Rowen and Wren: Elegant and Distinctive Homewares


Rowen and Wren have one of the most beautifully photographed homeware collections of any online shop.  The covetable vintage accessories; the backdrops of deep slate blue paint and whitewashed walls; I would happily move in to their online world if it existed.

As you’d expect from such a carefully crafted visual style, the collection itself is exquisitely tasteful, and it’s one of those shops where you can’t really go wrong if you’re looking for a gift.  Anyone with any sense would be happy to welcome something from Rowan and wren into their home.

Their collections do span a range price-wise, and some items are outside my personal budget, but there are also some really affordable gems, and it’s also a great place to look for well crafted antique-style hardware (think burnished brass, copper and nickel).

Liz has picked some of her favourite bits and pieces below….

Rowen and Wren homewares mason cocktail shaker recipe book

The Mason Shaker Cocktail book £18.

My other half bought me a Mason Shaker for last years Birthday but I fear my bottom of the bottle, back of the cupboard concoctions may not pass muster. I am buying this. If I remember I will let you know how I get on…

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Rad Studio: Funky Homeware & Gifts In Saltaire, Yorkshire


Liz and I are longtime fans of the village of Saltaire in West Yorkshire.  Not only is the UNESCO World Heritage Site home to Salts Mill and host to our beloved Bradford Beer Festival, but it’s also boasts a great range of independent shops, making it a hotspot for design and vintage lovers.

Rad Studio on the Saltaire main street is a riot of colour and fantastic spot for picking up design-friendly homewares and gifts that suit a range of budgets.

I stop in every time I’m in the village and find it very difficult to leave empty handed – I’ve picked up cards, jewellery, an iphone case, gifts and some pretty little copper and ceramic bowls which I use to house my earrings and bracelets.

earrings in small green and copper bowls

It’s got a great laid-back vibe, which I love, as my pet hate is high-design concept shops that make you feel intimidated or under pressure to buy. It’s lovely owner Ali is on twitter over at @radstudiouk, so you can follow her there for updates on special offers and new items in store.

I’ve selected some of my favourites below (under the cut), from their website, but if you’re in the area it’s definitely worth stopping in for a mooch around as they have an even bigger range in store…

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Alternative Valentine’s Day Cards


*Translation: Love yourself

A Yorkshire style ‘Happy Valentines’ from Hello Walls! In case you want to spread the love a little further we’ve complied our favourite alternative (no soppiness allowed) Valentines cards…


1. I want to stroke your beard £2.10, 2. Calculator Boobies £2.95, 3. this card has no purpose £2.02, 4. You’ll Do Card £2.00, 5. Just The Way I Am £2.87, 6. You da bomb card £2.20, 7. Inhaler £2.69, 8. I Dig You £2.40

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A Gift Idea For Stylish Commuters

I’m a dedicated user of public transport, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the most glamourous method of travel.

At this time of year buses and trains are rammed with commuters more concerned with wrapping up against the horrible weather and avoiding the bugs of fellow travellers than looking stylish en route.  Perfect hair and make up gets a battering as windows steam up with the collective body heat of soggy, frustrated passengers.

Small luxuries bring a sliver of pleasure to the daily routine, and by treating yourself to something like a lovely hand crafted leather travel pass holder, you can inject your daily commute with a bit of style.

travel pass holder with zigzag design

Liz bought me this cracking specimen from an Etsy seller called Tovi Sorga last Christmas.  Not only has it replaced the standard issue plastic pass cover which was falling apart, but it also makes me feel a cut above the rest on the 97 bus, and I’m sure I’ve clocked a few envious looks from fellow passengers (or they could have just been giving me the side eye for inadvertently pushing in front of them in the queue…).

Torvi Sorga also make a whole range of other leather goods in bold prints and graphics that would make great gfits (I won’t mention the C word yet, but if you’re organised enough, go for it).

iphone case with swallow design

Leather iPhone case – Swallow and Leaf

Tovi corrie earrings

Leather earrings – Minimal Geometry No.2

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Fig and Sparrow: I Challenge You to Resist


I have a problem with the Fig and Sparrow. I  simply can’t stop spending money there. I’m made to pass it everyday on my way into the office, so it would be rude not to pop in to see what new stock they’ve got in. Based on Oldham Street in Manchester it’s fifty percent lifestyle shop and fifty percent café-bar. So even when i’ve innocently nipped in for a quick coffee and a slice of their pecan pie there always something on the shelf that catches my eye. Just like the sweets at the checkout point in supermarkets, it’s almost like they’ve thought about it…

I need to be more grateful though, this shop is my go-to for panic present buys. They’ve also introduced me to some great homeware stores like nkuku and local designers/illustrators such as  Nicola Rowlands and Emma Lonsdale. They don’t have an online shop but if you’re in the area I’d recommend you pay a visit, and I challenge you to come out empty handed. Past purchases for me include this  dog walking cushion  and my charming chai tea set (which i’ve previously raved about).

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Future and Found: Bold & Bright Home Stylings


Future and Found is a relatively recent discovery, but you may have spotted their stuff appearing on recent round up posts, and their beautifully shot collection always stand out on our Pinterest boards.

They stock an eye-catching range of household bits, specialising in bold, clean, simple pieces with bolts of colour here and there (these guys love their neon).  They are particularly good for kitchenware, storage and tidy bits, and unusual gift ideas.   Their website has enviable style, and I’m pretty sure that their buying habits are influenced by what will co-ordinate best with their colour palette – you’ll notice a lot of orange and grey.  Hats off to their web design and photography people.

I have replaced some of our old plastic cups with their enamel tumblers.  I’m also very fond of the Donna Wilson knitted badger cushion - it’s on my splurge wish list  (though I suspect that Liz would be tempted to pinch it).

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Gift Ideas for Hosts With The Most

I’m not really convinced about the term ‘hostess’ gifts. It’s a bit 1950’s / Stepford Wives-ish and makes me think of the dubious ‘hostess’ badge that was on offer when we were Brownies in the early 90’s. I recall that it consistented of Liz and I making tea and sandwiches for adults, whilst holding polite conversation. Somehow I don’t think that the badge was on offer for the guys over in scouts…

In my mind host/hostess gift is basically a ‘thank you for feeding me / putting me up’, and the generosity of the gift is usually relative to the amount of time you’ve intruded on their hospitality. Take note: if you are someone who intends to stay a couple of days and is still crashing on your friend’s couch 6 months later, you owe you some serious gifting (or, you know, maybe some rent).

Booze, usually wine, is the obvious answer, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Plus it can be hard to buy for someone with an intimidatingly well stocked wine cabinet.   It also helps to get a bit creative if you’re staying for a longer stint and want to splash out to treat your hosts who may have saved you a hotel bill. So here are a few alternative ideas, and you can find the full Pinterest list here.


1.  Day of the Dead – Tequila Añejo 50ml £12.50 (+£6 p&p/collect in store) 2. Whitby Bone China Mug – Indigo £8 (£3.25 p&p) 3. ARV BRÖLLOP Serving stand with lid, clear glass  £15 (collect in store only) 4. Chocolate & Macadamia Biscuits £9.95 (in store/ £4.95 per delivery)  5.  Jersey Pottery Sardine Run Small Jug £19 (in store/£5.95 p&p) 6.  Raspberry Infused Gin £18.50 (+£6 p&p/collect in store)  7. Garden Recipe Cards £14.50 (£5.95 p&p/collect in store) 8. Pitt Cue Co. – The Cookbook £10 (free p&p) 9. Sinatra Stoneware Green reactive glaze platter | £30 (+£4.95 p&p) 10. Marbleised Servingware (Oval) £24 (in store/£8 p&p) 11. Amber vase £5.49 (+£4.79 p&p)

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Gift Ideas: Wedding Presents for Couples

Wedding season is nearly upon us again, and I generally stick with my golden rule of wedding gift giving which is: get the couple stuff they’ve asked for. 

Whether they’ve gone to the trouble of compiling a gift list, or are just asking for donations towards their honeymoon or a charity, heeding their instructions is always a safe bet.

That being said, you do get some couples who don’t ask for anything in particular and often, even with those couples that do, you sometimes want to find an additional something extra to go with their registry gift or donation.   This is when you encounter the nigh on impossible task of buying a gift that is genuinely suited to a couple, and doesn’t just default to the taste / preference of the member of the couple you know best (very easily done).

Homeware is generally not a good idea for risk of duplication, and also risk of subjecting a friend/family member to your taste, which they might have to politely live with until they can plausibly blame destruction on cats/kids/movers.

Here are a few alternative suggestions:

For the honeymoon….

White and Brown leather passport covers

1. For regular jet setters, leather passport cases are stylish and also practical, as they stop passport getting so creased and bashed that airport security look at you suspiciously: Left: Leather golden stars passport cover approx £15  Right: vintage leather passport cover with free personalisation approx. £24


Rolled grey stripe towel

2. These stylish Hammam  beach towels (approx. £16) are ideal for those honeymooning in a beach-y destinations (they’re also very lightweight so good for suitcase packing).


Cover of national geographic traveller magazine

3. A subscription to National Geographic Traveller magazine to inspire further travels (if you have Tesco clubcard points saved you can buy it with just £8 of vouchers)

[See more gifts for travellers, foodies and homebodies under the cut….]

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Easter Gift Ideas For Kids

When buying Easter gifts for little people, I try not to default solely to chocolate gifts. This is partly in sympathy for their parents and the effects of overzealous sugar consumption, and partly in the interests of value for money in the longevity of the gift (and also Yorkshire thriftiness in looking at what % of your money is paying for chocolate and what % for packaging…).

Here’s my round up of crafty / educational / wearable alternatives to Easter eggs, though I would recommend they are accompanied by a small chocolate treat so you’re not pegged as the killjoy aunty/uncle.

round up of Easter gifts for kids

Clockwise from top left: Baileys Home | Flower Press £8.50 (s) £15.50 (l), Paperchase | Easter Sticker Pack £4, Etsy | Handmade needle felted bunny brooch £22 (approx.), Not on the Highstreet | Chalkboard T Shirt £19, Jellycat | Tiggalope Sheep £15, Amazon | Play to Learn Hide ‘n’ Squeak Eggs £4.49


6 images of Easter gift ideas for kids

Clockwise from top left: Not on the Highstreet | emporary Finger Tatoos £5, House of Fraser | Baby`s animal friend t-shirt £7.20, Etsy | Make Your Own Rabbit Toy Craft Kit – Sewing Kit £18, Marks & Spencer | Easter Windmill £5, Amazon | Knuffle Bunny £5.03, Cuckooland | Melt & Make Chocolate Easter Kit £12.99

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Best of Easter: Eggs & Treats

You may have noticed that the shops are choc full (no pun intended…) with Easter goodies at the moment. Though I’m the kind of girl that’s easily pleased with a Cadbury’s cream egg, I do buy for people with more discerning taste, so here’s my pick of eggs and treats  that offer both style and substance….

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs

Clockwise from top left: Mr Moustache Milk Chocolate Easter Egg £12 (£3 p&p), Chococo Foiled Milk Chocolate Eggs with Treats, £9.50 (+£3 p&p), Organic rum and sultana truffles decorative Easter egg £12.99 (+£4.95 p&p), Assorted tropical truffle eggs  £9.99 (+£4.95 delivery), Hazelnut praline hen’s egg in egg cup £11.99 (+£4.95 delivery), Sea Salt Caramel Truffle dark chocolate Easter egg £14.99 (+£4.95 p&p/collect in store)

Find more egg picks  over at Pinterest.

Other Easter treats (non-egg like)

Other Easter treats (non-egg like)

Clockwise from top left: Fruit Floral Coconut Trio £16.81 (+£4.95 p&p), Flower Tray £25 (+£4 p&p), Dendrobium Orchid Bouquet £22 (free delivery),  Dark Chocolate Bar Library £12.95 (£6 p&p / collect in store), Egg & Chips £14 (+£3.95 p&p), Salted Caramel Marshmallows | £4.50 (+£2.80 p&p)

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