Posted in Giving

Free Badge Friday!

IMG_1209.JPG

Later than billed, Free Badge Friday is underway!

  • Firstly, you must be following me on Instagram – username @tinyotterpaws.
  • You choose which you’d like from all the remaining designs in stock, which you’ll find here. There are 3 pages, so make sure you check them all.
  • Email hello@thebellwether.co.uk letting me know which badges you like the look of and include your mailing address.
  • Sit back and wait for your happy mail!

Extra karma brownie points for reposting, retweeting, writing it across the sky in your bi-plane.

I’ve also collated everything that I have left into the Closing Offers section of the shop, which you’ll find here.

Less than 4 days now until it’s all done with!

Posted in Giving

Go On, Make Me An Offer

IMG_1180

Today, I’m feeling generous, so here’s an idea.

  1. Go to www.thebellwether.co.uk and fill your basket with all the things that take your fancy.
  2. Email me your list (hello@thebellwether.co.uk) and let me know how much you’d like to pay.
  3. I’ll send you an invoice and you get your basket of goodies at our agreed price.

If you like to haggle, hit me up! I have a spare room to reclaim, so want to clear as much of my wares as possible, and I want you to be happy, so this is a win-win situation!

Any item that’s in stock is fair game as are items left in the Insta Sale and reasonable offers are considered – if you offer me a fiver for 3,000 cushions though, the answer is likely to be no.

Spread the word, tell your pals, free up my spare room, make us all happy!

Posted in Giving

Free Badge Day!

photo_2_2_1024x1024

Hooray for Mondays, or as they’re now known, Free Badge Days!

As the opening event of the grand gala closing month of The Bellwether, today you can claim a free cross stitch badge with your initial on it absolutely free of charge. Not even postage. I know, right?

MG_0913_1024x1024

To claim your badge, simply do the following:

1. Follow me on instagram @tinyotterpaws.

2. Email hello@thebellwether.co.uk with the following details:

  • Name
  • Postal address
  • Instagram username
  • Choice of letter for badge

3. Sit back and wait for your badge to arrive.

ebadgecloseup_1024x1024.jpg

This offer is only available to instagram users who follow me (@tinyotterpaws). It’s open internationally and is only running until midnight GMT on Monday May 2nd 2016. Don’t worry, if you’re not an instagram user, there are loads more things coming up for you to get in about.

There’s so much more festivity to come this month, so keep your dial tuned right here.

Posted in Giving

Giveaway: Crafts For Christmas Glasgow Tickets

logo_christmas

The good people at Crafts for Christmas & The Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts Show got in touch with me recently to tell me all about their upcoming show in Glasgow.

Held at the Glasgow SECC from Thursday 22nd October through to Sunday 25th October, it’s a veritable cornucopia of festive craft inspiration, including stands selling materials and finished items, guilds and societies, workshops and even, I am told, some flamenco music. Fancy!

feature15_gingerbread

Oh, and a giant knitted gingerbread house. I think it might be worth popping along for that alone. I have five pairs of tickets to give away, so if you’d like to go, and save yourself £15 into the bargain, leave a comment below and I’ll draw names out of the hat and pop them off to you.

Posted in Day In The Life, Giving

DITL Revisited

I quite enjoyed the last Day In The Life we did! It was really fun to see everyone’s Instagrams – if you would like to look back ‘pon it, check out the IFDayInTheLife hashtag. I’m @tinyotterpaws.

I actually had a pretty super-fun packed day so had lots to photograph. The most depressing photo has to be that conker though – already! It’s less than 20 weeks until Christmas. Time is flying past.

The winner of the Christmas cross stitch kit, by the way, in case you thought I’d forgotten, is Rebecca. Yay!

Posted in Giving

Giveaway – Christmas In August

Christmas Ornament Cross Stitch Kit From The Bellwether

I’m giving away this little Christmas ornament kit as he’s the last of a discontinued line. I have been hanging on to him, thinking I’ll get round to stitching him up for myself one day, but because I’m nice like that, one of you good people can have him instead.

To enter this fine contest, simply leave a comment below – you can say hello or tell me something exciting, or leave a link to something interesting you’ve read lately. There will be extra brownie points for retweets, shares, etc. I’ll put all the names in a real-life hat next week and pick a winner. This is open internationally, because it’s nice to be nice.

Bonne chance!

Posted in Giving, Indie Business

Really Last Minute Gifts

Still not done with your Christmas shopping? Here’s a couple of last minute ideas.

Lucky Dip Club

threeboxes-600x600Imagine getting a wee box full of surprise gifts through the post every month – imagine no more, for that’s exactly what Lucky Dip Club is – a box of delights around a different theme through your letterbox to cheer you up.You’ve actually missed signing up for a subscription this month, you’ll need to wait til January 1st to be in with a chance, but the pick and mix boxes are pretty ace plus, you could just print off a voucher for a subscription and set your alarm for Jan 1.

Goose Flesh Zine

tumblr_inline_nft2yg5tze1qaud3p

My good friend Sean’s beautiful and talented lady pal Sarah Amy Fishlock is the brains behind Goose Flesh – her photographic work is really rather excellent. You might be pushing it a bit to buy online, but I have it on good authority that if you’re in Glasgow, you can pick up a copy at Street Level Photoworks.

Mary Queen Of Scots Tries Roller Skating

7d502991a5-Front Cover Pic Twitter

Another of my very talented colleagues at my day job, Doug wrote this e-book. Download it! Now!

Hippo Beers

B4hWB-HIUAAS3zM

I haven’t actually been in here  yet, but it looks like a great last-minute gift stop if you’re in the Glasgow area – pop in to Hippo Beers and pick up half a dozen fancy beers for the boozehound in your life. Consumable gifts are the best.

Penny Black

10405584_10152903479424468_5041039892730892578_n

Last but by no means least, Penny Black on Great Western Road in Glasgow is a perfect place to pick up cards and gifts if you’re in the West End.  Don’t worry, it’s actually open and finished now, since this photo was taken! It’s the new venture by my very best friend Jo and her husband Ryan, and their extended family – a real team effort!

My role has mostly been moral support, cheesecake delivery and cutter-outer of price tags, but it’s been a real blast helping them create what is a multi-functional operation – a destination post office, with added specialty drinks cafe and card/gift shop. It is so well designed and put together, that’s it’s really just an awesome space to spend time in and I love it and you should all go there now, and after Christmas – support a true community business who really care about what they are doing and making a difference to their customers’ lives. I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved so far, and thankful they’ve let me be part of the journey so far – can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

 

 

 

Posted in Giving, Travel

Shit Happened

Some more stuff I enjoyed, Stateside:

15364148364_5814be80cc_z

Pottering around my cousins’ beautiful home and admiring their many trinkets, antiques and pieces of art, including this tiny scrimshaw box and this vintage tin from the factory my uncle managed back in the day.

15366789753_7f8a300f74_z

 

15389873384_29df5ffcb7_z

Walking into Anthropologie and realising the whole shop was 20% off and managing not to lose my shit.

15389960104_82bd024788_z

Enjoying several amaretto sours made by Jim, my cousin’s husband – he mixes a mean cocktail.

15389975364_aab4d79773_z

Watching telly, feasting on choc-ices.

15392507673_99475eb7d1_z

Having dinner at Brio one night, which was all lit up outside like Christmas (it was quite cold, too).

15392514943_3978a041c2_z

Seeing a real-life possum in the wild (ie on the patio) and being grossed out – these are some  much more photogenic squirrels. The one without the tail is called Stumpy and is the butt (ho ho) of many in-jokes.

15392666703_06a8dc9937_z

Carol singing in Fountain Square – again, SO super-Christmassy.

 

15392671243_b39aec58e4_z

 

Gimpsing New Riff Distillery and having a pang of missing Lee, who on our last trip, booked a bottle of bourbon from their first distillation – we have to go back in 4 years to collect it.

15800389799_36bc4b0363_o

 

This pleasing display in Target.

15824641848_7f0c73b897_z

Awesome sunset on the way home from somewhere. So vivid.

15824663568_aaa7893179_z

 

Enjoying an evening of culture at Pendleton Arts Center to see their Final Friday studio tour – we saw a lot of mediocre art, but also some cool stuff. These self-portraits were very  much, to me, in the former camp. Pendleton also wins the award for most 80s logo ever.

 

15986388726_5a9302c4c5_z

15824769038_d8b35a54ba_z

Going to Cheesecake Factory and not being able to eat any cheesecake because we had lunch beforehand – forgot about their mahoosive portion sizes.

15826237919_f8b337e260_z

Eating at hot-ticket restaurant Nada and enjoying some awesome barbacoa tacos, guac and chips for brunch before hitting up the City Flea Small Mall – a truly excellently curated and well set up craft fair at the 21C Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.

15826252879_c9742da95f_z

Sneaking in some Dojo gelato at City Flea – so tasty.

15826517767_d460305068_z

Coveting this full size sleeping bag suit that you can climb into and be the cosiest ever in – built-in snack pockets and a hood all for $130. Was v tempting…

15826532297_83b5edb472_z

Hanging out with a whip-smart, funny, beautiful teenager who was just a delight – I wish I’d been so smart at that age! We had a lovely time at brunch and shopping together with our respective mothers and Anne.

15986382055_21f4dff1a5_o

Getting a glimpse of the old Keebler factory that my uncle managed – he invented the plastic tray in some biscuit packets there, you know. You’ve him to thank for your biscuits not being broken.


15986446786_bc704eab5d_z

Eating the best doughnuts (and cronuts!) ever – Buskens, you must start shipping to Scotland NOW.

15986506926_98579dc855_z

Walking down and then back up these very confusing stairs at the 21C Hotel.


16012217795_535659afd5_zSeeing Paul Blart Mall Cop in the flesh.

15824959648_8f385287ef_z

Enjoying drinks by the outdoor fireplace.

15826304019_485e6aab8a_z

 

Going bourbon shopping for Lee and having to keep my mum off the merchandise.

15826332609_f0fde75d08_z

 

And generally, just enjoying the festive season with my American family.

Now, one final piece of giveaway business to take care of – and to prove it really is random, The Crafty Lass, your name came out the hat (ie random.org) again, so the crochet books will be winging their way to you, too! Yay.

I think I’ve already identified another couple of giveaways to come, once I start giving things away, I find it very hard to stop.

 

Posted in Giving, Travel

Start Choppin’

15389742424_84aab1490f_z

 

Imagine the most Christmassy thing you’ve ever done, then triple it – such is a trip to the Christmas tree farm to cut down your own freakin’ Christmas tree. Reader, I almost wet myself with the giddiness.

15824435888_1f19373230_z

Arriving at what looked like a normal farm outside Goshen, Ohio, I discovered that it was actually a Christmas tree plantation! You rock up, they give you a plastic sledge, a polythene sheet and a saw, and they send you off for a wander to find a tree you like the look of. (NB not much happens in Goshen, there’s no reason to go there apart from to buy a Christmas tree).

16011205042_8cc3abc7eb_z

All the trees that can be cut down have tickets with their prices on (about $50 for a 7ft tree which is pretty reasonable compared to UK prices, natch). They are topiarised a bit, I think, to give them a good shape.

15825836279_0e3e2e5cb0_z

It’s a vast place, with trees and trees and trees of all sizes as far as the eye can see. We were tipped off to some “real pretty trees” round the other side of this extremely picturesque lake.

16011200832_911fc887ea_z

We found one we liked the look of after a good search and set Jim to work cutting it down (which was surprisingly easy). I am not sure my video upload has worked, but I did get to shout “TIMBERRRRRRRRR” for the first legitimate time of my life which really added to my enthusiasm for the whole caper.

15824515518_545619d9c9_z

16011929185_26ce122008_z

Then this little guy came for a cuddle and to escort us back to the barn to wrap and pay for our tree.

16010038251_8f22d7c617_z

Actually, we went inside and drank the free hot chocolate whilst they wrapped the tree for us, of course. We’re civilised. I also bought a genuine handmade quilted proper Folk Art Christmas tree skirt for pennies whilst we were waiting, because although I am civilised, I never miss an opportunity to shop.

15824722690_8f1bbe9a99_z

Then, the agonising choice of which wreath to get. We couldn’t decide, so we bought three. They were enormous, and fresh, and smelled divine and were like $20. Amazing.
15825958609_8fe7cb8af6_z

It was just all so QUAINT and I almost died of Christmas twee right there and then.

16010027141_997758e7c5_z
Once we’d finished up in the barn, we went back outside and lo and behold, some strapping all-American chaps had tied the tree to the top of tiny Anne’s massive truck. We all clambered in and went to Frisch’s for lunch. SUCH FUN.

16011307482_65abf82184_z

Did you win the Nice Cup Of Tea giveaway? If you are Jenny from The Gingerbread House, then yes, yes, you did. Email me your address to [mrspiquante at gmail dot com]!

Top marks if you knew that the title of this post refers to this:

Posted in Giving, Indie Design

Gift Guide

1013643_10152948098544468_7422717615219897656_n

Image by Little Dot Creations

Y’all know already that I am a very strident supporter of buying local, independent goods all year round, but this is even more important at Christmas time. Christmas for the little guys can totally make or break your whole year. Some years, I’ve taken more cash in November and December than the rest of the year put together. It can really be a massive deal. I try to buy at least 50% of my gifts from indies (I still buy from big box retailers for things like electrical goods, clothing, etc and for people like my dad who pretty much only ever gets books anyway) and year on year, I try to improve on that.

This year, I thought I’d put together a few finds from friends of mine that you might like for inspiration if you’ve still got last-minute gifts to buy:

Custom Made

Altair_Clutch_fingers_600_x_600

I love matt gold and turquoise together, so this Altair clutch from Custom Made caught my eye. Also, Anna, the gal behind the name, is really just a super-duper person who always makes my day brighter when we meet all-to-infrequently at craft fairs in the Big Smoke.

Hilary Grant

BLANKETSCARF-WAVE-CLIFFWHITE-SCOTTISH-KNITWEAR3

If you’re looking for a special gift for someone who appreciates a good woolen, then Hilary’s Scottish designed and made knitwear is a real winner. These new blanket scarves are truly divine – at £120, they’re a special purchase for someone you really want to please, but will be a lifetime staple.

Finest Imaginary

cacti-banner

I love Kim’s work (and she’s super-funny, helpful, generous and all-round awesome, too) and her new cacti collection is just IMMENSE. They’d make equally good ornamentation for your home as they do for your body, I reckon (but they’re not real plants, just to be clear, ho ho).

La La Land

I_Am_Fucking_Awesome_stamped_pencils_by_PopCult_from_LA_LA_LAND_1024x1024

Pop Cult pencils by La La Land are the best stocking gift ever. There’s so many designs to choose from, there’s something to raise a smile from just about anyone. Sarah is a long-term Glasgow craft scene colleague of mine – another smart and funny female, knocking it out of the park when it comes to being awesome in business.

Paul Revie

il_570xN.478011049_iu2o

This fellow has wise words to impart in a variety of mediums. I’ve long-admired his artwork and have high hopes that this year, I might own a piece come the 25th of December. Another awesome talent in Glasgow, there’s a lot of us about.

Neil Slorance

il_570xN.628410402_mw0i

You should totally buy a piece of Neil’s art before he becomes too busy and important being a Dr Who freaking illustrator to bother with us peasants. His comics and travelogues are really both super-cute and funny, too – awesome gifts.

Emily Peacock

shapeimage_28

I can’t express to you just how amazing Emily is – both her work, and her as a person. She’s a great friend, and though I haven’t spoken to her in a while, I know that when I do, it will be like we just left off our conversation. Her work is bright, bold, colourful and cheerful, just like her. Her tapestry kits are a great gift for anyone who likes to keep their hands busy – they’re very well put together and fun to work on.

Umm, also, buy my stuff, please.

Posted in Giving, Travel

Eat It

It’s no secret that quite a lot of my time spent in America is spent eating. It truly is the land of plenty – so much to choose from, but only 3 meals a day to fit it into. Creativity is required to fit everything in. Before we go over, usually Anne, my cousin, will ask us for a list of “must-eats”, so she can plan a loose schedule to take in as many of the spots on our wishlist as possible. Anne, like me, is a professional planner, we love a list, and we love to tick things off it!

15366790873_94cf07b44a_z


15985747112_72e05057f5_z

 

Skyline Chili is one of the must-do things in Cincinnati. The city is famous for its chili, but it’s not chili as you know it. It’s spiced with cinnamon, cloves and other strange things to give it a slightly sweet but definitely savoury taste. Some critics have described it as “quintessentially American”, others have called it “the worst regional American food” there is, but it’s a definite must-experience when you’re dining in Cincinnati. Traditionally for our family, it’s a lunchtime thing – we’ll meet Anne from work and have Skyline at the restaurant next to her office, and also it’s an on-the-way-to-the-airport snack to fortify you for a transatlantic flight.

 

16011118742_36c0166305_z
ihop, or International House Of Pancakes to give it its Sunday name, is another place frequently on our list. Who knew there were so many breakfast options? I particularly like breakfast in America as they are a) so accommodating with substitutions, no eggs, etc b) are quite happy for you to order a bunch of sides c) their bacon is just the best and d) you can have as many drinks refills as you like and then they’ll give you another drink in a cup to go at no extra charge.

15824403478_10ccd9ccc4_z

 

Mulled cider for breakfast? Aye, go on then. Start your day off with a festive swing. I usually have these chicken florentine crepes and they are just amazing, though not all that to look at.

15825798189_03d1944165_z

 

New to me this time – Frisch’s Big Boy:

15986253226_6e001737e1_z

16011347602_0b4922d4b0_z

The tartare sauce is the thing here – it’s mighty tasty. A bit like Big Mac sauce but way better. Their onion rings were a solid 7/10.

15691874778_1d390200fc_o

And of course, no trip to the States is complete without at least one visit to Five Guys, the best burgers there are. Their first Scottish location opened in Glasgow last week though, so now it may drop off the list, as we’ll be able to go whenever we like – yay! Not yet though, as apparently the queues are horrendous. I think it’s worth waiting for, they’re really delicious, good quality, well-cooked and I just like their ethos.

I’m probably not finished talking about food yet, but for now, I’ll leave it there. The Crafty Lass, you’re the winner of the Christmas giveaway!

Posted in Giving

Winter Wonderland

15994786251_65d09c91a2_o

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas round here. This is the current view from my  kitchen window. It sounds pretty idyllic to have your kitchen in a conservatory, but to be honest with you, it’s always bloody freezing in there. Probably just about worth it though for views like this. So picturesque!

I had an amazing time in America, I have so much to write about, but also, so much to do. I am keen to announce the giveaway winners though, so the first one, who wins this bundle, is Rainbow Fizz 21, who blogs over here. Email me your address to [mrspiquante at gmail dot com]!

I’ll post back soon with more winners and more snowy pics. I love the wintry weather!