the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide – day 13 – Parkminster candles…

Like it or not, there is a particular smell to Christmas. Something spicy and fragrant, possibly spiked with oranges and pine, or even boozy… Christmas has a smell. And of course, whilst we can create these smells by making orange pomanders, bringing fresh pine boughs indoors and continually having mulled wine on the bubble, to be honest, time, space and health need to be considered. So, scented candles are the way forward for many, but as we well know, not all candles are made equal. It’s day 13 of our Eco Gift Guide and we have selected the best candles we know – by Parkminster, in Sussex.

Large Votive Candle

Hand made, hand poured and beautifully packaged, these soy based candles are scented with intense, natural essences in a variety of interesting combinations that we are yet to find anywhere else.

From Bonfire (smoky and woody), to Mandarin Spice and Rosemary and Basil, there are some very Christmassy smells in the Parkminster range.

Ceramic Bowl Candle - Kiln Collection - Parkminster Products

Plus, the candles come in a variety of sizes and formats, from the tumbler sized votives to small tin candles and large bowl candles – but each ‘container’ is selected for a second use, so when they are all burnt out you do not have to ditch them. Reuse the tin. Drink from the tumbler. Plant up the bowl.

Tin Candle

So – if you enjoy a candle at this time of year (and frankly, with all the hygge hype that is sweeping the UK – who doesn’t), then take a look at the very beautiful and very reasonable candles from Parkminster…

Check out their online store here...

(all images by Parkminster)

the Ecospot Eco Gift Guide 2016 – day 7 – Get Lost print by Hello Dodo…

Ah, Christmas. A time of joy, seasonal cheer and unbounded love for all, everywhere. Except it is not. It is stressful, rushed and often full of get togethers with people you haven’t seen all year, but somehow feel obligated to because it is Christmas. Bah. Wouldn’t it be nice to be out of the thick of it all, hidden away in a calm and peaceful setting… whilst also telling people to just leave you alone. If you feel the same as us sometimes in the season, or know someone who does, you need this fantastic print by Hello Dodo in your life. It’s day 7 on our Eco Gift Guide and we have chosen the ‘Get Lost’ series by design duo Hello Dodo…

Get Lost Tote Bag, Funny Tote Bag, Adventure Print, Mountain Print, Screen Print Bag, Cute Shopper, Explore Print, Cute Tote Bag, Fun Gift

Often with cheeky double meanings, the bright and cheerful work of South Coast based Hello Dodo never fails to raise a smile, but we really love their new Get Lost collection. It has that classic vintage nod, but is not taking itself too seriously.

Get Lost Embroidered Patch, Funny Iron On Patch, Explore Patch, Mountain Patch, Hiking Patch, Nature Patch, Country Patch, Adven

Plus, the design is available in a whole raft of different configurations, to suit all types of people who either want to get lost themselves – or want to send a bit of a message to others.

Get Lost Sweater, Get Lost Jumper, Cosy Grey Sweater, Christmas Sweater, Mountain Jumper, Funny Sweater, Adventure Explore Sweater Jumper

Slightly glittery blue prints to patches, tote bags to jumpers, there is something for all. And to prove this, we had a visitor to Studio Loo – our open studio for the Brighton Artists’ Open Houses, (where Hello Dodo are featured) from Sweden who is well into his 80’s and he happily trotted off with a Get Lost tote after we explained to him the double meaning. He was very much looking forward to telling all his friends to Get Lost when he got home. Her wandered off roaring with laughter.

So. Get Lost with Hello Dodo. Seriously. Get Lost.

All items available (at time of posting) through the Hello Dodo Etsy Shop here. 

(image via Hello Dodo)

Christmas Artist’s Open Houses @ Studio Loo – Rarebit Design…

As many of you are probably aware, we have opened up our home, Studio Loo once more for the Artist’s Open Houses in the run up to Christmas with a raft of wonderful designers and artists showing their wares in our converted wc studio. So, we thought it would be nice to find out a little bit more about everyone with a little interview series. First up today is the fantastic Rarebit Design:

rarebit design 6

Hello! can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? rarebit design was set up in 2012 by Rachel Thomas, a designer/maker living in Hove. Rachel makes lovely handmade things from ceramics, vintage paper and linen. With rarebit design Rachel brings together all her interests – from handmade ceramics to typography and vintage print, paper and linen – and produces collections of beautiful handmade things.

rarebit design 3

What’s your favourite thing in your range at the moment and why? My favourite thing in my range at the moment is probably my tiny speckle bowls – hand made stoneware bowls, each one unique and beautifully organic in form with a delicate speckled finish. They look amazing in groups or alone, and are perfect pinch pots for salt and pepper, or ring bowls, or dip bowls at the table… the possibilities are endless. Plus I love making them!

rarebit design 1

Ok – I’ve got £20 to spend. What should I buy from your range? £20 to spend? Well it’s Christmas, so I’d go for a few of my ceramic hanging decorations with suitably festive quips such as ‘Ho Ho Ho’ or ‘Humbug’ printed into the clay with vintage letterpress letters. A rarebit design speciality! Plus a handmade vintage paper Christmas card of course!

rarebit design 2

What is on your own Christmas List this year? On my Christmas list this year is something special from Christmas Artist’s Open Houses to hang on the wall. There’s such a wealth of amazing artists living in Brighton and Hove. I’ve already bought a fabulous print from Hello Dodo but there’s still more wall space…

rarebit design 4

Christmas pudding or Christmas cake? Bah Humbug…neither I’m afraid. Mince pies all the way…

rarebit design 5

Thank you Rarebit Design! 

*** you can see all of Rarebit Design’s lovely stuff and more at Studio Loo – we are OPEN for Christmas Artist’s Open Houses 21/22 + 28 Nov, 5 + 12/13 December – 10.30 – 5.00 at 201 Portland Road, Hove, BN3 5JA ***

click here for more details!

sloe gin, sloe vodka and sloe chocolates…

We love foraging and this year we found an absolute bumper load of sloes – literally a minute from our studio – the biggest and fattest we have ever seen.

So, over the period of a few days in early September, we collected a small basketful of the stunning blue hued berries, ready for making sloe gin and sloe vodka for Christmas presents.

Traditionally the sloes are collected after the first frosts, which act to soften the berries, but as we were having a very warm autumn, we took the view that the birds would get there before the ice would, so instead our berries were packed up in the freezer for a few days.

Once frozen, thawed and pricked, the sloes were added to gin and vodka bottles with equal measures of sugar and placed in the larder – having a shake every now and then to get the sugar dissolved and the fruit juices flowing.

Some people give the liqueur with the sloes still in the bottle, but if you are keeping it long term, you are better off removing them from the liquid.

Now, to throw these gin or vodka crammed sloes would be a criminal waste, but most people to just that – straight in the bin. I have to confess, in past years this has also been the fate of our sloes, but no more.

SLOEmotion is a fantastic company based in North Yorkshire who specialise in sloe based drinks – mostly of the alcoholic variety – but they also create stunning sloe chocolates – using the destoned fruits which had previously flavoured their liqueurs.

Therefore, we will be taking inspiration from SLOEmotion and creating our own, sloe truffles:

First, make a dark chocolate truffle ganache.

Heat 300ml double cream until hot, add a knob of butter, remove from heat and stir to melt. Pour hot cream over 300g organic 80% solids dark chocolate and stir gently till all the chocolate is melted. Add a pinch of sea salt then transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge.

When nicely firm, assemble your truffles – take a destoned gin, vodka or other infused sloe – or two if you are feeling generous and a teaspoon of your truffle mixture. Roll the chocolate around the sloes with your hands (be quick) then dust the balls with dark, sifted cocoa.

Place back in the fridge to set again, when they can be removed and packed for giving.

Alternatively, you can just dunk the sloes in melted chocolate to create the most adult version of chocolate covered raisins ever.

And if you don’t have sloes or time – get yours from SLOEmotion. Delicious.