Thursday, 9 January 2014

New blog!

Hi everyone!

A Happy New Year to you all and a huge thank you for visiting our blog!

We've moved to a new site so all of our blog posts are now going onto our new blog. Please head on over and check out what we've been up to recently by following this link.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Worst Travel Destinations

Paradise Lost

Appearances can be deceiving ©

To celebrate the publication of our new book, World's Worst Travel Destinations, we are holding a Worst Travel Experiences Competition.  If you think you have a traveling story to tell, when nothing went quite to plan, then tweet your experience for the chance to win a copy of World's Worst Travel Destinations.   

Here's one to get you started...

Sun drenched afternoons spent with a good book in one hand and an ice cold cocktail in the other, listening to the sounds of rippling waves and rustling palm leaves -  you can be forgiven for your tropical island preconceptions.  This is a story about how paradise fell from grace as the glorious Thai island, Koe Phi Phi, became the backdrop to a disastrous weekend.  Sit back, relax and put your passports away, travel to the tropics if you dare.

It all began as I ran barefoot along the beach, I couldn't believe my luck, everything was so beautiful, not t mention tranquil. Oh how things would change.  This dreamlike reality came crashing down as I cut my toe open on a rock. I will spare you the details, just know that after hobbling to the hospital with my foot wrapped in a plastic bag, I had a full bottle of alcohol poured over said foot and was encouraged to look at the beautiful landscape as the procedure was carried out. The rippling blue sea somewhat failed to calm my nerves.  Eek! It goes on…   

© Cico Books
The bus broke down on the way to the airport.  Picture a group of dishevelled Brits pushing a bus along a motorway, all the while I was hobbling on what was kindly dubbed the ‘hammer toe’.  We finally arrived at the airport, when I realised I had left my passport back at the hotel. I wasn’t going anywhere.  Cue an onslaught of even more unfortunate events.  The next twenty-four hours saw me buy more flight tickets (business class were the only seats left), take a very expensive speedboat ride back to the hotel to retrieve my passport James Bond style, make it back to the main land after the boat ran out of petrol, buy a mouldy sandwich, survive a road collision, limp into the airport, buy a second sandwich which was then stolen and finally flop onto my oh too expensive plane seat.  What a twenty-four hours!  Life is stranger than fiction.  

You might hear that tropical islands are relaxing, but don’t believe it.  Phi Phi island is not for the faint-hearted traveller. You have been warned.

- Anonymous Intrepid Traveller. 

Think you have a story to rival this one?  Then tweet it in and let us know your worst travel experiences to win a copy of World's Worst Travel Destinations.  #WorstTravel


Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Balcony Gardener at Anthropologie

The beautiful spring window display at Anthropologie on the Kings Road. It's full of gorgeous plants and products from The Balcony Gardener online shop owned by author Isabelle Palmer. 

Copies of Isabelle's new book in the window


Take a look inside The Balcony Gardener by Isabelle Palmer:

The Balcony Gardener by Isabelle Palmer, CICO Books (£14.99)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Sania Pell to launch her new book at Liberty

To celebrate the launch of stylist Sania Pell's new book, The Homemade Home for Children, we'd like to invite you to a special launch event at Liberty London.

The Homemade Home for Children features Sania's characteristic innovative style and is a unique collection of more than 50 projects for creative parents to make for their children.

All are welcome to come along and meet the author, buy a signed copy, and try out some craft projects from the book. Children are welcome but spaces are limited so please RSVP to Liberty (see the invite below).


Sania is an interiors stylist who is known for the individual handmade aspect she brings to her work. This is her second book. To find out more about Sania and this event visit her blog.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

How Chloë Owens Gets Inspired

Textile artist Chloë Owens inhabits a strange and colorful world where fabric animals frolic, sequinned birds sing, and even the landscape is made up of groovy 1960s prints. Chloë hoards salvaged vintage fabrics and combines them with contemporary prints to create a totally new fabric that she “draws” delicate stitched designs on to using her trusty sewing machine. The result is a multifaceted textile feast!

Her new book, All Sewn Up: 35 Exquisite Projects Using Appliqué, Embroidery, and More was recently published by CICO Books.

We asked Chloë where she goes to get inspired. She was kind enough to share her favorite things and give us a window into her whimsical world.

Images are a Camilla Lundsten print, a Koloni Stockholm tea towel and a Lotta Odelius teacup

I can’t get enough of Scandinavian design. It’s so unique and innovative. There is so much beauty in its simplicity. It’s chic without being showy, they just get it right. Well they must be doing something right because apparently Scandinavians are the happiest people on Earth! It’s at the top of my list of places to go.

I’ve always loved photography. Now it inspires me every single day. With apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic and websites like Pinterest it’s impossible to lack inspiration for long. People can upload, group, theme and share all sorts of photos at the click of a button, and it feels like a creative community by connecting people with pictures of cool things. I’m also a regular visitor to the Lomography shop!

I heart my kitchen. This is the first one I’ve owned. I’ve been collecting vintage kitchenalia since I was at college, storing them in suitcases under the bed. Now the day has finally arrived to get them out, blow the dust off, and unveil each treasure from the layers of crumpled tissue paper and perch them on my shelves to admire. When it’s grey and cold outside, which is often in London, my kitchen makes things feel sunnier.

Etsy is one of the most creative places to shop online. Most things are either handmade or vintage (my two favourite things). It’s also a crafty community where people organise events, ask for and offer advice and make ‘treasuries’ of their favourite items. Here’s one I made a couple of weeks ago.

Markets are some of, if not the best, places to go for vintage finds, and normally at a fraction of the price of what you’ll find in shops. I love the hustle and bustle, the eye candy overload. I love rummaging through vintage suitcases filled with piles of 1960’s and 70’s fabrics, haggling for bargains, drinking cups of tea to keep warm and going home with bags filled with treasures that only a few people truly understand the value of.

All images except Scandinavian design were taken by Chloe Owens

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The secrets of Valentine's Day flowers

Particular meanings–from romantic to religious–have for centuries been attributed to different flowers, yet it was the Victorians who developed these ideas into a sophisticated language of flower symbolism.

Here, we look at the secret meanings behind two traditional Valentine's Day flowers; the crocus and the rose.

The Crocus

Lasting devotion; cheerfulness; gladness; Valentine’s Day flower

© CICO Books

The crocus is dedicated to St Valentine, the Christian martyr, after whom St Valentine’s Day was named. Valentinus was a Roman physician who dispensed natural remedies, and a Christian priest who prayed for his patients. Practicing Christianity was a crime in the reign of Claudius II, so Valentinus was arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. The jailor’s blind daughter was one of his patients and, just before his execution, Valentinus handed the jailor a note for the blind girl in which he had wrapped a saffron crocus, the source of the healing herb, saffron. As the girl opened the note her sight returned and the first flower she saw was the yellow crocus shining like the sun. The physician had written the message: “From your Valentine” and the day was February 14, 270 CE.

The saffron crocus has the most meanings attached to it around the world. It has spiritual associations for a number of faiths. In Hinduism, for example, saffron is associated with the Supreme Being. Saffron is also known for its culinary uses and for its medicinal properties—in some folk remedies it was believed to be an aphrodisiac.

The Rose

Love; romance; beauty; passion; courage

© CICO Books

The red rose is the ultimate flower symbol of love and the traditional romantic Valentine’s Day gift. For the Victorians, the number of red roses in a bouquet conveyed a particular meaning, and red roses might be combined with roses in other colors to offer further meanings.

Here is a guide to how many roses to send
a loved one to convey the right message:

A single red rose: “I still love you;” “You are the one;”
“Love at first sight”
Two roses, one red and one white: mutual love or desire; unity
—often symbolizing commitment, such as a forthcoming marriage
Three red roses: “I love you”
Four roses: considered unlucky

In any color combination:
Six roses: “I want to be yours”
Seven roses: “I am infatuated”
Ten roses: “You are perfect”
12 roses: “Be mine”
50 roses: “My love is unconditional”

Roses of other colors

White: “You’re heavenly;” charm; wisdom; secrecy; sympathy;
humility; youthfulness; and innocence
(a withered white rose means death or loss of innocence)
Pale pink: “Please believe me;” “You’re so lovely;”
grace; perfect happiness
Combining pink and white roses in a bouquet:
“I love you still and always will”
Deep pink: “Thank you;” gratitude
Orange: “I want you;” desire or enthusiasm
Pale coral: “Let’s get together;” sincerity; forming a pact; immortality
Yellow: “Welcome back;” “Remember me;” friendship and joy;
sent to a lover can also mean infidelity and jealousy
Lilac: “I am enchanted by you;” love at first sight

For more flower symbolism, including what the flowers you like say about you, buy The Secret Language of Flowers by Samantha Gray, with illustrations by Sarah Perkins from CICO Books for just £9.99

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Quilled bird card clips from Christmas Crafting in No Time

Pick out your favorite Christmas cards and make a special feature of them with a row of little bird card clips and string. Strung along a mantelshelf, they would make a charming display. Make a few extra to attach to gifts or clip them among the branches of the Christmas tree.

Tracing paper
Sheet of white card
White quilling strips, 1⁄8 in. (3mm) wide
(or wider if preferred)
Craft knife
Cutting mat
Quilling tool
PVA glue
Hole punch
Wooden clothes pins (pegs)

1. Print out the template, copy onto card and cut out the required number of bird shapes.

2. Cut a length of a quilling strip in half. Place the end in the split at the top of the quilling tool. Start winding the strip around the tip of the tool, keeping it tight.

3. When you have finished winding, release the strip of paper, so that it springs loose, and remove it gently from the quilling tool. Place a dab of glue at one end of the quilling paper and stick it down to make a closed circle of spiralled paper approx. 5⁄8in. (1.5cm) in diameter. You do not have to be exact, as it looks charming with slightly different-sized pieces.

4. With your finger and thumb, gently squeeze one side of the circle spiral together to form a teardrop shape. Repeat steps 2–4 to make a total of three teardrop shapes. Arrange as shown and glue in position on the bird.

5. Punch a hole in the bird shape to make an eye. Use a dab of glue to attach the finished bird shape to the clothes pin (peg). Clip onto a length of string and attach your cards to complete the display.

A project from Christmas Crafting In No Time by Clare Youngs, photography by Claire Richardson, James Gardiner, and Kate Davis, CICO Books