Thursday, 30 June 2011

Get ahead, get a hat

Now I know it's usually Anna who writes 16+ paragraphs on how great our makers are and I write the equivalent 15+ paragraphs on some geeky thing that has put a bee in my bonnet. Times are a changing my friend, a new wind blows through u-ni-k  IT HQ, as a tidying up today uncovered my knitting bag.

Knitting is a skill I discovered while with bump, and luckily for me that means that I was able to make lovely little things for my baby to wear or sleep with or tuck up with. I'm no great knitter but I can make do with the limited skills I can do and by all accounts my tension is fantastic (probably because I stop at each row and spread out the knitting to make sure I've not dropped any stitches). However, the day I hung up my needles was the day Anna brought over the Nyoki pieces for me to view.

I don't have adequate adjectives to describe the soft, rich and incredibly light feeling of the hat and booties she bought over. Nor can I do justice to the quality of the knitting, such incredible patterns and not a stitch out of place (or any noticeable wabi sabi - see Anna's earlier post). Oh but the colours, no photograph can capture the dusky rose pink of the little girl's hat, it was like a volcanic sunset (think Ruapehu 1996). That's as about as close as I'm going to get to describe the wonderful creations Anna brought over (and of course being Anna took away with her as it's hard for anyone to tear stock out of her hands).

I don't know what moves me more, the pieces I briefly saw or the ladies who run Nyoki themselves. They've been the nicest people to work with, nothing has been too much trouble and they go the extra mile - even remembering to send Anna a "happy moving into your new home" card. You'll therefore not be surprised to learn that Nyoki works closely with job creation programs in Kosovo, giving female survivors of the Kosovo war the confidence and the financial means to support themselves and their families. When you buy a Nyoki product from u-ni-k, you are helping to rebuild their lives. 

So I'll be giving the next special little person I know a gift set from Nyoki. It'll help those ladies in Kossovo and also provide warmth and comfort to the little one, giving them both a head start in this world. And we all know, if you want to get ahead, you've got to get a hat!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Golden Rule... treat others as you yourself wish to be treated

I was listening to Radio 2 yesterday (yes yes I'm in THAT demographic) and the Jeremy Vine show was about insurance companies selling on your details to third parties if you'd been involved in an insurance claim. Understandably everyone calling in was outraged and quite rightly so.

It seems that insurance companies are ignoring The Golden Rule. Now that it seems this age old adage of "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" has been lost when it comes to personal data sharing among companies. I know that I am not alone in hating spam (and not just the tinned meat... remember Spam? What was it? I digress...). This is an awful thing for insurance companies to do; all done under the umbrella of 'sharing information to help aid the resolution of your claim'. So why do you receive texts 3 years later saying 'You could claim £3600 for your accident. Call this number now!"; because your details have been sold on to a company who's domicile is outside of the UK and therefore not abiding by our laws about cold calling (illegal) or data protection.

This lack of international protection (very much required in the world of the internet) means that often the lesser known Silver Rule is forgotten as well: One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated. I know companies that keep people's credit / debit card numbers in spreadsheets on unprotected machines OR (even worse) on a piece of paper in a drawer. It is then passed about at bill paying time to all and sundry so that the bill can be paid. 

These horrific practices (seen in two different global companies I worked for - buy me a cup of coffee and I'll spill the beans) are why we use PayPal. Purchasing goods from u-ni-k couldn't be safer, we never see or hear your card or bank details and we will never share our customer information. 

Every time I receive one of those cold calls I ask you to do what I do:

1. Ask them to remove me from their database (so my details can't be passed on to the next company in a "customer list" for sale)
2. Ask them for their full company name, address and the name of the person who called you.
3. Report them to TPS.

Now here are two companies you really must support - Telephone Preference Service and Mail Preference Scheme. Both these are free and should cut down your 'spam' by 1/3rd

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Searching for new makers!

We are always on the hunt for gorgeous people to add to our eclectic family of makers.

We have a ceramicist,
a knitter,
a printer,
a dressmaker,
an artist, 
an illustrator,
a silver pin maker
etc etc.

All of whom we thank for making such original and gorgeous products for u-ni-k gifts.

What we are looking for is a traditional silver spoon maker and a traditional patchwork quilt maker. If you know of such a person that has been keeping their talents to themselves for too long please let us know. Of course if you know of a maker who isn't either of these two things but should be seen, tell us!
We’d love to hear from them and see what treasures they make.
Please share your treasures with us!

Or find us on Twitter or face book

Happy Tuesday!

Anna x

Monday, 27 June 2011

Treasure shopping: Treasures are only treasures if you use them

Yes, Yes, I must apologise before I start to bleat on about beautiful, aesthetic products, buying from makers rather than suppliers and buying personal products again…it’s kind of my passion. I want to be surrounded by functional beautiful objects. I am not one of “those” people that buy beautiful things and then keeps them locked away in a cupboard for who to see? Nobody!
If I take the time and money to choose something beautiful and precious, I do so because I want to be reminded that it is beautiful every time I use it. It makes me happy to make my partner and I a cup of tea in our hand thrown mugs that I asked the maker to create in celebration of our anniversary. I love dressing my daughter in a hand made dress that one of my closet friends has made especially for her.  If the treasure breaks or gets damaged in the process then at least I have used and loved it and have lots of memories of it! Much better then it sat collecting dust.

Ok, I have been spoilt, working in the beautiful surroundings of egg for ten years. And now working with Sarah at u-ni-k HQ finding and spreading the word about beautiful traditional baby gifts that are still out their if you know where to look! But I think it’s important that these little nuggets of joy are there and used everyday to make us all smile.

As a soon to be expectant Mummy (yes, quick I know!) I was chatting with two other mummy bumps at the weekend and discussing baby products, trying to get a feel for what one of the Mummies may want/need for her first born. I wanted to buy her something special, as she and her husband are lovely. They are also very particular! . I understand that us parents can be very particular with the things we choose for our babies. After all, those funny outfits we get bought will forever and always feature in the family photo album if we are not careful!
 I understand from being a parent myself that Mummies and Daddies buy the practical things for the new born. The pack of 6 vests, 6 sleep suits, and endless muslins. And grandparents to be sometimes helping buy the BIG things that now days need a small mortgage to pay for like the buggy

 That leaves everyone else out there to buy the treasures that you don’t expect and that make you smile and cry all at the same time when you open them. After all, babies really don’t need that much when they are really little!

Treasures in my opinion are the things that when you spot in a shop, make your heart beat that little bit faster. Or as my little sister says….make you so excited you need to pee yourself! I am a big fan of them. In fact I hate shopping and really only love treasure shopping. I love the excitement and thrill of it all. Finding that special something that no one else has found!

That’s what u-ni-k is here for. We are not like every other baby gift website offering gifts for newborns.  We are hunting high and low to find those gorgeous products that will hopefully make you and the recipient of your gift squeal with delight.  The heirlooms and the back to tradition products that are so hard to find.  Hand thrown breakfast sets that should be used everyday. Cashmere blankets that keep your little one warm. Everyone knows that cashmere grows more beautiful with age, so it should be used.  Or the hand smocked dresses that should be worn as an accompaniment to wellie boots while puddle jumping …in my opinion!   We’ve even found the last original artworks of Victoria Plum. What is the point in having all these beauties if they are not used, hung or worn.

We have found lots of treasures already and are always on the look out to fill our troves with more.  We are even willing to share our finds with you. And on top of that, if you don’t find it easy to choose a special gift then that is where Sarah and I can help. We are here to help you find that special something.

And what did I choose for my lovely friend I hear you ask? A limited edition Belle and Boo “Boo” print. The print it’s self is beautiful, timeless and classic.  The editions are limited to only 50, which makes it a true treasure. We have left it unframed so that the parents can choose the finishing touches to match their nursery. Not only that but it is signed by the wonderful illustrator herself, Mandy Sutcliffe.  A true treasure in my book! 

Friday, 24 June 2011

QUIZ time! Let lady luck be with you. Good Luck!

QUIZ time! Let lady luck be with you… Good Luck!

Don’t forget you still have a week to enter our u-ni-k quiz.
The prize is a beautiful Organic Cotton baby blanket with the traditional rabbit and toadstool print in a gender-neutral lime green. The print is beautifully classic.

The Old Rectory’s prints have been greatly inspired by the designer's Joanna and Stephanie's, Grandfather’s passion for wildlife. He filled his sketchbooks with drawings, cuttings, anecdotes and collected treasures, inspired by the nature surrounding him during his childhood, depicting 20th century life. The books have become an endless inspiration for both Joanna and Stephanie whilst forming the Old Rectory. Whether it be the old rectory gardens filled with fruits, flowers and wildlife, the swallows arrival in spring or the local Ballard farm that he peered at through the Old Rectory bare trees in autumn and winter.
Each print is made using 20th Century block style printing alongside a fresh colour palette. All Old Rectory pieces are kind to the environment using only quality controlled and insured cotton and healthy working standards alongside Oeko-tex certified dyes. Meaning the pieces are kind to our babies skin. Each piece captures a child’s curiosity and imagination with its simple and vibrant print.
Each blanket print is available in a sleeping bag, romper suit and Pj’s. We also have plain cotton hats to match each colour of blanket.
All you have to do to enter is click on the gorgeous Simone Riches link to her website, SFR Product Reviews, and answer the quiz question. The competition ends on 3rd July.

Good Luck!! 
And remember, if you don’t enter you can’t win!!
Happy Weekend x

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Trust me I'm a working Mum!

I've been doing a lot of research on e-commerce recently. It's rather a fascinating subject, no really it is! Did you know that trusted brands (John Lewis, Amazon etc) only convert 1 - 4% of their website traffic into sales? No? Neither did I.

The thing that really amazed me was not the percentage of view:sales but the word 'trusted'. It seems that unless you are a 'big brand' the online public don't trust you. Which poses the question - how do the big online names become trustworthy? And this, inevitably, leads to the even bigger question of how do smaller companies become 'trustworthy'?

The whole question of 'small companies aren't as trustworthy as bigger companies' irks me even more than people who have the flu travelling on public transport (really your job is not that important - stay off the trains, buses, etc WE DON'T WANT YOUR GERMS. I digress...). I've worked for some of the biggest global corporations there are, and I can honestly say they are the least trustworthy companies I know.

Big companies are sloppy with customer data, have no consistency with their customer support, are very bad at interdepartmental communication and usually charge over the odds to cover their wasteful overheads (office printers usually have reams of paper sat on them where people have printed out emails and not wanted the 5+ pages of email conversation just the most recent bit). The money I used to charge large companies for me to come in and project manage them out of these bad ways?!

But not any more, now I am proud to be a working Mum and I am equally as proud to be a Member of the Surrey Business Mums group. We working Mums all work hard to ensure we provide the highest customer service, are as helpful and as supportive as we can be, and like all Mums we definitely don't believe in waste (Mums are fabulous at cooking a great meal out of leftovers and making a school costume out of bits and bobs in their sewing basket). So next time I see a website that says 'Proud to be A Working Mum'. I for one am going to trust that website more than the faceless big brands. So, trust me; I'm a working Mum.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Side effects of reading a bedtime story...?

Victoria Plum was a woodland fairy. She was the heroine of several books written and published in the UK during the 1980s.
Victoria Plum wasn't a naughty fairy but she was led into some adventures by some of her friends, animals or good intentions. I distinctly remember the book about her taking a day off school because the sun was shining (she'd been caught daydreaming at her desk and her teacher had told her to leave the class room and live the life she was dreaming of instead of sitting there not paying any attention). I can't remember what mischief was done or the point of the story, just that she was allowed to go outside and play in the wood when the weather was nice. Perhaps I've spent far too many days in the office looking at the sunshine dreaming of being outside!

Anna and I are lucky, DangerBaby and The Naughty are both outdoor nature loving babies. Never happier than when they are covered in soil and heading for a muddy puddle. Perhaps a little of the influence of the curious woodland fairy Victoria has been passed on through us Mums in our bed time reading to the little ones?

(We've been very fortunate to track down the last of the original Victoria Plum illustrations and we've had them professionally mounted so that they will keep for many more generations of little ones to enjoy. To see all the illustrations we have please visit the Handmade section of the website).

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

It's all about the Daddies too!

One of my friends is currently in Chelsea and Westminster hospital waiting to meet his first born. He and his lovely wife have been there for over 30 hours, and I think he doesn't have much left of his fingernails.  Surprisingly, I'm in a position to sympathise. I went in to hospital on a Saturday but DangerBaby didn't join us until the Tuesday, so I've tried to give some advice to help pass the time.

But I can't give any advice for how to combat his feeling of helplessness. I know that Daddy DayCare spent our time watching DVDs on the laptop, ordering in take away food and bringing me drinks of water. Otherwise he was on 'monitoring machine watch', he'd watch the baby heart beat machine and adjust the little devices to make sure we were all OK. Although it didn't help me much, having that sense of purpose meant I wasn't being asked how I was or if it hurt at every contraction.

Since I went into the HDU post birth, it was up to Daddy DayCare to check the baby had 10 fingers and 10 toes (and was otherwise all present and correct). And he did a stirling job at counting all the digits. He's been doing a stirling job ever since. We tried to make sure that he knew we were appreciative this Sunday, Father's Day here in the UK.

It's not just Father's Day that we remember to appreciate the Daddies. As Mummies, Anna and I had designed our website and shopping experience around fellow Mummies (not forgetting the Daddies but concentrating on the Mummies). To our surprise we have had more feedback from the Daddies than the Mummies, and they want some improvements! They like the stock and want the exact sample that they see there on the website. They know the gift they have chosen is perfect. So, since we listen to feedback we've launched our Purchase buttons so that they can have their gifts sent to them as soon as we can gift wrap them up. Because after all, it's all about the Daddies too!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Hurrah for Winifred Judy Rose- swaddled in Shuktara florals from u-ni-k!

One of my closest friends has just had a little baby girl. Two weeks and a few days old today, called Winifred Judy Rose Neeve. She is beautiful and so is her mummy Lucy. I bought Lucy, aka Miss Marple, two beautiful Shuktara blankets as a gift, ready and waiting for the arrival of her bump a while back. I cherished mine so much that I wanted to share the gorgeous products with another Mummy to be. I met the maker, David Earp, founder of the Shuktara charity, through my previous job at egg in Knightsbridge. On the last day before I left to have my baby, a parcel arrived and inside were 4 gorgeous blankets that totally blew me away. Two plain white and two very beautiful floral blankets all kantha (hand) stitched. And all extremely gorgeous. I love them all and have used them with love throughout the first year of my daughter’s life. As a picnic blanket, cot blanket, burp blanket (in emergencies!), buggy blanket, bath towel, a cool summer sun shade- the list goes on. I wouldn’t be without them and have had so many gorgeous compliments about how lovely they are.

Lucy was very cunning- or so I have since realised! They, Luce and Gregor, Winnie’s Mum and Dad decided to keep the sex of their baby a surprise. A thing that I was contemplating when Ida was still in my tummy, but actually when it came down to it I really wanted to know. Plus I had a feeling the naughty pickle in my tummy was a little girl!! Anyway, so I was left with the deliberation of what do I ask David to make her. A blanket for a girl or a blanket for a boy? Both David and I have a love of pretty florals so I knew which ever I picked would be floral of some type. In the end I decided that Lucy would love all the blankets from Shuktara so I decided to ask for two, so that I could cover all bases. Very lucky Lucy! I explained that she is a crazy Art teacher, who looked like Penny Crayon most of the time with a 1940’s/1950’s twist. She is very much a hippy at heart. Her partner, Gregor, is a handsome chappy who likes to chop wood and tend to nature while studying wild mushrooms, his chickens and foraging in open woodland.  I know David has a fantastic instinct when it comes to choosing the perfect pattern on a sari for a certain person as the blankets he gave me as a gift for Ida’s birth are so very Ida. So I decided to let him decide what the blankets should be. When they arrived they were beautiful…one very Lucy, hippy yellow blanket in bright colours and one very Gregor natural floral in sage green. Perfect!

As I had my daily visit to face book today, they both sprang to my mind today as I saw the beautiful pictures of Winnie wrapped in her gorgeous yellow blanket. It suits her perfectly! Yay! Well done for David. And Well done to Mummy Lucy and Daddy Gregor on their beautiful Winifred.

We have a beautiful collection of Shuktara blankets ready to find their perfect happy homes just like Ida and Winnie’s. We can even make something even more special just for you if you have something specific in mind.  As I said, David has the knack of knowing what will fit!!

In the meantime- please look at the Shuktara website. The making of these gorgeous blankets not only pays the wages of the amazing women who hand stitch them all, but also helps house disabled street children in India who have been abandoned because of their disabilities. Without Shuktara, society would have written them off as incapable of learning, developing social skills and integrating with society. The recycled Sari’s David collects are made into blankets, sold by Shuktara creating a profit that then buys the children a home to live in for life, helping to educate them, get jobs and to grow in every sense. Shuktara's philosophy is to provide care in a home environment, not an institution.

Please please see to read more about David’s wonderful charity and the gorgeous children he works with.  As not all children can be as lucky as Ida, Kathryn and the new little Winifred. 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Wabi sabi: The beauty of handmade-unique wobbles and gorgeous imperfections

Finally the crazy lady has let me loose on the blogging! It’s all a little alien to me as I am not the computer nerd side of this partnership. No offence Sarah! As you have probably noticed- Sarah likes to talk! Most of the time she is waffling on in computer language that I really don’t understand and the remainder of the time she is talking or “singing” in baby language. I can honestly say that for the first few months I knew Sarah I hadn’t a clue what she was going on about. Daddy day care, Craig crinkle bum and Pants pants  are all terms that you have to get used to. You do learn to understand it all a little better as time goes on, I promise!

We, Sarah and I, are hitting our first fayre of gorgeous products next week to try and find lots more gorgeous unique and heirloom gifts to share with you all. We’ll be looking for those complete treasures that we just can’t leave without. I’ll be personally looking for makers rather than suppliers. Maker’s is a friendlier word and has a friendlier feel that suits our whole  unique situation. A maker to me is someone who is passionate about what they make and how it is created.

Many an afternoon “mummy club” meeting over a cup of tea has been spent with Sarah and I ranting over the lack of originality and quality in baby products and gifts. Where have all the heirloom beauties and keepsake treasures disappeared to? Both Sarah and I were very lucky when our babies were born. Sarah taught herself to knit while waiting for Kathryn to arrive and made lots of gorgeous blankets and knitted pieces because she couldn’t find the quality, originality and simplicity she was looking for in shops. She is a very talented Mummy don’t you know! I come from a specialised retail background where I have been surrounded by beautiful products made by wonderful people. When Ida was born I was very lucky and was given gorgeous handmade gifts by many of my maker friends. As a result, I have asked a lot of these gorgeous things to be made especially for u-ni-k. So the pieces are absolutely unique to us.

Making things by hand and working with the fabric, paper, textile etc leaves a lot in the maker’s hand and imagination during the creative making process. This adds to the beauty and originality of the piece.  Things become alive rather than flat and solid. Pieces have life and look made with love! So even though a piece may be a replica of the first piece made, it will never be the same. For a true maker that is impossible to create. This also means that these wonderful handmade products come with small wobbles and imperfections that add to their beauty and make them special. Japanese people call this Wabi Sabi, the beauty of the aesthetic imperfect. As Leonard Koren wrote is his book Wabi Sabi: “Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect. It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional.”

I am hoping that during our foraging at our fayre next week we will stumble across some true gems and treasures that are truly Wabi Sabi that we can share with you all and add to our already growing list of special makers.

Perhaps the other reason I love this Wabi Sabi concept is because it has widely been associated with the Japanese tea Ceremony! As Sarah told me this week- I am a bit of a tea fiend! It comes with listening to Sarah’s chitter chatter. No space to add comments while Sarah is on the verbal blurb…instead I just slurp my tea!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Call this service?!

For those that are local to the u_ni_k IT HQ in sleepy Surrey (UK) you'll be aware of a sinister plot afoot. (did you know that for many cultures the left and left-handedness has been associated with 'evil' or 'unlucky'? Sinistra in latin originally meant left but took on the evil or unlucky meaning over time. Which is why you throw salt over your left shoulder into the eye of Satan. I kid you not. Knowing me is an education! Anyway... I digress!)

Yes I am talking about the disappearing postal service. We used to have a great postal service, normal postie always had a smile on his face, a glint in his eye and a spring in his step. Parcel postie coo'd at the baby and always had time to tell you about her family in Australia, and if you were out (or changing a nappy) she'd hide the parcel for you to save you struggling with the buggy into town to pick it up. Really decent people doing a job they loved, and bringing high quality and excellent customer service that are, sadly, rare to find these days.

Imagine how upset I was to learn we were losing normal postie and parcel postie?! And they were going to be replaced by one man and a van. 'Progress' I think they call it. Well, I'm lucky if we have our mountain of post rammed through the letterbox twice a week. The new postie doesn't enjoy his job (I asked), hasn't introduced himself (even though I introduced myself) and sneaks around with a hat shading his face like some cartoon villain.

Rest assured, although u_ni_k gifts uses Royal Mail to deliver our goods; we use their special delivery service ensuring our gifts are spirited away by people like Parcel Postie and Normal Postie. We'd never settle for anything other than the best. Little by little we hope to help bring high quality and excellent customer service back into our customer's lives.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

3 little tips that mean a lovely lifetime of chocolate cakes!

It's amazing how little tips go a very very long way. I'm not talking horses (even if it is Ascot Week), I am talking about the every day little things that make a big difference to your life. It may come as a surprise to some of you but I'm a cook (not professionally!) and if everyone I've cooked for is right - I'm quite a good cook as well (great cook if you ask Daddy DayCare). It may come as even more of a surprise but I'm a terrible baker.

You'd think as a scientist (yes really) it would be the other way around?! Baking requires people to be exact and follow the instructions, cooking is a little more artistic - throw stuff in and see how it comes out. But nope, I can cook a feast fit for a King (Henry 8th inspired Christmas dinner last year was a sight to behold!) but ask me to make a cupcake and you'll have this deflated thing in a paper case. For some reason I just can't keep cakes, muffins, cupcakes, and all manner of baked goods 'up' (probably why my 'English Welsh Cakes' are OK).

I searched the internet, asked friends, watched Raymond Blanc, read cookery books and even took advice from people in supermarkets but to no avail. I was going to give up but then saw that in my most recent cupcake / muffin book (present in my Christmas stocking from Daddy DayCare) that she gave three tips to making the best muffins ever. I tried them and guess what? IT WORKED! My mini-muffins stayed up and looked like muffins!! Woo hoo! Here are her tips: 1. Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately. 2. Sift all your dry ingredients. 3. Don't over mix. The batter should be lumpy and bumpy!

I'm hoping these three little tips mean that I can cook birthday cakes and party muffins for some years to come. Be it a chocolate smartie cake or a knitted hat, we all appreciate the love and quality that comes from something that is handmade.
DangerBaby's 1st Birthday cake

Monday, 13 June 2011

Come on Summer, we want to make some memories!

Lots of things in the UK are barmy; there's those sports fans who camp outside a ticket office for weeks just to spend a damp afternoon for a 'tennis tumult ' watching the British hopeful put in a valiant effort (have you noticed it's always a valiant effort), or those groups of people who meet to practice wearing bells, waving sticks and dance about a bit - all just for one fete in May (yes Morris dancers - do you ever see them outside of the Month of May? No? Neither do I, where do they go for the rest of the year? Bet they're accountants or something). The most barmy of all must be the weather. Only in the UK can you have all seasons in one day.

Saturday was so bad I considered lighting the fire, especially when the hail stones started to settle like snow. However, I resisted as it is 'Flaming June'!!! Sorry had to stop myself from keeping my finger on the exclamation mark. It's been hard to believe that it's not April with all the rain. Not that I'm complaining, with three (or is it four) counties officially in a 'drought' and my garden in desperate need of a proper water - the rain is very welcome. As long as we have a summer, with sunshine and ice cream and all those other summer treats.

A chance to see the little one toddle about in one of Annafie's hand smocked dresses, or layout one of those rich, thick Shuktara blankets out on the grass for a picnic, or build a den on the beach with an Old Rectory jersey lined blanket. A chance to make some summer memories, all we need is a bit of warm weather before the cold, dark winter nights return. It's not much to ask? Is it?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Life's a rollercoaster...

Remember Zig&Zag? No? Oh come on I'm not the only one who is that old?! Am I? Anyway, they had this hand movement that mimic'd the curves of a graph. When things go well, hands were high and when things didn't go so well down dived the hands. So let's measure this week on the zig and zag scale.

Start of the week - Sort of about hip level (which is pretty low), I couldn't solve a justification issue on my gallery code (geek talk for not being able to put pictures in a row). Anna is relying on me being able to pull this one off. So hand definitely at hip height >> so so.

Middle of the week - Well things were looking up, I'd kind of solved the gallery issue but Mt Washing had grown so high that a few very brave ants had started to make their home under it (I saw a few scuttling across the tiles from underneath one of DangerBaby's bibs). EEEK and also EWWWWWW. So hand still at hip height after a brief rise to shoulder height! >> high and low points.

Towards the end of the week - Anna stuck on a train for 4hrs with bump and probably no food or water. Lots of other Twitter peeps also had family members on the train; what a fiasco. Boo. Our token 'man' in Mummy Club (let's call him the Italian Stallion for now) had started to show some chicken pox blisters and needed some medicine his Mummy didn't have. Boo. Took us 40mins to do the 1.5mile journey from u_ni_k IT HQ to his house (usually a 5-10min drive). Boo. But we'd found the amazing knitted teddy bears. Yay?! >> so so

Today - Finally met up with Anna for our business meeting (yes yes a chat and catchup over a cup of coffee [me] / tea [Anna]). YAY! Picked up the silver nappy pins Richard Ord had sent us. YAY! Saw The Naughty who looked pleased to see us. YAY! And solved the gallery issue once and for all YAY! Hands in the air, mini mexican wave [this is me waving my arms in the air by myself]. Hands up in the air. >> yay end on a high note.

So our lovely bears are up on the site looking for a loving home, the gallery will follow very soon! Oh and the Woking News & Mail article was really nice - they even managed to hide my face in shadow in the photo. So still anonymous when out and about. Definitely hands in the air!

Have a lovely weekend everyone, be back on Monday! All together now..

Bring me Sunshine, in your smile,
Bring me Laughter, all the while,
In this world where we live, there should be more happiness,
So much joy you can give, to each brand new bright tomorrow

Thursday, 9 June 2011

No job too big, no task too small!

Daddy DayCare sometimes calls me 'Half-a-Job', I think this is because being a man he can't understand how I can start one task and in the middle of that task start another smaller task, finish the smaller task and go back to the larger task I originally started. Every woman can do this, we're born capable. However, sometimes when juggling the baby and company tasks even I may lose track of what the original task was.

Today was a perfect example of why it's a really good way to organise your life, as I was popping into the village to purchase some Baby Piriton for one of our friends (who now has chicken pox!). But while I was there I thought I'd pop into the local art studio / framers and ask them to mount the fabulous Victoria Plum pieces for me. Large task - Go to village and purchase Baby Piriton, Smaller task - Put artwork in for framing.

To my delight, in a small unlit corner of the framers sat two exquisite knitted teddy bears. Wonderfully soft to the touch, lovingly embroidered faces and a little tag telling me who made them (with love). Well, I just had to snap them up as u-ni-k has been asked to sell knitted bears by one of our friends on Facebook.

Such a gem of a find, I hope the lady knitter calls me as I left my card behind with my contact details. I'd love to share these delightful bears with other children.

Sometimes being a 'Half-a-Job' throws a wonderful adventure into my path and today was one of those days. Oh and there's two lucky children out there somewhere, who can give these two bears a loving home now that they have been rescued from their unlit little corner in sleepy Surrey.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

It's worth not value that counts...

Today I spent over £70 for a hairdresser to put tomato ketchup in my hair. Yes that's right, over £70 for a trim and to smell like a lovely plate of chips. But I no longer have green hair and I look kind of presentable again. The lovely Hayley at Hair Mechanix worked her magic with the contents of the kitchen cupboard and the end result was worth twice the value of the money I handed over.

But I can't blame my recent poor appearance for the lack of blogging recently. To explain my recent departure, I've been working hard creating a look-book or gallery for the website. We need to be able to show you some of our lovely products in their natural setting, rather than just photos of them laid out on a flat white surface! Why? Well, currently we really are not doing our artists and makers any justice with the images we have. And as they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words!

So, apologies for the interruption in normal service - things will now be back to normal with short daily updates of all things u-ni-k and our antics. And remember to keep your eye on the website and Facebook page; you never know thanks to the magical Hayley and wonderful Mr. Heinz I may even put a recent photo (of my face - see earlier blog to remind yourself of that little panic) of Anna and I on there. Now there's a picture that will be worth more than a 1000 words.


Friday, 3 June 2011

Strange old world...

Sorry to interrupt normal service but I had a fleeting moment of madness earlier today and agreed to let Daddy DayCare off to play Twilight Golf (no not with Robert Pattinson, more 'sun going down' type twilight than 'hormonal teenager and vampire' twilight <-- just lost all my teenage readers right there). Anyway, we're back on track now... where was I? Oh yes

u_ni_k are new, brand new in fact, so we're a bit like newborn babies - we need all the help we can get! But just like babies we're learning fast, we're blogging, Facebook-ing (is that a verb yet? do you 'Facebook'? anyway, I digress again), Tweeting and generally talking to lots of people about the great stuff we have to offer. In addition to all this, we also have another very important message - we want to support a children's charity but cannot choose which one.

Yeah underneath all this crazy madness and tech-y geek like wizzardry we're just two big softies (ask Anna about trying to watch Red Nose Day... she's brave I didn't even turn on the TV). So we're asking people to suggest a charity for u_ni_k to support. We're going to have one of our Mummy friends choose a suggested charity from a hat at the end of June.

So far 2, I KNOW!! 2 people from the 164 people who read this blog and the 68 Friends on Facebook and the 19 followers on Twitter, just 2 people have recommended a charity. AND both of them know Anna outside of u_ni_k activities.

Now both of the suggested charities are worthy causes and we'd love to support either of them, but if you want your charity of choice to have some money, free publicity, and well basically 2 new best friends; then please get in touch!

It's a strange old world when you can't even give money away.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Squark! Buy your gifts at unik gifts Squark! Sarah want a cracker!

It's been a lovely day here at u_ni_k HQ (aka bat cave deep in darkest Surrey), sun has shone, birds have tweeted (not the celeb "I'm doing nothing of importance" kind more the "tweet tweet" birdy kind - oh you know what I mean), even a swan came to visit - majestically swimming by oblivious to us watchers. It was so perfect you had to stop yourself from breaking out in 'zipadee dodah' type Disney songs. Which I'm quite prone to do and not always in tune (pity my friends, neighbours, relatives and all passers by).

So if my u_ni_k life is a Disney movie (let's not ask who's the princess) then where are we in the plot? We're at the heroine waiting patiently to be saved by prince charming (definitely not the Harry or Wills type, the white charger mythical type). What?! I hear you exclaim? Where's Daddy DayCare?? No no no he's here... it's just the heroine in this movie is of course and we sit patiently by the "" email in box waiting for sales enquiries (the prince charming).

Not that we sit idle - oh no we talk to press, email, phone and send out tweets (yes yes of the celeb type, I'm not that much of a nutter that I sit at the bottom of the garden going "squark! buy beautiful treasures at unik gifts squark! Sarah want a cracker!" at passers by), generally forum our name out there into the big bad online world where prince charming and the mythical creatures known as customers dwell.

With all this hard work of publicising ourselves, we sit patiently waiting for those sales to come in.

Ho hum.

Perhaps if I just squark at a few of the passers by it'd hurry things along a bit... SQUARK! Buy lovely things from u_ni_k gifts! SQUARK! Sarah want a gin and tonic?!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Extra extra read all about it!

Yay, the famous news hound (and fellow blogger) Amie C has managed to track us down for a world exclusive interview, shame she didn't find u_ni_k HQ (aka the bat cave) otherwise we could have discovered some bubbles in the fridge and sat out in the sunshine.

Now these things should go without a hitch, right? But this is me, right? So we'd finished chatting and then came the words that strike fear into my heart..."Could you email me a photo?" Aggghhhhh all those that know and love u_ni_k on Facebook will also be aware of the recent group featuring one of my best photo angles. Yes, I'm talking about the infamous  group "People who have photos of my bottom!", all 6 most recent shots of me are from my best angle - behind. Not quite suitable for the press. I'll let you all sell those shots to the Sunday Papers when I'm even more rich and famous than I am now.

So here's me digging around the shiny laptop looking for photos of my face rather than my bottom. Dear me, wish I was the 'nice' one from u_ni_k rather than the 'nutter' (Anna assures me this is a technical retail term for people who are computer literate). Bet when they phone Anna she'll have a gallery of lovely "Anna" shots to send them... Me? Well there's that one of me bending over in the pink dress... or the one of me bending over in my jeans... or the one of me bending over fanning the fire...*sigh*