Each kit contains both charts, and everything you need to make a decoration, including one frame. You can buy extra frames too if you want to make more. Or just the frames alone if you have your own ideas.
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.
Happy new year! We’re already a week in, time is flying past. I had the foresight to take the first week of the year off, so I’ve been enjoying all the moaning on Twitter, etc of people struggling to get back into their routines, whilst I lounge in bed, eating leftover selection boxes and mainlining Netflix (it helps that I have a horrible cold). Here are some of my festive highlights:
Not quite a white Christmas day, but we did have some snow. It was pretty icy cold and we got through a lot of wood on the old stove.
Turkey and ham pie made with the leftovers from Christmas dinner – delicious.
Christmas wrapping is something I always enjoy, especially when it’s with recipient-appropriate tags (a gift for my friend who owns post offices).
A very special gift from Lee which I am looking forwards to using.
Even Max had plenty of gifts to open, including this monkey, one of his favourites.
He didn’t get to even put his noggin on this awesome cushion though.
Found these nativity ducks in America!
Boxing Day snacking.
Then putting all the decorations away until next time.
And spending New Year indoors on the sofa, under a blanket, scoffing chipolatas and watching shit telly. New year’s day dinner was the traditional steak pie, neeps, tatties and Irn Bru. Braw.
Today, my new year’s gift to myself arrived…
I haven’t had a new laptop in about 7 years and my little netbook died last year, so it was time to let this guy into my life. Yay!
Some more stuff I enjoyed, Stateside:
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.
Walking into Anthropologie and realising the whole shop was 20% off and managing not to lose my shit.
Enjoying several amaretto sours made by Jim, my cousin’s husband – he mixes a mean cocktail.
Watching telly, feasting on choc-ices.
Having dinner at Brio one night, which was all lit up outside like Christmas (it was quite cold, too).
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.
Carol singing in Fountain Square – again, SO super-Christmassy.
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.
This pleasing display in Target.
Awesome sunset on the way home from somewhere. So vivid.
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.
Going to Cheesecake Factory and not being able to eat any cheesecake because we had lunch beforehand – forgot about their mahoosive portion sizes.
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.
Sneaking in some Dojo gelato at City Flea – so tasty.
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…
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.
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.
Eating the best doughnuts (and cronuts!) ever – Buskens, you must start shipping to Scotland NOW.
Walking down and then back up these very confusing stairs at the 21C Hotel.
Enjoying drinks by the outdoor fireplace.
Going bourbon shopping for Lee and having to keep my mum off the merchandise.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Then this little guy came for a cuddle and to escort us back to the barn to wrap and pay for our tree.
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.
It was just all so QUAINT and I almost died of Christmas twee right there and then.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
So, Thanksgiving. What a uniquely American experience that was. I arrived in America a few days beforehand and all anyone could talk about, family, friends, strangers in shops was – “what will you be eating?”. Not what are you doing for Thanksgiving – oh, no, “give me a full rundown of menu items so we can compare notes”. This is very much my kind of holiday.
Everyone in Cincinnati at least has a wide and varied range of turkey and/or pumpkin-related decorative items for the occasion – I am not sure when they go up, but I can tell you that at the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving Thursday, a team of silent elves apparently appears to spirit them away to the basement and replace them will full-on Christmas decoration. My cousin’s house was very tastefully decorated with little turkeys and autumnal accents around her spacious pad, like a Martha Stewart spread, I was most envious.
I really did not expect KISS to feature in my Thanksgiving, but as I sat in a very comfortable armchair between eating bouts, watching the Macy’s Parade, there they were, in all their facepainted glory, Gene Simmons getting his tongue out in a very sleety New York especially. The parade seems to consist of a bunch of giant blimps in various shapes and sizes, 85,000 marching bands and a whole bunch of people I have never heard of looking cold in a variety of coats, most likely available at Macy’s. I mostly loved the adverts, American adverts are so much more entertaining than ours.
And then – dinner. The big event. It was truly delicious, though some items are a little questionable – e.g. sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. Pretty delectable on its own, but oddly out of place with a turkey dinner. See also: pickled watermelon rind and croissants. Crazy Yanks.
My cousins though made it such a special and memorable day for us. After we’d stuffed ourselves silly, it was time for the National Dog Show from Philadelphia and a few cocktails. Most civilised.
I’m very thankful for my American family – both my great uncle Sam on the left there (he of the biscuit factory managing) who is sadly no longer with us, and my cousins, Anne and Jim who so graciously host us when we visit and are really the best fun. I’m so lucky to have them.
On a different note, the stationEry giveaway winner, picked at random, is…Claire from Claireabelle Makes! Whoop-la! Please email me your address to [mrspiquante at gmail dot com] and I’ll get that off to you.
Are you all giveawayed out yet? I hope not, there is still more to come…
This time, the little bundle comprises a small selection of loosely Christmas themed decorative items, including one of my very own puddings.
To win this bundle, simply follow me on Instagram (@tinyotterpaws) and leave a comment with your username.
Leave your comment by 12 noon on Thursday 4th December and remember to check back to see if you’ve won!
Still hanging in there? There’s one more to come! Stay tuned!
This Lovely Pigeon necklace. I love both the minty formica and copper contrast, and Kirsty what made it. She’s a clever sausage, that one. And also SO bloody nice. She has an amazing house and always a kind word and a hello and a smile and a hug when I see her, all too infrequently, at shows. Look, she has a SWING in her house!
Onwards is the ceramics branch of Jen Collins artwork. Jen is lovely. I think I have only met her a couple of times, much like Kirsty, but when I have, I’ve always felt like I’ve known her for ages, she’s very friendly and smiley. I hope it’s not creepily stalkerish of me to say that Jen is the epitome of young artist to me – beautiful, thoughtful, generous. Do I sound a bit Yew Tree? I hope not. She’s just exceptionally talented and I feel the need to tell you that.
Is it a coincidence that I am drawn to items made by ladies who rock? I am not into that hardcore feminist shit, but there is maybe something in that. I bought myself a ring from Datter at Renegade last year to celebrate my good fortune and doubled my collection at Christmas scoring this beauty. Kay was very patient and made the piece I selected bigger to fit my big fat sausage fingers at Renegade. Lee was somehow prescient enough to get the biggest size of this one which fits perfectly. I don’t wear it enough – I only ever go to work, let’s face it, and as I am newly allergic to the soap there, it makes my hands itch and swell. I must endeavour to go more places so I can wear this.
I’m very lucky. My husband bought these things for me. Clever husband.
When we first moved to the countryside, over 2 years ago now, someone, I am not sure who, christened our new home Brownton Abbey. Tres lolsome. The name has stuck and we still call it that. Our first house in Kilsyth was the original Brownton Abbey…
..very picturesque. Then there was the farm, Brownton Acres…
..the least said about that, the better. And now we’re in Brownton Lodge, or what should really be the proper Brownton Abbey. What a cool gift, it really made me chuckle. We will have to find a spot for it that doesn’t confuse the postman too much.
I was also given that wee wooden house for Christmas. They’re made by Hazel Williams. The wee tiny houses are way underpriced. They’re really lovely items.
My mum bought me this tin for Christmas. I was pretty pleased. I like old tins and own far too many of them that I always think I will use for storing stuff in, but then realise there is a finite number of things I own smaller than the tins themselves, so I stack them up, put them in boxes, shuffle them around and never really settle on a plan for them. Nevertheless, I still enjoy looking at them.
This one came filled to the brim with sherbet lemons, one of the premier boiled sweets. As I typed that, I remembered about them, and popped one in the old cake hole. Delish.
We live near a really cool big antiques sales room type place which is where she found this. We’ve been here 3 months, and we’ve already acquired from there:
- Multiple plant pots
- Dining table and 6 chairs (also a Christmas gift from my mum – I’m easily pleased)
- Two wooden boxes
- Old apple crate
- Victorian music cabinet
- Turn of the century religious cross stitch sampler (also a Christmas gift, from Lee)
- Several things that were gifts for other people (that might not have them yet, so no spoilers)
In short, it’s my new favourite place.
I couldn’t bring myself to write about my dream job for today’s BEDM, as it would only highlight to me that I should really have stuck in at school and not got sidetracked by firstly, ponies and secondly, going out and getting drunk and listening to great music. I would have been a vet if I had stuck at it. I’ve written a bit recently about how I believe you can still have a successful career without a degree, so I think I got that topic covered.
Instead, let’s talk about fridge magnets. Oh, yes, this blog is nothing if not diverse and wide-ranging in the topics it covers. Lee and I have tons of fridge magnets. Every time we go somewhere, we buy one, the tackier, the better. We probably have over 50. At the moment, in the house of horrors, they are all in the garage, hidden away, as the fridge in the kitchen is integrated behind a cupboard door. But when we move, I look forwards to seeing them daily and reminiscing.
Anyway, for my birthday this year, along with other awesome things, my good friend Marceline gave me a Stickygram gift voucher, good for a whole sheet of magnets made up from images from my Instagram feed. This is an ingenious idea and I am only sorry I didn’t think of it first. The service was super-easy to use and the best bit about the ordering process was that there was none of that “oh, give us your credit card details even though you have a voucher” and I managed to check out in about 5 minutes from start to finish.
What else would I have chosen but a sheet of Max magnets? Max-nets! I got one of Pumpkin too, for my friend Sarah, as it’s such a cute photo. A Stickygram voucher or indeed a sheet of magnets would make such an awesome gift to commemorate a special day or holiday – I am already thinking of who I can give these to for Christmas (oh, yes, I went there with the C-word).
This isn’t a sponsored post, by the way. I just really liked them.
I’m blogging every day in May as part of BEDM. Find out more here.
I didn’t think I had much to say about 2012, but looking back at the photos I took, I have about 40 pages worth on Flickr. Most of them seem to be of the scenery around our home, so I suppose you could say 2012 was the year of dog walking.
In January, my main recollection is that I worked from home a lot. My boss had been worried that the weather would stop me getting in to work, but as it turned out, it was fine. It did allow me to spend time with the dog, settling him in, as he had only come to us just before Christmas, so I spent most of my days walking in the woods with him and puzzling over who was going to subtitle what news bulletins from the comfort of my own desk.
Oh, also in January, I bought this amazing sideboard for £8. Yeah, you know you’re jealous.
In February, I fulfilled a wish I’d had for a few years – to cruise the North Sea to Amsterdam for the weekend. It was both awesome fun and hellish – the boat was full of drunk Geordies and it was -5, but we had a really great weekend – it’s what you make of it, in these circumstances and we crammed in as much as we could on our 7 hours in Amsterdam!
I bought a huge armful of tulips which lasted for weeks when we got back and on the way back we stopped off at Tynemouth market where I found lots of treasure. I love that place.
Other highlights – a trip to the theatre to see a workmate in Thoroughly Modern Millie (which was thoroughly entertaining), reverse parking in a multi-storey car park and a new phone!
Is it sad that a highlight of March was putting up our new doorbell? If it is, I don’t want to be cool. It’s pretty awesome. After a very low-key birthday, we went to Hammerfest in Wales, thus proving I am the best wife ever. It was pretty awful, accommodation-wise, but I did end up enjoying the music way more than I thought.
It was also unseasonably warm in March, for Scotland, so much so that I got sunburnt on a walk on the beach with Sarah and the dogs. We had a great day paddling, eating chips on the seafront and generally frolicking on the sand. I also went on a Loch Lomond cruise with Marceline around her birthday, which was really good fun.
Oh, and we celebrated my dad’s 60th birthday at the very end of March, too with a family meal at the Boathouse. Everyone got well-oiled, we ate like kings and then my mum did a dance to Shalimar when we got home. AWESOME.
April is probably when panic began to set in about doing Pulse. A lot of it was spent making plans and preparing kits and so on. I also did a really shitty craft fair over Easter. I wrote about that and generated debate amongst my indie craft compadres. I worked a lot at subtitling HQ. I remember being very tired in April.
The weather in May was pretty good as I remember – so hot we had to buy the dog a paddling pool, which he loved. Work-wise, I was up to my eyeballs in Pulse-prep and day-job stuff. I did find the time to do a sponsored 10k walk with Jo though, through the streets of Glasgow at midnight, which was pretty fun. We raised about £500 for charity, too.
June was mega-busy. It started with Pulse. I took a giant suitcase down to London for the week and set up my wares for perusal by the great and the good of British retail. My mum came up from Suffolk to help me set up and I had my first taste of Wahaca.
I haven’t publicly admitted this yet, but Pulse turned out to be the biggest waste of money ever. I daresay I will come back and explore this topic next year but enough time has passed now for me to be able to evaluate and say it was an utter drain on all of my resources and very nearly ruined me financially. It was the beginning of a lot of soul-searching for me, business-wise.
I don’t seem to have any photos of it online, but immediately upon my return, ie, the very next day, Lee and I jetted off to Lanzarote for a week in the sun. It was very relaxing – we pretty much lay down in the sun for the entire time and read, swam and ate delicious food. Bliss.
The day we got back, I pretty much got changed and went straight to Portsoy with Marceline for a weekend at her mum’s, where we stayed upstairs from their antiques shop and had some boat festival fun and visited the Baxters soup place. I can only surmise I left my camera at home, as I don’t seem to have photos of any of this, bar this one from Baxters!
In July, the weather was pretty good again, and we spent a lot of evenings outdoors, barbecueing. I don’t recall a great deal other than chargrilled meats and my parents getting tipsy when they came to visit (STANDARD).
The garden was very green and Lee spent a lot of time out there. My brother came to stay and we went on a road trip to our home town, Kilwinning. We took Max to the beach, too, at Irvine. Just as well we did, because shortly afterwards, Max injured his leg and we thought for a long time he’d need a hip replacement operation. He was on sedatives for a long time and spent a lot of time being miserable, poor chap.
August saw my mum staying with us for a while, during which time we celebrated her birthday and ate a lot of vegetables that Lee grew in the garden. Those carrots are amazing, we’re still eating them now. The weather gave us some good days to spend outside, and I did a lot of sewing for some wholesale orders (that weren’t Pulse-related). My little blue car also gave up the ghost and I got some new wheels!
In September, Max got the all-clear from the specialist vets and came off the sedatives, hurrah! He gradually got back to normal. He’ll probably always be on low-dose painkillers, but he’s much better now. PHEW. I also helped with the decorations at Jo’s mum’s wedding and had a lovely time at the reception with Jo and Ryan and their families at Hamilton Racecourse (glossing over the fact I left the lights on in my car and had to call the AA…).
September also saw me packing up my monster suitcase again and heading back to London for Renegade. It was a really great weekend with my stallmates Kim and Adam from Finest Imaginary. We ate like kings all weekend, including at Meat Market. Gosh, I’m drooling now thinking of it. I stayed next to St Pauls and got the sleeper back, which wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be. Then I went to work. Zzzz.
We also went on a road trip to buy a dining table in Middlesbrough – I wish I could explain why. It’s a nice table though, eh? We stopped at Tynemouth market on the way back and Lee had his first Krispy Kreme experience – it was worth the 400 mile round trip!
October seems like 5 minutes ago! I sold my little blue car which had been sat in the garage since I got my new one. It was sad to see it go. I spent a week in London at work on a course, staying in the Premier Inn and being so incredibly tired that I saw no one and did nothing except eat Thai food with my colleague and sleep (not with my colleague). Whilst I was away, Lee painted a wall in our living room and improved the room by about 5000%. I also had a commissioned design published in Cross Stitcher magazine, which was pretty cool – another ambition crossed off the list. The uncertainty about our future at Brownton began when we discovered the owner of the house we rent hadn’t been paying their mortgage. That’s still ongoing. Guh.
Also in October – more dog walks. Max was getting back up to full walk-strength again, so we were revisiting our old haunts. Marceline and I had a fancy dinner at Chao Phraya. Lee and I bought two science cabinets on ebay and ended up selling one as they were massive. I also squeezed in a couple of days in Durham with my mum where we mostly ate cake and shopped.
In November, I worked a lot. I had a fairly quiet one business-wise, never reaching the fevered panic that usually greets me in November. I did a lot of thinking. I went to the theatre twice – once to see the Hairy Bikers with Lee and again about a week later to see The Ladykillers with Sarah. Both were fun evenings. I also did one of the best craft fairs ever in Castle Douglas.
December saw another long-held ambition crossed off the list – visit the Britannia Panopticon. We saw a colleague in a Christmas music hall show there, it was pretty awesome. I’d love to go back for a proper tour. It also snowed a lot. I LOVE snow, so I was pretty thrilled. I worked from home for a week as the snow gave way to ice which pretty left me stranded up Brownton Mountain. On at least one day, we couldn’t leave the house as our driveway was like an ice rink and poor Max kept falling over.
Christmas arrived, and was a lot of fun. Mum, Jo and I went to see the Nutcracker which was interesting – I am not sure how I feel about ballet, really, but this was a bit more experimental than I expected. Fun night though, as we had dinner with Marceline beforehand, too. Our house got a Christmas facelift with a massive tree, a ton of presents and our Christmas village. We go a bit overboard, it’s true.
Somehow, I managed to get 5 days off work for Christmas, so once my orders were out the way, I could really relax. And what better way to relax on Christmas Eve than to make 3 stockings from scratch? They turned out well, though, I think (if you ignore the fact I forgot to hem one).
We ate masses of amazing food, including the best turkey I’ve ever tasted. It was worth the upgrade at the butcher, for sure. The best thing about having a big Christmas dinner is the leftovers in an omelette the next day – sprouts and all. It was amazing. Aside from eating, we did a lot of relaxing, as Max is demonstrating, above.
And now, it’s almost 2013 and I am back at work, at the day job, at least. I am extending my Miso Funky break until next week. I’ll be ringing in the new year at work, with my colleagues, which I don’t mind too much – I am not a big new year’s fan, but I do relish the idea of being able to start a new year with a clean slate and all the opportunities that may come my way. We’re already planning holidays and making plans, so I am sure there is some excitement in store.
Whatever you’re doing, have a good one and have a healthy and happy 2013.