The art of a tea towel



You probably know that we have a weakness for a tea towel – so we were delighted when this extra-special one arrived in the mail! Why is it extra-special? Well…

First of all it was sold to raise money for the Save Norton Folgate campaign. We’ve posted about Norton Folgate in the past here and here. (The latest is that the former Mayor of London’s decision to overrule Tower Hamlets council and allow the British Land development to go ahead has gone to a judicial review and a decision will be made very soon).

Secondly, the design is by Adam Dant – who is sometimes called ‘the 21st century’s Hogarth’. He creates large, intricate drawings that record and often satirize contemporary life. (He was the official artist of the 2015 General Election.) And as a Shoreditch  resident himself, he has keen interest in what happens in the area. The tea towel features a print of his work ‘The Curse of Norton Folgate’ (created especially for the Save Norton Folgate campaign), in which the animals that died in the fire at the East London Aquarium, Menagerie and Waxwork Museum in  1884 stalk the streets of Shoreditch delivering elaborate, theatrical curses to those who wish to despoil the Liberty of Norton Folgate.


They are surrounded by vignettes of the history of the area and portraits of famous residents:




And the third reason it’s special? These tea towels were sold as a limited edition of 100 and are numbered and signed! So it’s not so much a tea towel as a bona fide piece of art, which means that we couldn’t possibly use it for drying dishes… and anything that means we don’t have to dry dishes is A Good Thing!



PS Sorry – they are sold out!

Super Supermarket find

You won’t believe where we found these cute mugs …

(OK so there’s a clue in the post title but you can let us be excited, right?)

They weren’t from some obscure specialist retailer of lovely household things – they were from Sainsbury’s! And they only cost £2.50 each! If that isn’t enough, you can include them in an on-line shop and have them delivered to your door with your groceries.

Now you can see why we were excited, maybe it’s time to have a cup of tea and calm down.

P.S. – Copyright in the photos belongs to Sainsburys!



What a great idea, Nora Fleming!

We saw some Nora Fleming tableware the other day – what a great idea! All the items are plain white with one tiny hole somewhere on the edge. Like these: P1040029 And into this tiny hole goes one of a range of ‘minis’: a ceramic embellishment. There are minis for every season and occasion so your plate or bowl or serving dish or bread tray can change with the theme of the event. As as well as being very stylish it is cheaper and takes less space than having a specific platter for each one. Isn’t that clever? Here are some of them: P1040030 P1040033P1040031 P1040032 And apparently, there are more coming soon. The not-so-good news is that you can only buy Nora Fleming tableware in the USA and Canada at the moment, but it is such a simple and fun idea that we wouldn’t be surprised if it gets an international market soon!

An answer to the cheeseboard question

Can we share something with you? Until this week, we have never owned a cheeseboard (as in a board that you put cheese on) although many cheeseboards (as in selection of cheeses) have been served and eaten. They just seemed to cost a lot for something that does the same as a large plate or a wooden chopping board. Why bother with an item specifically for one job when something else in the kitchen can just get on and multitask like the rest of us?

On the other hand though there’s that nagging feeling… wouldn’t a purpose-made cheeseboard look better? Shouldn’t real, mortgage-paying grown-ups have a proper cheeseboard and not improvise, like students making do with whatever past tenants left in the cupboards? And the slate ones look really good.

And the question has now been answered definitively (for us, anyway). This was on sale:


Not just on sale – reduced by 75%! That in itself was clearly a sign but it gets better. At the till, it became clear that not only did the board not have a price label, other than the sticker on the edge of the shelf. A very apologetic man spent a couple of minutes looking and then decided that as he couldn’t find one after asking us to wait, he would sell it for half the reduced price. Which means a total saving of 87%! And as you know if there’s one thing we like better than lovely things, it’s lovely things at bargainacious prices.

While we’re talking about cheese, can we recommend this Buzzfeed article on How To Put Together A Great Cheese Plate At A Regular Supermarket? (Some of the brands mentioned aren’t available in UK supermarkets, but that doesn’t really matter).

So that’s it – not one but two great (grate?) dilemmas solved. You’re welcome!

We love a wicked good napkin

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We had some friends round for lunch the other day and used up the last of the paper napkins from Christmas because the gold colour seemed to go with the daffodils. (It was fun – it would have been so nice if you could have joined us!)

White linen napkins are beautiful but they are such hard work to launder and starch after every use that a well-chosen paper one seems like a more attractive option, at least for less formal events. In fact, we love a:


And that says it all really. But here are a few more from the cupboard:

You can’t go wrong with a nautical theme
Love these kitsch barbecue ones!
These are waiting for someone’s birthday (it’s their favourite vegetable)

And there is always room for more… we can’t think of an occasion when we would need these zebra napkins from the Caspari website, but we really want some anyway (you know, just in case we throw a leaving party for someone off to hunt zebra. Could happen…):


Every napkin makes a statement, some in a more obvious way than others!


If you have a wicked good napkin, why not share a picture of it on our Facebook page?


At least one good thing about the nights getting longer is that we get to pull the blinds and curtains and make the house cosy! Time to think about window treatments.

So, what to do about a big window – actually a trifold door – in the kitchen? Firstly, we didn’t want curtains. Fabric in the kitchen collects smells and dirt like any other surface so needs to be washed/cleaned frequently and frankly, with a big window that could be a lot of work. So we had a look at blinds.

With horizontal blinds, the mechanics are the problem. The window is to big to have a single horizontal blind, so would need several next to each other. But then what about the gap between them? And what about the hanging cords or rods? So that led us to think about vertical blinds.

There are really two kinds of vertical blinds: ones that are fixed top and bottom and ones that are made up of panels suspended from the ceiling. We didn’t want ones that were fixed at the bottom because we thought that when the blinds were drawn and the door was open, a track on the floor would be a trip hazard. So by now, we had narrowed it down to vertical panel blinds suspended from the ceiling. They can be mounted on a multiple track rail, which means individual panels can overlap and there is no gap where they butt up against each other. There’s one cord to operate all of them and it is hidden away at the side.

And at that we were just expecting to look at some sample books and pick out a suitable vinyl fabric, but after a chat with the lovely people at Albany Blinds Edinburgh we realised there was another, much more fun option. They can print just about anything on to a panel blind. So you can choose any professional quality image and they can print it! 
Now we know you’re too kind to mention it, but our photography is a long way from professional quality so whilst the idea of a favourite holiday snap on the blind was initially appealing, it didn’t take too long to realise that it wasn’t a good idea! Fortunately, there are whole libraries of beautiful, professional photos and images and for an appropriate (but not expensive) fee, you can buy the right to use them.  Two of the best are Getty Images and Shutterstock
So we asked ourselves: what would be a great view from a window? It has to be a nighttime view, because the blinds will only be drawn at night and a daytime view would be a bit odd. Nighttime in the country or at the beach is just, well, dark. The only thing that would really show up at night is a cityscape – and remember how great the view from Frasier Crane’s apartment looked? 
Now we just have to pull the blinds and we’re in Boston! 
Albany Blinds Edinburgh provided a great service and couldn’t have been more helpful.

Cutlery drainer lightshade

We’ve always fancied a cheese grater lightshade for the kitchen – couldn’t find a picture to use in this blog, but if you check out ‘Hingham House’ on Pinterest you can see one. Basically, it’s a lightshade, made out of a cheese grater. Simple as that! So the plan was to get a grater and just drill a hole through the handle, pass the cord through and attach the light fitting bit so that the bulb hangs in the body of the grater. But there was a (major) problem… couldn’t find a cheese grater that was big enough to get a light fixture and bulb in! They all seemed to be too narrow at the top.

The next logical step seemed to be thinking about what items of stainless steel kitchenalia ARE big enough to fit a lightbulb in – and so the cutlery drainer light shade was born! (We did think about using a colander, but decided that the drainer would obscure more of the bulb itself from view and that would be good because lightbulbs are not very attractive.)

Admittedly, it doesn’t have the same immediate impact as the cheese grater, but it does make for a cheap, original and stylish (is it OK if we say that?) shade in the same vein.