Kitchen Wishlist: Tiles

My dream of converting our ground floor ‘dumping ground’ (not its official title) into a kitchen/utility is finally going to happen. I have been given the go ahead from the other half. There are lots and lots of things to do first (throw out most of the crap that is currently residing there, employ an architect/designer, get quotes from builders, etc, etc). But it may just happen next year. This makes me very happy.

I have lots of ideas about how I would like the space to look. Some of these will be incorporated, some of these won’t make the cut. This blog seems as good a place as any to document the wishlist. Hopefully I’ll then be able to compare the wishlist to what actually happens later on.

First off, tiles. And by tiles I mean floor tiles. I have a little obsession going on with patterned, monochrome floor tiles. I first saw these in the kitchen below. This look is very bold. perhaps a bit too bold for my liking.


I actually prefer it when there the tiles are used sparingly in the design. This is good news because tiling a whole floor would be expensive.

This kitchen uses these tiles in its design without it being too overpowering.

tiles6But perhaps my favourite use of these tiles is the following room. The tiles don’t dominate but instead demarcate the entry area. And I love the green door. (Do have a look at this beautiful blog and Instagram account. The owner, Cattis, has a stunning house and also uses patterned wallpaper to great effect -take a look).



tiles9Floor tiles such as these can be found at Fired Earth, Alhambra Tiles and Lindsey Lang (I discovered her designs at Design Junction and loved them.) Here’s an example of her tiles used in a kitchen:


Sources of pictures: 1, 2, 3 & 4, 5

Fabulous (not fearful) at forty: Wishlist

I may have mentioned that it’s my birthday in October. (I’m not this tedious in real life, honest.) Inspired by Lia and Alexis, I have decided to put together a little wishlist. It may steer loved ones in the right direction, or it may be completely ignored. My long suffering/ gorgeous husband has already shelled out for a trip to New York. But just in case…here are the things I am currently lusting after.


  1. I don’t actually expect to receive this Tom Dixon beauty for my birthday, but it’s on a long term wishlist. We stayed in an Airbnb in Copenhagen that had this shade and I loved the shadows it made on the walls.
  2. I love Lena Dunham. I’ve watched Girls (and cringed along) and now I want to read the book. She’s pretty fearless. In fact, New York would be a perfect place to read it.
  3. I spotted Pikku Potin at The Crafty Fox Fair last year. I’m having a succulent moment and running out of surfaces to put them on. This hanger would be a perfect solution. My husband has yet to be convinced of its merits.
  4. This necklace from Oh My Clumsy Heart. In fact anything from Oh My Clumsy Heart. I love their stuff.
  5. A spiralizer. Yes I’m jumping on the courgetti bandwagon. Bring me raw vegetables and I will turn them into ribbons and eat them. *evil laugh*
  6. I spotted this blanket on Jen’s beautiful blog and swooned. I already own quite a few blankets. But this one would go perfectly in my bedroom.

Cafe Culture: The Blue Brick Cafe

The Blue Brick Café is in my old ‘hood, East Dulwich. It’s a neighbourhood café with a twist, as it only serves vegetarian food. I always judge a place on whether the food brings something new to the party. I’m not really tempted if I feel I can make it at home. The Blue Brick wins on this front, as the menu does offer something a bit different.

Blue Brick

Appearance: The Blue Brick café is clad with rather attractive (surprise, surprise) blue tiles. According to the café’s website, it was once a Victorian dairy. Inside, the café benefits from lots of light due to its big windows. The café is furnished with vintage, mismatched wooden chairs and tables. I like all the quirky details: coloured bottles on the windowsill, small jars filled with flowers on the tables and a shelf display of vintage crockery and wooden animals. It’s homely and inviting.

blue brick 3

Location: It’s on the corner of two residential streets in East Dulwich, Fellbrigg Road and Shawbury Road. This is a two minute walk from the main shopping streets; Lordship Lane and North Cross Road, both worth an explore if you like independent shops.

Menu: The menu is completely vegetarian. There are specials on the board and a breakfast and all day menu. I’ve eaten there a few times before and always found the food really healthy and delicious. I’ve had a fennel and halloumi salad and it was a good size (important in the salad stakes, I feel). Fred chose some corn pancakes and he devoured them. They will do a half portion for children too, so it’s a nice place to take youngsters if you want them to eat something slightly different (and more wholesome) than the usual children’s meals you get in cafés and pubs.


blue brick 5

Clientele: This time I visited about 11am and had a coffee. The café was quiet apart from a group of women having a business meeting. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop (it was quiet)..obviously a few issues going on in their workplace! I’ve been at lunchtime too and it’s been busy (less eavesdropping opportunities).

blue brick 4

Coffee: I had my usual flat white. It came in a glass which is unusual (I think I prefer a cup). They have a proper coffee machine. I suppose that’s all I really need to know. (I should probably read up more about coffee as I know some people take this very seriously…)

Overall: The Blue Brick is a great neighbourhood café that offers good hearty vegetarian fare. If you’re in East Dulwich or even visiting the nearby Horniman museum, it’s worth a try.

(All images my own, apart from the menu).

The Blue Brick Café, 14 Fellbrigg Road, East Dulwich, SE22 9HH

On the Radar: October

October is an exciting month for me. I love the different seasons we have here in the UK. Having lived somewhere where the blurring between summer and winter was less defined, I longed for the rituals of autumn. Conkers, crunchy leaves, Halloween, even butternut squash..they are all part of October’s charm. I don’t need an excuse to enjoy a glass of red wine, but somehow the darker evenings make me savour it more. I’m all for cosy in autumn and winter. I have a blanket on the sofa and my fairy lights get to twinkle (that is not a euphemism). The clothes are better in autumn too. We can wear opaque tights and chunky boots. This a good thing.

In addition to all of that, it’s my birthday. I’m going to be 40 (old enough to know better but I still love celebrating). And I’m going to New York, baby (excited doesn’t even cover it). I have a good feeling about you October, what else is on the cards?


  • It’s London Cocktail week. Get a wristband and enjoy a £4 cocktail in some pretty swanky venues. Or failing that, make one at home. This one has got my name on it.
  • Have you read Gone Girl? (I have and I thought it was a brilliant thriller). I will probably go and see the film. Rosamund Pike is inspired casting as Amy.
  • The Hayward has put on some thought-provoking (and fun) exhibitions recently (one involving balloons and poo), I wonder if Mirrorcity will be in the same vein? It’s supposed to explore the effect the digital age has had on us all.
  • I will be away for this, (eating all the hamburgers) but this food festival in Brixton looks fab.

How will you celebrate autumn? It’s not winter yet…



Cook Book Challenge

I have a bit of a problem. No it’s not that. I have a problem when it comes to buying cook books. I cannot resist the latest offerings from my favourite food writers. My shelves are heaving and I’m running out of space. Oh well. There are worse addictions to have.

There’s something going on in food right now. There seems to be a move away from rich, heavy meat-based recipes and the humble vegetable is being embraced in all sorts of sexy ways. This is good news for those of us who want to eat less meat and good news for the environment. These are a few of my favourite books at the moment. They are not all strictly vegetarian, but all of them focus on vegetable-heavy dishes and healthier cooking.

So over the next month or so, I’m going to stop flicking through these books and actually try some of the recipes. I’ve picked a few out below. I’ll let you know how I get on.



A lot has been written about this book, two of my favourite bloggers have raved about it. Of course, I had to have it. This is a vegetarian book and Ms Jones has some fresh, innovative ways of cooking with veg.

Three recipes to try:

  • Charred pepper and halloumi stew
  • Pan-dressed noodles with crunchy cabbage and crispy tofu
  • Kale and black sesame sushi bowl



Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley are glamorous sisters with a love of healthy food. They’ve worked as caterers to the fashion industry and have been food writers for Vogue. The book is full of healthy recipes, but is not vegetarian.

Three recipes to try:

  • Hot buckwheat noodle salad
  • Feta and black bean burgers
  • Carrot, radish and seaweed salad with sweet miso dressing


My love of Ottolenghi knows no bounds. I love what he does with vegetables and all the weird and wonderful ingredients he uses. Plenty More is already living up to the hype (perhaps it’s just me though?!) The dishes are divided up by the cooking methods: fried, roasted, mashed, etc. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Three recipes to try:

  • Red onions with walnut salsa
  • Squash with chilli yoghurt and coriander sauce
  • Fried cauliflower with mint and tamarind dipping sauce



I have a thing for salads so this is my kinda cook book. The author, Sally Butcher also owns a specialist food shop called Persepolis in Peckham, which sells all manner of goodies from the Middle East and beyond. The book is full of inspiration.

Three recipes to try:

  • Patatas bravas salad
  • Harissa spiced fig, merguez and almond salad
  • Smoked mackerel salad with dukkah-spiced oaty sprinkles


Diana Henry has got to be one of my favourite food writers. Her style is friendly but she knows her shizzle and the recipes always add something a little different to the party. This book concentrates on a lighter style of cooking, and it really is ‘where healthy meets delicious.’

Three recipes to try:

  • Winter greens with crispy onions, tahini and sumac
  • Gooseberry, almond and spelt cake
  • Burmese chilli fish with hot and sour salad

diana henry


Gwynnie is like marmite. She invokes strong reactions. Love her or hate her, this cook book co-authored by Gwyneth and Julia Turshen (Designsponge’s partner) is full of some really good looking recipes. They are pretty simple so pretty easy to whip up when you don’t have much time.

Three recipes to try:

  • Roasted cauliflower and chickpeas with mustard and parsley
  • Mexican chopped salad with Mexican green goddess dressing
  • Salmon burgers with pickled ginger and coriander

No excuses, time to get cooking.


2014-09-20 14.16.57

London Open House

This weekend it was London Open House. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the doors of 10 Downing Street (you do have to enter a ballot for some popular sites) or what the view is like from the Gherkin, this is the festival for you. This year, we decided avoid the big ticket buildings and opted to visit some architect designed residences instead. I was hoping to pick up some inspiration for our kitchen project. I was not disappointed. We saw some beautiful properties, ranging from extensions on Victorian properties to new builds.

I’ve started to realise that even though our project is the reshaping of an existing space, rather than the building of a new one, I would really like to get an architect involved at the planning stages. I’ve seen the way architects are able to maximise space and light, and I want that for my little project.

The first place we viewed was a Victorian House in Hackney. The owner is an architect. There was a beautiful extension out back with a stunning kitchen. But the whole house was stylishly designed including pink bathroom tiles, the use of mirrors to reflect light and the cool slide bed in a child’s bedroom (my boy loved this detail).

Victoria Park ZCD Architects

Victoria Park5

Victoria Park ZCD Architects3

This was the first window seat we saw. They are obviously having a moment.


The second place was also in the Victoria Park area. It was a smaller Victorian cottage which had an extension at the back. The architect, Tom Kaneko was there to give a quick talk about the design. He explained that it had been done on a small budget. I thought the window seat was absolutely stunning. (I’ve now added window seat to the list of must-haves).

2014-09-20 14.16.57

He had also used internal sliding doors to good effect to divide the area and create an office space for the owner of the house.

tom kaneko3

If this place was full of achievable design, the new build in Camberwell was a dream property. Again the owners were also the architects. I was bowled over by this house. The space and light had been maximised and the overall effect was a beautifully designed house, where every detail had been considered thoughtfully.

The stand-out details for me were the pantry (for me – this is the stuff of dreams, I’m trying to work out how I would incorporate this into my kitchen design), the windows and the amazing joinery throughout the house. When can I move in?




Images for first house taken from here.

Images for third house taken from here.

Know Thyself

When you are trying to change career, you do a certain amount of naval-gazing. After all how can you make a decision about what you want to do in life if you don’t really know yourself; your likes, dislikes, motivators and fears. Aldous Huxley had a few words to say about this; ‘If most of us remain ignorant of ourselves, it is because self-knowledge is painful and we prefer the pleasures of illusion.’ Deep.


There are many ways of getting a better insight into you and what makes you tick. One of these is Myers Briggs. I hadn’t done one of these for ages and it was interesting to see that nothing has changed in the last 15 years or so. I’m a ESFP – Extrovert Sensing Feeling Perceiving (although I’m borderline ENFP). Interestingly, my husband is almost the complete opposite to me; he’s an INTP. Explanations of the various personality types can be found here or here.

On reading the explanations, I recognise a lot about myself; I am motivated by other people around me and love social occasions (even though I can be quite shy with a new group of people, I’m desperate to be part of things). This part particularly resonated with me;

‘(ESFP)’s disregard for standard procedures will take the form of passive resistance and ESFPs usually develop many skills to annoy the people they blame for their loss of liberty. ESFPs are prone to neglecting time-limits and situations requiring organized goals; under such circumstances, ESFPs will become bored and restless, and will quickly develop a feeling of emptiness.’

That basically describes me in my last job as an accountant!

I know there has been a lot of discussion about extroverts and introverts over the past few years; there’s even been a book written on the power of introverts (currently sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read). Like a lot of people I’m probably somewhere in the middle, with tendencies towards extroversion. I get energised by being around other people but I don’t necessarily like to be centre of attention.  I find working from home on my own difficult (although working in an office can also be a lonely experience, as I’ve discovered in past jobs).

I also had a proper explore of this blog.  Dilly-Tante has an interest in psychology (and has gone back to study it at postgraduate level at University). She has written a few posts on being a Scanner. It’s a term that’s been coined by Barbara Sher to describe a type of person that flits from one activity to another, never going deep enough to fully master it. I put my hand up to this one; I have the sewing machine and allotment books to prove it. I get very excited about new projects or ideas, but no-one would ever describe me as a ‘completer-finisher’.

There are also several websites and books which assist the career changer in finding their strengths. I did the online strengths survey on this website. And my top three strengths were: A Love of Learning (yep – see above), Curiosity and Humour. Now point me in the direction of a career that combines these strengths. Lowest in the list were Spirituality, Prudence and Perseverance.

None of this is going to change my life (or me). But I am enjoying a little delve into the world of self-knowledge and psychobabble. But maybe that’s because I’m a scanner?! And next week I’ll be exploring something different. Carp-fishing or jewellery-making perhaps…

Have you done a Myers Brigg test? Does it ring true?

The Year in Books: September

I didn’t get round to doing an August books post; as well as being in France for three weeks over the summer, my laptop went kaput the week before we went away. I’m not one for composing posts on my phone, so alas no #theyearinbooks for August.

My chosen book for the summer was The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. And wow what a read. I loved it. It follows the life of Theo Decker, who is thirteen when tragedy strikes and his beloved mother is killed in a terrorist attack on an art museum. Theo’s life is torn apart by the explosion and he clings to the one thing that makes him feel connected to her; a small, captivating painting. The Goldfinch is heartbreaking (in the first section of the book, it’s all I could do to keep in the tears), funny (Boris is a brilliantly original character), and has some serious things to say about life’s big questions. But most of all, it’s fabulously entertaining, I could not put it down.

I also read Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell, as it seemed appropriate for the summer we were having. Again there were brilliantly drawn characters and I loved the details of family life in 1976. I also managed to fit in This Book Will Save Your Life by AM Homes. Having loved May We Be Forgiven, I wanted to give this one a go too. In many ways, the two books are quite similar; the main character is a flawed middle-aged man who is lost and looking for something more. It is also dark and very funny.

The Lowland2

For September, I’ve picked The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve read some brilliant books by Indian authors; stand-outs include A Fine Balance and The God of Small Things – I like a sobfest. I’ve never actually been to India (it’s pretty near the top of the list though), so it’s good to be visiting this part of the world in the pages of a book.

On the Radar: September

London design


Apart from a shiny new pencil case, what else does September have in store?

  • The London Design Festival kicks off on Saturday. There’s so much going on it’s almost overwhelming. So much to see, so little time. I love Confessions of a Design Geek’s guide to what’s happening all over London: makes it seem so much more achievable.
  • I for one, want to make the most of this glorious weather we are having at the moment. My parents get back from their summer in France, so we’ll be visiting them. They live close to Burnham Beeches. I’m yearning for a stomp in the woods. And perhaps a bit of blackberrying…
  • September is the month all the big cook books get released. Ottolenghi releases his second vegetarian offering, Plenty More on Thursday. I can’t wait to get stuck in.
  • It’s also Open House weekend coming up: a chance to visit some of the most iconic buildings in London. It’s too late to get on the ballot for 10 Downing Street now, but there loads of interesting places to visit.
  • And finally, a giant floating hippo has been floating up the Thames. I may try and catch a glimpse of him in his new home.

La Rentrée

In the words of Soul to Soul ‘Back to Life, Back to Reality’. *Fanfare*. I’m back. (I’m sure there’s another eighties pop song I could reference at this point, but I think I’ll leave it there).


So the holidays? We spent three weeks in France, eating as much cheese as is humanly possible. (Cut me and I bleed Camembert.) Drinking rosé in the sun. Sleeping under canvas (or in our case, a breathable, fire-resistant man-made fabric – I am forbidden to get one of those pretty bell-tents by my outdoorsy, practical husband). We stayed with friends and family – my parents have a place near the Pyrenees and one of my aunts and uncles spend half the year living near Montpellier. Fred swam to his hearts content – making massive improvements to his strokes. I became completely absorbed by the Goldfinch (what a fantastic summer read – #yearinbooks post to follow). Days drifted by, and turned into weeks. It felt like forever. And now it all seems so distant. Ah holidays….

Thud. We’re home. As much as I love being on holiday, I also love coming home: my mind full of plans and resolutions. For me, September is a bit like January without the cold weather, darkness and recrimination. It’s New Year lite. Time to sort my shizzle out, Obligatory healthy eating and 5:2 diet back in place. (One cannot eat all la fromage in France without the aftermath.) Time to get a job (eeek). It’s my fortieth next month (double eeeeek.)

Fred’s back at school today, so I’m hoping to get back into the blogging groove and perhaps be a bit more consistent with my posts. I’m aiming to keep the London posts, salads (and perhaps some more food – healthy eating and cook book obsession springs to mind), cafés and perhaps a bit more about the (ongoing) process of changing careers. It’s good to be back.