TREATS for Friday

March 5, 2010

Apologies for the lack of blogging action this week, chaps, but life has been very busy at Ideal Home HQ. To make up for our absence, here are a few LOVELY things to end the week with…

Perfectly pretty cupcakes from new Kent company Estella Cupcakes

Some cute new products from Brit mail-order company Patchwork Harmony, including vintage tiles, chair place-card holders, and stylish vintage children’s alphabet blocks…oooh, there’s nothing quite like a Malted Milk…

Pretty Mother’s Day rosette cards from Bluebell 33

Lovely retro Roberts radios in NEW colours: Leaf, Cocoa, Duck-Egg, Cassis, Saffron…

Lastly, Australian bed linen company KAS is launching in the UK this spring. Check it out…

Have a lovely weekend. I’ll be back on Monday with a very HAND-y post. – Ellie

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Lisa Stickley and baking

December 16, 2009

Designer Lisa Stickley sent me a lovely little Christmas card which arrived this morning. It’s put me in an extremely festive mood – as has the snow that’s falling on London today! (Of course, it didn’t settle and so we basically now have the same mucky puddles we always do, but let’s try to keep things as lovely as possible here today. After all, we have just been listed in The Times…)

Lisa has been a busy bee of late, coming up with some fabulous Christmas tea towels and cushions. I particularly like the tea towel with a scribbled Christmas pudding recipe on it…

She’s also produced some retro cushions featuring 1960s photos of handsome chaps wearing bobble hats – a bit of a departure for Lisa style-wise, but they look great! It must be hard to look moody in a bobble hat, but the lads on the left and right are doing a jolly good job of it. On to other lovely things…the scarily fast approach of Christmas means I have an excuse to obsess about Bake it Pretty – an American shop full of gorgeous cake decorating bits and bobs…

I’ll probably have time to make some tree biscuits (yeah, right – got to at least give the impression that I live the dream I suppose…) but I think I’ll cheat and buy a ready-made, ready-iced cake, then decorate it myself rather than doing things the proper way. These little snow men would look fabulous on little individual iced Christmas cupcakes:

Right, I’m off to drink mulled wine at a German Christmas market. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. – Ellie

I’ve just interviewed Bux Bailey, founder of the lovely Treacle bakery on Columbia Road, in East London. I was getting baking tips from her for a ‘Domestic Goddess’ feature I’m writing for the October issue of Ideal Home. While we were chatting, I got a chance to check out the lovely collection of products she stocks – as well as her fabulous cupcakes of course! Check out the cute badge she gave me:

treacle

cupcakes-800x533

Bux sells vintage cookware and nostalgic kitchen bits and bobs, which are displayed in a charmingly quirky, laid-back manner – there’s an apron draped across a window like a curtain, and a broken 1970s TV used as a display case – everything is reused and recycled and nothing is pretentious. Among the vintage treasures for sale, I spotted glass cake stands for £12 each and a stunning Midwinter tea set. The kitsch 1950s kitchen cupboards Bux sells double up as great display cases for the shop, and she also stocks contemporary items from talented British designers which sit happily alongside the older pieces on offer. I noticed a great range of funky tea towels from Kent designer Lindsay Marsden AKA The Black Rabbit – she makes beautiful tea cosies, seed packets, prints, toys, egg cosies and cushions. 

black rabbit

I love her work, but The Black Rabbit logo freaks me out a bit, as it reminds me of the disturbing Watership Down cartoon I was shown as a young child – I haven’t been the same since! Bux also stocks another of my favourites The Hungry Girls’ Cookbooks – beautiful mini recipe books from a trio of Melbourne friends – Rachel Pitts, Leah Holscher and Katherine Bird.

cookboos

Elsewhere, I noticed a collection of hilariously rude greeting cards from designer David Shrigley, and some stunning ceramics by Rachel Barker:

Picture 13

I was relieved to hear that despite the failing economy, and the challenges small independent shops are facing, Treacle is thriving. Bux told me that cake is a ‘recession-proof product’. ‘People will always eat cake,’ she explained. ‘In fact, during hard times, people usually comfort-eat and end up eating more cake than usual!’ I suggested to Bux that perhaps some of her success is down to the current shift towards a back-to-basics, less materialistic way of life – perhaps the nostalgic charm of Treacle appeals in an era of homogenised high streets and greed gone wrong? Bux agreed: ‘Cake is one of life’s simple pleasures, and I think comfort and nostalgia is more relevant today than ever before. We keep things simple here – our milk is still delivered by the milk man, and my daughter Maya and I are going to pick elderflowers this weekend on my mum’s farm down in Kent to make some elderflower cordial for the shop.’ Bux told me she was brought up in a household where ‘Mrs Beeton’s book was like the Bible’ and she feels a lot of the information in such books is still helpful today. Stepping into Treacle is like going back in time – only ‘builder’s tea’ is served, the counter is a huge old-fashioned glass cabinet and the cupcakes wouldn’t look out of place at a 1940s tea party. I’m in love with this place! Just before I left the shop, I ordered an EAT CAKE AND CARRY ON print, which I’ve had my eye on for a while. It’ll look great in my kitchen! – Ellie

Treacle is at 110-112 Columbia Road, Shoreditch E27RG (020 7729 0538).  It’s only open on market days (weekends).

Let them eat cake

January 29, 2009

Emily and I have just sampled the new collection of retro cupcakes from M&S, so our New Year de-tox is officially over. The bakery team very kindly brought us some samples to taste and let us decorate cakes in a hands-on workshop. It all got a bit messy and I’m feeling slightly nauseous now!

The cakes were absolutely delicious, but they’re more like iced buns than real American-style cupcakes. The icing on them is made with fresh fruit, there are no artificial colourings used and all the cakes have a sinful gooey centre, too. With flavours like Lemon Meringue and Strawberries and Cream, I think they’ll be a hit – they’re perfect for weddings or birthday parties.

They’re due to be launched in M&S shops this April priced £2.99 for four. It seems M&S is planning to take on retro, independent bakeries such as Humming Bird and Treacle – let the cake war begin. Ellie

Percy Pigs combined with cake – heaven on a plate

Percy Pigs and cake combined – a dream come true