Vases

Someone gave me a really awful vase and every time I see it, I want to cry. Disclaimer: I know there are more serious issues going on in the world, but this blog is not the place where serious world issues will be addressed.

BACK TO THE VASE. I'm being really rough handed with it but it's basically bullet proof. 

I'm waiting for someone to come over, spot the vase and say 'that's a nice vase' and then I'll slip it into their bag. 

I love flowers. I buy fresh flowers every week. This vase is just something else.

Here are ten vases which are nicer than the vase I have.

A Scottish party an aa that

My family and I are going away on holiday together to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday.

We’re renting a house by a loch on the west coast of Scotland. 

I’m taking on the task of planning the welcome/first night celebration. I’m keen to establish a reputation as an exemplary events planner for small to mid-size crowds (aim high, Sarah).

I thought I’d share my party ideas and plans with you. 

Confetti Balloons £8

An obvious place to start but nothing says PARTY TIME like balloons. I’ve been having a bit of a crisis of conscience with balloons because I know that if they are released into the wild and deflate, they could end up choking and animal who thinks a bit of floppy latex is food. These balloons will be indoor balloons. I’m also thinking that for impact, more is more. 

 

Lost Count Birthday Candles £3.50

I'm not totally sure if I'll go through with purchasing these candles. My dad will either think it's hilarious or will cry. 

 

John Lewis Tartan Ribbon £5.25

An inexpensive way to imbue the balloon display with Scottishness. 

Scotland Edition Monopoly £24.99

I have a wholesome image of my family sitting around and playing boardgames together by the fire. This never happened when I was a child so I'm not sure why I'm holding onto the delusion aged 28. 

UPDATE: BESPOKE 'DAD' BUNTING 

I bought some wrapping paper from Amazon and made some bunting. 

A shopping spree in Anthropologie

It was my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday on Wednesday. 

A few months ago she mentioned that she liked Anthropologie and so I squirrelled away this nut of information.

I visited the Anthropologie shop on the Kings Road intending to get her monogrammed notebook or a mug but after spending half a happy hour in there adding things to my own wish list, I realised that a gift card was the only sensible option. 

So I did. You can buy a little handmade pouch to put the card in too, which I did. 

anthropologie gift card

If you haven’t been to Anthropologie before, imagine a tiny department store of hand-made looking things which appear to be one of a kind.

The name of the store implies that you could buy a blanket in there and someone might think you picked it up from the Chin peoples on a trip to Burma. 

Here are my top Anthropologie picks. 

My Graham & Green Desk

This desk was a wedding gift from my parents.

After getting married, we left my husband's bachelor pad (hallelujah) and moved into an unfurnished flat. 

Getting to pick out exactly what we wanted to go in our home was a dream.  

My parents wanted to give us a 'home' gift, and I had my eye on this desk from Graham and Green. My dad is really into the idea of heirlooms and I think he thought it would be a nice thing to pass down to future generations.  

Made in India, it is inlaid with mother of pearl. The three drawers contain my correspondence cards, stationery and letters.

I just discovered bar of soap in there. So it’s apparently also where my bar of soap lives too. 

I finally understand why my mum went crazy when I put down mugs directly on the piano.

Strange coincidence, but my old piano teacher Liane, gave me some lovely marble coasters. 

I never get tired of looking at this desk. The pictures I've taken don't really capture just how beautiful it looks in the sunshine.  

Did you ever feel like you’d be a better student with a  new pencil case? Or sleep better in new sheets? Or run faster with new trainers? I feel like I’ll be a better writer at this desk.

It's more of a console table than a desk, so it's not very deep but I haven't found this to be a problem. 

It has a matching stool (you have to buy that separately) but I like a chair with a back so I bought a Kartell ghost chair instead which is serving me well. The only downside is that you can't lean back two-legs-high-school-style on it.

Ordering was straightforward, delivery was free and the guy who delivered it took it upstairs for me. It was packaged really well, which sounds like a weird thing to say but it felt like the packing people also believed that this desk was a queen of a desk and should be handled with care. 

Buy the desk chair.

There are a few Graham and Green stores in London. I've only ever been to the one in Notting Hill.

It's definitely the most interesting shop in the neighbourhood and would recommend a visit there, followed by a pizza from The Grocer next door. 

GRAHAM AND GREEN Notting Hill

4 Elgin Crescent,
London,
W11 2HX

www.grahamandgreen.co.uk

Universally useful stocking fillers

I'm calling these ideas 'stocking fillers' but they are perennially useful gifts. Serve them in a large sock if you wish.

Book gifts for children

I wanted to put together a recommended reading list of books that help equip children for life.

Still not being fully equipped myself,  I asked my friends which of the books they read as a child influenced them the most and would recommend as a gift.

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame 

£10.99

Recommended by Guy: ‘I read it as a child but influenced me more as an adult than as a child. It is beautifully written, and captures a kind of England that has a great appeal. But it is also about discovery and escape - Mole finds a whole new world. Friendship, the river, picnics, Christmas, the country house, the past, freedom, spring.’

“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.” 

“It'll be all right, my fine fellow," said the Otter. "I'm coming along with you, and I know every path blindfold; and if there's a head that needs to be punched, you can confidently rely upon me to punch it.” 

LITTLE WOMEN by Lousia May Alcott 

£7.99

Recommended by Natasha: 'Little Women was one of the first 'classics' I read when I was nine and I was hooked. That book now gives me a special connection to my mum as she was the one who suggested I read the book in the first place. It taught me the importance of family, and the importance (and difficulty) of following my dreams. I was brought up with those ideas and so the book really resonated with me. I still love the story, and parts of it still make me cry!'

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship."

 

A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD BY E. H. GOMBRICH

£7.19

Recommended by Grace : I read this book an adult and since then I have bought three copies to give to my little cousins as gifts. It ought to be recommended reading for every child in the world. The tone is clear without being patronising. Its aim isn't to make children feel like they ought to know names and dates. It encourages children to enjoy history, and if anything, teaches children about equality and that every culture is valuable. The book was banned by the Nazis for being too pacifistic, which is a very good sign.  

"One can be attached to one's own country without needing to insist that the rest of the world's inhabitants are worthless."

"One can be attached to one's own country without needing to insist that the rest of the world's inhabitants are worthless."

THE HOUSE AT POOH CORNER by A. A. Milne

£6.99

Recommended by Ben: At the end of the House at Pooh Corner, Christopher Robin has to leave his animals at The Hundred Acre Wood and go to boarding school. It's a sermon on the impermanence and contingency of all relationships, especially in childhood. And that growing up involves loss. 

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”

 

ABSOLUTELY NORMAL CHAOS by Sharon Creech

Recommended by me: A teacher gave me this book when I was ten. I started reading it at the beginning of the long summer holiday, the same point at which protagonist Mary-Lou Finney starts her diary. Absolutely Normal Chaos book contained all of the themes I sought and enjoyed in future literature: humour, the confessional, trying to do the right thing, Americana, situations which could not be resolved (and that being ok) and boys. And in a not-too-forceful way, introduces Homer, Dickens and Frost.

"But the party was the stupidest (I know there is no such word as stupidest) thing I have ever seen, with the girls all giggling in the middle of the room, and the boys all leaning against the walls...I keep forgetting to reflect on things. I will reflect on these parties. If I was a boy, I would wish they would plan something interesting, like maybe a game of basketball."

"But the party was the stupidest (I know there is no such word as stupidest) thing I have ever seen, with the girls all giggling in the middle of the room, and the boys all leaning against the walls...I keep forgetting to reflect on things. I will reflect on these parties. If I was a boy, I would wish they would plan something interesting, like maybe a game of basketball."