Article Archive: June 2011

Finishing Touches

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After spending two weeks in Austria researching with my Columbo G hat on, today is my first day back home. I love being among my familiar things again. It’s a nice feeling isn’t it?

Just this morning in my kitchen, the simple act of boiling an egg felt so lovely. Please don’t think I’ve gone into hausfrau overdrive. Believe me, I haven’t. But there’s nothing like having the right utensil for the simplest thing. It gives you that warm glow of satisfaction, it makes the smallest cooking task (I know I’m stretching the term here with a soft boiled egg) easier and more enjoyable. And if you’re anything like me, more often than not the most you get out of preparing a lovely meal is the joy of using lovely utensils and a sense of tremendous relief that you’ve managed to cook anything at all.

Not so long ago, I didn’t consider my kitchen utensils much, but bit by bit I realised that a few little things made me feel more connected to my kitchen. My pink Labour and Wait enamel pot was just the beginning…. so let me come clean here about my love of Labour and Wait where I bought it…

x 1 – I have a crazy love for anything that comes close to being kitchen related. If I so much as see a chopping board, I start to swoon. So imagine when someone in Labour and Wait says… ‘this is a ceramic blackbird pie funnel which allows steam to escape while you bake a pie!!!’ It’s all I can do to stop myself from keeling over.

xx 2 – I also have a crazy love for wool blankets and quality notebooks and pencils, I think it’s more the feeling I get when I curl up against soft wool or run the outside bit of my hand (I don’t know what it’s called) against lovely new notepaper.

xxx 3 – If I were asked to Goddess-ify a kitchen I’d definitely include a huge wooden table, lots of cookbooks full of beautiful images and many, many things from Labour and Wait. Oh my, but it has to be one of my favourite London stores.

xxxx 4 – I’m crazy about Labour and Wait’s buyers. Owners Rachel Wythe-Moran and Simon Watkins spend such a long time sourcing each piece that it’s more like a well curated gallery of well designed objects than a traditional hardware store. Oh and the prices are also really, really good which is nice for a change.

xxxxx 5 – I have a crazy love for their useful basics, from brushes and brooms to enamel pots and pans, classic stationery, industrial lighting and vintage Welsh blankets (I know I mentioned them already didn’t I?)

xxxxxx 6 – I love the packaging on their products (especially the old glass bottles of cologne and candles and toothpaste etc.) And the way they wrap everything so beautifully (they even sell long Japanese paper cutting scissors which lets you cut wrapping paper in a snip.

xxxxxxx 7 – And have I told you about my longing for the rope knot doorstop??? It so needs to come home with me. It’s very nautical, speaking of which….

xxxxxxxx 8 – Have I mentioned their Breton tops??? I haven’t. The secret here is the teenage sizes are a better fit than the adult ones (on me at least) and cost a fraction of the adult price.

Does it seem like I’m getting carried away with all the x’s in this post? It does right? You’re right. But they’re kisses for all the lovely things that are thankfully affordable.

Okay, off I go. Have a super day and let me know if ever you visit this beautiful store, it’s oh so full of goodness. Big hugs!

Labour and Wait, 85 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DJ Tel: +44 (0)20 7729 6253

Joining the fold

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If I never talk to you about shopping, it’s not because I don’t like it.  Oooooh no. I love to shop. It’s because I have to be a little strict on myself due to wardrobe space so any new piece I get forces an old one out. And since I love most of my old stuff to death, it’s tough to say OK you, out YOU go to make room for this lovely new thing.

There are thousands of scarves here

However, The Shop on Cheshire street makes me want to squeeze everything  up really tight at home so that I can make room for a new little thing (or two). I bought a vintage dress here last year for £20 pounds I REALLY LOVE IT! And it drives me nuts when people gasp that it’s vintage designer and cost a mere £20.  On my……

I love that I can pop into The Shop (it’s open every single day), have a little poke about (it’s such a little Pandora’s box) and always find something unique and affordable. Unfortunately the tidiness makes me panic a bit about the constant state of my own wardrobe. Take my scarves for instance… they should be taken out and pressed and moved about a bit to keep them from creasing permanently (um, I have seven).

Looking around The Shop I realized, goodness, can you imagine babysitting all of these scarves. There are hundreds. The owner Sharon has spent the past 16 years collecting scarves, tablecloths, curtains and a range of textiles. It reminds me of my college days in Dublin when I had a part time job in Benetton. You had to have a phD in folding jumpers but that was small fry compared to The Shop’s hundreds and hundreds of silk scarves.

So what secrets did I have a chance to gather here…. I pointed to a beautiful green scarf on the wall. ‘There are thousands of scarves here. This is one of the rarest… we haven’t seen one like this before. The design is Liberty circa 1890s – 1900. It’s £23!’ Wow it’s so Beautiful!

I liked the colour and print so would I give it a home???

‘You can tell the quality of a scarf by the amount colours in the print because it has to go through the machine so many times. And look at the finish!’

What should I look for in a scarf finish?

‘This  silk vintage Liberty scarf is hand rolled. (Hand rolled is where the edges are rolled- over and then hand-stitched it’s a good sign of workmanship.) Designers only take time to hand roll really good scarves.’

AAAAAH NOOOO! I just can’t. I have to have it. It’s the dreamiest. Resist! Resist!

So I dived on the jewellery and dresses (the white one had just returned from a little adventure… a shoot for Vogue UK. I checked and it was £27.50).  Well if it’s good enough for Vogue….

I’ll have to give you a post about the lovely dresses here sometime. Phew so much goodness to photograph in this tiny little treasure trove. Hope the photos have done it justice. Oh darn, I’ll just have to go back in a few weekends time. You coming? Maybe I’ll see you there.

The Shop, 3 Cheshire Street, Shoreditch, London E2 6ED tel: 020 7739 5631