Tuesday 30 September 2008

Kathleen Hills lights

I love the simpleness, but effectiveness of these Kathleen Hills lights. I have quite a high ceiling in my hallway, and am looking for a real statement light, perhaps something in copper. But I love these lights, so they rank highly in my potential shortlist. The trick here would be in picking the right number of clusters - you can have up to 16 lights together, which I think would look really striking. Maybe even in black, for extra dramatic effect. Every light I like is expensive, so there won't be a frivolous lighting purchase. Some long-term planning is in order - if you have any great suggestions, I'd love to hear about them.

Photos from Kathleen Hills. Available online from Echo Interiors.

Monday 29 September 2008

Tea of the week: Le Loir dans Le Theiere

Well, how about this for tea of the week? There I was, sipping Darjeeling tea and feeling ever so sophisticated while reading an Obama interview in French Marie Claire - and then this doorstop of a dessert arrived. I was fairly confident that I'd asked for lemon drizzle cake - but apparently not. This was divine all the same, if not a slightly ambitious portion for one - and it seems that I'm not alone in thinking so. This cafe was my favourite Paris find - Le Loir dans Le Theiere in the Marais district - the walls all covered with posters of upcoming cultural events, and a waiter with typical French attitude.

Pumpkin passion

Well, there's no chance that I will ever be the kind of person to make something like this, and I'm not sure I want to be - but I have to admire the handiwork on this pumpkin. It looks so beautiful.

Flea market Paris

For three preceding days, the excitement built as I made preparations to hit the Paris flea markets. I anxiously tried to recall my GCSE French so that I could understand basic numbers. Five years of French and all I had to show for it was an enthusiastic Bonjour, Merci and the requisite "C'est combien?" I mean really, that was almost it.

Still, I revised my numbers and practised the tone in which I could say "C'est trop cher" - even though I doubted my ability to haggle en Francais.

On the Friday, I went to the Marche aux Puces d'Aligre, a small outdoors market in the Bastille area which is open Tuesday - Sunday, and is part of a vibrant market selling lots of fresh produce. This market was just lots of cheap junk, with very few redeeming features - I hardly saw anything anyone would buy - even someone with completely different taste to me. But, I think this was my favourite market as there was the vain hope that somewhere, there might be a hidden bargain. This was the most like a car boot sale - just lots of tables with their wares displayed. And I quite liked this area of Paris - it's within walking distance of the Marais. I'd definitely go here again.

My view of the Marche aux Puces de Vanves is slightly skewed by the fact that I dragged myself out of bed at some ungodly hour (6.30am, that's 5.30am to the Brits) to go to this market. This market is frequented by dealers, so I followed Time Out's advice to get there early, although at 7.30am there were quite a few stalls who were just starting to set up. Apparently there are 350 stalls (to me, it seemed a lot less.) A lot of the stalls sold pictures, ceramics, glassware - but I didn't see anything I wanted to buy. All the guides I have read recommend this one as the best to find small items - but I didn't see a thing.

Finally, I joined the throngs of thousands and went to the Marche aux Puces de Clignancourt, where there are 2,500 stalls. Time Out recommends not getting there before 9am, but I think 11am is a more realistic time - I had to go for coffee as there really wasn't anything happening early on. Make sure you persevere with finding the right area - I almost went home as there were so many stalls selling cheap knock-offs and then the occasional antiques stall interspersed - but this wasn't the right part of the market. My favourite part of the market was the Paul Bert market - mostly expensive furniture with the occasional smaller item, and a great selection of lighting.

This mirror, on the side, was the closest I got to making a purchase. Except there wasn't a stallholder in sight - I went back twice and there was still no-one there. It was a very sunny day!

At the Paul Bert market especially, a lot of the stalls were decorated really nicely, and simply, with colours I like to call Smithsonian chic.

My overriding opinion of the French flea markets is that they are expensive. Everything was at tourist prices and I really didn't see anything much that I wanted to buy. I was looking for paintings (I didn't see any unframed under 100 euros), vintage glassware, old tins, jewellery - it was quite disappointing. I bought 24 vintage watch faces, and that was it. It wasn't even as if I really saw anything I loved which was unaffordable - I just didn't see anything much I wanted.

Hello, with bows

Hello, again. It's a dreary London morning, but one that's been cheered up immensely by the discovery of these vintage red shoe clips from Erica Weiner. Aren't they beautiful? I'm sure there must be a pair of shoes in my wardrobe, just lurking for an autumn transformation. She also has cream and navy rosettes, tortoiseshell clips; these are a part of my accessory wardrobe I've totally overlooked, and one which is inspiring a whole new Monday look. Pencil skirt, scarlet toes, vintage scarf anyone?
In the UK, these are available from the lovely website The Shop Floor Project, in the US from Erica Weiner.

Photos from Erica Weiner, via Indyblog's Shopping Bag.

Sunday 28 September 2008

List Love: 20 things to do before my career break is over

I thought it would be fun to join in on the list challenge started by Simple Lovely and Doobleh-Vay.

I'm currently on a bit of a career break, but a return to work is imminent, probably in the next two months. Here's a list of what I want to do before I get another job. I've capped the list at 20, but believe me, I could go on...

1. Go to New York as an election tourist - go Obama!
2. Make something with the 24 old watch faces I just bought in Paris - I'm desperate to have an Etsy shop, even though I don't have any craft-making talent.
3. Take up salsa again.
4. Design a header for my blog.
5. De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter - the story of my life.
6. Look for an old Polaroid camera on E-bay and stockpile as much film as I can, as they've stopped making it.
7. Finish painting my living room - there's been one unpainted wall for over a month now.
8. Admit that I am lazy and lacking in some domestic graces - and hire a cleaner.
9. Go to the Columbia Road flower market.
10. Spend some dedicated time on Ebay looking for the bargain furniture/ephemera/painting finds which other people always seem to find and refer to in their Living Etc homes.
11. Put up curtains, which I've lived without for the 17 months (really, that long?) I've owned this flat.
12. For at least one week, use up all of the ingredients in my organic vegetable box before the next one arrives.
13. Make at least one of Orangette's banana bread recipes (with the bananas I've frozen when I haven't eaten them before they get a bit mushy - see no. 12.)
14. Go for a walk on Wandsworth Common every day (I was going to write run but that may be slightly optimistic.)
15. Figure out how to use all the new appliances I have in my lovely new kitchen.
16. Take some time to consider what really is my signature karaoke song.
17. Have at least one dinner party where I'm not running round in a blind panic five minutes before the guests arrive.
18. Read at least five of the currently 23 unread books on my bookshelves.
19. Rearrange my bookshelves so my books are colour co-ordinated.
20. Have a brilliant idea so that I can have another (and preferably permanent) career break from my professional but uninspiring career.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Yellow Fever

I can still remember my first fashion decision as a child. My mum had a mail order catalogue and I remember choosing a whole outfit. Not quite having mastered the art of contrasting and complementing clothes at the age of 5 or 6, I picked out a yellow sweatshirt, ra-ra skirt, yellow and white striped tee-shirt, yellow and white socks, and yellow plimsoles. I have never worn yellow since but recently I have felt myself drawn towards it.

Paris is more yellow-feverish than London.

From the post boxes (I love this, it's not just a canary yellow, it is almost a neon yellow)...

To trolley bags...

I almost bought this Perigot Trolley Bag - imagine how much fun it would be to go shopping with this. I think if you're going to embrace the old-lady trolley bag then you might as well make a statement! This one looks really sturdy too. Then I remembered that a) I am on a budget and not supposed to be making frivolous purchases and b) I'll be back in Paris one of these days. My outward trip took 5 hours so Eurostar are giving me a free ticket - it would be a shame not to use it.

Construction at the Louvre

At first I didn't think twice about the construction happening in the courtyard of the Louvre. Then, it occurred to me - of course, it was for Paris Fashion Week. It actually started today. I should have been hanging out in the vicinity, watching the fashionistas, instead of
shopping (without success) for silk flowers. But then again, I'm sure my clothes would have stopped me getting too close - I'm not sure a three-day worn sweater, towel-dried hair and puffy gilet would have looked convincing as a high-fashion onlooker's attire.

Paris in the autumn

I decided one day last week that altogether too many people have been blogging about amazing food and flea market finds in Paris - so I decided I better go. A few stressful weeks and an impromtu spirit led me to book the Eurostar last Monday - and on Wednesday off I went.
These are my Paris feet - as much evidence as there is that I was there, and the only bit of me which can be revealed. I took one small rucksack with two cardigans and clean vests, so not the height of Parisien chic. At the last minute I threw in a lip gloss as a small gesture to Paris.
There is definitely a myth that Parisien women are chic - I traipsed all over town and barely saw any of note, although I did see several cycling in high heels. Now, French men - that's another matter entirely. There's little in the way of boyish charm - these were all very much real men.

Tea of the week: Lupin's tea-bag

Ok, well apparently this is old news, but I couldn't resist posting it here when I saw it! This year may or may not be the 100th anniversary of the tea bag - read more at Serious Eats.
Image is from Lupin, whose lovely Etsy shop of all things felted can be found here.

Wednesday 24 September 2008


I'm having a bit of a New York reminiscence as I am hoping to go back there in a month as an election tourist. Is anyone else planning to go?

Anyway, these are framed beaded handbags which I saw at my aunt's house in Pittsburgh during my trip. I like the idea - she's a very Martha Stewart type, always making things. I'm trying to encourage her to have an Etsy shop, but she doesn't really know how to turn on a computer. One thing about the US is that there definitely are better bargains to be had at garage sales and in thrift stores than in the UK, where anything retro has already been snapped up to be sold at extortionately priced salvage yards such as Lassco.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Red fire escape in New York

This red fire escape just screams for attention - it's in the East Village in New York. I spent a few months in New York earlier in the year, but now I've come home I realise there is still so much I didn't see. I tried to highlight the streets I had been to on my map - but I lost momentum. The heat wiped me out, and rendered me useless. Now I've realised I can travel every single street in New York with Google Street View. I've even managed to revisit my old street in New York - Morton Street in the West Village - which I find just a little bit freaky. Big brother is definitely watching.

View Larger Map

Monday 22 September 2008

Two for Joy

My friend Emma has a copy of this Robert Ryan print at her house. It reminds me of the original print which inspired the name of this blog (it had two birds, and the words 'two for joy'.) Rob Ryan has been commissioned by Vogue, Penguin, and the 2005 Liberty Christmas window. I think this print would work very well in my flat - slowly the vision for this place is coming together...

Trees for Joy...

I love the wrangling of these tree roots - I took this photo in Ithaca, New York earlier this year.

Beautiful bandos

Look at these beautiful headbands or 'bandos' - from Polaroid blogger Jen Gotch and friend. Their online business Ban.do is well and truly up and running - I definitely fancy one of these. And especially because they come with their own haiku! How perfect.
Photos by Jen Gotch.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Iain Archer and family at Greenbelt

Oh, I do love Iain Archer. This is a recreation of a rather touching moment at Greenbelt this year where he had his parents and parents-in-law get up on stage and sing with him.

One of my favourite songs of the last few years is Take That's Rule the World. I even heard it the other day when I was in a taxi with a Turkish taxi driver - and he was singing along with it as well. Anyway, the thing is that I was never into Take That the first time round - but now I absolutely love them.

Don't let that admission colour your opinion of my taste in music - but I just wanted to point out that I WAS into Iain Archer the first time round, and every time since - I've been listening to his music for more than half of my life.

Carrie bicycle basket

There are lots of reasons for buying a bicycle; to improve fitness, remove the crippling expense of a Tube pass from a credit-crunched budget, to nip to friends' houses a little quicker...but the only reason I have considered getting a bicycle in the last few years is so that I can purchase the Design Stockholm Carrie basket.

Muji white bicycle

These are photos of the Muji white bicycles. You may not understand quite how difficult it has been for me to locate it - I have been lusting after one ever since a friend went to a wedding where the bride and groom rode off on these bicycles. Mind you, a photo doesn't quite suffice. The bride and groom had their bicycles shipped from Japan, but I'm pretty sure my non-existent command of the Japanese language might be a barrier if I was trying to get hold of one myself. They don't seem to be available outside of Japan, but if you are fluent in Japanese, this seems to be the most recent Muji bicycle catalogue. I'm also quite excited about the yellow and green colour options.

Friday 19 September 2008

Banksy in Tooting

I got ever so excited for a moment, at this Time Out post - I thought there might be a Banksy in Earlsfield, which is quite close to where I live.

Alas, not quite the Banksy I had in mind. Still, this shop is on Garratt Lane in Tooting - there are quite a few second hand furniture shops along that road, so some day next week I'm going to get my walking shoes on and see if there are any bargains to be found. There is a mid-century Modern place - I'm optimistic I can find a chair there for my kitchen.
Photo from Time Out.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Kill Devil Hill

I'm going to New York in a few weeks, and this shop is right at the top of my list. Kill Devil Hill is a destination shop, conveniently located near the Brooklyn Flea market. I have it on good authority too: Kill Devil Hill was recently named one of the best six new stores in America by The New York Times. The owners Mary Brockman and Mark Straiton find their stock on road trips around America - there's an interview with them in New York Magazine here.
Photos via Apartment Therapy.


I'm a little disappointed at the lack of vintage bargains I seem to find in British charity shops. Whereas I've had some successes in New York thrift stores, there's very little of note to be found here. I'd love, for example, to find something like the hummingbird picture above - I love it. It's from Daily Danny - he's a stylist to the stars, and I've been enjoying his recent house tour.
Photo by Danny Yeo, via Daily Danny.

Monday 15 September 2008

Design Museum Valentine typewriter poster

I have just made a delightful discovery. Further to my post on the Valentine typewriter, I happened upon this post in Apartment Therapy. Can anyone see why it caught my attention?

Who knew that there was a Valentine typewriter poster? This is a limited edition poster designed in 2007 for the Design Museum.

I'm really not that much of a red person, perhaps because it's not a colour that suits my pink complexion, and so I've ruled it out from so many of life's decisions. But this poster isn't even that expensive - only £8. I think I should get one. Call it a quick interior fashion fix. I can find out later if it jars against my long-term colour scheme, but I'm not quite ready for long-term commitments just yet.

Saturday 13 September 2008

Moss Graffiti

I often see or hear ideas which just astound me, because I know my limited brain would never think of them in a million years. For example, I am organising a craft fair next weekend, which is having a teepee made from recycled cardboard in the kids' corner. As there is an eco theme, I want the kids to decorate it with coloured-in trees. I was touting ideas for a name to my friend Alice; tree teepee, teepee tree - and then Alice hit on the genius idea - 'tree-pee.' Well, I have to say, I would never have thought of that in a million years.

Similarly, it would never occur to me that graffiti could be made out of moss. I think it's brilliant, and it's beautiful. The artist is Anna Garforth, she is based in London, and you can find out more about her project on her website.

Orla Kiely Wottle

I am very much in love with this Orla Kiely Wottle - in fact it's topping my current wish-list. Or not - I'm soon to move it right off the list when I pre-order one!
It's a collaboration between Orla Kiely and Brita - there's an article in The Times about it today.

Petra Boase designs

I love these quirky vintage-inspired prints by Petra Boase. She is another regular at the Cockpit Arts Open Studios - and I always stock up on baby t-shirts for the plethora of newborns which seem to regularly appear around me.

I was so pleased when my ex-colleague gave me a Petra Boase mug as a leaving present from my last job. A very inspired move indeed, except that I then broke it very shortly afterwards. But I refused to throw it away - so it's sitting on a corner of my desk, waiting for someone with more patience than me to fix the broken handle with Superglue - so it can become my new pen pot of choice.

Tea of the week - Pantone mugs

These Pantone mugs aren't new, but they're still a favourite. They're bold, bright happy mugs - not the kind of thing you'd cry into. I think they are more of a jump up, be sprightly, early-morning-cup-of-tea kind of mug- can you tell I am a morning person? I've tried in my life to respect and understand other religions, political views - but I've never quite got my head around people who are grumpy first thing in the morning.

Friday 12 September 2008

Eat your greens

The Keep Calm and Carry On prints have made quite a resurgence in the last few years, but this 'Eat your greens' print is my particular favourite. It would look perfect in my kitchen, where I'm trying to pull off that vintage/modern fusion.

New York City

[A 24 Hour Trip to New York] from M. Ward on Vimeo.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Night Owl Paper Goods

Well, if they're good enough for the Today Show*, then they're good enough for me. Not the Radio 4 kind, but the American GMTV equivalent - I became a little bit obsessed with Hoda and Kathie Lee when I lived in New York for a few months this year.
I digress. I love these Night Owl Paper Goods cards - made from sustainable wood. They aren't stocked in the UK yet (although you can order them on their website) - a great opportunity for a retailer with impeccable taste.
*Oh my, I've just discovered I can follow the Today Show on Twitter - I can resurrect my American obsession - just in time for my return to New York as an election tourist.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Typewriter lust

My typewriter lust has been awakened again, this time for one of these Ettore Sottsass Valentine typewriters for Olivetti, designed in 1969. There's not a hint of red, or ever likely to be, in my subtle, sludge-coloured house, but for this, I'd make an exception. There are a couple on E-bay at the minute, but what I need is my very own Valentine to do the purchasing on my behalf.

Monday 8 September 2008

Hable construction

There's a beautiful shop in New York's West Village called Hable Construction, which sells lots of products in heavy canvas, with bold graphics which are rather Orla Keily-esque. They often stock aspirational vintage finds, such as old price tags from grocery stores, and lamps made from old cogs. It's just the kind of shop I'd like to own.

Sunday 7 September 2008

Pointless pencil

Sometimes it's the simplest things which bring me joy, like a meal cooked for me by someone else, a recipe shared, a lift home rather than a cold wait at the bus stop, the sound of rain at the window - or even, a simple pencil. Yes, I'm one of those people who would shell out £1.75 for this when I've got a whole stash of pencils at home, procured from various places of employment over a period of time. This is available from the Design Museum shop.

Saturday 6 September 2008

Claire Coles

Every year, twice without fail, I go to the Cockpit Open Studios. Each time, I share an awkward glance with Claire Coles, because I know she's seen me looking adoringly at her range of products, not once, not twice, but several times before...I've even spoken to her about commissioning some artwork - and I still intend to do so, someday. She has a range of stunning and unique stitched wallpapers, pictures, porcelain and accessories. One of my favourite purchases of the last few years was one of her bird brooches, like the ones above. It flew away one day, literally. So the next time I go to the Open Studios, I know I'll definitely be making another purchase.

Swallows wallpaper

I keep coming back to this swallows wallpaper by Places and Spaces. It's been around for quite a while, but it isn't as ubiquitous as my other favourite, the Cole and Son's tree wallpaper which I have seen everywhere, to the point that it's actually put me off buying it. But is that wrong? I still love the tree design, but I think there's only room for one black and white wallpaper in my house. This picture doesn't do the design justice at all - it looks stunning with the repeat. Just don't share the secret with too many people - I don't want everyone having it.