Made to Last, and stylish too

Hot on the heels of my recent post - What a load of rubbish - comes another sustainable option, this time for furniture.  It's a company, Made to Last, which sets out to do things differently; not only are its products sustainable, they're also crafted here in Britain.

And what's more the products really do look great, and as the company name suggests, made to last.  Each product has clear guarantees displayed on the site, so you really can judge the true cost and value of a product.

No doubt like me you'll know that often items only last a short time and discover that no one seems to fix anything these days, so often the most economic solution is to buy more.  But that leaves items to get rid of more often, and more for landfill contributing to our throwaway society.

My top picks

1. Sofas by Wesley-Barrell

As you know we've recently been on the hunt for new sofas. We saw many and managed to choose two grey sofas (which arrived last week, more on those another day), but we quickly discovered that it's never just as easy as choosing a new sofa.  There are many shapes and sizes, prices and quality, but I do believe there's a sofa out there for everyone.

We saw many velvet sofas in our quest to replace ours, and we were very nearly tempted, but in truth the velvet sofas we saw weren't quite right.  As soon as I visited the Made to Last site the sofa below, by Oxfordshire-based Wesley-Barrell called out to me, and I wished the email inviting me to collaborate had arrived a few weeks earlier.

ONE OF THE WESLEY-BARRELL SOFAS ON THE MADE TO LAST SITE Photo Credit: Made to Last

ONE OF THE WESLEY-BARRELL SOFAS ON THE MADE TO LAST SITE
Photo Credit: Made to Last

Each sofa is hand-built to order, which means as well as choosing the leg style and colour you can make alterations to the seat depth, so if you've little legs like MOH or I or longer legs then you can purchase a sofa that works for you.  While out sofa shopping we sat on quite a few we liked, but would have liked more if we could have reached the floor.

It struck me that they don't just claim to be eco-friendly but give clear examples of what they do everyday to demonstrate this in a practical way, such as using FSC accredited timber, using natural materials including a polymer fibre made from recycled plastic bottles.  It doesn't sound overly comfortable, but I'm sure it's much better than it sounds.

2. Black iron loaf tins by the Netherton Foundry

CAST IRON LOAF TINS ON THE MADE TO LAST SITE Photo Credit: Made to Last

CAST IRON LOAF TINS ON THE MADE TO LAST SITE
Photo Credit: Made to Last

Yes, quite a change from my first item I know, but one that could make it into my bakeware cupboard.  Last year we tinkered with cooking bread in our pizza oven without a huge amount of success as the oven was still too hot.  However I'm a try-er so we're not giving up just yet.

These iron loaf tins are made of durable 99.1% pure iron with a sturdy brass rivet and are suitable for high temperatures and all ovens, including wood fired.  So with these I'd really have no excuse would I?

They're guaranteed for two years and it's recommended that you re-season it with a coating of flax oil, but full instructions are included.

If we didn't already have a long handled pizza peel, I might be tempted by one to match.  If loaf tins and pizza peels aren't for you, there's plenty more Netherton Foundry items to tempt you.  

3. Royal Sussex traditional garden trugs

Despite my modern tendencies, I also like some traditional items and the Royal Sussex trugs are very much in that category.  I've seen them at shows and spoken to the craftsmen that make them, completely by hand.  It's an item that can't be rushed and one that comes in several sizes, and even though we no longer have the allotment, actually especially now we don't have the plot I can see one in the garden to save me juggling the produce I pick in the months to come as I had back towards the house.  Although I'll admit that can be quite entertaining...

ROYAL SUSSEX TRADITIONAL GARDEN TRUG Photo Credit: Made to Last

ROYAL SUSSEX TRADITIONAL GARDEN TRUG
Photo Credit: Made to Last

My top three is quite eclectic, but I'm sure you're not surprised by that by now - what would you choose?

* This is a collaborative post but all views are my own.

A knockout of a pinny from Bespoke Binny

When Bespoke Binny got in touch about trying out their homewares, after looking at their site I settled on an apron. With the promise of more outdoor cooking on the cards, and with no pinny of my own it seemed meant to be. The designs all have vibrant colours and West African prints, and well you know me and colour, so you'll not be surprised to learn my apron had some yellow in it!

It arrived, beautifully packaged, on the Saturday morning of our 110th party, so arriving with great timing for me to put it to the test. By the time this photo was taken I'd half changed for the party, but I was still unsure what top I'd wear (as I was reconsidering my chosen outfit given the heat!). And why is it that my hair flicks out, instead of under in the heat - it's fixable of course, but only with the addition of even more heat.

CHEAT'S PANACOTTA, ME AND MY BESPOKE BINNY APRON

CHEAT'S PANACOTTA, ME AND MY BESPOKE BINNY APRON

I hadn't really thought my outfit through alongside the apron. The Black and yellow check pattern, which I loved, was stylish and different enough to stand out, but not so much that I felt overly conspicuous, but with orange cropped trousers, that was colourful!

Never let it be said that I like a bit of colour!

Never mind, there was still work to be done.

And much to MOH's dismay that included arranging (or plonking) some flowers into water. He thought it was a non-essential job (ahem, less so than cleaning the inside of the bathroom cabinet I'd say), but having bought yellow and coral carnations I was determined to use them as I'd planned.  And as I was snipping their stems and placing them into our small gravy and cream jug I realised that yellow and orange weren't that much of clash after all. It can't be can it, as it's one of nature's colour schemes.

Who said yellow and orange don't go? My carnations were that exact colour combination, the same as my party outfit and apron from Bespoke Binny - I must have known!

The apron is lined with cotton twill and I think after washing will be less stiff, as it'd just arrived that morning I didn't have time for that, but that didn't mean it wasn't comfortable. The neck strap was a little long for me, but I expected that, as at five foot two things are often a little long. A quick knot in the neck strap and it was easily adjusted. 

My next job that was captured on camera was hanging some bunting in the gazebo, not usually the kind of job that requires an apron but by now I'd forgotten I had it on and when I remembered I was so sure I'd spill something down my trousers that I was happy to leave the apron on until the party started.

Hanging bunting doesn't usually call for an apron, but with plenty of jobs to do and if I'm honest i forgot I had it on

I think part of the reason I haven't had a pinny of my own until now is I've not found one that isn't a bit too twee and frilly, or one that I'd wear. Strangely MOH now has two aprons (not pinnies obviously) but I think that's because he's most likely to wear them cooking outdoors, whether that's the barbecue or the pizza oven. And I'm happy for him to continue leading on the outdoor cooking - it's a man thing, I know - but now if and when I'm called into help I'll be well equipped with my own pinny.  

Actually I think I'll be donning my apron for bread making, as I invariably end up with flour down the front of me at some point, especially if I'm kneading bread. There's a large contrasting pocket on the front, just where you'd expect and I'm sure in weeks to come I'll store something there and forget about it. For me, I think there's a small improvement that could be made to the apron, and that's to have longer ties so that it could be tied at the front, rather than just at the back. A small thing, but I naturally crossed the ties over at the back, to tie at the front, but they weren't quite long enough. Of course, that's not going to stop me wearing this, or enjoying it - I mean anything that helps me be less messy, or making my clothes less messy, is good by me. 

My apron from Bespoke Binny, it certainly added some colour to my day
 
HANGING OVER THE DOOR TO SHOW OFF ITS FULL DESIGN

HANGING OVER THE DOOR TO SHOW OFF ITS FULL DESIGN

As well as aprons and matching oven gloves, there's also cushions and lampshades too and I think any of which would make a unique and stylish gift. What's even better is the designs are, I think, suitable for anyone, male or female and that makes them a great find in my book. There's plenty of designs to choose from and I'm sure you'll find one for whoever you have in mind.

An African print pinny from Bespoke Binny

What do you think?  I love the colours of mine, and I think it's very me - the fact that it matches a third of my dining chairs just underlines that really doesn't it?!

 

* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.

Fun storage jars by Alessi from Red Candy

On Sunday my post Spring and new routines touched on some of the changes I'm making right now, and how my Spring cleaning is more of a Spring rearranging.  And there's more evidence of that today with some fun and funky storage from Red Candy.  If you've not come across them do take a look, I mean you just have to love a company who has "Shut up Beige" as their strapline, don't you?  

My shiny new storage jars arrived promptly and I found myself rearranging kitchen cupboards and storage to find the perfect home for them. The glass jars are by Alessi, and the little man that's holding on tight in there is called Gianni. In fact they're all called Gianni, I didn't name him. Honest. 

Alessi Gianni storage jars from Red Candy, putting the fun into funky

Here he is, holding on tight, while I take a closer look: 

GIANNI, HE'S QUITE THE ACROBATIC SHOWOFF

GIANNI, HE'S QUITE THE ACROBATIC SHOWOFF

Every time I expected to hear a squeal from him... but in fact, it was more likely me that was squealing and chuckling in amusement.

The jars I have are, from left to right, the 90cl, 200cl and 140cl and I've used them to store chia seeds, muesli and raisins. And now think I have the smartest, healthy goods storage around. I opted for white, rather than the bolder blue or yellow colours, and although it also comes in black, I knew I wanted to use these in my cupboard and so I wanted something light and something that I can use for many years to come. If you're wondering what sizes they really are, the largest jar would easily store spaghetti or linguine, if that helps.

filled storage jars from Red Candy, trying not to submerge Gianni in my dry goods

And even though I have the white - it's still not beige - and I've the added bonus of smiling every time we lift the lid off the healthy stuff. What better incentive is there?

Gianni - the man holding on tight - going into the chia seeds

And no, I didn't realise we had quite so many chia seeds either. I did wonder if they'd stick to him and he'd deposit seeds across my worktop without me noticing. But no, he doesn't, even though he's just about standing on the top of the seeds, I've rolled them around the jar to see what happens, and if static comes into play. But he's passed the test and can stay in my chia seeds. And I'll be adding chia seed porridge to the growing list of new routines, to help bring down my chia seed mountain...

Standing on chia seeds, Gianni in the airtight jar from Red Candy

And you may think they're wasted inside a cupboard, but I think if you're going to do storage well then it shouldn't all be for show. I do like a tidy cupboard, I've a number of storage baskets in each cupboard too and everytime MOH puts jars away with the label not facing the front, I shudder just a little bit. 

Stylish - and fun - storage from Red Candy

So here they are in situ. Three Giannis in three storage jars, and three times the amount of smiles. What do you think?

Home Etc

* This is a collaborative post, but all views and opinions are my own.