Apologies for going ‘Awol’ last week, the work life and partying balance had gone way out of balance leaving me sobbing into my Weetabix in the morning with tiredness.  Life balance is definitely something I should learn to have more control over now that I am the big 2 and 7 this week and officially in my late 20’s. Late in any walk of life is never good except for maybe when you are fashionably late therefore I am dubbing my new age as the ‘fashionably late 20’s’ – whatever makes you sleep a night I hear you cry.

One thing that is a highlight of my birthday is it gives you ample opportunity to work out who your friends are, those who send the cards, buy you lunch, organize things for you and attend all birthday functions. The mark of a good friend is if you can overcome distance, time apart, petty squabbles and other halves. This week has defo been a game of two halves with friends – those that really should turn up to events and pull out a the last minute citing excuses that, well, to be frank are rubbish, to those who genuinely surprise with gifts and time spent thinking of ways to make your day. You all know who your friends are and what their weaknesses are when you meet them but it can take long time to find out your best friends.

At the weekend two of my good friends got engaged and I am genuinely pleased for them, although impending spinsterhood for myself seems to set of some alarm bells. It seems like sunshine, champagne and crap football brings out the best in people. So this week the column is dedicated to my friends with the top 5 friendship books which remind me of them:

Lauren x

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers

‘All for one and one for all’ has to be the motto of friendship, the first book in the series following the exploits of these four inseperable friends is world famous. Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D’Artagnan have to be the most solid of friends swearing never to cross swords with each other and no matter what the political difference (which in the later books heats up considerably) that friendship and each other come first.

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The friendship of Scout, Dill and Jem is stuff that GCSE paper questions are made of and their friendship set against the hot southern summer, racial tensions and depression is a slice of humanity which is played out perfectly against the sad and moving story.
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Anorak

Anorak the the design company well known for their hugely popular Kissing Animals Collection, are re-inventing the
traditional storage trunk. Hand crafted in Britain by one of the country’s oldest and most established makers, the
trunks are perfect for travel or storage, and come in two different sizes.

Tuck Box, the smaller trunk is available in Anorak’s kissing rabbits print. Traditionally used for boarding school kids
to store their eatables in, this re-fashioned classic would be perfect storage for toys, knitwear or crafts.
Steamer, the larger trunk is available in both the kissing stags print and the kissing rabbits print.

Anorak

Anorak

Concrete Bookends

It must be my all time favourite DIY blog, just crammed with super clever projects and DIY tutorials . So I am really pleased and excited that Benita Larsson, the brain behind the blog Chez Larsson has agreed to contribute a guest blog post this week.

Recently Benita was asked by hobby craft shop Panduro Hobby to take part in a pretty challenging competition, alongside 39 other Swedish bloggers. Each competitor was sent a kit containing concrete and other supplies and were asked to be creative and come up with fun ideas that could inspire others to try the crafting with concrete.

I have to admit, I’ve never considered using concrete for my projects because I’d imagined it would be too complicated to use.

Benita proved this isn’t the case though, and she submitted seven different concrete crafts projects – ending up winning the grand prize, a gift card with 4000 kronor / £350.

Here Benita’s going to show us how to use concrete to make a heavy, raw looking book end. So clever, no wonder she won the prize! But all the ideas are wonderful so it’s worth going to the blog and checking the rest out too. I can’t wait to get my hands on some concrete and try them myself, but in the meantime, here’s Benita with the details.

Cat x

I prefer making stuff that has a use and a purpose rather than just being decorative and I really needed a bookend. Here it is! B goes three ways. B for Benita, B for books and B for böcker (that’s books in Swedish).
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Keep-Calm

Keep Calm Gallery was established in January 2007 by Lucas Lepola and Hayley Thwaites. The site was born out of our passion for typography in poster design, British heritage and the medium of screen printing.

We collect… Nice old and new vases and jars for flowers, old picture frames that have seen better days, and interesting pieces of paper and envelopes which come in handy for inspiration.

We can’t live without… Our cats Alfie and Maisy, they’re BRILLIANT!

Our guilty pleasure is…
Trashy TV and a good takeaway!

Our house is filled with… Boxes, postal tubes, prints, picture frames, tea towels, bags and more and more business related items every day! This is one of the major drawbacks to working from home, but it’s worth it.

We treasure my… Occasional lazy day and having the chance to take a break from the routine. We love to watch a movie or two, cook a new dish, see friends and family and spend some time wandering around East Dulwich.

Right now we can’t stop thinking about… Moving house. We’re looking for a bigger place at the moment. Every box that arrives here makes us want to move that bit more! Hopefully we’ll find the perfect place soon.

Currently we are reading… A Little History Of The World by E. H. Gombrich (Hayley) and Awkward Situations For Men by Danny Wallace (Lucas)

Our favourite item of clothing are… My vintage floral cashmere jumper (Hayley). My Flight of The Conchords European tour t-shirt, brings back memories of a few great nights
(Lucas).

At the top of our furniture wish list is… A super long office desk that would allow us to spread out and work a little more efficiently. A few old Eames office chairs would do nicely too!

The last thing that really inspired us was…
It’s difficult to pin point exactly. We get all sorts of inspiration from being out and about in London. Anything from words and typefaces
to colours and patterns, something jumps out at us and snowballs into an idea.

Our comfort food is… Homemade shepherds pie and red velvet cupcakes!

On our desks are… Often a cat or two. Lots of papers, a giant pencil sharpener and giant Quink ceramic ink well pot. Unfortunately they’re small desks otherwise we would fill them with more interesting things!

This weekend we will… Be sunning myself in Portugal (Hayley). Catching up on work and hopefully seeing old friends (Lucas).

Tonight we must… Take cardboard to the recycling centre and grab some ingredients so we can cook a new dish. Also sit in the garden and watch the cats do back flips after bumble bees. Hopefully fit in a movie and some pudding too!

We love what we do because… We get the chance to work together doing something that makes us really happy. We love creating new products, and when people like them enough to make them part of their home that really means a lot to us. Similarly it’s also fantastic to be able to work with so many talented artists and designers and to be able to bring their work to a new audience. Before we launched our first site over three and a half years ago we never expected to be doing this today, but we can’t imagine doing anything else now.

Food Tree

These tiny wooden trees are a collaboration with French designer Stéphanie Marin and celebrity chef Mauro Colagreco to create Mangier, a series of untreated wooden trees that may be decorated with finger food! So cute!

Food Tree

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