Home for Christmas

December 29, 2011

Christmas has been a bit too much fun for homeshoppingspy! I’m looking forward to returning to regular blogging next week. Meanwhile, here’s a few things I’ve enjoyed from a Christmas in South Devon:

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1. A blustery walk along the coast to Blackpool Sands for pasties and chips on the beach!

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2. I received this lovely Winter bike Christmas card, available from Etsy.

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(clockwise from left) 3. Nigella Lawson’s Christmas Cup cocktail as seen in Stylist. Cherry brandy, sparkling wine and ginger ale (tastes like liquid cherry drops – amazing and very festive!). 4. Chocolate mince pies. I made these for a Christmas party and they went down a storm, visit BBC Food for the recipe. 5. Pretty crackers from Toast to complete our table setting on Christmas day. 6. To add a little sparkle we used these charming nativity scene tea light decorations from Dee Puddy. I hope you all have a fun New Year’s Eve. I’ll see you on the other side. – Alice

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HOT SHOP: Sparrow & Co

January 7, 2011

The Sparrow & Co shop hasn’t actually opened yet, but Samuel Sparrow of Glasgow has already been inundated with customer queries, so he’s had to set up a temporary Etsy store while his new website is completed. Just from the beautiful photography and the carefully-selected products, I know it’s going to be a good ‘un! Right up there with the likes of Toast, I predict…

Sam has gathered together a gorgeous collection of exclusive, handmade products from around the globe – from Morocco, Uzbekistan, Asia, Central America, Wales, England and, of course, Scotland. You’ll find woollen blankets, stools, leather pouffes, and pretty candles and notebooks featuring the illustrator Debbie Powell’s gorgeous designs. It’s going to be a real treat.

Sam studied Illustration and Visual Merchandising at the Glasgow School of Art, before working for Ikea and Habitat. He’s setting up Sparrow & Co on his own (although his stunning wife apparently helps out) and the full website is due to launch in a couple of months, so keep checking his blog.

Sam told me he has lots of new products on the way including hand-turned solid walnut candlesticks, quilts sewn from vintage sari fabric and patterned papier-mâché baubles. Clearly this is a man with impeccable taste; and his global-yet-harmonious and pared-down collection reflects it. Can’t wait to see more! – Ellie


Emma Bridgewater‘s famous black and white Toast design is now less black and white, and a bit more blue and green. Observe:

Isn’t it pretty? And a bit more relaxed than Emma’s smart monochrome Toast designs. Check out the fun new tea towels on the Emma Bridgewater website designed by Emma’s mother-in-law, Pat Albeck. (Make sure you read the ‘about me’ section on Pat’s website for a fascinating history of design in Britain from the 1950s onwards and some fantastic family photos!)

What else is cookin’ at Emma Bridgewater HQ? Well, the vintage Blue Hen design has been re-introduced for Easter 2010, and the children’s mugs are looking cuter than ever. My favourite’s still the Birds range, though! – Ellie

Toast launches a recipe book

November 10, 2009

Fans of Toast will be pleased to hear there’s a gorgeous new Toast recipe book out. Toast founders Jessica and Jamie Seaton first met cooking expert Pamela Hunter Brown while they were in Ireland doing a three-week photo shoot for their AW09 ranges. Pamela cooked for the whole team and become a close friend – a Toast recipe book collaboration was soon underway, to be filled with Pam’s recipes for nourishing, heart-warming food. Sadly, Pam died unexpectedly in August, but Toast has continued with the project and created a charity book in her honour – Pam’s Recipe Book.

toast pam's bookThe recipes are all from Pam’s notes, a real A-Z of rustic, soul-food – perfect for this time of year. From roast pumpkin soup and ‘mum’s flapjacks’, to Irish brown soda bread and winter vegetable broth, it’s all designed to make you feel, well, Toast-y warm! The rest of the pages are filled with stunning photographs of the rugged Irish landscape, taken by Jenny Zarins, which conjure up the wild spirit of the countryside and make you feel as though you’re in need of a piping hot mug of soup! It’s a lovely book, £5.95, from Toast. All profits go towards medical charity. – Ellie

Oh, Toast, lovely Toast. Thou art the nicest of all mail order companies by far. I didn’t think you could top your Greek-fest summer images with their beautiful moody lighting, fresh seaside-y feel and various visual delights, but you’ve done it again.

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I’ve just seen the new autumn/winter collection from Toast, and it’s every bit as gorgeous as we’ve come to expect. Think Scotland, think fog, think thistles, think chunky ceramics, snug tweedy textiles, knitted woollen socks and gorgeous rustic homewares. It might be June, but these lovely images instantly transport you to a chilly December afternoon…

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I see yet another vintage milk bottle has sneaked into this blog…really need to sort this obsession of mine out! I LOVE the teal-green ceramics with the bright red tamarillo fruits here.

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Cups on hooks and vintage books, these are a few of my favourite things. Loving the blue and white bobble hat with those blue and white vintage china plates behind, too.

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Mmmm, check out the vintage wallpaper in the background of the matches shot – tasty! Lime green and dirty orange, my favourite 1960s combo. How does Toast manage to make something as simple as a few old wire coat hangers look like gorgeous utilitarian-chic treasures? We mere mortals will never know the secrets of Toast! But one thing’s for sure…these lovely pics are more like works of art than catalogue shots, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.– Ellie

We’re loving the new Toast spring/summer catalogue photography. Shot in Greece, it’s making me dream of sunny summer days! I love this raised sleeping area, with it’s vintage lace border and retro angle poise lamps. – Ellie

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While we’re on the subject of breakfast in bed, I love this retro toaster, £11.75, from ASOS. It burns the words ‘I love you’ into every piece of toast you make. How romantic! Ellie

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