Monday, 20 December 2010

Reindeer food

I read about this nifty little trick on a parenting website and thought it was worth sharing here. My niece is coming up for three years old and I thought she might appreciate it!

Don't tell the little ones, but it's just a box with some cat biscuits in the bottom! I've also heard of people doing this with oats mixed with glitter, but I thought my sister might have a bit of explaining to do once that didn't disappear from her tiny front garden overnight...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Not your typical snowy scene...

I had to grab my camera while we were snowed in last week to show you photos from our street, while it was unusually quiet in the middle of the day.

Look a little closer...

The rabbits usually live in the field next to the cooperage (those pointy-roofed sheds in the background, whiskey fans!), and that cat is the hardiest domestic animal I've ever known - at the time of taking this photo it was minus 11 degrees C. Plus it's tried to eat my ginger cat twice in the six months since we moved in!

Sunday, 12 December 2010


It's cold here! I hope it's warmer where you are... and if not, that you're wrapped up warm with a nice mug of cocoa.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Most Haunted

So here in detail are some of the products I've splurged on over the last couple of years at Haunt. I was introduced to Haunt when Erin was Etsy's featured seller for a weekend. Being a bit of a fan of seller interviews anyway (have I mentioned my Answers on a Postcard zine...?), I'm always a bit of a sucker for the products associated with the featured seller interview, especially when Etsy focuses on established rather than new sellers.

It seems as though Erin's friendly and down to earth interview chimed with many Etsy shoppers, not to mention her beautifully presented products with intriguing descriptions, and sales went through the roof. Literally. In the space of a weekend, Erin made something like 3000 sales. This is not an exaggeration. Enhancing the luxury problem at hand, I joined in and made my first purchase - it was a biggie! In late 2008, I decided to stock up the hunting lodge I had rented for my hen weekend with Haunt products. With 3 bathrooms and 12 guests, I splurged on 3 soaps (Raspberry Honey, Corsair and Pan), 3 sugar scrubs (Mintleaf & mocha, Spiceberry and Marzipan & Shortbread) and 3 glossing oil sprays (Bourbon Vanilla, Empire and Orange Blossom) - I also asked Erin for sample sizes of 12 different soaps for my friends' goodie bags - these included Bittersweet, Pumpkin Lavender and Turkish Cocoa.

I like to break down the three different types of scent that Haunt produces into three categories, Fruit-y, Cake-y and Haunt-y. The fruity scents, like Orange Blossom, The Old Cider Mill and Spiceberry are clean yet warm fragrances, with a zesty but warm feel. The cakey type ones you feel like you could eat then and there in the shower, especially the ones with a pumpkin flavour to them. I like to keep a tupperware with a bar of Pumpkin Lavender soap in my overnight bag for work trips, as it's such a warm, comforting and homely scent. I am also very impressed with the Coffee Fiend flavour haunt scrub I have on the go at the moment, it's the next best thing to having an actual coffee in there to help me wake up.

The fragrances that I'd describe as Haunty like Corsair, Pan and the newer Burying Tree and Witch-Wife are a really unusual blend of botanicals that are somewhat indescribeable - in a good way! They're so different to anything else I've used in the past, and can sometimes take a little getting used to. For ages I really wasn't sure about the sample of Sword and Lion as a fragrance, but now I'm tempted to buy some glossing oil in this scent if it's available in the next Haunt sale.

Now I realise I've spent a lot of time talking about fragrances and how good these products smell and make you feel, but I've said nothing about how well they treat your skin! The soaps are amazing, they are lovely and chunky and wash down nicely, holding their shape and never cracking or drying out. And of course they do the same to your skin, most of the time I don't need to moisturise after using them. The sugar scrubs are a revelation, I'd never tried one before and the mix of sugar with natural oils does wonders for any rough patches you might have - and with the weather we're having in Scotland at the moment (-19 C yesterday at my house!), they are sooo handy. I don't tend to use moisturiser as it just sits on my skin and takes up time I don't have in the mornings, but the dry oil sprays sink straight in, soften my skin without making it feel greasy (unlike moisturising lotions). I don't use lip balms but have bought Haunt Lust lip balms in the past for friends and my husband, who suffers from dry lips and has found it works better than reliable high street names. There are more new products in the latest Haunt line which I can't wait to try out, if they're anywhere near as good as my old favourites!

Speaking of which, the next Haunt sale starts this evening! Previews of new products in brand new packaging will be up on the new Big Cartel Haunt shop from 9pm UK time, and the shop will open at 2am our time. It's your perfect opportunity to pick up a little present for yourself, or to add to your Christmas gifts. If you're catching up with me later and you've missed out this time, hop over to Erin's blog to find out about future sales. They are few and far between, and I promise you, all the fuss is worth it!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sneak peek on Christmas presents

Now that Amelia is starting to nap a little bit more consistently, I'm getting the chance to finish off projects I started ages ago.

Without giving too much away, this Christmas present needs buttons... but which set?

These vintage buttons from Canada look like teeny little olives.. too cute!

But I like the contrast of the green yarn and these fawn-coloured flower pattern buttons...

Or these shiny pale green beauties, which I'm a little reluctant to say goodbye to just yet...

What do you reckon?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Gift wrapping hints and tips - recycled!

Can you believe it's been a year since I was on TV showing how to decorate your parcels the upcycled way? Here's a timely reminder of my ten top tips, originally published on the Glasgow Craft Mafia blog last year, with my apologies for the dark photos:

1) Do your maths!

If you measure the longest side of your parcel, you need seven times this measurement in ribbon to create that wrapped finish – measuring before you start means you only cut off what you need each time.

2) Use your odds and ends

You can dress a plain box with that annoying last strip of paper from the roll that otherwise would go straight into the recycling. Or use your odds and ends, a couple of dabs of glue and some plain card to make a co-ordinating gift tag.

3) Think outside the box

Present too difficult/fiddly/awkward a shape to wrap? Stick it in a bag, pop a glittery bow on top, job done. Life’s too short to wrestle sticky tape.

4) Raid your tree

A teeny little bauble, felt stocking or even a handknit ornament look cute and pretty on top of your packages. And the recipient can pop them on their own tree, instead of in the bin, once the presents are all opened on Christmas morning. Or how about using mini tinsel instead of ribbon?

5) If you aren’t artistic – cheat!

There’s no shame in not being able to draw – I was kicked out of art classes at school and still managed to make a bit of a career of it! My top tip for Christmassy themed tags is to use Christmas cookie cutters as a template – just draw the outline onto a sheet of double-sided card (plain one side, patterned the other), cut out, punch a hole and you’re away.

6) You don’t need to buy fancy materials

See those cookie cutter tags I just mentioned – you don’t even need to buy the card. Use pretty packaging from toiletries or chocolates, pick up some vintage packaging from eBay, or do what we all did when we were little, use last years Christmas cards!

7) Shop from your sewing box

Great alternatives to ribbon can be found in your sewing box, or your local haberdashers. Lace trim, embroidery thread, bakers twine, even fancy yarn can make a cost-effective and visually interesting alternative to expensive glossy ribbon.

8) Use what you have

As well as re-purposing or upcycling other materials, don’t forget all those bits and pieces you have stashed away from last year. A fresh glance might inspire you to add a different type of ribbon, trim down your tags into another shape, or pop your gifts straight into the kids’ stockings, to cut down on the sheer amount of waste Christmas time can generate.

9) Do away with gift tags

You can pick up loads of letter stickers and other embellishments from shops which specialize in scrapbooking, card making or journaling. Think about adding the gift recipient name to the side of your package in stickers, or you can even cut letters out of the newspaper and stick them to the side of your gift, ransom note stylee. This is especially good for Secret Santa presents, where no-one needs to know who it’s from!

10) Have fun

Get together with friends for a gift wrapping party – a couple of glasses of something merry, a cheesy Christmas soundtrack, enough scissors and tape to go around and all your crafty ideas for making your presents stand out should make for a very festive evening. Pooling your resources will help your supplies (and your money) go a lot further!

Hop on over to my Flickr for more inspiration and lots of lovely brown parcel paper! It seems I've found a kindred spirit in a guest post over on Lupin's Bugs and Fishes blog - brown paper, check! Raid the Christmas tree, check! Use your crafting supplies, check! Good to know I'm still on trend this Christmas, too. I'll be wrapping and uploading some new photos of this year's gifts, both in their packaging, in the next few weeks, and out, once the 25th has passed.
Happy wrapping!