Category Archives: Shopping

Best Secret Santa books of 2015

The Mindfulness Colouring Book has been everywhere this year. Practicing mindfulness has been credited with reduced stress levels and improved focus, but really speaking, who doesn’t love a colouring book? The Mindfulness Colouring Book is a grown up twist on everyone’s favourite childhood pastime full of the kind of beautiful patterns you used to draw for yourself then carefully colour in.

 

 

 


I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones tv series, so I was very excited to hear about the Game of Scones: All Men Must Dine cookery book when it was announced a few years ago. I’m even more excited now that it’s been released, full of recipes like Tyrion’s Shortbread, and Jamie and Cersei’s Family Mess. On a similar note, Breaking Bad fans might like the Baking Bad cookbook

 

 

 


The Magpie and the Wardrobe is an enchanting collection of folklore, traditional recipes and quirky facts tumbled together in a beautifully designed book. With a chapter for each month of the year, there’s something to interest everyone. For example, did you know that people started hanging glass baubles in their windows to trap witches?

 

 

 

 


Doing Good Better is a must read for anyone who wants to make a positive difference in the world. It challenges the reader to re-examine their assumptions about altruism to take an evidence based approach to charity. Effective altruism is rapidly becoming a hot topic.

 

 

 

 


Versions of Us is one of only two fiction books I’ve put on this list as I think that it’s quite a subtle area of interest to judge when buying a Secret Santa present, but I couldn’t resist this book which has been described as a bit of a literary sliding doors and asks the question, what if you had said yes?

 

 

 

 


Britannia Obscura takes an alternative look at Britain, exploring different ways of engaging with the landscape- via networks of caves, through the skies, by canal and around leylines- and exploring the worlds of people who experience the country through these. This would be an unusual gift for ramblers or map fanatics.

 

 

 

 


The other fiction book I’ve put on this list is the newly released, illustrated Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone. The illustrations are just perfect, and it would make the perfect gift for Harry Potter fans young and old. I can’t wait to start reading this with Phoebe when she’s older.

The call of the wild in a bookish tent

A meadow near a river on a hot summer’s day. I’d have a picnic, a jug of Pimms, a good book and this tent to shade my freakishly pale skin from the midday sun. Bliss. I am so tempted to splash out.

I want, I admire, but I will resist.

Please Santa, I’ve been so good- Fully Booked Tent

Tea Party Planting: Alice in Wonderland style floral arrangements

As the world and his wife know by now, I’ve got a big thing about Alice in Wonderland, so it may not come as a big surprise to learn that my eye has been caught by flowers planted in oversized tea pots or giant cups and saucers like the ones from Marks and Spencer and Interflora below.

iconShopping in a junk/antiques shop in Huntingdon this weekend (I prefer the term junk shop, they still existed in my youth… now everything is vintage or antique, I grumble and digress) I found this giant tea-pot which I think will be perfect for planting something up in- I’m torn between an English Ivy/miniature rose combo or a more practical herb garden. It came with a plate to stand it on, but unfortunately that didn’t survive my boyfriend knocking them both off the table, though the tea-pot has which is impressive.

Tea pot planterFor more inspiring tea party decor, check out my friend Laura’s blog post about her trip to the Peace in the Park festival in Oxfordshire which paid tribute to the county’s Lewis Carroll connection.

Bedtime Reading for Baby Geniuses

Jane Austen Emma Cosy Classic

Emma by Jane Austen for “younger readers”

iconLast night I was browsing on Not On The High Street for some non-chocolate Easter eggs for my nieces and nephew and came across something that made me giggle in a really geeky bookworm way. Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce classic literature adapted for babies, aka The Cosy Classics. They are described as a ” popular board book series that presents well-loved stories through twelve child friendly words and twelve needle felted illustrations.” I say- amazing.

My sister studied Emma as part of her AS Level in English Literature and hated it, so I feel that a Cosy Classic of this text would be an ideal gift for her daughter. Bedtime stories for baby geniuses, or their parents, the series includes such classics as Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, Moby DickOliver Twist and Pride and PrejudiceI might even buy myself War and Peace as it’s the only way I’m ever likely to read it!

Fantastic Mr Fox

You might have guessed from my recent post about my Sass and Belle cushions that I’ve got a bit of a thing about foxes. I’ve been feeling a bit run down at the moment, I just seem to be so busy that when I have a moment to myself I just end up falling asleep so I decided to buy myself a treat to cheer myself up. Meet Mr Cordy Roy Fox by children’s toy maker Jellycat.

I wanted to get Cordy Roy for my newborn niece at Christmas, but as you can guess by looking at his cheeky little face, he’d sold out so I got her a Jellycat raccoon instead who my sister assures me is now her best friend. If you’re looking for toys for children that encourage imaginative play, Jellycat is a great place to look. Not only do they have a great range of animals which includes dragons and woolly mammoths, but they have dolls which map to fairy tales and would make great bedtime story companions.

Gifts for Sherlock Holmes Fans

Other than reading, one of my favourite things to do at Christmas is to curl up on the sofa watching re-runs of old Sherlock Holmes films and adaptations. You’d be surprised how many you can find and in the past my father and I have managed to fill at least three days of viewings with Sherlock Holmes re-runs, much to the consternation of my little sister. I’ve even managed to hook my boyfriend on the stories to the point that we now have quarrels about which of us is Holmes and which of us is Watson. I am clearly Holmes, as you’ll be able to see from the following exchange:

Me: Elementary, Watson.

Boyfriend: You’re Watson, I’m Shakespeare.

Anyway, I digress. If you have a Holmes fan in your life, or want to introduce a loved one to the Sherlock Holmes stories, the following are great gift ideas:

I am a huge fan of the Penguin Clothbound Classics series. They look amazing and if, like me, the reader in your life is constantly berating themselves for having failed to read a particular classic, they’re a great gift. Even if you’re buying for someone whose favourite book is The Hound of The Baskervilles and has read it a thousand times, they’re sure to love this beautiful edition which will be cherished by Holmes veterans and Sherlock newcomers.

 

 

 

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iconIn the unlikely event that, like myself and my boyfriend, you and your loved ones are arguing over which of you is Watson and which of you is Holmes, you can settle things once and for all by treating them to a The Hound of The Baskerville personalised classic which lets you swap the characters’ names for those of your choosing. A word to the wise, my little sister got me an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland personalised classic, and the recipient gets to choose the characters on the internet. If settling disputes like me and the boyfriend, intercept the pack and do this for them then give them the finished book.

 

 

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iconThis working magnifying glass necklace is a great gift for budding detectives or someone who keeps misplacing their reading glasses. Pair it with this cute and quirky knitted deerstalker hat for this season’s take on the consulting detective look.

 

 

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iconIt might come as a surprise to people who haven’t lurked in the darkest corners of Sherlock Holmes/Conan Doyle internet fandom but the question of what tea Sherlock Holmes drank is a contentious one and causes heated debate among more special interest fans… Adagio tea has responded to this brewing crisis (couldn’t help myself… sorry) by creating this set of teas with an exclusive blend for each of the main characters in the BBC’s adaptation, Sherlock. Don’t worry, favourite characters are also represented.

 

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iconIf you are decorating your study (in Scarlet) or any other room in your house, or know a Sherlock Holmes fan who is, then these art prints may be just the ticket. Being a lady with expensive tastes, I really like this Sherlock Holmes silhouette print which has been carefully constructed from well-chosen quotations for £75.

 

 

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iconHowever, I am also a lady who knows my budget, so this print of Sherlock Holmes keywords is a more affordable compromise at £32.

 

 

 

 

 

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iconIf your Holmes fan is, like me, a big fan of the BBC adaptation Sherlock which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson, then they probably can’t wait for the new series to be released. Help them catch up with this box set of series one and two. It is coming soon, it is, it must be. And I still can’t figure out how he did it.

 

 

If your Holmes fan already has the Sherlock box set, firstly congratulate them on their well-maintained DVD collection, then consider leading them in the direction of the Elementary box set which stars Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr Joan Watson. I know what you’re thinking, I expected to hate it as sacrilege too. But I actually really enjoyed it and will buy pre-ordering for my father and hoping that it comes in time for Christmas. This shopping game is afoot.

Wrapping the Worm- Best Gift Wrap for Readers 2013

Today is my last realistic-to-shop-after pay-day before Christmas so I’ve started out with the easy stuff first- wrapping paper. The following book/typography/whimsy wrapping papers are sure to be a hit with the reader in your life.

 

 

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iconThese pillow gift boxes from The Alphabet Gift Shop are very cute, Christmassy and affordable at just £2.50 ideal for some bookish jewellery

 

 

 

This pink typewriter wrapping paper is retro cool and would look great teamed with bright ribbon on a present for a writer or reader. And remember, a typewriter is not just for Christmas

 

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This gorgeous scrabble gift wrap is an affordable classic.

 

 

 

And speaking of classics these Penguinand Ladybird Classics are bound to be popular choices with readers:

 

 

 

 

If typography is more your thing then this newspaper style wrapping paper from the “partnership” aka John Lewis is likely to please. 4m of Christmassy kitsch.

 

 

 

 

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If you’re looking for something a little less typography focused which is sure to please a Science Fiction fan then this robot wrapping paper is very sweet (I am definitely getting this for my boyfriend’s present).
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These are my favourites, but be sure to check out The Literary Gift Company and The Bodleian Library Shop for their great ranges extra ideas.
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Book Jewellery- Best Bits for Readers

While putting together my Christmas list for Santa (yes, I’ll believe if it gets me presents…) I’ve come across some amazing book related jewellery that I’ve just had to share. So if you’re looking for some bling for the bookworm in your life, the trinkets below are a good place to start:

 

Fans of the written word will get a lot of attention with these amazing fountain pen earrings from Etsy which are made from vintage 14k gold antique pen nibs and are a bargain at £.9.57

 

 

 

 

 

I love this Alice in Wonderland Necklace inspired by The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party which is £12 from Notonthehighstreet, a bargain gift for any book lover.

 

 

 

 

Harry Potter fans with flowing locks may like this carved horn phoenix hair pin £15 from the V&A which looks like a wand and is reminiscent of Dumbledore’s favourite bird.

 

 

 

Sherlock Holmes fans will appreciate this quirky magnifying glass necklace, £25, but it’s a great gift for anyone who keeps misplacing their reading glasses as the dainty magnifying glass is a working model.

 

 

 

Fans of Patrick Rothfuss will be excited to receive their own set of Eolian Talent pipes, available from his website for $50. Whether that is any substitute for the long-awaited but yet-to-materialise third book, who can say.

 

 

Following on from the release of The Great Gatsby film earlier this year, you can get this adorable bow tie necklace with one of the best quotes from the novel for just £12.

 

 

 

 

 

This Alice in Wonderland brooch/pin £15 is super cute and would be great for keeping your scarf in place. I have trouble styling scarves (or anything) but a cool present for those who are a little more sartorially minded.

 

 

 

 

A pricey option at £85. this Galleon necklace from the V&A made me think of The Princess Bride, Peter Pan and every pirate story I’ve ever read. Very unusual and very cool.

 

 

 

Birdcages are still having a fashion moment, so this lovely Jane Eyre quote necklace is a must for Bronte fans at just £12.

 

 

 

 

This compass necklace with a quote from The Lord of The Rings would be a great gift for any Tolkien fan, not least one who is as excited as I am about the new Hobbit film (yes, even if they have changed it from the books…)

 

 

 

 

And for anyone who was looking for something a little more literal, check out these cute book necklaces:

Made from acid free paper and hand stitched, this little leather volume is rustic but cool.

 

While this simple silver design is fairytale cute.