Christmas Crafting

Having a bit more time on my hands this year, I managed to get round to some Christmassy crafting for myself! Not nearly as much as I’d hoped still….hopefully I’ll be more organised still next year! I thought I’d share some of my projects though, now that all the gifts have been given and no surprises will be spoiled!…..

Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea Hand stitched personalised Christmas tree ornament gift idea

First of all, I got my stitch on to make some little embroidered Christmas tree ornaments. It being the year Adam and I got married, I made a little tartan-backed heart which I embroidered with ‘Mr and Mrs McDowall’s First Christmas’….and finding myself rather pleased with it I made another for our friends Claire and Matthew who also got married this year (Claire is Christmas mad like me too!), as well as one for our new niece!

Hand painted salt and pepper shakers with Capybaras

We had some prints made up from the wedding, and the usual doggy calendars for our Mums featuring our own hounds as gifts too. I got a bit more hands on though making some hand painted salt and pepper pots for my Father in Law….annoyingly I forgot to photograph them, but they work on the same principal as the Capybara ones I sell on my Etsy shop, but featuring a gold finch and a green finch as they’re his favourites!

Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars Quick and easy home baked Christmas dog treats; cheese, parsnip and swede stars

The dogs are never left out in this house, and so I baked some yummy (yes, I tried them myself!) cheese, parsnip and swede star biccies for the six McDowall dogs who live in the UK (I will make it up to Bree in the US I hope one day!). They were super easy to make, so I’ll be making more again soon I’m sure.

Home made Advent calendar idea; a riddle and treasure hunt for each day

I have made some sort of alternative Advent calendar for Adam for a few years now, and this year has been his favourite by far! I wrote out a riddle for each day, giving a clue as to where he could find that day’s treat! He loved working them all out, and searching the house for chocolates and little gifts…his first day’s treat was a pair of tweezers as he’s always pinching mine!

Home made Christmas cards with pet portraits

I also tend to make our Christmas cards too, and this year I painted portraits of our beloved hounds which I turned into cards….I scanned in the paintings, then we had them printed before I attached each to a pretty pastel card with silver photo corners. I was really rather pleased with them actually….not least because I managed to get them out in time for them to be delivered at the start of December this year!

Very easy, home made Christmas crackers in candy stripe

I took to making our own crackers a few years ago, and like to put new and fun things inside each year, as well as changing the way they look. I have been crazy about candy stripes this year, so used that to wrap them (as well as our gifts), then wrote out little jokes to go inside as well as funny stick-on moustaches for everyone to wear in place of hats!

Candy stripe Christmas nail art

Festoon lights Christmas nail art Snowflake Christmas nail art Christmas pudding nail art

I’ve also had more chance to decorate my nails in a festive fashion this year too….not least because they’ve not been covered in glue all the time! I painted tiny festoon lights, little Christmas puddings, pretty snowflakes and of course some candy stripes too….now for a New Year’s Eve design!

Christmas tree at home

I didn’t get round to making a wreath this year as I often do, in part because there wasn’t really anywhere suitable to hang one. I’m rather pleased with our tree though, and the other bits and bobs we’ve decorated with….but mostly I’m looking forward to being in our ‘forever home’ next Christmas so that I can really go to town!

Ems x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wrapping up 2013

*Shuffles in, embarrassed*

So er, hello little Blog. I didn’t forget you, honest. It’s just been, you know, a busy three months!

As far as neglecting my blog goes, I reckon this has been the longest stint ever! True, it’s been a crazy old end to the year. And in honesty, every time I’ve squeezed in a moment to post, I’ve just not, well, ‘felt’ it. I must have written at least a dozen posts in my head since my last offering back in September, and as ever there are loads of things I want to fill you in about. I’ll have to write up a list of posts I really must post, but I thought that by way of dipping my toe back in the water, I’d do a little round up of the year, as is the done thing…..

2013 started pretty darn well, truth be told. My darling Adam proposed to me in mid January (a great time really, as I always get the post-Christmas blues and this perked me up no end!). Shortly afterwards we went ring shopping (SO much fun!) and chose my amazing vintage diamond engagement ring…..then it was a case of letting everyone know and getting started on the planning!

We weren’t the only ones to get engaged this year, and in fact it’s been a whirlwind of proposals in our friendship groups! Huge congratulations to (in no particular order!) Dave and Charlotte, Ben and Cheryl, Si and Carol, Andy and Sharon,  Michelle of MYCreative, Nova and David, and Claire and Matthew….who I’m exceedingly excited to be Bridesmaid for next August!

Not long after all that, we ventured into the world of dog fostering, welcoming a certain little fawn lurcher to our home. After only three days, we’d found a home for the Incredibly Good Looking Cooper, and I bawled for a week after he went and took my heart with him! It turned out to be true love though after all, as he came back to us just five weeks later and chose us as his forever family!

(Thanks to my lovely future Sister in Law for the photo, and the one below of Digby too!)

Soon we realised that rescuing dogs is in fact rather addictive, and we began to look for a friend for Coops. It took us a while, but after a few false starts, we found our wonderful little Digby! We had to wait a while to welcome him to the family, as he had kennel cough (like Cooper, he’s from Ireland and caught it whilst in the pound over there) and we had to get Coops vaccinated so he wouldn’t get poorly too. Eventually though, Digby too came to his forever home and there we were….a proper little family!

I am just LOVING being a dog owner / Mummy to our two boys! It certainly is hard work, and a real commitment, but they make it so worth my while with all their entertaining and love. They both have very unique personalities (not to mention unique appearances!) and make us laugh out loud daily with their antics. Training is an ongoing process (I don’t know how anyone can be a dog owner and work full time!), but they are getting so settled now which is very rewarding. And I am certainly benefitting from all the extra exercise which is a bonus too!

I love my boys sooooooo much!!!! Big thank yous to GRWE (Cooper) and Heathlands (Digby) for saving our boys and all your hard work!

2013 was pretty good work wise too. I got to work regularly at a brilliant local charity, producing events for them, starting a blog, designing a new website and actually spending a LOT of time designing posters! I’ve continued selling my jewels at the awesome Jolly Brown, my nearest and dearest vintage shop, and hosted a stall at the Hitchin Christmas Lights Switch On which was super fun.

Perhaps most notably I set up my Not on the High Street shop in September, which was the main culprit for my lack of blogging! It was nicely busy from the off actually, and took off much better than my Etsy shop (although I’m still enjoying selling vintage treasures and my artwork on there too), but come Christmas shopping time it just got to be bonkers! Whilst I have a few stock items in there (although these are one offs too) most of my orders were for my custom made map jewellery which I have to make from scratch! Needless to say, with an order an hour coming in at some points, I was quickly swamped with work and had to close the shop for whole weeks at a time to catch up with the demand. Still, it was a privilege to make so many special treasures for people and a big thank you to all of you who ordered from me this year!

We had a lovely little getaway to St Ives in June, our first as a family with Cooper and Digby! It was great to get away for a week, especially as Adam didn’t take off an awful lot of holiday this year. I loved watching the dogs enjoy the beach, and had amazing adventures at The Lost Gardens of Heligan and The Eden Project. We got to meet up with dear friends Charlotte and Dave to boot, who helped up discover a fabulous Free Range farm with farm shop and restaurant, and I think I had chips on every day but one!

Our other little trip was back to Vienna, this time for a wedding! Katie and Peter actually got married halfway between Vienna and Graz, in a truly stunning Schloss (Austrian for CASTLE!!!) and I was honoured to have been invited to what was one of the most sophisticated occasions I’ve been to!

I was also lucky enough to be at Dan and Brigitte’s wedding….which they thoughtfully held on my birthday! This was brilliant because I got to open all my gifts a day early and it was like having a big party thrown for me with loads of my favourite people there but not having to do anything myself! That said, I was very pleased to help Dan and Brigitte out with their day….I ‘helped’ out by going along to their wedding tasting (such a chore) and setting up the reception venue for them with all kinds of pretty things. Their ceremony at Trinity House was just lovely, especially with the Tower of London (!!!) as a backdrop! Dan made me weep during his speech….I’ve known him near enough ten years now and I’m so delighted he’s found such a perfect match. Love you guys!

The wedding fun didn’t end there though, as we took a trip up to Scarborough to see Clare and Matt get married too. This was pretty much an extra holiday for us, as they’d actually planned an entire ‘Wild West Wedding Weekend’ at an amazing themed holiday park! I got to sleep in a tipi. A TIPI!!!! Needless to say I found this all incredibly exciting, and it was probably the most unique wedding I’ve ever experienced (which is saying something knowing I must have been to near on two hundred!). Everything was so wonderfully personal, including their touching Humanist ceremony, and we all had great fun on the bouncy castle and sitting around in the sun.

Our own wedding planning has gone fairly well I think. Obviously I’m at an advantage because I’ve planned weddings professionally for several years, but it’ll be all go from the new year on! We sent out our home made Save The Dates at the end of May….we based them on the phrase ‘Pencil Us In’ and I hand drew the design, and we attached pencils to each one that we’d had engraved with our names and the date of the wedding. We’ve booked our ceremony at the gorgeous Greenwich Town Hall, and a wonderful wedding photographer to snap some happy memories. We have our reception booked in two weeks after at our neighbouring British Schools Museum…we have some fun plans for that and have very much enjoyed tastings with our caterer and wine supplier already!

We also had an engagement photo shoot with Sharon, and a wonderful engagement party at our place. It was so great to have the excuse to get so many friends together and raise a glass to celebrate!

2013 has also seen an awful lot of hobbying. I’ve learned new skills and cultivated old ones, and despite enjoying the rather slower pace of things since we moved away from London, it’s been nice to stay relatively busy. I gave Adam a beginners archery course for his birthday, and went along with him in September to learn how to shoot with the brilliant Green Dragon Bowmen at the stunning Knebworth House. I’ve tried archery a couple of times before but I just loved learning about it in more depth over four weekend sessions.

I joined the local Time Bank, which has given me a great opportunity to become part of our new community and meet new people. I’ve done a really wide range of skills exchanges….running errands….sewing alterations….re-upholstering a foot stool….giving a make up lesson…painting a mural….all sorts! I’ve used some of my banked hours on some dog sitting, but mostly I’m saving them to use nearer the wedding! I also helped out at two Time Bank craft events, making lots of fun stuff with dozens of local children. Oh, and there was the small matter of Yarn Bombing a local outdoor scultpure!

I’ve taken up cross stitch again, which I’ve not really done since I was little, and have made several pretty samplers for my studio, as well as one for friends Jo and Elliot (after the birth of their lovely baby boy Teddy!). I got a needle felting kit for my birthday which I’ve not really explored yet, so I’ll be playing around more with that in the new year. Oh and I also got a Bamboo for my birthday, and now I have Photoshop (thank you, Amazon sale!) I will be making good use of that! We did lots of antiquing and market shopping this year too…finding new treasures to fill up our home and getting things stashed away for the wedding to make it all pretty.

It was a truly amazing year for foraging, with a bumper soft fruit crop following the wet spring and hot summer. We both loved taking long walks with the hounds and picking kilo upon kilo of yummy stuff, as well as finding lots in our own garden! We’ve made loads of scrummy things with what we picked, including (but probably not limited to, as I’ve most likely forgotten something!)….sloe gin, sloe port, sloe brandy, sloe vodka and sloe chocolate….damson jam and greengage jam….apple pies and crumbles….blackberry and apple muffins….sandwich pickle….elderberry liqueur….and crab apple jelly. We also made cinnamon and frankincense vodkas as little Christmas gifts for friends.

I’ve also turned my hand to quite a bit of gardening, and with the help of Adam and his Mum we’ve really made a difference to our garden already. We have grand plans for next year with fruits and veggies to grow, but right now I’m just so pleased with the transformation of all the flower beds!

I got to see some great shows this year….again including but not limited to: Derren Brown (Infamous) in the West End, Mark Knopfler at the Royal Albert Hall, Final Symphony at the Barbican (music from Final Fantasy), Singing in the Rain at the Royal Albert Hall (the remastered film was shown on a huge screen accompanied by a live orhestra!), Danny Elfman’s music from Tim Burton films at the Royal Albert Hall (with incredible performances from Danny Elfman himself!), The English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Coliseum, The National Theatre’s Frankenstein and The RSC’s Richard II both at our lovely local cinema, a special screening of Hot Fuzz with a pre-film Q&A with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (again at our local cinema which was used in the filming of World’s End…I got to answer a question too!).  Oh, and a bunch of us dressed up to go and see The Great Gatsby at Wilton’s Music Hall too, and we even got dragged up on stage to learn the Charleston!

All in all, it’s been a pretty amazing year. We’ve had our highs and lows, as you do, but I feel very blessed indeed.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings us….it promises to be better yet!

Hope you all have a fabulous New Years Eve, whatever you’re up to, and I’ll see you next year!

Ems x

Vintage stamp jewellery

I’ve been making little bits and pieces of jewellery from stamps for ages now, and have sold some at craft fairs and pop-up shops, but I’ve never really gotten around to listing them to sell online. I had a whole load of really lovely stamps that were just begging to be used though, so I recently made up a big batch to sell!

They are something of a labour of love these brooches and pendants….they take over a week to make, as I have to remove the stamps safely from any backing, paste them onto veneer, strengthen the veneer, trim and file down the edges, apply *seven* coats of varnish to them, and finally add the brooch pin or necklace. I do love making them though and turning something old into something new is great fun, especially because these stamps are the sort of thing that just won’t get enjoyed otherwise….and they are too pretty not to enjoy!

I have lots all ready to go, but for now here is a little selection of my favourites….I’ll let you know when they are all online and ready for sale! What do you think of them?

Ems x

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Yarn Bomb!

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When I was planning our move out of London to Hitchin, one of the things I looked forward to the most was the better sense of community. So when a friend told me about the local Time Bank scheme, I joined up before we’d even packed!

The Time Bank is a community skills exchange which operates across North Herts and recently launched in Stevenage and Buntingford too. The scheme enables members to give time to help local people, then ‘bank’ the hours they’ve given so you can exchange them for support when you might need help or want to learn a new skill. So for example, I might do an hour’s sewing for another member, then I get to bank that hour to use later, say when I need some DIY done around the house. I love the concept, as it so effectively brings the community together, helping you meet new people and share your skills. There are all kinds of people involved from all walks of life and at all ages….there are people who offer help with form-filling, crafts, gardening, IT skills, shopping and all sorts.

The Time Bank also has two very popular knitting groups, who meet every week to work on projects, share tips and just have a good chat. So, when Time Banker Carmen got in touch with an idea to get everyone involved in a big project to help promote awareness of the group, I was super excited!

Carmen’s idea was to stage a yarn bombing somewhere in Letchworth, to show how the Time Bank brings people together and benefits the local area. ‘Guerrilla knitting’ or ‘yarn bombing’ is a form of street art, whereby colourful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn are used to cover and transform trees, community sculptures and street furniture.

After speaking to the council and Heritage Foundation, we managed to get permission to cover the ‘Paradise Is’ sculpture in knitting and crochet. Carmen then rallied around, as well as lots of other Time Bankers and local knitters, together giving a whopping 300 hours to get the knitted and crocheted panels and details ready for the big day.

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We were so delighted with how many people wanted to take part, with people learning to knit for the first time and also members giving up their time and sharing their other crafty skills to help sew it all together. On the morning of the ‘bombing’ hours were spent carefully attaching the panels and other decorations to the sculpture  to ensure it wasn’t damaged and that it was all secure. I couldn’t believe how intricately designed it all was, with beautiful little details to represent all the elements of Time Banking and volunteering, such as the gardening project, photography and baking.

Here are a few of my favourite bits….

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The Time Bank scheme, run by North Herts CVS, has been growing and growing, and the popular knitting group made up of fellow members takes place every Friday morning at the Community Coffee Bar held at the Brotherhood Hall on Gernon Road. The group is always looking to find new members to help take on new projects, and have recently raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind by selling knitted clothing and gifts they have made. If you are interested in joining or learning how to knit just come along to the Brotherhood Hall on a Friday morning between 10:00am and 11.30am and join in the fun. It’s free to join in, and members of all ages are welcome.

The yarn bomb will remain in place until the end of the month, opposite the Broadway Cinema (which is currently showing Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright’s ‘The World’s End’ which was filmed in Letchworth and features the cinema as one of the pubs!)  and once removed the knitted panels will be re-sewn into blankets to be donated to local charities. The art form is unique in this way, as no public property is damaged and nothing is wasted.

The Time Bank is free and easy to join:  visit www.mytimebank.org.uk, call 01462 689405 or email timebank@nhcvs.org.uk to join.

You can also find out more about the Time Bank on the NHCVS Blog, which I also write for!

Ems x

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Blog Every Day in May: Life’s A Lesson

“What is the single most important lesson you have ever had?”

This is not so much a lesson, as a sort of a massive learning experience! After wracking my brains trying to think of some kind of a lesson that I can both remember and think fondly of, this seemed like the most appropriate thing to share!

We (my younger brother and I) were very lucky as children as Mum worked part time so that she could pick us up from school each day. In the summer holidays though, apart from when we were actually on holiday, we’d be dropped off at my Nanna Doris’ house to spend the day there. We loved spending the summer holidays with her, especially as she’d take us on her errands around town, and because there was lots to explore where she lived!

When the weather was fine we’d be outside on adventures….making rancid perfume from berries and plants we’d found, or playing games with other local kids. But when the weather meant we had to stay indoors, it was time for the big cupboard of stuff to be opened!

Basically, Nanna D would keep a cupboard stocked up with all sorts of fun stuff for us to make things with….she’d collect empty cotton reels, bits of cardboard, left over bits of yarn and tin cans etc. so that we could make whatever we wanted. Firstly it meant that we didn’t have to cart a whole load of toys there with us every day, but it also meant that we could never get bored, as we’d spend time making something, get fed up of it, then make something else!

I remember wanting a skateboard as I’d seen some other kids with one, so I made one myself from cardboard, garden canes and cotton reels! Given, it wasn’t sturdy enough for me to stand on, but it was perfect for my doll Sarah to be strapped onto and send gliding down the nearest hill! I also remember well building our own little post office…a cardboard kiosk with signage (obvs) and all that goes in a Post Office! We made our own stamps, envelopes, paying in books and all sorts…Nanna D even played along as a very obliging customer!

Apart from teaching us to entertain ourselves, and that we didn’t need lots of expensive toys to keep us happy, this was all a great lesson in being resourceful. As a result, I’m a natural hoarder, but can turn my hand to most things, and can work out how to fix a problem in a jiffy.  I pride myself on being exceptionally resourceful, and I am sure I owe it to that wonderful summer holiday cupboard of stuff at Nanna D’s!

I wish I could share a photo of some of my creations, but alas digital photography wasn’t even heard of then! Still, I have wonderful memories of those times and the things I made.

Ems x

New on my Etsy shop….. Mother’s Day Cards

It was cutting it a bit fine, but I’ve just finished my designs for my Mother’s Day cards, and they’re now available to buy on my Etsy shop!

I have drawn and painted in watercolour a cute tattoo-inspired ‘Mum’ design, as well as a sweet bird and banner ‘Marvelous Mother’ design. I’ll be painting one saying ‘Mom’ instead of ‘Mum’ ready for US Mother’s Day in May too.

Each card is printed in high resolution on high quality, thick 350gsm art card from FSC credited paper stock. There is a light satin coating on the outside, whilst the inside is left un-coated, making it easier for you to write your own message. Each card measures 4.13″ x 5.82″ / 105mm x 148mm (A6) and includes a good quality matte white envelope.

I’m also selling A4 sized prints which will make lovely gifts for your marvelous Mums too!

Ems x

Mum or Mom, Mother’s Day Card, print from original water colour, £3

Marvelous Mother, Mother’s Day Card, print from original water colour, £3

Living for the weekend…. alternative Christmas shopping ideas

It’s getting rather close now! The tree is up, the mince meat has had its last feeding of brandy, and I am starting to panic about not being organised enough! It’s not like me at all to still have Christmas shopping to do so late…I always get so excited so early on that everything is bought by September! But because this year I’ve been so busy making Christmassy things to sell on my stall and in my Etsy and Folksy shops, I’m rather behind with the gifts I want to give!

Still, there’s plenty of opportunity to cram all those last minute things into a weekend….especially when you can buy all you need under one roof at a local craft market! I love the idea of buying special, hand-made, one-off gifts, and as a designer-maker myself I think it’s so important to support local businesses. So I thought I’d collate some ideas of where to go this weekend to stock up on those last few treasures…..

Hitchin Christmas Gala

Well I would say that, because I’m going to be there! Right in the historic market square, and along the pretty High Street will be lots of stalls selling local produce and hand-made treasures. There will also be music, carol singers and other entertainment to make your shopping experience all the more jolly! It starts at 9am this Sunday the 9th and runs until 5pm. Oh, and there is lots of free parking on Sundays!

Selby Abbey Christmas Festival

Accompanied by a concert by the Barlby Foot-Tappers, this festive fair will host a range of craft stalls inside the beautiful Abbey. Open from 9:30 to 3:30 it’s a stunning venue to find your last few Christmas gifts.

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The Crafty Fox

If I were still living in London I would most definitely be in attendance at this one. This two day market at the Dogstar in Brixton is just rammed with creativity, and as well as the opportunity to buy unique gifts you can also take part in workshops to make your own! There are also DJs and refreshments, and it’s free to get in!

Magpies & I Vintage and Handmade Christmas Market

I bally love a Spiegeltent. There are few things more stylishly glitzy in my opinion. And this market in Bristol is going to take place *inside* one! From 11am this Saturday you will find wonderful gift ideas from local crafters, illustrators, knitters, and vintage traders. And in addition to over 50 stalls, there will be a Spiegel Grotto, Christmas-themed craft workshops, a vintage hair salon, full bar and cafe, and live music acts!

Wood Green Animal Shelter Christmas Crafts, Cambridgeshire

This indoor market is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th December, and hosts a wide range of arts, craft and gift stalls featuring accessories, handicrafts, hand made cards, photography, candles, aromatherapy products, ceramics and wood turning. It’s £2.50 to get in, and can be found at the shelter’s Godmanchester Centre.

Kingly Court Craft Jam

This is a mini Christmas craft fair and market showcasing independent designer-makers, illustrators and artists at the lovely Kingly Court, just off Carnaby Street. Things British are hosting a range of stalls, featuring quirky products and festive foods.

 

Happy shopping!

Ems x

 

Something from the weekend…. with a much enjoyed extra hour!

Well that was a lush weekend. Well, Sunday at least! Sometimes a great Sunday can make up for a so-so Friday Saturday though….

Our weekend began with a trip to the cinema on Friday afternoon…..Adam got off work earlier especially as I just couldn’t wait any longer to go and see Skyfall. For those who don’t know, I’m a MASSIVE James Bond fan. I got into the films as a teenager, and spent entire school holidays watching them all back to back, and then a couple of years ago I got all the books for Christmas and became hooked on them. So it’s fair to say I was fit to burst with excitement to see the much-awaited new film, and owing to my enjoyment of the last two, my expectations were pretty high (not to mention the fact that all the reviews were saying how they’d pulled out all the stops!).

But alas. I probably couldn’t have been more disappointed. Whilst I enjoyed the pure entertainment value of the film, and even liked its nostalgia and naffness, the more I think about it, the more I feel let down. I know there was backlash from the amazing Casino Royale, because the die hard fans all missed the innuendo and tacky gadgets. But I really felt that the new films were going somewhere, and building up to something….and in fact were far more like the books than the other films. But it’s like they forgot all the progress of the last two, and merely went back to the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan cringe-worthy naffness. The whole thing looked so cheap, with locations we’ve seen too much of lately, as well as bits of London disguised as Shanghai etc. And without wishing to spoil anything, I think they’ve lost the two best things that ever happened to the franchise….one I can’t say without saying too much, but the other being David Arnold as composer. His scores have been so intelligent and filled with clever nods for us super-geeks, and although I usually love anything Thomas Newman does, his score was brash and immature and utterly cringey. I just don’t think that Sam Mendes was the right choice to direct a Bond film (despite my loving his other stuff), and the loss of some of the other regular team too have really left a dent. Anyway, I won’t go on about it….I’m sure it’s rather dull for anyone who is less into the films than me anyway, and I’ll just get myself more riled up!

The rest of the evening was rather more successful, as I cooked up a massive Broccoloni Cheese in our new huge Le Creuset dish. Adam’s Mum came over to help us eat it (with the dogs too, who polished it off!). Then it was an early night ahead of a very early start on Saturday….. I was hosting another stall at the Hitchin Riverside Craft and Farmers Market, and had to be up and out by half past seven! It was SOOOO cold, and despite the incredible amount of layers I put on, I was still freezing and losing feeling in my fingers whilst setting up! Still, it was lovely to have such a great stall right next to the river and overlooking the church…..and with some rather loud ducks and geese for company too!

It was lovely to see some of the stalls I’d encountered at my last stall there, as well as some familiar faces, and ever so nice to meet some new people (and chat to them to make the time go faster!). My neighbors to the left were the lovely Christine and Bridget, who make beautiful hand knitted and sewn gifts and homewares…. whilst to the right was the wonderful Jo from Breakheart Hill Farm, with a wonderful selection of their produce. We chatted to Jo for hours about the farm and their dogs, and were delighted to find we could order some of their gammon joints too! That’s Christmas sorted! We also indulged in some huge back bacon from a local farmer who rears his pigs in the woods, as well as some delicious cupcakes from the award winning Crumbly Wumbly.

Rather annoyingly, it kept dry and fine all day just until we started to pack up! There was a fierce down pour that caught me off guard and unfortunately got to some of my paintings too. I managed to salvage most of it, and just need to do a couple of repairs to my Pet Pawtraits (more on that later!), but it was still rather miserable walking home with all my stock in the wet (despite it only being two minutes away!). Thankfully, Adam’s Mum invited us round for a nice stew for supper, followed by home made apple crumble and custard, so after the warmth of her Aga and a hot bath back at home, I finally warmed up again and was fast asleep in bed by ten!

My early night didn’t stop me from sleeping in though, and making use of the extra hour from daylight savings simply to snooze! I think I must have had about eleven hours sleep in total, but I felt great for it…especially after yumming up a massive fried breakfast! That set us up nicely for a walk round town and the car boot sale in the market place, and we rewarded ourselves for venturing out with cream cakes for lunch!

After that we did a little DIY at the house, then went for a lovely walk in the woods with the dogs. I so love this time of year, with all the stunning golden leaves, and so being in the woods was just wonderful. We did a little shopping after that, then headed home for a hearty sausage casserole for supper before watching Black Adder on the sofa under blankets, whilst I did a little knitting. Pretty perfect Sunday actually!

How did you use your ‘extra hour’? Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Ems x

Wednesday Wants…. all about London on Etsy

So….I’m leaving London! In a little over a month me and the boyf will be moving from our Zone 1 flat, and out to lovely Hitchin in Hertfordshire. I’m super excited about it, but I have started to think about the things I’ll miss about London when we move. I’ve also started to hanker after a few of the souveniry type things around at the moment (thanks in part to the Olympics and the Jubilee), which I’d like to take along with me to our new rather-more-rural home!…..

I think this skirt is super cute! And useful too….it’s pattered with the London Underground map, so you can’t get lost in London whilst you’re wearing it! It’s made by Roobys and is available on Etsy for just £18 along with a whole load more ‘novelty skirt for grown ups’!

I already have the gorgeous Ward Lock & Co’s London Illustrated Guide, but this vintage London journal would be a great notebook for anything at all. It’s made from an old map of London, and recovered back, front and inside, with blank note pages inside. It’s only £4.59 from Etsy which is a bargain I think for a unique journal.

And for just £4 you can get this bumper load of London printed ribbons, by Bigfish on Etsy. I love the little guards print, and I could certainly see me using the Made in Britain print.

I’ve been collecting up a few old postcards for some projects, both in Paris and in London. I’ve not quite decided what I want to do with them yet, but this bumper load might inspire me! They’re just £12.12 for all 50, from Bursts of Creativity on Etsy.

I adore this Cath Kidston London print with all its iconic landmarks. I’d love to make curtains in my new studio with it, or else make some pretty cushions. You can buy a fat quarter of it from Boqinana on Etsy for just £3.93.

I’m sure I’ll be able to find some treasures as a token from my 12 years here in London, and hopefully I’ll make up some new products inspired by the City too!

Ems x

A treat to myself…. Rediscovering the Fashion Wheel

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Last week my friend Katie reminded me of the awesomeness of the Fashion Wheel. I actually never had one as a kid, but I did get to play on a friend’s and loved it! I had something similar actually….I must get my Mum to look for it…. It was a sort of Victoria Plum version, where you slotted little mixable tiles into a frame and then put your paper over that to make your rubbing. I’d love to have it to play around with again!

Anyway, in the mean time, I decided to have a snoop on EBay and found a proper original Fashion Wheel for less than a fiver including postage! It doesn’t have the original papers, pencils and crayon tool but I have stuff kicking around that I can easily use instead.

It did however arrive in the original box! Check out that side pony tail! I love the 80s!

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Now I can’t deny it wasn’t a bit of a spur of the moment purchase, but it is a bit of history (it is!!!) and I know I’ll use it for making things to sell…. I’d love to make some gift tags and cards using it especially. I can maybe even make some jewellery on shrink plastic using the designs!

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I also love the idea of just having it out on show in my studio….I just need to get the studio now!

What were your favourite kids toys? Did you have a fashion wheel or the Victoria Plum version? Did you have a Mr Frosty?!?! *goes to check EBay again*

Ems x