Conversely I can be put off, if the packaging is unattractive in some way. I am currently battling my instinct to stop buying my favourite bread-making flour from Waitrose, (Canadian Extra Strong Breadmaking Flour, if you're interested) for example, because they have replaced the nice thick, brown, paper packaging, printed in a reassuringly old-fashioned, dark, red and black design, with thinner, flimsier, (nastier) paper, in nasty (to my mind) pastel shades of peach and washed-out raspberry. The original packaging was both practically robust and had an engaging, timeless feel to it, both literally and visually. The new version simply doesn't cut it - it splits easily, spilling flour all over my larder shelves and doesn't "feel" nice in handling. These things matter. I am shopping astray as a result. Fickle? Yes. Frivolous? Yes. Going to stop being so silly and carry on buying the original product, regardless of the packaging? I am afraid not!
My soft spot for packaging gets a whole new lease of life when I'm on holiday and I often come back with unusual, or particularly pleasing, examples in my suitcase. Match-wood cheese boxes with pretty printed labels from France; unusually-shaped olive oil bottles from Italy; honey tins and jars from Greece; quirky, individual wine-bottles from hotel mini bars or baby jam jars, surreptitiously squirrelled from hotel breakfast tables, saved from their inevitable, sad destiny of a commercial recycling bin to ride again as containers for little gifts of homemade jelly or jam back home; dinky, little Maltese salt-jars; hinged, wooden chocolate boxes and Lebkuchen tins, equipped with musical box mechanisms that play "Stille Nacht", from Germany; they all now people my home in various new guises housing tea, stationery, cotton reels, buttons, preserves etc, or like the baby jam jars become containers for little homemade gifts.
My big weakness is, believe it or not, yoghurt containers! I have two roughly glazed terracotta bowls, that take it in turn to house tomatoes waiting to ripen, on my kitchen work surface, which were originally sold, containing fresh ewe's milk yoghurt, from a sheep dairy, in western Crete. I only brought back two smallish half-litre size ones but the yoghurt also came in big, one litre bowls too. I felt that this might be going too far as it was quite big and heavy but I have regretted leaving it behind ever since.
My watercolour-painting water jar is a Spanish yoghurt pot, embossed with a kite and clouds in the glass.
(The same Spanish holiday also supplied a fetching, brightly enamelled, dried milk tin, now the repository of candle-ends.)
I have a set of no less than six, lavender-coloured, terracotta dessert pots that originally housed, set, French yoghurt which I now use to serve lemon syllabub or chocolate mousse in. I saw the same make of yoghurt when in Provence a few weeks ago and I can't tell you how tempted I was to add to my collection!
You get the picture!
I have been known to embarrass my family in restaurants in France by asking If I can take home beautiful, printed, paper place mats that I have turned into book-covers.
And I have not been allowed to forget, asking a waiter in Munich, in my very sketchy German, if I could purchase the glasses, in which a round of Glühwein had been served. (These were very delicate to bring back on a plane, but with care, everything is possible!) Every time, we're packing to come home and I sidle along with a mysterious bundle to be slipped into someone's suitcase, my family raise their eyes and ask why their dirty washing has been redeployed. (To prevent my treasures getting broken in transit of course!)
This last holiday I was quite restrained. I did not make everyone eat a particular yogurt every day for a week to provide a complete set of dessert dishes back home, nor did I cause embarrassment by asking if I could purchase the tableware from any restaurants. I did however bring home a Provençal wine bottle. Nothing fancy. A plain, uncoloured, glass bottle that housed my favourite Provençal vin gris. Not quite plain though - it has the word Provence embossed along one side of the base.
It appealed. So, the wine having been drunk, home it came, wrapped in an old T-shirt. (Not my T-shirt of course, in case the bottle broke in transit and shards of broken glass caused any damage! Tee hee! I know, I know, I am very unscrupulous!)
Anyway it didn't break and all was intact. But what to do with it? For a week or so it sat on the side looking a little forlorn. And then I thought I would redeploy it as a water carafe. You may have one of those nice fridges that have an in-built, chilled water dispenser, but I don't and when it's hot, I do like chilled water. I don't buy bottled water, except for the fizzy variety which H drinks in vast quantity; I prefer tap water, especially here in Oxfordshire where the Thames Valley water is very "hard" - full of calcium and other minerals anyway, but I always forget to chill it and in any case, there isn't always room for a big water jug in my fridge. A wine bottle that could slip into a small space in the fridge door made a perfect solution, but not without a smidgeon of hooky adornment.
Thinking of all the colours of Provence and the essence of the place, in the beautiful rosé that the bottle had originally contained, the idea of a colourful hooky wine bottle / water carafe jacket was born.Very simple but somehow very pleasing! The only snag is that the jacket has covered up the embossed letters of "Provence". I wondered about creating a window in the crochet to reveal them but in the end decided it would look fussy, so they are present, but hidden.
I embellished the plain, blue jacket with a handful of hooky tulips which I made using AterG's lovely pattern. You can buy the pattern on Etsy here.
I know tulips are not exactly typical Provençal flowers, but nevertheless, I think, they give the ensemble a lovely sunny, summery feel especially in these slightly, sun-bleached, pale colours.
There's not a huge amount of space for decoration - as you can see I had a few tulips left over. That's OK though - they will adorn another project. Possibly another bottle cover!
Once kitted out in its pretty hooky jacket, fill your bottle with water and stick it in the fridge. The jacket, as well as being pretty, prevents the bottle getting slippery from condensation so has a nice practical aspect to it as well as a purely decorative one.
Anyone else stuff their suitcases with similar items? It's a fun and cheap form of souvenir-hunting and often I've found that these kinds of souvenirs are more laden with memories than things I've bought specially. I recommend it! (Just don't forget to wrap breakables in someone else's T shirt!)
PS Hello and welcome to new followers here - it's lovely to see you!