The folk at Blurb got in touch recently and asked if I’d like to try making my own custom photobook. I was already aware of their service so it was good to have a go at creating my own book.
The process is really easy: upload your photos, choose your book format, drag and crop your pics and send to be published. But of course if you want to spend more time on it, you can also upload InDesign files for a completely custom design. A few days later you have a lovely hardback book of your photos: much smarter and easier than a regular photo album.
I went for a mini-size square book, which I filled with photos of me and Josh for our anniversary. The print quality is great and the matte paper I picked makes the pages nice and tactile. I think this format would also be brilliant for immortalising your Instagrams: I like the idea of taking something ephemeral and sealing it in print.
But it’s not just photos, you could also upload illustrations or text and make a recipe book, notebook or portfolio.. the possibilities are endless. Prices are surprisingly reasonable too, with my baby book clocking in at about 20 quid.
Have you tried Blurb before? What would you print?
Scottish beermeisters Brewdog put up a little Twitter competition recently, asking for label designs for a new beer – a totally open brief right down to the beer type. The first prize was for a beer to made with your label – pretty cool! So I knocked up this little entry – involving cats, of course.
I think it fits right into their range, no?
Sadly I just missed out on first place in a public vote, but managed to get second place, which meant a lovely crate of Brewdog beers landed on my doorstep today. Not bad for a couple of hours’ work drawing kitties!
By the way, if you haven’t been to Brewdog’s Camden bar yet you really should – it’s got a great vibe, awesome beers and really yummy pizzas (the menu’s curated by Masterchef’s Tim Anderson).
The lovely folks at MOO.com got in touch recently, asking if I’d like to share some of their printed products on here. Well, I’m already a happy Moo customer – I use their cute little Minicards to pop in with my Etsy orders – so I used the opportunity to get some of their newly-offered Luxe cards for my freelance design work, using a little monogram I made (which might feature in yet another blog redesign soon…)
They’re a sexy thick 600gsm with a textured matte finish, sandwiched with a layer of coloured stock which gives the edges a lovely pop. The great thing about Moo is you can mix and match your designs at no extra cost, so I could try out a few colour options for my cards. I’m so pleased with them, they feel great and I’m looking forward to giving them out!
Moo.com have kindly offered up some postcard packs for me to give away too. Three people will win a set of 40 printed postcards – you can either supply your own designs or receive a mix of some of my shop designs as seen above and below. They look damn cute, eh?
Congrats to the winners Alice, Danielle and Kerri-Ann.
Hilton Hotels just got in touch (you know, as you do) to let me know that last year they formed a merger with 8 Mint Hotels, and are rebranding 8 Mint’s properties under Hilton’s DoubleTree and Garden Inn groups. The hotels in question include the DoubleTree London Westminster and Tower of London, Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham and Amsterdam; and Garden Inn Leeds and Manchester. The Doubletree Tower Bridge caught my eye for its rather dashing mid-century inspired rooms, and check that restaurant with a view…
The hotel’s in a great spot, in the shadow of Tower Bridge and a short walk from the foody treats of Borough Market and Maltby Street. There’s also Bermondsey Village just to the south which I’ve been meaning to visit for ages – it has a Friday antiques market plus a Saturday Farmers’ Market. Eating-wise there’s wonderful tapas institution Brindisa and its founder’s own new venture José, and The Rake is great for craft beers.
If you happen to have friends visiting or are planning a trip to the capital yourself, it’d be a great base to explore from. More details here.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Hilton Hotels
Spuntino has been on my to-try list for ages, and what better time to go for it than on my birthday weekend? It’s been getting rave reviews since it opened last year for its speakeasy-come-diner brand of American comfort food, and the length of the queues to get a space in the tiny 25-seater restaurant are almost as famous as the grub. But don’t be put off by the miminal-bordering-on-pretentious website: this place might be achingly hip but the staff were extremely friendly, in a laid-back kind of way. On Sunday lunchtime, we only had a short wait to seat our party of five (including my aunt and 13-year-old cousin) at the bar.
The menu is full of tempting tasting plates designed for sharing. Amongst the meaty sliders and steaks, there are loads of veggie options so I had quite a tough time choosing what to pick. Given I was still full from my previous night’s birthday dinner at Pollen Street Social, I went straight for the must-have truffle egg toast, along with a side of fried eggplant. My sister ordered steak & eggs, my cousin got a cheeseburger and Josh went for mac ‘n’ cheese with a side of shoestring fries.
Eggplant chips with fennel mayo was amazing: crunchy and soft inside with the aniseed-y dip providing an interesting flavour contrast (whoops – we ate most of them before I got to photograph them!).
What was described on the menu as just ‘Egg and soldiers’ turned out to be an almost Heston Blumenthal-ish visual trick, the egg having been soft-boiled then de-shelled and rolled in a crunchy edible deep-fried wrapper. Very clever.
Mac and cheese was gorgeously decadent: creamy and gooey, served sizzling in a skillet with strong Gruyère flavour punched up with leeks and mustard. One portion (£9) was enough to share, along with a tangle of crispy shoestring fries to mop up the sauce.
The truffle egg toast was a dreamy combo of thick toasted bread slathered with melty cheese, with a pool of egg yolk in the centre, all generously scented with truffle. Luckily I just about had room for pud, a brown sugar cheesecake with ‘drunken prunes’, which tasted deliciously creamy and adult with the tang of booze.
Everyone in my party loved their food, and my cousin was asking when they could come again! I’m already planning to go back very soon and sample more of the menu, perhaps in the evening so I can try a cocktail from their extensive list too. At roughly £20 a head for 2/3 dishes and a soft drink each it’s good value for a slice of American comfort food done really right.
Inspired by the jam- and chutney-making class I took last month, I had a go at making some at home to give as Christmas gifts.
I made a clementine marmalade and spiced tomato chutney. The cute mini jars and gingham lids are from Jam Jar Shop – but don’t get the wrong size labels like I did, whoops. They make my jars look a bit
scruffy charmingly home-made..
I’m not usually a fan of marmalade, but this clementine version, zinged up with added lemon, is really delicious! I didn’t get a super firm set despite boiling for longer than recommended, but I think the consistency is all right. My dad likes marmalade on his toast so I made this with him in mind.
I added extra spices to the tomato chutney: chilli flakes to offset the brown sugar sweetness, along with black pepper and smoked paprika. There’s always a good cheeseboard at Christmas round ours, so this might get popped open early to sample..
There’s lots of other good edible gift ideas on the BBC Food site too, from chocolate truffles to jars of flavoured sugar. And check out the DIY cookie jar I made last year as well, which was a real hit and very easy to put together. Yum, yum.
I’m probably in the minority here — both for talking about Chr*stmas already, and in proclaiming my love for Brussels sprouts. Not just good for a festive dinner, sprouts are also great spiced in Indian and Chinese-style dishes, or grilled in cheese sauce for a comforting gratin. They’ve just come into season so I’ll be looking out for them in the veg shop soon.
So I was quite pleased to receive this tea towel from Lurpak, beautifully designed by Stuart Gardiner and sharing lots of tips, facts and info on everyone’s favourite baby brassica.
Want your own sprouty tea towel? Lurpak are giving them away on their Facebook page. Do you love or hate sprouts? Any recipe tips?
Some details from my new screenprint design, which will hopefully be in up for sale right after I get back from San Fran, along with yet another reprint of ol’ Wonder Cat. Just in time for Christmas shopping, fancy that! I love this print, hope you do too when all is revealed…
There’s nothing like starting a new project with a pad and pen (yes, that might be a new print design in progress)!
Always trying to improve my hand-lettering…
Creating a pretty mood board…
.. and always keeping one toe in the crafty and handmade.