Christmas 2013

I love Christmas I do.

This was our first Christmas in the new flat, and the first Christmas in our own home. I absolutely love the whole season; decorating the tree to Christmas with the Rat Pack, baking gingerbread to a bit of Slade, buying everything on Amazon because it’s raining outside, having another mince pie and a glass of mulled anything in front of Elf/White Christmas/Die Hard 2.

2014 is going to be all about making things; baking, cooking, writing, drawing, etc.

Hubby (resident chef), among other things, got some lovely Le Crueset pans, a whisky blending kit from Masters of Malt, and a molecular gastronomy kit, so he can get a bit Heston in the Kitchen.

I gave Mum, who has dabbled in making her own gift tags and greeting cards in the past, some blank recycled stationery from Paperchase, a set of rubber stamps and ink pads from Etsy including a personalised “Handmade By Marian” stamp. She was really pleased with them.

And I was massively spoilt with some beautiful gifts, including this gorgeous leather shopper from ASOS, cake tins and a mug from brilliant British designers Magpie.

And (drumroll please), my mad husband bought me my very own Adana letterpress!

Freshly unwrapped

It’s a beautiful bit of kit, and I’ve already been squeezing every drop of advice from the lovely Rachel at Pricklepress (do buy her stationery, it’s super), whom I met at Crafty Fox Market last year.

Hubby and I popped to Lassco after New Years as well, as we had nowhere to put the letterpress or all the accompanying paraphernalia. We bought a set of drawers for a surprisingly reasonable price which was absolutely perfect.

IMG_2892

I’m just waiting on the ink and then I can get on and make a huge mess of our spare room.

All in all, a wonderful Christmas. Some other things we got up to below. Happy New Year everyone!

Advertisements

Llety Bodfor Townhouse, Wales

Hello! Terribly sorry for the break in posts, I’ve been busy stuffing my face with chocolate oranges and popping in and out of the hospital (more on that later).

Back in October, just after my last post, I got the weekend-away-itch and started scanning the internet for somewhere lovely to go over my birthday weekend at the end of the month. The criteria was simply big windows on to a nice view, less then 3 hour’s driving from London, a good pub within walking distance, and not horribly expensive.

After giving myself far (far) too many options by scanning Tripadvisor, Booking.com, AirBnB, Cottages4U and whatever other nonsense I could find, and weeping into my keyboard, we threw half the criteria out of the window and went for far away and not-cheap, but very lovely Llety Bodfor in Wales.

Bodfor Terrace from the beach

Bodfor Terrace from the beach

It’s the first of the taller buildings on the left.

This was my third time staying in the last few years. The rooms are massive, and very well soundproofed, with views of the sea to the front, and views of the hills to the back. I was a bit disappointed that they no longer do breakfast on site, you need to go a few doors down to the Seabreeze B&B, but the food was so excellent we ended up eating there 4 times in the 3 days. Lletty Bodfor herself was looking a bit tired and showing her age around the edges (the window in our room didn’t close properly, making it a bit drafty), but was otherwise still lovely. It was the perfect place to hole up during the massive storm that was sweeping through the country. We like to go on holidays in sub-optimal weather. It makes for better anecdotes.

Fireplace in our room

Fireplace in our room

Large double room

Large double room

View from bed. Could be worse.

View from bed. Could be worse.

Two basins. Two! No beard trimmings in mine today, no siree.

Two basins. Two! No beard trimmings in mine today, no siree.

Watching the rain over a cuppa.

Watching the rain over a cuppa.

We ventured out into the wind and rain to visit Portmeirion as well, which was just over an hour’s drive away. It’s a lovely area to stay in, though the drive there on a Friday night was a bit of a ‘mare. Snowdonia is also a short drive away though we decided not to risk that.

Aberdyfi

Aberdyfi

Aberdyfi

Aberdyfi

Portmeiron. Proof that the sun did indeed shine on my birthday. Briefly.

Portmeirion. Proof that the sun did indeed shine on my birthday. Briefly.

Portmeirion

Portmeirion

Is it still raining? I hadn't noticed.

Is it still raining? I hadn’t noticed.

 

All in all a very lovely birthday weekend, complete with getting the brooch I’d hoped for by Kate Rowland. Hoorah!

"I am the one who looks amazing in my new brooch."

“I am the one who looks amazing in my new brooch.”

 

Crafty Fox Market

I woke up on Sunday with the sun shining through the windows of our new flat. I sat on the sofa in my pyjamas drinking tea, eating toast and watching As Time Goes By whilst birds flitted round the garden.

It would have been impossible to tear myself away had it not been for the call of the Crafty Fox Market in Brixton.

Crafty Fox Autumn Market Webflyer

I arrived at The Dogstar around 2.30pm worrying that stock would be low as the weekend drew to a close, but the tables were all still overflowing with crafty goodness.

My first stop was with Jill, whose stunning designs I’d already bought several times before in the form of greeting cards. I very quickly handed over my money for three beautiful bird prints. My new flat is already low on wall space so they currently adorn the top of our wine rack. Nice eh?

Jill

We’d just bought a day bed for the spare room, which clearly needed softening up, so next I visited the very cute Pygmy Cloud for one of their mountain cushions, a rain and cloud garland, and then Tick Tack Toe for a bicycle cushion. Ikea furniture never looked so good.

IMG_2282

A few weeks ago on Twitter I saw the offer of a free letterpress taster with the lovely and talented Rachel from Pricklepress, which I swiftly signed up to.

Rachel showing how it's done.

Rachel showing how it’s done.

The Pricklepress selection

The Pricklepress selection

 

The process is actually more simple than I thought it would be (for one colour anyway), and just fiddly in a sort of satisfying way, but of course you need the talent to come up with new designs which, unfortunately, I lack. I struggled just to think of what to put on my free postcard. Which I shan’t even show here. Still, it hasn’t stopped me watching a load of Adana Letterpress machines on eBay!

After my lesson I slowly made my way out. I didn’t sample the tea and cake, though it all looked delicious, and I was sorely tempted to buy more loot when I spotted the delicate jewellery on Oh My Clumsy Heart’s stall. I was strong.

I’d also missed out on buying fantastic jewellery from Kate Rowland (her Breaking Bad inspired brooches are on my birthday wish list) as she was only at the market on Saturday. I recommend checking her designs out.

 

The Dogstar Brixton

 

Crafty Fox Market will be back at the Dogstar in Brixton on the 7th and 8th of December for Christmas themed shenanigans. Keep up with their movements on Twitter.

 

Ode to Oliver Jeffers

How to draw a penguin.

How to draw a penguin.

Oliver Jeffers is my favourite illustrator and children’s writer. I love his use of shadow, shapes and, more than anything, I love his humour.

The Heart And The Bottle

The Heart And The Bottle

I discovered his book The Heart and The Bottle whilst visiting the Tate Modern (and trying not to buy everything in the gift shop). I stood amongst the bustling tourists and read it cover to cover. And I cried.

Once there was a girl who was full of wonderment at how the world worked. She shared all her dreams and excitement with her father, who always had the answer to every question. That is until one day when his chair was empty, not to be filled again – how would she find the meaning of life now? 

My father had died the previous year, and reading this beautifully simple story of how a little girl came to feel love and joy again after loss was the kind of gentle therapy I hadn’t expected to find when I picked up a brightly coloured children’s book. And that softly optimistic storytelling is what makes his books so wonderful.

I now have the picture above hanging in my study. I even have the necklace by Digby & Iona that I wear like a good luck charm.  I’m quite the fangirl.

When I first saw his picture I was a bit confused to find out he’s young and handsome. It proves I imagine most illustrators to be old and pale with gnarled hands from staying indoors, bent over notebooks turning their heads inside out.

This month he is speaking at The SouthBank Centre in An Evening With Oliver Jeffers (sadly now sold out), and exhibiting his more adult works in Nothing To See Here at the Lazarides Gallery near Tottenham Court Road. The exhibition will run from the 13th of September – 3rd of October. Maybe I’ll see you there!

oliverjeffers-gillespie