty from Not on the High Street

Beatrix Potter books from The White Company

Lovely felt rabbits made by Hut Up available from Selvedge

This felt White Hare head is adorable any time of year. from Willow & Stone

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Copper Kitchen Accessories

When you think of copper in kitchens you usually think of traditional country kitchen style, but the range of new copper accessories available now, are bringing a contemporary look and feel to kitchens.

I was recently asked to work on some shots for a client to interpret this trend. the shots below show some of the product currently available in a bronze finish or colour, from bread bins to kettles and the gorgeous set of pans which will still look good in years to come.

I love the way this warm metal tone works with the dark blue wall colour and the natural wood.

Photography by Annabel Ord
products available through Littlewoods

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

H&M Conscious Exclusive Range 2014

Tomorrow morning, 10th April, the 2014 Conscious Exclusive range hits the H&M stores.

The range is a beautiful bohemian inspired collection with a hint of Spanish Flamenco at its core. All fabrics used within the range are organic, recycled & sustainable, but no compromise has been made to the style of the pieces, which are ultra glam and perfect for occasion wear.

I am seriously loving these shoes!
Do you have your eye on anything from the collection?

Le Weekend~Paris

I have a big milestone birthday coming up in a few weeks, how big I don't really want to say, but big enough to treat myself & Mr B, of course, to a few days in Paris.

Paris is a city we both love and it's special to us, it's where Mr B asked me to marry him 25 years ago and although we've been back to France many times since, we have never been back to Paris. I'm not entirely sure why as we were blown away by it all those years ago and vowed to return every year but I suppose life gets in the way and the world is a big place.

Instead of staying in a hotel, we have chosen to stay in an apartment in Le Marais district. When I say we, I mean me, as this birthday is all about me! My reason for staying in an apartment is this. Many years ago Mr B worked in an advertising agency in Manchester and was offered a job in their Paris office. "Take it!" I said, packing my case as soon as you could bon voyage, but oh no Mr B had other ideas. The band he was in at the time were going places, so he told me, and he wasn't going to leave them behind to pursue a job in Paris. Anyway needless to say we didn't go and the band didn't get signed and ever since then I have always had a romantic notion of living in a lofty Paris apartment a deux. So for a few days in May, that is what we are going to do! Better late than never I say?

We booked our apartment through One Fine Stay, which are a bit pricier than some other agencies, but have beautiful accommodation and they provide a fully loaded iphone with recommendations of where to eat, shop & go in your chosen area, a welcome food pack, a personal greet at the accommodation to hand over the key and designer toiletries.
This is our little pied a terre during our stay in Paris

One of the highlights of staying in an apartment is that you can have a lazy breakfast and go to the local markets to buy and cook your own food. I know its not everyones idea of a break, but we both enjoy cooking and its nice to have the option of eating in or out. The local market in Le Marais is Marche des Enfants Rouges, which I cant wait to have a good look around.
Apparently the area is rich in small cafes, artisan shops and courtyard workshops that you can pop into. I came across the brilliant blog Hip Paris, whilst researching the area and I'll be making sure I read all the blog posts before embarking on my journey, as it's rich with information of all the best places to see and be seen.

Having a gluten allergy isn't going to hold me back either as I've discovered a gluten & dairy free cafe in the area. Cafe Pinson caters for vegetarians & vegans, everything is 100% organic and even their lattes are made with almond milk. It not only sounds delicious it looks elegant and beautiful. To any other allergy sufferers reading my blog, I'll report back with a full review when I have been.

One of the stores I can't wait to visit, which is also located in the trendy Le Marais district, is Merci. This independently owned store is home to an eclectic mix of clothes, homewares, lighting and cosmetics with areas to eat and drink and a small city garden. This month they have had their outdoor space designed by city gardeners Les Mauvaises Graines, which translates as The Bad Seeds, after Nick Caves band. They bring their own style of rock & roll to gardening. Unfortunately, I won't get to see this installation as it expires after the month of April but I'm sure Merci will have something else to excite and inspire?

I love this t-shirt available from Merci. That might be my first birthday present to myself?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Patti Smith ~Female Icon

Ever since reading her book "Just Kids" a few years ago, I've had a girl crush on Patti Smith. I was always aware of her through her music in the 1970's, as a teenager growing up during the punk era, strong women icons had been few and far between until then, but since her book I adore everything about her. From her way of dressing to the things she says and how she says it, she is one cool lady.

I was lucky enough to see her gig in Manchester a few years ago and at 67 years old she still has more energy and charisma than many female artists currently in the music business. It was with some interest that I read her views on women in the music industry, which seems to be a hot topic, at the moment, in her recent interview with the Independent.

I: What's your view on the sexualisation of women in the music industry? Is it necessary for musicians to take their clothes off as often as they do?
P: “I can't judge how another person does their work. Everyone has a choice and the music industry is much more open that it was when I was younger. Certain things are gone, others have developed, but everyone makes their choices. Pop music has always been about the mainstream and what appeals to the public. I don't feel it's my place to judge. I just look at things as a fan, I like or or I don't like it. I love Rihanna's song, Stay. I didn't know much about it, but I found it so touching, so beautiful and it didn't bother me that in her music video she sung it naked in the bathtub. I thought it was beautiful. I have bigger concerns that what pop stars are doing. I'm more concerned about our environment, what industrialists are doing to it. But I would always say to anyone, you make choices that are important to you. Don't allow yourself to be exploited by something as fleeting as fame and fortune. If you're presenting yourself in a way that important to you in communicating your vision, then so be it. No one should allow themselves to be exploited ever.”
She has recently written a lullaby for the film Noah, which stars Russell Crowe and in the interview, which you can read in full here, she talks about the possibility of making a film of Just Kids, which is the truly uplifting and heartfelt story she tells of her life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It would make an amazing film if interpreted with as much sensitively as the book.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Cheshire Smoke House

On Saturday we took a trip to The Cheshire Smokehouse which had come highly recommended to us by other food obsessed friends.

Almost everything sold on the premises has been made or produced in house and all other produce is locally sourced or handpicked by a specialist team.

The bakery provides artisan breads handmade & fresh every day, along with a gorgeous selection of cakes, pastries and local delicacies such as potato cakes. We visited quite late on Saturday afternoon so much of the bread was already sold, I think the moral here is, get up earlier & stop lounging around in our pyjamas all morning?

Upstairs you'll find a small cafe which serves until 4.00pm with a selection of the produce sold downstairs. If you want to buy a bottle of wine from downstairs and have a glass or two with your meal you can do this, for a small corkage charge.

We were told prices were high but to be honest if you pay for organic and free range with your usual shop, you won't find the prices here any higher than the supermarkets, but you have the added knowledge of knowing exactly where the produce has come from and how it has been made.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Urmston Vintage and Craft Market Manchester

The small town of Urmston is the place I call home and for as long as I have lived here, too many years to mention, there has always been a bustling market, 3 days a week.

Sadly as with all towns, the big malls & out of town retailers have taken over in recent years and our once well loved market has become a shadow of its former self. Luckily for the town of Urmston, the residents are very passionate about where they live and the market is a big part of our daily lives that we don't want to lose.

To try and rejuvenate interest and attract younger shoppers, a vintage and craft market has started trading on the last Saturday of every month. This weekend was only the second event of its kind and along with the warm sunny weather, which no doubt helped, the market was indeed a hive of activity again.

It's early days and there is still plenty of room for improvement and many stalls still vacant but there were some great traders and it can only get better with time and the right marketing (no pun intended!)

Some of the best stalls on Saturday, that I saw, were selling a range of vintage and retro homewares & kitchenalia, Mrs M Vintage has a great selection and a splendid little shop further up from the Market, on Flixton Road. Lovely hand knitted and crochet items from Little Knitted Stars including super cute, hand knitted Easter chicks and eggs in a birds nest, hand stitched gifts and cards from Lydia Blythe, shabby chic inspired gift ware from Belle Amour Home and home baked cakes from Mooreish Baking and puddings from Jo's Cheshire Kitchen who provided me with the best gluten free sticky toffee pudding I could have imagined, a delicious mothers day treat, so thanks Jo!

Other great regular traders provided second hand books, plants & flowers and haberdashery.