Saturday, 27 August 2011

Upcycling hits the mainstream

A cardboard hopper of Johnson's baby wipes caught my eye as I rushed out of my local Asda the other day - the magic word 'upcycling' caught my eye! Find out more on (oh yes!) and find out how they are reusing their packets before they hit the rubbish bin.

Ella's Kitchen and Kenco coffee are also running similar schemes, which involve consumers returning the packaging to the manufacturer after use. Of course this involves expense and further resources, and that's before you get started on the remanufacturing process. I would love if these companies could look more closely into biodegradable or compostable packaging (like our preferred tea bag brand, it's great to throw the empty packaging onto the compost heap when we're finished with it). There are only so many wipe clean reusable shoppers that you can get through in a lifetime, and if the brand is plastered all over it, then it's not really for me. But it's a step in the right direction, and it just goes to show, there are so many more things out there that you can get an extra use out of before it hits the rubbish bin.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Vintage shopping

A recent arrival in our home is this amazing wooden hippo piggy bank. His little leg pops out of its socket so you can retrieve your pennies!

Amelia is totally spoiled rotten by her grandparents in terms of toys, books and clothes, so I wanted to pick up something for her first birthday that she can treasure for years to come. It's robust enough to stand up to a bit of childhood rough and tumble (obviously it will be staying on the high shelf for a few more years to come) but delicate enough to be taken good care of.

Happy Birthday, little one.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Some live photos from Vertiline in Love

I am watching the drama unfold live on Twitter... Claira from Vertiline in Love is unpacking her order of Girl Industries goodies! Follow Claira at @vertilineinlove for all the latest.

Zines & confetti x on Twitpic

Beautiful cloudy sky photograph tags x on Twitpic

Envelope seals, upcycled from patterned wallpaper x on Twitpic

The more I see it, the more I like the new packaging I designed for use in shops. I can feel a whole rebrand coming on with these new lighter colours.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Find me in Sheffield!

I'm returning to my Northern English roots... sort of! The wonderful boutique Vertiline in Love has relocated from Edinburgh to Sheffield. I've been busy putting together a few boxes of new stock for this gorgeous little shop and here are some of the things I've been working on...

New tags... exclusive to Vertiline in this rich green colourway!

New packaging... especially for bricks and mortar retailers so they can price it up in house - and no web address on the packaging, just my business name.

If you are anywhere near Sheffield, or visiting Yorkshire in the next wee while, I can definitely encourage a visit to Vertiline in the Nichols Building. Otherwise, Vertiline will be open for business online shortly!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Little Birds Market - Sunday 11 September

I'll be making my return to craft markets at the Little Birds event on Sunday 11 September. You'll find me upstairs in Sloans, with a new selection of Girl Industries products, some of which you won't find online, so it's well worth dropping in!

I'll update you nearer the time as a little nudge. Hope to see you then!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Day in the life 14 August

Nominated by Julie, and as part of Claire's project, today is time for another Day in the Life post. Phew, two in two months! Today is the last day of freedom before I go back to full time work in the morning, so it's a pretty momentous occasion. I haven't been to my day job since 18 May last year when I was in receipt of some pretty scary blue light medical care and subsequently signed off work for the rest of my pregnancy. My lovely little girl will be 1 next week, and my fantastic childminder returns from her summer holidays in the morning, so it's back to work for me.

My poor old cat is quite unwell, so after some emergency treatment yesterday, he needs to go back for another antibiotic injection and a good check over. As usual, he got an infected abscess, this time above his left front leg. He is either just standing there taking a beating from whatever is fighting with him, or he's letting them get in the first swipe before he totals them. Last time it was his face, just missing his eye, the time before that, it was the front of his left leg. We've caught him squaring up to a pit bull before now, so nothing would surprise me.

So I was determined to make the most of today and we had a great time. Here's what happened.

7.30am we all wake up, get washed, dressed and eat breakfast. By 10am we are in the car and ready to go. Amelia has been dressed by her daddy in a cool blue t-shirt, beige combats, her new grey jumper that we got in Salford earlier this week (my mum gave it us and it *was* paid for, thank you very much) and even a pair of shoes.

10.10am I forgot to buy mayo yesterday so we cheat and buy pre-made sandwiches from Tesco on our way. We are off to the Scottish Deer Centre for a picnic and to feed the animals.

10.20am We are properly on our way now, and we drive along the A91 towards St Andrews. We pass Balado, home of T in the Park, and we smile at the aeroplane in the field. I catch up on yesterday's newspaper, and I'm delighted to hear that actress Katherine Parkinson was a grade A geek growing up, with a penchant for wearing medieval dress, from age 14 to about 21. Brilliant. I am less delighted to read the Family section, where usually brilliant advice giver Annalisa Barbieri implies that domestic abuse is not domestic abuse unless it is violent, and that anyone suffering abuse should be left alone to sort it out themselves, as they are adults and deserve not to have their private lives interfered with. I think that this is possibly some of the worst advice ever given and this puts a bit of a downer on my morning. I put the paper down and concentrate on the lovely North Fife Tourist Trail scenery.

11.10am We're here! Down to the serious stuff first, time for a coffee and a biscuit and a quick mooch around the gift shop before we go into the Deer Centre proper. Priorities, people.

12noon and we're in, just in time for the Birds of Prey demonstration. An owl lands on our picnic table. A hawk eats some unidentifiable bits of chicken a bit too close to us for comfort. A very young kestrel gets every instruction wrong and messes up the last bit of the presentation in a quite adorable way.

12.30pm and we settle in a clearing near to the wildcats for our picnic. My husband's head is looking pretty sunburnt and we decide to break out the picnic blanket under a shady tree. Just as well as the heavens open and we eat good old traditional British damp Quavers and sandwiches. After all that, the "healthy eating" sandwiches are made with yogurt instead of mayonnaise and taste very odd. Excellent. We change the baby's nappy on the picnic blanket in the rain (oh the glamour!) and get the footmuff out in time for the sun to burn through again and we take the footmuff off the pushchair again. We move on to feed the sheep before another weather-based intervention has to take place.

1.20pm and the sheep are eating food pellets (bought from the Deer Centre) from my hand. We see reindeer, the fox enclosure (but no foxes) and I take Amelia up on the elevated wooden squirrel walk, from which we see a coathanger and a man picking his nose, but no squirrels.

2.10pm and a go on the squashed penny machine later, we're out of there. A sleeps in the car while we nip along to Balgove Farmers Shop and Cafe for a cheeky afternoon tea and a bit of posh food shopping.

4pm and we're back on the road home, ready for the evening rigmarole of Amelia's dinner, bathtime, story and bedtime. This takes us up to 7.20pm, when I cook bacon cheese burgers, using Balgove bacon and local cheese, Red Anster. It's a cross between Red Leicester and Cheshire, with added garlic and chives, and tastes lovely. Fittingly, for this kind of dinner, the Radio 4 show Americana is playing in the background as I cook and we eat. I learn about the stock exchange in Chicago, which as you'd expect from the mid-west, is much like our corn exchanges from years past.

I pop upstairs at 8pm to resettle the baby, who has woken up. While I'm up on the top floor (we have two bedrooms in what used to be the loft), I nip into my craft room and spend nearly an hour creasing and folding around 40 envelopes in preparation for an extra trim and some gluing tomorrow evening. When I pop the TV on at 8.47 downstairs, I kick myself that I've missed the best part of Dragon's Den, but I lighten up when I realise there's a new series of Young, Dumb and Living off Mum on BBC3. This is trashy reality TV of the best kind - with a sarcastic Robert Webb voiceover - and makes me glad to be in a proper job. One of the types of work experience they are sent on this week is cleaning a youth hostel - something I once did over a summer in Edinburgh and would not like to do again. The University rents out its student accommodation over the summer and it's managed by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. By strange co-incidence I ended up cleaning in my old building, and even my old bedroom, overlooking the Pleasance Courtyard. I had to stop when a stag party tarred and feathered their groom in one of the flats, using treacle and a burst pillow. I'm very very very allergic to feathers when they aren't on birds, and found myself unable to breathe, a horrible experience. I actually quite enjoyed the cleaning aspect of the job, and the methodical completion of repetitive tasks was very relaxing. I was actually working three jobs that summer (an office job collating and summarising media reports of British defence contracts for the MOD and a customer services supervisor at Sainsburys, too), as I had to make up for lost time when I couldn't work during term time while I was living in Paris.

10pm and I have a Green and Blacks hot chocolate before bed. Yikes, a new era begins tomorrow, I'd better get a good sleep!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Treasury feature: slick pink

Another treasury, this time featuring the LAST EVER set of oversized grey and pink heart coasters. If you've had your eye on these, snap them up now, as I just sold a set earlier this week and these are the very last ones.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Treasury feature: strings

I've been lucky to find girlindustries items in a few treasuries this week - thank you to everyone who comments on and browses these lists, and a huge thank you to the lovely people who compile them.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Teeny tiny shiny envelopes

Aren't these tiny sparkly glittery envelopes cute? They're just 3cm square! They come with their own matching white folding cards, that you can customise to your heart's content. I am sure you can do a far better job than my sad attempt!

Find them in my shop and snap them up before they're gone, as they are upcycled from one piece of sturdy gift wrap there are only 16 of the little blighters in the whole wide world...

Friday, 5 August 2011

On your marks, get set, knit!

Wow, in just over 2 months' time it'll be the closing date for this years Big Knit! UK knitting magazine, Knit Today, has put its usual contributors to work on some fun new patterns for tiny bottle toppers. Including... Pss Beatrice's hat from the first of this year's Royal Weddings. Brilliant!

Time to get knitting - see Innocent's website for the closing date and where to send your completed hats.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Wallpaper envelopes - new!

I decided it was time for a bit of a shake-up in the wallpaper envelope department and have added a new size to my repertoire!

They are available in 12 different pattern/colourways (all from Laura Ashley's wonderful range) and all bin end samples, otherwise destined for the recycling.

My big task for naptimes this week is to upload all 12 varieties to my upcycled envelopes section in the shop, but in the meantime, here's a snapshot of the whole range.

I'm ready for custom orders and each colourway should yield around 50 envelopes, so they're ideal for your larger projects. I even have co-ordinating offcuts available that I'd be happy to send free of charge if someone creative fancied teaming them up with their own handmade cards.

With smaller offcuts, I've started making up co-ordinating envelope seals, but they are a little further off making their debut in the shop just yet. I love this time of year, it's the traditional stationery purchase month!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Taking stock...

Warning: this is going to be one of those posts all about me. Skip it or indulge me, your choice :)

I go back to my full time day job in two weeks today. Gosh. The last fifteen months have been extremely challenging, more so than I ever imagined. Some of the misconceptions that I had about pregnancy, babies and life as a parent have been blown completely out of the water. Before I had a baby, the only people I'd ever really spoken to about all that stuff had had fairly straightforward pregnancies, and births, and where things had become a little complicated, had received appropriate and timely medical care. I certainly had never known anyone spend the last six months of pregnancy and first six months of their child's life unable to stand for longer than 20 minutes and unable to walk further than one side of their house to the other. I thought babies slept 16 hours a day when newborn, and could be awake and not crying simultaneously, at least some of the time.

I knew the phrase 'you're pregnant, not disabled' wasn't a nice thing to say, but I didn't know you could become disabled from being pregnant or having a mismanaged delivery. I didn't know I wouldn't be able to even walk to a local shop for a pint of milk or to the playground on the other side of my back garden so my baby could go on the swings until she was 9 months old. I really never thought I'd be the kind of person who depended on a car to get around. I also didn't think I'd be the kind of person who would feel jealous of someone walking to collect their older child from school the day after they'd had a baby, when the day after I'd had a baby I was hooked up to all kinds of drips, drains and who knows what else, wondering if I'd ever live long enough to walk my child to school.

What I did know was that I was always going to go back to work - I'm even more determined to help make a difference to people who work in and use NHS services now - and that I will manage to balance being a mum, a wife, a friend and an employee with having some kind of social life and keeping my businesses going, as well as planning for another idea I have up my sleeve. Now just to think of what to say when everyone asks me did I enjoy my 'year off'. I always have the instinct to go a bit 1920s in these circumstances 'the heart failure, major surgery and feelings of having to conform to societal expectations of a new mother were a crashing bore, but that aside, just tickety boo, thanks'.

Luckily, I have just two short weeks to dwell on this, well, two weeks of nap times, anyway. In other news, I've made some new envelopes, and normal service will be resumed in my next post. Hurrah!