Sunday, 31 October 2010

Christmas Tree Decorations

As tomorrow is the 1st November I have decided that it is time I started to seriously think about Christmas preparations. After all I know of some people who are already wrapping presents! To get me into the Christmas spirit I have started to think about decorations. Previously our Christmas tree was decorated with just red and gold. However, I think that the time has come to add more colour and handmade magic. Having looked for some decorations I have seen some wonderful ones to choose from. They also make fantastic gifts for anyone who loves to decorate their tree with beautiful things.
I love these free blown heart baubles from Bath Aqua Glass. Based in their studio in Bath the craftsmen and women make a range of glass products, each made by hand and therefore unique. Bath Aqua Glass also offers workshops and hen party glass blowing events.


Jo Heckett makes her beautiful porcelain Christmas decorations in her studio in London. My favourite is this set of four letters which can be purchased in white, pink or aqua. You can choose whichever letters you want and so they can be used for tree decorations or whatever you choose for example as initials to tie to Christmas stockings.


This beautiful mistletoe bauble is hand decorated by Katherine Pollen who makes a range of ceramic items. These elegant 3" diameter china Decorative Balls are hand painted and come with a satin ribbon ready to hang. They are also available from Heaven Sent.


On Birchcraft Designs website you will find a wonderful range of handcrafted wooden Christmas decorations from Gingerbread men to robins there is something for everyone, including bag and shoe decorations. They also have a range of punched metal decorations that would look great on any tree.

Finally from Niki Jones there are these stunning paper mache handpainted teardrop baubles. These beautiful baubles will add that splash of colour to any Christmas tree.

So that is the Christmas tree decorations sorted out now just 54 days left to do the rest.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Tea towel works of art

In Homes and Gardens this month I spotted this fantastic tea towel by Julie at Cloth Ears. It looked good enough to frame and put up on the wall, so I set out to find other great art on a tea towel.

If you are looking for an unusual wedding invitation or thank you then these are ideal. Made by Ben and Karen at The Original Wedding Tea Towel, you can choose from a selection of designs or if you are feeling artistic you can come up with your own design.

The idea came about as an eco-friendly option that could be kept by the recipent, instead of being thrown away after a week on the mantlepiece.

From Lizzie Prestt Designs comes this fabulous England-upon-Sea tea Towel. Available from To Dry For, the tea towel combines all the great things about the seaside, the pier, ice creams, beach huts and many more. To Dry For stocks a great range of tea towels from dinosaurs to cakes there is something for everyone.

In her studio in Leicestershire Teresa Cole of Teresa Green Design creates a range of fabric designs from aprons to artwork and table linen to tea towels. All the items are designed and hand printed in her studio on fabric from the UK. I love this Leggy Bird tea towel.

Finally I found Clare Nicolson who's site is full of wonderful fabric prints including this Milky teatowel, which would look great in any kitchen.

So there is no excuse for having boring check pattern tea towels in the kitchen. Buy something that would look just as good framed and on the wall.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Children's Craft Kits for a Rainy Day

Half term is here, and although today is lovely and sunny I am always on the look out for craft activities to fill the rainy day. My girls love craft activities and the sense of achievement that they get from having made something themselves. These kits also make great birthday presents and stocking fillers. So here are my current favourites.

This lovely set of three owls comes complete with patterns, material, glue, needles, threads and instructions. Everything you need to make them. You can even turn the box into a nice little house for them. It is one of a range of kits available from Pojo and Bel.

Nanette Regan designs and makes a fabulous range of soft toys. However, she has also started making craft kits so that children, and adults, can make their own. You can choose from the Babushka Bunny, Dinosew or Kokeshi Kitten. My favourite is the blue Babushka Bunny.

It is slightly more difficult to find craft kits that appeal to boys. However, this range of puppet kits include a spaceman, robot, animals and a dinosaur. Each kit comes with everything that you need to make the puppet and it is all made from recycled cardboard, so it is eco-friendly too. The kits are available from a range of internet shops including ECOutlet and Amazon.

Emma Brown is the founder of The Giggleys  and makes a huge range of children's craft activity bags from door hangers to patchwork cushions. These can be bought in bulk and would make ideal party bag gifts or activities. I particularly like the sun and dream catcher kit.

After deciding a change of direction after her second child Gillian Harris set up Gillian Gladrag. At her fantastic online shop you can buy premade felt bags but you can also buy kits to make your own bag, bunting, bracelets, corsage and this wonderful child's felt bag.  

So buy one of these fabulous kits and there will be no more cries of 'I'm bored' on those rainy weekends and holidays, and you will have your own unique handmade achievement at the end.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Beautiful Buttons

I have noticed on my searches through the internet for gifts that buttons are an increasing feature on many items. Whether it is jewellery, bags, cushions, purses or many other items there is a trend to adorn them with beautiful buttons. I can understand this as you only have to wander into a shop like Duttons for Buttons in York to see the wonderful array of colours, patterns and materials that buttons can be made of. So I thought I would devote todays blog to all things button.

I love this Misletoe and Wine themed bracelet, ideal for wearing with any Christmas outfit. Made by Mrs Gibson and available from her Folksy shop. Mrs Gibson creates stunning unique pieces that are inspired by her vintage finds.

These button cards by A Touch of Flow on Folksy are make a lovely alternative to a standard birthday card.  Each one is handmade and decorated with slightly different buttons to make them unique.

This fab purse by Natalie Farrell is available from Boutique Gifts. Each purse is individually designed and handmade by Natalie, making them a unique gift for someone.

These button corsages by Raspberry Fairy are made from merino and silk. All handmade in Hampshire the corsages are just part of a wonderful collection of items available on Etsy.

If you would like something that was button inspired then how about this lovely button art by Dig The Earth? It would look great in any room and would make an ideal wedding gift.

There are many more button inspired gifts out there such as keyrings, necklaces, bags, so if you have any good examples then please let me know.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Feed the Birds

I was reminded at the weekend - by my Grandmother - that it is that time of year when the birds really need feeding. After all what else are Grandmothers for, if not to remind of things you would otherwise forget! Outside our front window is the ideal spot for feeding the birds, as they are then close enough for the girls to watch. However, I was not really inspired by the choice of bird feeders at the pet shop. I am sure that the birds don't care, but a bird feeder makes a great gift for a gardener or wildlife spotter, and it is nice to combine function and style.

One of my favourites is this stylish bird feeder made from semi-porcelain clay. Made by JML Pottery and avilable from Folksy it would look good in any garden, whether cottage style or modern.


Also from Folksy is this recycled bottle bird feeder, made by Mark and Helen at Green Bird Creations. You can also buy homes for beneficial insects, toad houses and bird boxes, to turn any garden into a wildlife haven.

These handblown glass bird feeders from the Eva Solo brand make a feature of any bird seed. Available from Snow Home they can be hung from a tree or stand.


If the person you are buying for is short of garden space then these recycled eco-friendly window mounted bird feeders from Hen and Hammock are ideal. They simply attach to the window using the four sucker pads and can be filled with seeds or scraps.

To hang these fantastic bird feeders from you don't have to resort to the standard metal stand, why not splash out and get one of these fab solid wood branch bird feeder stands. They look elegant and will hold a range of feeders. Available from Ecocentric, who also stock a range of bird feeders and boxes.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Teapots for the perfect cuppa

I was thinking about this months competition to win a fab Snapdragon tea cosie thanks to From The Wilde. This made me realise that the winner will need a great teapot to put underneath their fantastic tea cosie. So I have searched the web for stylish and unique teapots that will provide you with great cuppas day after day.

Imagine Pottery is based near Warminster and makes a great range of earthenware pottery items, including this lovely teapot. Each piece is handcrafted and then glazed in either blue, cream or green.

I love the clean lines and stylish design of this teapot by Helen Harrison of Kilnworks. You can purchase either a 2 or 4 cup pot and if you like the design there are other beautiful designed items of tableware to sit alongside it.

If you are looking for something more unusual then how about the Familia teapot? Designed by Ole Jensen for Normann Copenhagen and available in the UK from Bodie and Fou this teapot is sure to catch the eye and be a talking point for any afternoon tea.

The retro feel of this PomPom teapot by Hannah Turner is fantastic. It is perfect for using everyday, but without being just another teapot. Hannah also has a range of cats, owls, birds ceramics and as well as other beautiful tableware.

If you would like a teapot with a retro design then this vintage Art Deco teapot from Sable and Co would be ideal. A stylish addition to your tea table.

So treat yourself to a new teapot and enjoy your afternoon cuppa in style.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cufflinks with style

I realised the other day that my blog was becoming very female orientated, and that I haven't yet given much thought to the presents that men would like to receive. Then on Twitter someone was asking for anywhere that they could buy some unique cufflinks, so what better place to start.

Of course there are many cufflink styles and designs available, but I have tried to select those that are handmade and therefore not something you will find on the high street, to add a little extra style to those business shirts.

Funky Fused Glass have a fantastic range of cufflinks that look a little like sweets in a shop, you can even order a tie clip to match. In a wide range of colours and designs there is something to suit every taste. I particularly like the ones shown as they remind me of Dolly Mixtures.

In her Deptford studio Allison Wiffen creates these stunning ceramic cufflinks ranging from iconic London landmarks to graffiti and retro patterns. Allison also makes earrings, clocks, pendants and brooches all from the purest earthernware clay.

Working on sheet silver and copper with gold for detailing Becky Crow creates beautiful contemporary jewellery. These Two Tree cufflinks from her Copper Forest range are just lovely and would enhance any shirt.

On Folksy I found Off The Cuff who have a range of cufflinks from humorous through to the ones shown that are made from upcycled watch movements. You can also commission your own design from any photo or design that you choose, making the present truly unique.

Made from old typewriter keys these cufflinks from Sarah Rhodes Jewellery are that little bit different from the scrabble letter cufflinks that seem to be appearing everywhere. As well as punctuation marks you can also get letters to form initials.

So instead of just opting for a pair of high street cufflinks search out something different.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Delicious Chocolate for Chocolate Week

So I started the week with wool, but I thought I would wait until Friday to do my Chocolate Week related blog. After all who doesn't need some chocolate by Friday afternoon. There are events all over the country to celebrate chocolate week, including chocolate spa treatments at the Elms Hotel in Worcestershire and a chocoholics afternoon tea at Brown's Hotel in London.

If someone you know loves chocolate why not treat them to their own chocolate making kit? Put together by Trish Deseine and available from Chocolate by Trish, the kit contains all you need to get started with creating your own delicious chocolates.

Alternatively, if you don't think that making their own chocolates would appeal why not treat them to a chocolate tasting evening. Run by Artisan du Chocolate the tutored tasting session lasts for two hours, where you are able to taste a wide range of products from brownies to chocolate cocktails.

I love this chocolate stilletto shoe by the Monk Bar Chocolatiers. The shoes come in a variety of designs, you can even buy a gift hamper that contains a pair of small and a pair of large stillettos. What a great gift for shoe and chocolate lover.

At Lick The Spoon they take chocolate to a whole new level and create many delicious sounding treats. I would love to try this Strawberries and Cream chocolate slab. Lick The Spoon also make wedding favours, bespoke chocolate gifts, cakes and easter eggs. Just looking at their website makes me hungry.

At the Chocolate Cafe in Manchester you could treat someone to a chocolate pizza, with a choice of toppings or a fantastic chocolate hamper. The hampers are made up to suit the gift recipients tastes and so different everytime.

So don't wait until Christmas and Easter, chocolate is a great gift at anytime of the year.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Eco-friendly shopping bags

How many times have you left the house to go shopping only to realise that you have left behind your bags for life? If you are anything like me you will have probably lost count. So I decided that the way to make me remember my eco-friendly shopping bags was to find ones that I wouldn't want to leave behind. Buying these bags as gifts is not only good for the planet, but they will be appreciated for their stunning designs.

This birdsong bag from Lush Designs is exactly the sort of bag I was searching for. Made of strong canvas it will hold all that shopping as well as standing out from the crowd with its fantastic design. Lush Designs are based in their studio in Deptford and create a range of fabulous designs on lampshades, aprons, cushions and many other household items.

The Vintage Fabric Market is a family owned business near Cambridge and they source vintage finds and sell them on or use the fabric to create beautiful new items such as this beige and burgandy shopping bag.

I have featured Kate Garey before in my blog on Cosmetic bags. However, I couldn't resist another mention for this fun Gingerbread Men bag.

Big Stitch are a new company set up by two mums in Weybridge. They embroider jute bags from your own design or your child's design to create your own unique shopping bag. The bags are available in two sizes are ideal for carrying bulky items - like new shoes.

If you want something more portable then these folding shoppers that I found on Folksy are perfect. Made by Love From Beth, they are ideal for keeping in your handbag until you need them, and would make an ideal gift.

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