Saturday, 10 May 2014

My first craft swap experience

I have liked the idea of craft swaps for a while now, but never found one in the UK to participate in. Around a month ago, I was joining in on a Twitter chat with #craftblogclub and Hannah at Dainty and Ivory said she'd be interested in running one. 

The theme was "spring" and we were all allocated a partner at random. I got Sally Bee Makes to create a parcel for, along with the information that she liked sewing, music, organising, reading, dog walking, kettle bells, shopping, Africa, flowers, lots of colour and sun. I also discovered that her favourite colours were yellow and purple. It's quite difficult to decide what to make for someone you know very little about, especially since my social media stalking revealed that Sally is frankly amazing with a sewing machine! Alas, my skills are somewhat limited. I decided to make her a few handmade items instead of one larger gift. 
My gift parcel
I made a lined "Jordy Bag" for Sally- if you have never made a bag before, I can't recommend the lined Jordy Bag more- it's fairly easy for beginners and it comes out a gorgeous shape.  I thought this might fit in with her love of organising, and would perhaps come in useful for storing/ carrying small sewing projects. The fabric I chose was bright, flowery, and adding a red lining gave the bag an overall "African" feel to it. 

Sally seems to enjoy wearing handmade, judging from her blog. I added a kilt pin to the parcel- since her favourite colour is purple, I thought she might like the floral, purple glass beads. It's one of my Pink Robot designs. To complement the pin, I included some matching handmade purple beaded earrings. On top of the handmade items, we were asked to include a little bought gift too- my gift was a floral hardback notebook, which I thought matched the bag perfectly. Who doesn't love a notebook, with clean, crisp new pages?!
Russian Doll kilt pin, beaded, matryoshka
Kilt Pin from my Pink Robot range
My package arrived the same morning I posted my gifts. It's so exciting to receive a mystery package... and an occurrence which I certainly enjoy very rarely. Jane had made me a lovely bracelet from buttons in all my favourite colours. I particularly liked the style of clasp she had chosen. The box and wrapping paper was equally beautiful, and she had even made me an origami peacock- he is now sitting in my study alongside this swan. My bought gifts were peacock-themed too: a cute lip gloss and a scented sachet for my drawer. It's so lovely to receive a gift from someone you don't know, especially when it's obvious that they have made the effort to send things you'd like. 
The lovely things I received
I've signed up again for this month's craft swap- this time, with a "geek" theme! Since I most definitely enjoy geekery, this is right up my street. Hopefully, lots of people will get involved- making and receiving lovely things while having fun in the process. If you're interested, get in touch with Hannah to sign up!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Gorgeous peacocks from UK Etsy sellers

Etsy is one of my favourite websites out there at the moment- it ticks all the boxes for me. Generally-speaking, it's more affordable than shopping on the high street, it supports independent creators and retailers, and provides an unrivalled selection of completely unique treasures! I really enjoyed writing my "cherry blossoms" post a couple of months ago, so decided to write another Etsy post, on peacocks. I have fallen in love with these majestic creatures over the last year- decorating my living room in peacock-inspired colours and obsessing over peacock patterned fabric, home d├ęcor and gifts.

Here is a selection of my favourite peacock-themed items currently on Etsy, from UK designers, makers and artists:
Golden Peacock - An original framed painting by Jo Conlon
Golden Peacock, by Jo Conlon
I actually hold this painting solely responsible for kicking off my entire peacock obsession... Golden Peacock by Jo Conlon simply belongs in my house! There is a space on my living room wall which is exactly the right size (it's a big painting!) so I have been visiting and re-visiting it on Etsy for well over a year now, but with maternity leave sapping my funds, have never been able to scrape together the money to buy it. At £260 plus p&p, it is not a whimsical purchase. It is, however, to this day the only painting I have ever fallen in love with, so one day Golden Peacock- you will be mine! 

Peacock bird messenger bag and pouch git set in rare Amy Butler fabric
Messenger Bag, by Handmade With Joy
This messenger bag and purse set caught my attention as soon as I saw it. Crafted in rare Amy Butler fabric, it's one of a kind and stunning. I particularly like the colour combinations in this set- they give it a quirky, vintage-type feel. The cute little Eiffel Tower charm also attracted me to it, as I love Paris... peacocks and Paris in one gorgeous bag... what more could I ask for? 
Handmade journal - Peacock feathers
Handmade peacock journal, by My Parlour
This handmade peacock journal by My Parlour would make a perfect, budget gift for a creative friend, writer or fellow blogger! Hardback with 80 blank pages, I think I would really enjoy scribbling down ideas for my future posts, and it's a great price at only £7.50. 
Hand Painted Silk Scarf - Peacock Design
Hand-painted silk scarf, by Mandarin Duck Craft
This beautiful silk scarf is hand-painted to order by Mandarin Duck Craft. At £38, it is affordable designer luxury, and I think it would make an amazing gift for somebody special. I love the colours the artist, Luo Tao, has chosen- and the fact the design is painted freehand. 
Oriental Peacock Fan Chinese New Year Card
Oriental peacock fan, by CreativMichelle
There is something quirky and wonderful about this oriental paper fan. It incorporates cherry blossoms with peacocks, and would add a real element of interest to a room. Michelle uses 3-layer decoupage to build the images, and the fan comes with a presentation stand. At £6.49, I think this is incredible value for money! 

Right now you can get £5 off your first purchase at Etsy using this link.

Liebster Award Nomination

Make Thrift love Life has been nominated for the Liebster Award! When thriftylilpixie got in touch to say she'd nominated me, I carried out a little research online. I discovered that it's an award passed between fellow bloggers- a way to acknowledge and promote people's favourite little-known blogs, within the blogging community. It's also a nice way to find out more about the people behind the blogs you read every day!

The German word "Liebster" is roughly translated into words such as sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.The rules seem to evolve and adapt a bit, but the general gist remains the same: 

The Rules:
  1. Each person must post 11 random facts about themselves. 
  2. They must also answer 11 questions about themselves. 
  3. Now pick between 5-11 of your favourite blogs to nominate for the Liebster award. The blogs should have less than 1000 followers. (Note- some versions say under 200 followers!)
  4. Create a set of 11 questions to ask your nominees. 
11 random facts about myself: 
  • I am a marathon runner, completing 5 marathons to date. 
  • My fastest marathon time was 3 hours 38 minutes, in Paris. 
  • I work in education as my "day job".
  • One day, I'd love to have a pet tortoise called Richard.
  • My favourite colour is purple. 
  • I'm only 5'1" tall so I wear heels a lot!
  • I have tiny size 2 (euro 34/ 35) feet. 
  • I have a sister called Fiona. 
  • My car is a trusty 10-year-old Toyota Yaris- it's never failed an MOT!
  • I sell crafts under the brand name "Pink Robot". 
  • While on maternity leave, I ran a craft group for new mums called Baby Brain. 
 Questions posed by Thriftylilpixie for me: 

What's your favourite thing about blogging? 
Learning new things from other bloggers, and being able to find the answer to any question imaginable, just from visiting a blog. I find the writing process therapeutic too!

What's your favourite blog? 
This one is too hard to give a definitive answer... I have various favourite blogs which I read for all different reasons. I do love the photography in A Beautiful Mess, however!

Where would be your dream travel destination?
I'd love to see more of Asia. I went to Thailand on honeymoon, and it was the most beautiful place with the most beautiful people. 

What's your favourite food? 
A toss-up between Japanese and Italian cuisine. A simple and fresh noodle stir-fry is amazing, but if I had to eat one food item only for the rest of my life, it would be pasta. 

What's your guilty pleasure? 
Double Coronation Street on a Monday night!

What are the words you live by? 
The Japanese proverb, "Nana Korobi Yaoki", meaning "Fall down 7 times, get up 8" is a good one, to remind me to keep chasing my dreams. 

Where do you get your blogging inspiration? 
I tend to write about what's most important in my life at one time- at the moment, lots of my posts are about my daughter and my home life. 

What makes you laugh? 
I do enjoy out-of-order jokes! 

What is your favourite beauty product? 
Maybelline "The Falsies" mascara... I have tried lots of other (and more expensive) mascaras, but I can't beat this one and keep coming back to it. 

What is your go-to wardrobe staple? 

What is your biggest dream? 
To make Pink Robot into a business- making and selling lots of beautiful things including baby skirts in unusual fabrics. I also dream of writing a book. 

My nominees

I'd like to nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award: 

11 questions for my nominees
  1. Which one of your blog posts is your favourite, and why? 
  2. Where is your favourite place in the world? 
  3. What is your favourite colour combination? 
  4. Do you have any other hobbies, apart from writing? 
  5. What's your favourite joke? 
  6. What is your ultimate ambition? 
  7. What is the best bargain you have ever found? 
  8. What makes you proudest? 
  9. What is your favourite animal? 
  10. Do you have any hidden talents? 
  11. What made you start writing a blog?