Thursday, 24 December 2009

Berlin at Christmas!

This is a mostly photographic post since it's quarter to midnight and Santa won't be dropping off any presents if he finds me still awake! I mentioned we were going to Berlin for a few days before Christmas and it was so so lovely so I thought I'd share some of Oliver's photos (mine are always taken at some kind of jaunty angle...!) to increase the festive cheer! Everywhere was lit up and adorned with Christmas decorations, and there were Christmas markets and hot Gluhwein and Apfelsaft stalls in every square, and it snowed every day!

We went to Berlin Zoo too (for those who don't agree with zoos; I don't agree with keeping animals that should be in the wild locked up either, but the vast majority of animals in zoos today were born there or somewhere they were in danger, will not survive in the wild and play an important role in educating people about their wild habitats...and I absolutely adore animals and find the chance to be near them irresistible!):

That's me popping out of the human-sized beaver's dam!

We also saw the Berlin Wall (or a bit of what's left!), Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate (and some enormous moose decorations...I had to buy some minature ones to sate me instead!):

They also have a bit of an obsession with the Ampelmann (the little green and red men on the crossings) over there, which I cheerfully joined in with!

Merry Merry Christmas!!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Christmas Creativity? Madness!

Gosh it's busy busy busy this Christmas! It doesn't seem a minute ago that it was November, and now Christmas is a week away and I haven't wrapped a thing...I tried to organise my pile of handmade presents earlier, working out which was for who and labelling them accordingly, but I still haven't gone near any with the wrapping paper, oops!

Look how sunny it was outside then...before it started snowing - and look how it looks now!

Apologies for the blurry photos - phone camera to the rescue!

I'm going to Berlin for a few days before Christmas so all will be a little quiet on the blogging front, but hopefully I'll be back with some lovely photos and nice handmade festive gifts to share!

Happy wrapping!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Christmas Gift Inspiration

I'm endeavouring to make as many Christmas presents as possible this year, which is time consuming, but very very satisfying! Amongst the gifts, I'll be including a few of these flower tote bags in different colours:

and a few of these flower brooches, in colours I know will be worn most by the recipient:

If you're still looking for a few last minute gifts or stocking-fillers, look no further than Folksy, for some stunning handmade designs, including...

...these little garden bird brooches for a wildlife watcher:

...this starfish necklace for a seafaring friend:

...a cheerful bunting kit for a crafty relative:

...this vegan mini-journal for the conscientious note-taker:

...a cuddly tea-cosy for the hot beverage-loving gran:

...or a pretty print for the new homeowner?

How can you resist?! Click all photos to go to source!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Love Where You Live

I posted the other day that 'We Are What We Do', and one of my target things to do was to love where I live. I live in Leeds, in Yorkshire, and I recently came back here after living in (and adoring!) Liverpool for four years with some new-found affection for it - it's funny that I never really identified with Leeds until I went away from it for a while (on those photos I've pinched, click through for the source - I went into town to take some today, but the Christmas shopping crowds proved too much of a challenge to take any half decent ones, sorry!)!

Someone the other day described Leeds as industrial, and it is, because it was built around the production of and profit from wool, so there are a plethora of mills, terraced houses, town streets, schools and pubs, but there are also parks, canals, churches (whether you're religious or not, the architecture of most churches is certainly something to look at), abbeys, museums, art galleries, reservoirs and stately homes (with animals to feed if you want to rediscover your inner child!) and I'm glad I'm starting to appreciate it.

This is the view from the park by my house - industrial and green (the creepy shadow in the corner of the second one is me!):

It's becoming the second financial capital of the UK, and besides the daunting skyline of office and apartment blocks, this comes with benefits - the shopping and social sides of the city are massively varied:

...but that's just the city centre - other places I love in Leeds include:

Kirkstall Abbey - perfect for a wander round and a picnic, weather permitting!

Saltaire (strictly speaking, this is in Bradford, but it's still very close!) - built by Titus Salt, this is a model town complete with a mill, church, pretty terraced streets, a park, allotments, a college, schools and almshouses.

Roundhay Park - lovely for a walk or to see the fireworks!

Temple Newsam - to get your fill of some local history! It's an old stately home that's now a museum, and it also has huge grounds containing a lake and a farm with animals you can feed if you're a child (or a bit insistent, as I was on my birthday this year haha). Oh yes...I briefly (accidentally) had orange hair, it was fun, if slightly obnoxious!

Aww I really do love where I live!

For more photos of Leeds, have a look at Leeds Daily Photo

Monday, 7 December 2009

We Are What We Do!

I've recently discovered We Are What We do - what a brilliant idea!

It started with Action #1 - Declining plastic bags (which resulted in the Anya Hindmarch 'I am not a plastic bag' for Sainsbury's) and has turned into a bit of a revolution! You can search through suggested actions or make your own, click to say you want to do them, click when you have done them, and then let everyone know HOW you did them! There are actions to make someone's day better, actions to improve your environment, actions to improve your workplace...the list goes on!

The actions I've just done now are:
- unplug my mobile phone charger
- turn away from my computer screen and blink
- register as an organ donor

The actions I'm going to do this evening are:
- cook a meal from scratch
- turn the tap off whilst I brush my teeth
- turn off unnecessary lights

The actions I want to do this week are:
- shop locally
- love where I live
- find out more about my food

...just for starters, but there are many many many more - it's rather addictive! Go on, give it a try...after all - You Are What You Do!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Inspiration Post: Maps and Takeaway Cups!

I'm always on the lookout for new materials to use, especially papers with interesting patterns and textures and I've come across a couple recently!

I was pottering around and found a pile of cut up (and essentially useless) old maps, which I thought would be lovely turned into cut-outs for cards or some origami house/tree decorations, and they turned out really nicely! My BSc is in Geography and so I have many geographically-minded friends who I'm sure would appreciate these as gifts!

Trust Martha Stewart to go one better and make tote bags out of them...if I come across any waterproof maps at the end of their former life, this will be my next project!

Another unexpected inspiration was the decorations on takeaway cups at the moment - I very rarely buy hot drinks to take away because of the rather silly amount of waste, however finding a way to recycle the cups would justify the feeling on those long chilly train journeys when nothing but a Chai Tea Latte (I'm such a child, I still don't like coffee...) will warm your toes! Better still, these pretty designs won't go to waste - including this little fellow:

First these needed rinsing and flattening out, which I'm currently doing after cutting down the seam and tearing the base off - I've placed them under a massive pile of heavy books! I'm going to cut the nicest pictures out and use them as card motifs. The cup holders that stop you burning your hands also have festive designs at this time of year, and will be even easier to use because they're not as moulded - just pull them apart and chop up to your heart's content! I'm going to use the patterned fronts as raised detailing and the corrugated backs as textured card. I'll post photos when I've done them! I'm off to rummage for more things to chop up and create!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Cupcake Couture Goodies!

I won a giveaway on Cupcake Couture a couple of weeks ago, and my goodies arrived on Friday - thank you, Rani! I love love love getting things in the post (even boring things like brooch backs and fabric glue ha!), so I was delighted to investigate the contents...

...Dermalogica goodies! Wash Off, All Over Clear and Welcome Matte SPF15 - I'm going to be sparkly clean and clear! My skin has been a bit nuts since my final year at uni (got to love eczema!) and I tend to survive solely on aqueous cream and Simple products, so it'll be extra nice to try something new!

...a lovely little notepad! I have an A4 pad (recycled paper, of course!) to write down ideas for things to make and blog posts, but it's too big to fit in most of my handbags and tends to get a bit squished, and here's my answer; a portable one for writing down spur-of-the-moment ideas! And how cute is the card?

...aaand a MAC sample! Woop! If/when I have the time, I really enjoy wearing extra special makeup, especially eye makeup, and I have a couple of MAC products that I love (Shadestick in Sharkskin and pigment in Violet), but I rarely have the time or pennies to dedicate to a proper collection, so it was lovely to add this to it! It's a pigment sample in Provence which Rani suggests as a highlighter - the photo doesn't show it off particularly well, but it's really sparkly and lovely and I'm looking forward to using it as soon as I have the right occasion!

Thank you!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Inspiration Post: Nice Things That Happen

This is a bit of an odd story, but it has a happy ending and it inspired me, and I think that's a good reason to write it down.

On Monday lunchtime, my dad, who works from home, was sitting in the kitchen when a man rushed down the road with his hand all covered in blood - he'd been putting some leaflets through people's letterboxes and got bitten by a neighbour's dog, and he was asking for a tissue. My dad helped him clean it up and decided it was pretty bad, so he drove him down to the Accident and Emergency in town, where his friend was going to meet him, then came back home.

We were sitting eating tea (dinner? only if we have company - I'm from Yorkshire!) when there was an almighty knock at the door - it was the man from earlier, who'd only got out of the hospital half an hour before, and come to bring my dad flowers and chocolates to say thank you...he was unbelievably grateful (and unnecessarily apologetic for bleeding all over our floor!), and kept thanking my dad over and over for looking after him. He has to have surgery on his hand but it should be okay.

He'd spent all day in hospital but he still wanted to come back and thank my dad, and it made me feel so happy that people who've never met before will and do help each other out, and that despite all the miserable stories proliferating the news, you can rely on people when you need them most.

My dad had asked me earlier to make him some Christmas cards (my mum makes her own!) and as the flowers were wrapped in really nice green and brown paper, I decided a nice way to send a bit of this nice feeling around at Christmas would be to include it in the cards, so I did!

They're not the most extravagant cards I've ever made, but they don't really need to be; they're quite little, sweet and festive and they have the little tokens of paper on, which carry a bit of what I think Christmas should be about!

Monday, 23 November 2009

New Items and Stamps!

I have my business stamps! Yay! I've been wanting these since even before I imagined my Etsy and Folksy shops and I finally organised myself into sorting my website (Wrapped Up With String - it redirects to Etsy for now!) to justify purchasing them, and they arrived over the weekend! I've since been stamping everything in sight because they're so pretty. I bought them from nothingelegant and ummed and ahhed for ages about the fact that they were coming all the way from South Korea, but the stamps were like nothing I could find anywhere else (I really did search!), and HyeKyung at nothingelegant was so lovely and helpful that I justified it, and am so glad I did - I love them!

I've also finished some new projects over the weekend, including this pretty brooch:

this lovely button headband (I made myself one too - that's the brown one!):

and these vintage button hair slides (there's that business stamp again!):

Find them on Wrapped Up With String now!

Exchange Links with Wrapped Up With String!

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