Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Gift of Giving

I love to give gifts. 

Come Christmas, or birthdays, or any occasion I can, I want to give a gift that is thoughtful, where the recipient really knows that they're loved and that I thought about what they personally would like. We've all received disaster gifts I'm sure, but I never want anyone to look back and think about my gifts 'Really?! Did she really think that I would like that?!

And, as a side note, I hate when people graciously accept a gift and then pop it into their bag and say 'Thanks so much, I'll open it later with my other gifts!' No! I spent hours picking out that gift! At least give me the pleasure of watching your reaction when you open it!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to celebrate with one of my most beautiful friends her 30th birthday. I had previously asked her what she would like for her birthday, to which her reply was 'a hug from you, you are enough'. Right... which begs the question, what do you get a girl who wants for nothing?

Well, I went shopping for the perfect gift. In a way, I prefer this type of shopping, where you have free reign. The person doesn't need anything at all, which means you can be frivolous and get them something that is merely beautiful for beautiful's sake.

Here's what I got my beautiful friend...

Box and ribbon from here

Can you tell I'm all about beautiful gift wrapping as well?

I got my beautiful friend this card:
Card also from here
I don't know if you can tell, but her favourite colour is aqua. I didn't officially know this until she opened her gift and told me, but I guess sometimes you just know what people's colours are!

Also, on a side note, I adore papercut designs. Rob Ryan is my current hero. Anyone know how I can learn this incredible art?

And inside the box was...
Portmeirion Dawn Chorus Teacup & Saucer from here
I wanted to get my friend something that represented everything that she is - beautiful, feminine, ladylike and elegant.

And you know what? She loved it!

What do you do to make your friends feel loved and valued? What about guys? What do you buy for them?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A State of Craft

Crafting has, for a long time, been something that we do. Maybe a side-line hobby or a past time for a lazy Sunday afternoon. It's often associated with the slightly more mature of us, and people think that it's not something us young'uns would ever want to be involved in. But in recent years, possibly over the past decade or so, creative types have emerged from their closets and craft is cool once again - but you knew that didn't you?!

Finally though, someone has captured the notion of crafting, not being something we just do, but something we are and so we welcome the book launch of State of Craft (edited by Victoria Woodcock). Creative types are constantly in a state of creativity - or craft - and this book celebrates that fact.

State of Craft gives us a snapshot of creative types everywhere. It's not a project book - though it has projects - it's not a biography collection - though it has biographies. It's not an instruction manual, but it does contain instructions. No, State of Craft is mix of all three, celebrating artisans and craftsman of all different crafts, showing us how we can pick up a few skills, and telling us their inspiring stories so that we too can dream that one day our quirky little creations might capture the imaginations of the public and maybe we'll be able to give up our day jobs to become full-time crafters (well, we can dream can't we!).

The book doesn't focus on one particular craft, but gives attention to many different skills, from knitting to screen-printing, to crochet and jewellery making. So if you're a bit of a jack of all trades (and a master of none? Ahem!) then you'll enjoy State of Craft. Some of the crafts are a bit alternative or indie but they strike a balance with the more every day and pretty so there really is something for everyone, whatever your craft and style.

And the crafter profiles are both entertaining and inspiring, making a great read in between the fun projects!

Best Bits:

  • The knitting and crochet illustrations are amongst the easiest to understand that I've ever come across
  • I'm determined to make some of Helen Rawlinson's Mini Storage Buckets and love Sam Wingate's screenprinted designs. Also worth a mention is Jess Fawcett's super-cute clutch bags, Catherine Miller's Dotty Doily Garland and Raye McKown's Button Rings.
  • It draws attention to so many fabulous London crafters as we do have such a great crafty scene here in The big Smoke! 
State of Craft (edited by Victoria Woodcock and published by Cicada) can be purchased here.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Slouchy Knitted Hat - A Proud Achievement

I'm a slow knitter - well, I'm not slow at knitting, if it's a simple pattern then I can whizz right through it! But what I mean is that I will go through a phase of knitting like a mad woman and then put the project down for a few days and come back to it a year later. I have a basket next to my sofa full of WIPs which are all in various stages of un-finishedness. 

So it may surprise you that my Made By You Monday post is, first of all a knitted item (gasp!), and secondly a knitted item that took me two years to make - despite the simplicity of the pattern!

Awkward self-posing picture alert!

Basically, my friend gave me the yarn and we didn't know what kind of yarn it was. I knitted and purled like a crazy lady... until I got to the shaping at the end. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to make it a bit longer and slouchier than the pattern dictated, and if I did - did I have enough of my mystery yarn?!

And so the project laid dormant for about 23 months (I kid you not!). Until at the end of last year I decided to take the plunge and finish it as the pattern stated. Better to have a hat that's slightly less slouchy than you'd like than a piece of knitting clogging up your only circular needles right? So in November I finally finished it. And then this week.... I finally sewed the ends in! (Told you I was slow!).

The pattern is free and can be found here and unfortunately I can't tell you the yarn, as lovely as it is!

PS - you know I said I had many, many WIPs? That's true. What I didn't tell you was that this hat is my first ever FO! (oops!). Don't tell my husband - he'll stop me from buying all my lovely yarn!

Today I'm linking up with the following:

Todays Creative Blog

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Thoughts for 2012

I don't know if you've noticed, but for some reason, more than any other year, it seems there's an intense optimism the world over about the year 2012. You know, apart from those people who think the world is going to end - I guess that's as pessimistic as you can get in 2012 - but for the rest of us, everyone's loving 2012.

Maybe it's got something to do with the intense summer that we're about to have here in London.

The Queen is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee...

...The Olympics are about to take place and everyone is gearing up for that...

... Euro 2012 is happening - and you know how optimistic us English people get about our football!

The joy! (yep, Euro'96 was the last time there was any) {via}

... and the pain (of which there is lots!) via

... and well, 2012 is a cool number, don't you think?

But it does seem that everyone I speak to is expectant of great things this year, and so am I. I've written them down, I've started strategising. I spent the afternoon in a coffee shop dreaming with Mr D. about what the year might hold for us personally, for us as a family and for us in our careers.

So, if that's what you've also been doing; if you're hoping that 2012 will be the year that your dreams will come true as well - even if you don't quite know what they are, maybe you feel like you're on the verge of something incredible, something great; that just over the hill is something beyond your wildest imaginations... if that's you, let me encourage you with something I learnt today:

"You {God} crown the year with goodness, and your paths drip with abundance" ~ Psalm 65:11 {NKJV}

The New Living Translation says "You crown the year with a bountiful harvest" - which means that whatever seed you have been sowing in years gone by, this year is crowned with the harvest of that seed. Isn't that brilliant that you can trust God with the year ahead because you know that he's already crowned it, framed it, with his goodness?

And whenever I think about making plans, dreaming or strategising about the future Ephesians 3:20 always springs to mind:

"Now to Him Who, by the power that is at work within us, is able to carry out His purpose and do super-abundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think - infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams!" ~ Ephesians 3:20 {AMP}

Wow! So, if you ask God for your wildest dreams (assuming your wildest dreams line up with His purposes!) then He will do super-abundantly over and above that? That makes me want to ask for the outrageous! Why limit Him? As my Pastor would say: Ask for the moon!!

What are you dreaming about this year? Or if you're a Christian, what are you believing God for this year? Don't limit Him!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My Perfect Bathroom

Our bathroom is currently my favourite room in the house.

Don't get me wrong, I love our new flat and every room has its merits. And I'm sure in time, I will love every room just as much. But the bathroom is perfect already. Not only does is have underfloor heating, a non-steam mirror and stacks of built in storage, but it's the type of bathroom that you can give an instant lift just by changing up the accessories. (And our old bathroom was disgustingly horrible - nightmare landlord!)

So that's what we did!

Mr D. actually chose this scheme which is really nice because I'm always conscious of going too girly. But I love lime in the bathroom. And it cost next to nothing, just a little trip to H&M and a browse around their great homewares and this was the result.

I just want to pick up some nice new candles and accessories to complete the look. Something like this (All from Heals):

I'm putting together a Lime / Bathroom board on Pinterest. Check it out here!

What colour is your dream bathroom? How do you give yours quick revamp? Any tips?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Word of the year

So, I'm finally recovered from the last two months and it has been manic! We've moved house, I started my new job and then there was Christmas and New Year and a few weeks where I didn't quite know where my head was at! But I've started to settle into a rhythm of life now and so here is my first post of 2012 (if a little late!).

Layla is having a link party about our Words of the Year for 2012 and I thought what better way to kick off my blog! It's not so much a list of resolutions, but more of an ethos, or a concept that will frame everything you do in 2012. So, my word of the year is:

2011 was a bit of a rollercoaster and for the most part we just got swept along with it. We didn't feel like we had a lot of control or purpose and were just getting through each day. So 2012 promises to be a better year! And so my word is Intentional. Everything I do will be framed by intention and purpose - who knows what can be achieved!

I will be intentional...
... in my FINANCES. Not frivolous. I won't buy things that I know will undermine our long term goals.
... in my RELATIONSHIPS. I will make those calls, write those letters, not because I should or have to, but because I want to. I want to build meaningful relationships with the people I care about.
... in my MARRIAGE. I will invest time, energy and money in building a strong marriage. Date nights and mini breaks are not to be underestimated!
... in my WORK. I've started my new job well. I want to make sure I build it into something that I enjoy. I don't want to get bored or bogged down with it.
... in my HOBBIES. Whether it be crafting, writing or blogging. I want to invest time in these things and turn them into skills and achievements that I can be proud of.
... in my CAREER. Whether it be my Etsy shop to gain some pocket money or the beginnings of a proper freelance career, I want to gain skills and influence that will ultimately help me towards a stay-at-home career.

But ultimately, I want to be intentional in my SPIRITUAL LIFE. In my walk with God. I'm inspired by the verse:
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need." ~ Matthew 6:33 (NLT)
I've started the year off with a fast (I'm loosely basing mine around this book). Not fasting everyhting, but just sacrificing those every day luxuries that I rely so heavily on (we're talking Starbucks and Diet Coke!). Not only is this forcing me to develop discipline in my life, but it's also making me focus on God a lot more and this past week has been brilliant. I haven't been worrying about the things that would normally freak me out, but I'm remembering to first take them to God and leave them with him. He can handle them!

I'm linking up to Layla's Link Party. Check out what other people's words are here!

The Lettered Cottage