Viva Tea!

The Kinks once wrote a song called ‘Have a Cuppa Tea.’ Not the most rock and roll title for a song, it’s basically about how much tea Ray Davis’ granny made (imaginary granny? Not sure, I’d like to think not.) Here’s a few of the lyrics…

Tea in the morning, tea in the evening, tea at supper time, 
You get tea when it’s raining, tea when it’s snowing. 
Tea when the weather’s fine…

The point is – just like granny, I drink tea ALL THE TIME! Who doesn’t? If you don’t love tea we can never be mates (bit harsh maybe, gin will do as an alternative.) All of this means I was absolutely cock-a-flipping-hoop when last week we had our first delivery in Spektakular from tea worshippers VIVA Scandinavian. A new brand to us, they stick to the Nordic design principle of form following function and use premium quality glass, cork, silicone and porcelain to create elegant products for casual and connoisseur tea drinkers alike. I’m neither casual nor connoisseur – I only drink vats of builders tea but their range of tea pots and cups has seriously made my heart sing.

VIVA’s collection maximizes infusion for better taste, aroma, colour, and ultimate enjoyment.   Using innovative filters, double-walled glass and non-drip pouring mechanisms, they make brewing easier, enjoyable, and more tasteful than ever. Each item is hand-made by skilled artisans, using carefully selected materials, meaning their tea-ware reaches us (and then you!) in beautiful condition and stays that way for years.

Below we have the super stylish Nicola teapot in white and cork – imagine that bit of design joy on your shelf! The Nina teapot in charcoal is a modern spin on the classic teapot. It features a large comfortable handle, textural finish and distinctive smooth shape. Finally, my favourite, the Bjorn – I don’t know why but I love see-through tea pots, something therapeutic about watching the brew inside swirl and darken. We have in stock the 0.75l size – perfectly suitable for normal tea drinkers, maybe a bit on the small size for me!

Nicola
Nina
Bjorn

Of course, you can’t drink tea without cups and luckily VIVA also do a fine range of these. The Minima Balance cup has a removable infuser and will give you the perfect brew without any fuss – no teapot? No problem! Anna and Andy are different sizes of VIVA’s Anytime Cup and are cheekily designed to look like disposable paper cups and yet are made from porcelain. My favourites I think are the Nicola thermo cups which come as a set of 2. They are super stylish and fit perfectly in your hand – I wish I was allowed more mugs in my house…

Minima Balance
Anna and Andy
Nicola

We also stock their stylish and useful Tea Egg – fill it with loose tea and simply pop it in a cup of hot water for a quick tea fix. Finally we have the rather lovely Nina milk and sugar set in charcoal, a stylish and useful addition to your tea making kit.

Tea Egg
Nina Milk and Sugar

All images by Viva Scandinavian

As you can probably tell, of all the fantastic deliveries we have had recently in the shops, this has been a particular favourite of mine – while writing this blog alone I have had 2 cups, tough job. Right Charlotte, get that kettle on!

Ruth xx

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A Spektakular Fresh Start

Happy New Year lovely ones! Hope you all had a wonderful time, are fully recovered and back in some kind of routine as opposed to constantly looking bemused and asking what day it is! 

As with every new year, there are a lot of hashtags doing the rounds to encourage us to give something up after the excesses of the past few weeks – #dryjanuary #veganuary #nomorequalitystreeteveragainuary (ok, made that one up, but I know you get it.)  Personally I am giving up holding onto things that don’t make me happy – clearing out all the ‘stuff’ in my house that I once thought I needed or liked but now mock me from dusty piles and stops me actually loving my home as much as I should. In some respects it’s just a case of my tastes changing, since working in Spektakular I have morphed from full on Cath Kidston/60’s kitsch to aspiring Scandi (with a deep love of 20th century modern but they are luckily a perfect match!) 

Can I add here that I have never read or watched Marie Kondo but I am guessing we are on the same page here! I am gathering my army of Ikea bags (naturally!) and am itching to clear my shelves of books I’ll never read, ornaments I no longer notice, dvds and cds that lie redundant on sagging shelves and many, many half finished craft projects. I will donate, throw away and recycle with a force rarely seen in a middle age woman and won’t rest until my house is a minimalist dreamland (it’ll still be filthy but at least I’ll be able to see the dirt – hoorah!)

In the calm after this clearing storm, I will gather my now small collection of much loved possessions and actually enjoy finding new spots for them where they will shine and bring me joy again. I know that this will not only have a physical effect on my home but on me too – room to breathe and a calmer place to just be. 

This is of course all very Scandinavian. They are the masters of pared down design and functionality – yes things can be beautiful but if they can be useful and/or multi-functional too then all the better. Now that both our Spektakular shops have quietened down again and we have recovered from a brilliantly busy 2 months (thank you to all our amazing customers for your support!), we are starting to rearrange our stock so it flows and connects and yes, makes us happy to be in the shops! I truly believe that nothing should be bought halfheartedly, money is short for a lot of us and one carefully picked piece that brings years of joy is worth 10 bits of ‘stuff’ that we will resign to those big blue bags in 6 months time. We take great pride in what we do and believe in our brands and hopefully have the balance right between (for example) simple beautiful objects like the Lindform vases and Sence jewellery and the stylish but functional pieces like Aveva and Sagaform. I dislike the word curate – it is very overused but it does make sense sometimes so I’ll let it in on this occasion – come to Spektakular Home and Spektakular Gifts and begin to curate your own collection of design happiness (maybe have a mini clear out first, no need to go full Marie Kondo though!)

Ruth xx

Meet Verner And His Gang

Yesterday was just a normal pre-christmas shop day. We were all feeling it – a bit frazzled, a bit high as kites, a lot in need of a good sleep and a mulled wine or two. Then the delivery man came…

Unpacking the huge box, we found a note from a gnome called Verner. He politely asked us to take him and his friends out of the box, brush their beards with the brush provided and straighten their hats for them as it had been a long and dark journey from Sweden. As the gnomes and tomte emerged from the box and we quietly and carefully spruced them up, a weird calm fell over us. It seems nothing is quite as relaxing as combing the wooly beard of a tomte!

Asas Tomtebod was founded in 1993. All products are beautifully handmade with materials from nature and by the process ‘Tova’ which uses the curly hair from the Gotland sheep, unique to Sweden and mixes this with warm soapy water to make the felt used for the Tomte hats and noses. With beards made from sheep’s wool, each of the tomte and gnomes are unique in colour and texture and are wonderfully tactile.

Tomte are the spirit and protectors of the home, every Christmas Eve a bowl of porridge with butter on top should be placed outside to show your appreciation (don’t forget to do this, they can be a little mischievous – don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

Ruth xx

Brighten Up Your Bike

I loved my bike when I was a kid. My mum bought me a second hand one out of the local paper for about a fiver and I was never off it, disappearing for hours on end – totally free and untraceable.  I could ride for miles no handed, mastered wheelies and have some pretty cool holes in my knees from racing downhill too fast.  I was lucky enough to live somewhere with relatively little traffic and I wonder if I would have been quite so reckless if I’d lived in a city like Edinburgh. 

What I did always have was lights! It amazes me how many cyclists I see (or don’t see) at night who are practically invisible to me as a driver. Cycling is a brilliant way to get around and I’m all for it but please, please make sure you are visible – it is terrifying having near misses on dark winter’s night.

Which brings me nicely to the point of today’s blog –  Bookman lights and reflectors. I unpacked this delivery yesterday and did a bit of googling to find out more as they are a new product to us. Wow – check them out! We have reflective leopard print stickers that you apply to your bike and as you can see in the pictures below, they catch the lights from cars brilliantly (and look cool, bonus!)  Also in the delivery are magnetic reflectors that clip on your clothing or the bike itself – again giving you that extra visibility not just when cycling but great for running or walking around at night. 

The final product and probably my favourite because I love a gadget, is the Eclipse rechargable light (with USB cable.) It clips on securely to any bag or garment and every light is equipped with both white and red LEDs so you can switch between white light for front mount and red light for rear mount. You could wear these while cycling or running and they are super bright. 

So come on, no excuses not to be as visible as Blackpool Illuminations – we want you to be safe out there! 

Ruth xx

Lovely Linens

Years ago I met my dad for lunch and he told me he had seen some beautiful tea towels and he’d like to buy me a selection for my birthday. I was 17. Needless to say I didn’t quite get what he’d seen in them and I got the money instead. Now I’m (ahem) a few years older I can totally see where he was coming from and feel a little bad about it (although I have teenagers and if I offered to buy them tea towels for their Christmas this year, I would get a similar reaction!)

This week we had a delivery of Ekelund tea towels, runners and tablecloths and they are so gorgeous you could actually frame them (and if you want to, we have just the frames!) Designs and patterns range from classic to contemporary and each is truly Scandinavian. For 16 generations, and over 450 years, the family has made textiles and Ekelund Weavers is the oldest documented textile company still in existence and the quality of materials and weaving shines out of all their products. I know, get me – how things change! 

In both shops we have a wide selection of Christmas, traditional, contemporary and even Moomin designs – all organic and produced in Ekelund’s environmentally friendly, green factory. Beautiful on a Christmas table or just for every day use, come along and see them for yourselves – we’re pretty sure you’ll love them! 

Ruth xx

Stina’s Pepparkakor

A while back we talked about Small Business Saturday and were thinking what we could do this year. Last year we had an competition and then I suggested homebakes. Everyone love Swedish baked treats…right!!!

Then Stina said she like to bake gingerbreads and sell them and so we did. Stina has worked so hard for this. I made her the gingerbread dough, she made her own labels and was very concerned while baking her gingerbreads. It had to be just right thickness and shapes and so on. And she is so proud of herself and I am too. This is a great way of learning to work for something and earn your own money. No this is not going to charity but her dream holiday. For years she has nagged us to go to Disneyland Paris and we have said one day, but you need to save some of your money for spending money while there and wow has she worked hard for this.

Please join us today this Small Business Saturday to celebrate the start of the lovely cosy month of December. I personally love December, it is a great atmosphere at the shops, and at home all my advent lights are up and the house often smell amazing with all the Christmas bakes.

Here is my (well Stina’s) recipe for tasty Swedish pepparkakor.

Swedish Pepparkakor
  • 300 g butter (I used Lurpak)
  • 5 dl caster sugar
  • 1 dl syrup
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp ground cardamon (top tip, flying tiger is selling this ready)
  • 1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 dl cold water
  • 1.5 L plain flour (I used about 1 – 1.2 L and then saved some for the baking
  • (A dl is a decilitre, so equal to 100 ml)

    Soft butter (leave it out for some time) mixed well with sugar and syrup.

    All spices and bicarbonate in the mix, finally water and flour. Do not put all the flour in straight away but add some at the time to get a good firm dough, if too much flour it will be very dry and not tasty.

    Leave in fridge for at least 24 hours.

    Then baking time, use flour to make sure the dough does not stick to the table, but not too much then the gingerbreads get too dry. All about LAGOM :)

    OVEN 200-225 °C, time 4-5 minutes.

    Be careful and keep an eye on them, try to put the same sizes and thickness on the same tray. Also avoid fan oven, I did one and that one burnt (!!). Put someone on oven duty!

    Once out of the oven, let them swiftly cool down on a rack grid. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk (might be needed if you eat a lot of dough while baking)

    Charlotte x

    Time To Shine

    Ok, it’s that time of year again when I feel it’s my duty to put my mum hat on with you all (don’t worry, you’re not in trouble and I’ve brought snacks.)

    It’s November. I know, don’t get me started on time flying and all that, but c’mon, where does it go? This time of year can be beautiful and recently we have been treated to some stunning Edinburgh sunrises and sunsets and the kind of cold, crisp weather that keeps me here. However November sunsets inevitably lead to only one thing – darkness! Even at this very moment I am in the shop, it’s 3.20pm and I can see the light fading outside. Any minute now the kids will be excitedly belting out of school and this year, as ever, we have just the thing to help keep them (and you) safe on the journey home.

    A reflector is an essential safety item for anyone who is spending time outside in low visibility conditions. It can reflect the light from an oncoming vehicle and make you visible from up to 125 meters (400 feet) away, compared to only 30 meters (100 feet) away without one and that really could make all the difference.

    We have stocked reflectors for many years and we love a delivery of the bright happy designs. At the moment our chosen brand is Firefly as we have found they are well made, stylish, fun and most importantly super reflective. Designed in Sweden they really are fantastic and deliver what they promise – great visibility. I have loads, my kids have loads, my dog Boo has probably more than she needs but hey, she’s black and totally invisible when walking at night! I love the Bowie style lightning bolt (I have a sticker one on my jacket and a chain one on my bag.) My kids might think they’re too cool for reflectors now they are teens but still have them on their bags and probably need them more since they are out by themselves so much. My favourite at the moment is the new tassel reflector. They are gorgeous and come in a variety of colours each with a sturdy clip and a heart charm – I think Boo is in for another little treat!