Deborah Bowness
New Ribbon
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Fur. The mere mention of the word makes many cringe. In western urban culture, it's a contentious topic that divides us into two groups: those who deem fur fashion READ MORE...
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Earlier this week, I was in the comments section of a blog I frequent, and someone had posted a photo of a shirtless, young guy with red hair sticking his tongue out cheekily READ MORE...
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The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's READ MORE...
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The BAFTA qualifying Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) has teamed up with London College of Fashion to establish a new fashion film strand at this year’s event, showcasing READ MORE...
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Knitwear designers studying in Italy are invited to enter the Knitting for Juliet competition launched by Fashion Ground Academy of Italian Design READ MORE...
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It was not possible to walk past Nicholas Rose's luminous, contoured lamp shades at 100% Design the other week, I felt like a moth drawn to a flame. READ MORE...
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The film series, #UnlockArt, produced by Tate and supported by Le Meridien, concluded with the release of the last of eight films, What's So Funny?, decided by an online poll READ MORE...
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November 06, 2014

A Modern Christmas at the Sleeper House


The Sculptured House, also known as the Sleeper House since 1973 when it featured in Woody Allen's sci-fi comedy, Sleeper, is so cool it's painful. An elliptical curiosity in concrete and glass perched on Colorado's Genessee Mountain, it was built in 1963 by architect Charles Deaton who said of his inspiration, "I found a high point of land where I could stand and feel the great reaches of the Earth. I wanted the shape of it to sing an unencumbered song." If envy is taking over, you might be interested to know that we all have something in common with Deaton; none of us got to live in the Sculptured House! Heartbreakingly, he ran out of money before the interior was completed and his family didn't get their dream home. (Was it any consolation they were saved a very time-consuming school run every morning?) In fact, it was not actually used as a home until 2006 when, after sitting with its insides unfinished for nearly three decades, it was purchased and lived in. Until 2010 when the owner defaulted on the mortgage. The agony! It was sold at a foreclosure auction later that year.

That brings us to today. It was recently used to show off the range from Modern Christmas Trees and make us all wish we had a protruding disc-like roof to reflect the suspended tree's brilliant blue (or red) circular light show. It's nice to see this exceptional home finally serve its intended purpose. And it was Deaton's daughter, Charlee, who was, perhaps fatefully, commissioned to design the interior. It was completed in 2003. 


Sleeper_1  Sculptured-sleeper_housePhoto source


Sleeper_house_2 Sleeper_house_1

Photos by JC Buck,, unless otherwise credited 

August 29, 2014

Five Festive Tips for an Alternative Christmas Celebration

Scandi-christmas-dining-roomFor a different kind of Christmas, try following the Scandinavian traditions - it's stylish yet warm and cozy. 

Come again? I know, it’s still summer, and you’re still wearing shorts. On the better days. Or at least around the house. But Christmas is coming and some of us might even be looking forward to it, just a little bit. If you're not, it might be because getting organised tends to happen at the last minute and it winds up causing more agony than joy, especially if you're hosting.  

You don't have to follow the traditions, though, and you can have a lot of fun with a celebration that is a bit different. The trick is to have some good ideas put into place early on, so that you don't get overwhelmed in the days leading up; and then you can enjoy the season as it comes. 

Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:

1. Light

Our distant ancestors set fire to things at the darkest time of the year, in order to persuade the sun to return, and that's how midwinter festivals got started. Lighting decorations are an essential part of Christmas, but you don't have to have an illuminated Santa on the roof or go full Griswald. LED lights are a good choice, combining low energy consumption with a wonderfully twinkly effect. A door wreath made entirely of LED lights looks stunning, or you could use a string of lights to outline something unusual and eco-friendly, such as a bicycle.

2. Colour

Traditional Christmas colours are red and green, but there are plenty of other options. How about a purple theme, for example? It's a really festive colour. You could make a fabulous garland or wreath incorporating purple glass baubles (there are some lovelies at Christmas Lights Etc.). If you need a real talking point, the same company produces an upside-down Christmas tree!

3. Greenery

Another ancient midwinter tradition involves bringing evergreens into the house. For something slightly different, a Christmas cactus is a good way of adding colour (and humour - imagine the reactions of guests). These are easily-grown plants, native to Brazil, which naturally flower in December. Schlumbergera 'Purple Dancer' is a spectacular choice, which should keep flowering every winter if properly looked after. For the ecologically-conscious, this plant has the added property of absorbing poisonous formaldehyde from the atmosphere! As a focal decorative point, a real Christmas tree is wonderful, but an artificial one is admittedly much less trouble, and some of them also come pre-decorated if you'd rather just get it over with. You'll be forgiven. 

4. Food

Nothing divides families like the choice of Christmas food. On one side you have the traditionalists for whom nothing except turkey and pudding will do. On the other side are those who argue that turkey is dry and tasteless, and Christmas pudding is stodgy. If you want to do the turkey regardless, a way to please both might be to offer a unique stuffing, made with apricots or pineapple and nuts, to go with your choice of meat. A rich and festive ice-cream, whether home-made or bought in, might be more appealing to the Christmas pudding-haters. The greedy will eat both, of course – t’is the season, after all!

5. Activity

There are families for whom the television set is the focal point of Christmas Day, and others who cover it with a blanket. It's a good idea to get outside at some point, and even a short walk will help with the digestion of all that food. Quizzes and games are traditional but can be fun, at least if board games such as Monopoly don't get everyone fighting. For a truly memorable break from routine, though, you could consider offering your services as a volunteer.

Many charities and caring organisations need extra help over the Christmas season, and volunteering can be fun and rewarding as well as useful. A good place to start would be who are in touch with many organisations needing Christmas volunteers. They do point out, though, that charities need to plan ahead, so it's best if you offer your services in good time.

With months of planning left until the big day, there’s more than enough time for you to get cracking and make your festive season truly unique. Rather than repeating the same cycle year on year, these ideas will hopefully provide you with enough inspiration to make this Christmas truly one to remember - for the right reasons!

August 27, 2014

Design and Craft: Made London Returns to One Marylebone


The Design and Craft Fair, MADE LONDON, returns to One Marylebone 24-26 October to present the very best in contemporary craft and design. Showcasing over 120 highly original makers and designers from the UK and Europe, the show offers visitors the opportunity to view and buy unique hand crafted pieces in a friendly, informal and beautiful atmosphere. Long established and well known makers mix with emerging makers to offer a selection of works that are truly varied and exciting.

At the fair you'll find a vast range of expertly crafted items including colourful glassware, soft knitted textiles, functional ceramics, beautiful jewellery, classic furniture as well as great fashion. A full list of exhibitors can be seen here.

One Marylebone is a stunning church conversion in central London near Regents Park. MADE LONDON will occupy all three floors, including the double height crypt and mezzanine.  Be sure to stop by the cafe in the crypt to relax with a drink and a treat!

For more information you can visit

April 07, 2014

Review: 'Treat Petite' by Fiona Pearce

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There's something so irresistible about miniature food, the treats we love made into tiny packages you can just pop into your mouth - virtually guilt-free! (Unless you're me and can't help but eat your weight in them.) Fiona Pearce, owner of Icing Bliss in London where she specialises in vintage-inspired cakes, knows the 'Alice-in-Wonderland' charm of little delectables and has brought us 42 recipes for mini bakes and bites in her second book, Treat Petite. The sweets cover everything including sponges, meringues, chocolate, pastry, choux, and biscuits, while the savoury section begins with a lesson in making perfect puff pastry, followed by seven recipes for tasty, bite-sized canapes. 

What I love most about this book is the simplicity of the recipes so anyone can make them, regardless of baking experience. It's also great for introducing novices to certain dishes that may otherwise be intimidating. You can start off small - quite literally! - and master your technique before attempting the full version - if that still holds any interest after going tiny! And you can have lots of fun playing with presentation, arranging Micro-meringue Kisses, Mini Dacquoise Towers, and Pistachio and White Chocolate Florentines (one of many possibilities) on pretty plates to wow your family or guests - or yourself! And it may inspire you to experiment with your own creations - I'm beginning to imagine everything I cook in its scaled-down version.

Treat Petite is published by Ivy Press and is available to purchase at Amazon (£12.99).

Here's a peek inside the book, packed with beautiful photos of every recipe and detailed, easy-to-follow instructions: 

Treat-Petite_Earl-grey-madeleines (1 of 1)

I love madeleines and can't wait to try this even smaller version, flavoured with freshly ground Earl Grey tea leaves and glazed with sugar, honey and orange. 

Treat-Petite_coffee-bean-biscuits (1 of 1)

Coffee Bean Biscuits are made with fragrant coffee shortbread to resemble the real thing - wouldn't that make a charming and delicious accompaniment to your cup of Java? 

The artwork that introduces each chapter is so wonderful and fun:

Treat-Petite_biscuits (1 of 1)

Gilded Caramel Shortbread Squares and Chocolate Ganache-filled Tartlets with chocolate pastry - yum!


A savoury-sweet burst of flavour in a single bite, these Caramelised Onion Galettes with Goat's Cheese would be hard to walk away from after just one:

Treat-Petite_Carmelised-onion-tarts-mini (1 of 1)

 How delicious do these Caesar Salad Bites sound, with garlic butter-infused bread tart, crispy bacon, parmesan cheese and half a quail's egg? Add Mini Blini Stacks with Smoked Salmon for a very special brunch. 


In addition to running Icing Bliss, Fiona Pearce also teaches cake decorating classes at Cakeology in South-west London. Her first book, Cake Craft Made Easy, was published in 2013. 

January 01, 2014

New Years Eve in London: Fireworks 2014


I spent New Years Eve in my kitchen, because we had a party, and like everyone knows, people always gather in the kitchen at parties. And no matter how many chairs you have, people will stand. Has someone created a club yet that is just one giant kitchen? You wouldn't even need seating. 

On New Years Day I always post the London fireworks because they're pretty spectacular. The BBC says that peach flavoured snow and edible banana confetti fell on revellers during the show. I'm wondering, did they announce it was edible beforehand and therefore the crowd was full of people looking up with their mouths open? Or did it fall to the ground only to be eaten up by pigeons who are moaning in the streets today with sugar hangovers?

Here's to a fantastic 2014!

December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas! This is a late well-wishing, but my laptop was being used to run Spotify through the speakers. Somehow Beastie Boys' Brass Monkey made it into the Christmas playlist, and I must say that after eating to a level of discomfort that can't be described with polite words, it seemed about right. Here's Run-DMC's Christmas in Hollis for a little festive nostalgia with beats. (If you're viewing this through your email subscription, click on the headline of this post to view the video.)

And as always after eating so much I have had to resort to changing into leggings....I regret nothing! 

December 16, 2013

How Last Minute Travel Deals Can Save a Packet


After a very nice Christmas back home with family in Canada last year, the first in four, we've got a non-traditional holiday happening this time around. It's going to be just the three of us and so we're considering going away. But with Christmas just around the corner - don't kill the messenger! - we're well into last-minute territory. So I've taken a look at the travel deals on Travelzoo - a win-win as you get a fantastic holiday at a fraction of the price. And for added value there are lots of packages available, including those featuring spa treatments, shopping trips, football matches, or even staying in a palace! Some of the deals are so good, exciting trips at low cost, that they might even be considered for gifts - who wouldn't love that?

You can do sunny holidays or ski holidays, but right now I'm daydreaming about Barcelona. We've never been, which is odd because we've been in the UK for eight years and I think as a Brit, even a pretend one, you eventually find yourself on a plane to Spain; it's just how it is. Everyone I know who has been to Barcelona has fallen in love with the city, some claiming it to be their favourite place in the world. I don't need to be convinced any further. 

But why would we want to go to Barcelona when the city is dead and chilly you ask? Because we can't really bear crowds to be honest, and the scorching sun and humidity is not our friend. That's right, we don't want to be around others like us! Also, I've read the locals take advantage of this tourist down-time to reclaim the city as their own. We might be short on daylight for sightseeing, but we've never been ones to pack an itinerary anyway; I'd rather miss some major attractions than be too busy to actually experience the proverbial soul of a place. Besides, it gives you something to discover next time. And this way the evenings can be ours for cafe-hopping which is probably our favourite thing to do anyway. You can learn so much about the culture by observing and partaking in their rituals, and the people-watching in a foreign city is always a big part of the fun. 


And, the bonus is experiencing a traditional Catalan Christmas. Apparently there's a rather scatalogical theme to their celebrations, believe it or not. There's always a 'pooping man' included in the nativity scene - did I miss that part in the bible story? - as well as a 'pooping log', as is the literal translation of "caga tio". I present this to you, from the Barcelona Tourist Guide in case you don't believe me:

"Caga Tio comes out on 08 December. It is a small log with a smiley face, wearing the traditional red Catalan hat - the Barretina. The name Caga Tio means 'Poo Log'. Every day between  08 December  and Christmas Eve, children look after the Caga Tio. They cover him with a blanket to make sure that he is warm and they feed him Turron every evening. This is to ensure that he is nice and full so that he will poo out lots of treats on Christmas Eve!"

Turron is a Spanish confection made from almonds and honey. As for what the log 'produces', the parents hide presents in him. I think it's hilarious that the log is given a smiling face and is well taken care of before he gets the stuffing beaten out of him with sticks. I happened to meet a Catalan women at the weekend and mentioned the traditions I'd read about, and she kind of smiled and rolled her eyes, seeming to acknowledge it was a bit 'out there'. Well, I think it all sounds like good fun!

November 22, 2013

New Look Holiday Wish List


I did a little window shopping online at New Look after a friend lamented not having anything 'glamorous' for the holidays, but didn't want to break the bank right before Christmas.  It's a conundrum for most of us, I think, trying to shop for some new looks for parties and family events when we're meant to be focussing on others. And all on a budget!

I like to choose pieces that are easy to wear and versatile. Comfort equals confidence, and with so many styles of clothing available it makes good sense to go with something that can work for lots of different occasions without being too middle of the road. So I went with a dress that pops in cobalt blue and works well for both day and evening. The shape is my favourite body-con style, it hugs the figure yet sits on the modest side, the short sleeves balancing the mid-thigh length to create a more subtle kind of sexy.

A great coat is essential for looking polished and put together as you get yourself from place to place. I went with a style that is a mix of classic in burgundy boucle, practical with its warm mid-length, and cool with zips and a biker style lapel. This coat can be worn for anything, with the exception of sledging and snowball fight!

Sometimes a tired outfit can be revived with clever accessorising. Take the the silver and white stone cuff. It's a festive piece that would instantly lift an all-black outfit, and add some extra icy winter sparkle to a white silk top or dress. The clutch is an essential party piece and should complement your outfit. This box clutch in black and gold geometric cut-outs is a stand-out item yet will go with just about any outfit in solid colours and maybe even some prints. And a sharp belt is another must-have for finishing a special outfit. The gold chain detail of this belt gives a touch of refined texture and will raise the style factor of black trousers or a form-fitting dress. 

And for a little cuteness and humour at home, I included a pair of New Look brown knitted mouse slippers which will keep feet warm on a chilly Christmas and New Year morning whilst being adorable. I think these will help make my friend's festivities a little more fun and exciting!

November 20, 2013

Create an Avalanche in a Glass

AvalancheThis seems especially apropos today as I'm watching flurries flying about out the window. Too soon! Here's something cold and icy that's much more palatable. Piccadilly Institute have created a special cocktail for the holidays, called The Avalanche. Topped with a Lego man skier, this snowy concoction is like Christmas come early!

Here's the recipe so you can make your own Avalanche at home:


12.5ml Ketel One

12.5ml Crème de banana

12.5ml Amaretto 12.5ml

White cacao

Milk to top

Prep glass with crushed ice; mix all ingredients together in a shaker and pour over. Top with extra crushed ice and garnish with crushed amaretto biscuit. Place Lego skier delicately on top of the avalanche.

With its sweet creaminess I'll bet it makes a nice alternative to the traditional, super rich egg nog. (I had to look into whether Brits even drink egg nog - I've not assertained this in my eight years here. Although it is said to have possibly originated in East Anglia, I'm still not sure!) 

October 30, 2013

Piccadilly Institute Serves up the Ultimate Spooky Cocktails

Piccadilly Institute_Death Do Us Part low res'Death Do Us Part' is a sharer-cocktail served in The Chamber Room. Presented in a 'human heart' with smoking dry ice, it looks like something straight out of a mad scientist’s laboratory. The cocktail is a hearty mixture of Bacardi gold, Lamb’s, apricot brandy, shaken up with orange and pineapple juice. 

I can never get on top of figuring out and executing an awesome Halloween costume in time for the night, so creating my own scary spectacular isn't likely. It's just as well because I find it's more fun to let others host a night of fright for you, and one event that makes me wish I was in London this Halloween is the party at Piccadilly Institute. Serving the ultimate in spooky cocktails, the evening is described as 'like a rave set in a horror film' - how can you not want to go to that? 

Featured here are some of the cocktails you can indulge in with a friend - they're all for sharing - and enjoy a properly eerie and spine-chilling Halloween!

The Piccadilly Institute is located at 1 Piccadilly Circus, London, W1V 9LA.

Piccadilly Royale low res

Piccadilly Royal, served in The Noir Room.  This cocktail is spooky enough to give you nightmares. It’s also the perfect accompaniment to anyone going dressed as the Grim Reaper in need of a skull. The Piccadilly Royale is the king of Halloween cocktails as it packs a frightfully delicious punch with a mixture of Eristoff vodka, Chambord, raspberry puree, lemonade, and prosecco. Warning: if drunk too quickly it may cause brain freeze!

PiccadillyInstitute_Bate's IV Drip low res

Bate’s IV Therapy, served in The Clinic Room. Every Halloween is undoubtedly blood thirsty and if Dracula had a choice in where to party it would be here. That’s because Piccadilly Institute has blood on tap. That’s right, the Bate’s IV Therapy cocktail is quite literally served through an IV bag on wheels, which is handy if you fancy a boogie and a constant supply of a tube-fed cocktail at the same time. A blood curdling mixture of Absolut Raspberry, Chambord, passion and raspberry puree and apple juice - although it looks like blood, it tastes a lot nicer!

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