Monday, 31 October 2011

The clocks have gone back, where's my extra hour?


It's officially no longer summer.

On Saturday night the clocks went back an hour, bringing us into GMT and waving goodbye to British Summer Time. I love the theory that this gives me an extra hour, since the old 8am is now 7am and the Cbeebies bed time hour starts at 5pm – somewhere in the day I should be able to find an extra hour.

Well someone has stolen mine, I think maybe my husband's taken it!!

If I did have that extra hour, what would I do with it?

  1. I'm trying to sew a teddy bear from scrap material. I'd like to finish that.
  2. I need to knit 4 white mice before our first Christmas market [we sell them online as well]
    knitted in bamboo these mice are very soft
  3. I really need to bake some bread, cupcakes, a christmas cake, welsh cakes and some leben kuchen to decorate the christmas tree.
  4. It'd be nice to make a serious dent in Mt. Washing [Mt. Ironing can wait!]
  5. Autumn tidy up of the garden is overdue
  6. I need to paint some shelves
  7. The garden gate needs painting as well
  8. We still have paintings that need hanging after the building work [it's been a year since that finished]
  9. There's always more website work to be done...
  10. Actually, what I would really like to do with my extra hour is drink a hot cup of coffee in peace!

Since I'm going to have to attempt all of the above without the extra hour, I'll be running off now to start at least 3 of the above – completing only one by the end of the week and generally feeling like there's more things on the to do list than on the 'got done' list.

Anyway, prioritise – urgent is not the same as important. So I'm off to spend some time with DangerBaby teaching her how to say 'halloween'.

Have fun with your extra hour!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Baby showers... how to get it right!

A lovely couple that have been close friends of mine for years [pre husband and baby type years] recently announced that they were having a baby! I'm so delighted for them, they are going to make fantastic parents and their little one will be welcomed into two loving families.

I'm hoping that my friend considers a baby shower, I never held a baby shower and now regret not taking the chance to celebrate being a mum-to-be with my friends and family. I've always thought that baby shower's were an American thing, with big balloons and tacky t-shirts but I've learnt that there's more to it than that.

A baby shower is the perfect time to celebrate being a mum-to-be, it's about the Mum as well as the baby. It's celebrated all around the world and is usually held when the woman is over 5months pregnant, although it can be held after the baby is born as well.

The difficulty of a baby shower is not knowing where to start, as with all things new - it's hesitant first steps for those that have never held or been to a baby shower. So here's a rough guide to baby showers with a little help from us at u-ni-k:

1. Where?! Well since a baby shower is all about the Mum-to-be and the baby it's best to ask her where she'd like the baby shower. We recommend at a close friend or relative's house - cosy enough for a party feel and somewhere where the tired Mum-to-be is going to feel comfortable and not honour bound to tidy up afterwards!

2. What?! It's a party so some cake is at least in order! Remember that the Mum-to-be may not feel very hungry for sausages on a stick or cheese and pineapple pieces. However a selection of sandwiches and cupcakes served on some plates with party streamers will come across as a lovely tea party celebration.

Don't forget that Mum-to-be will not want her usual tipple, so have a selection of different soft drinks to choose from. Imagine having water and orange squash as your thirst quenchers for 5months, the offer of a forrestfruit smoothy or an elderflower and lime juice will seem like the best vintage champagne is on offer. If Mum-to-be is feeling daring there are many alcohol free drinks available as well.

3. When?! As a former Mum-to-be I think that probably an afternoon tea party is best. It's hard for us Mums-to-be to stay awake, the baby takes a lot of energy, and those with morning sickness really feel terrible until way after lunchtime. The evenings are best spent in our slouchy clothes with our other half leafing through the latest Mothercare catalogue discussing which cot bed is best. So organise your baby shower for an afternoon!

4. Gifts?! This is a very personal area, it's so easy to get it wrong! My former boss thought it was great to buy the Mum-to-be a box of nappies?! Errr would you buy someone a present of a lot of loo roll?! Hmmmm.

This is where our baby shower gift ideas page on the website comes into it's own. We have lots of ideas for girl bumps, boy bumps, 'we don't know, we're waiting to see' bumps, and of course multiple bumps!

It's every parent-to-be's rite of passage to spend a lot of time wandering around the big baby manufacturers looking for everyday items for their little one. A baby shower is for those luxury items that other people can treat you too: the beautiful shuktara blanket that you can use in the buggy, the cot, the nursery, or the Yarmood cashmere nest of hats that will keep baby warm without any itch factor, or the coming home outfit of a perfect hat and bootie set! handmade by the lovely ladies at Nyoki.

If you're still a little unsure of the baby shower then please contact Anna or I at u-ni-k we'd be happy to throw you one of our u-ni-k parties.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Treasured Things: What would you save?



If your house was burning, what would you take with you? 
It's a conflict between what's practical, valuable and sentimental. 
What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. 
Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.

I found the above website the other day while trying to research journalists who may like u-ni-k gifts.

It made me chuckle as it used to be something that my old boss, Maureen would say to me while we tried to choose the next seasons collection or decide which beautiful things to pick out of too many wonderful things that were being presented to us. 

The article I stumbled accross was by Georgie Dehn of The Telegraph. She'd written a profile piece on the author of the above website Foster Huntington. The article itself is fascinating.  However i didn't get to the end of the piece before i'd rushed to see the mentioned website.

The website is a collection of people and thier lists of thier treasured items with a photo of the groupings.
I loved the fact that the chosen items and lists were a mixture of practical and valuable. Not valuable in a monetary way but in a sentimental way.
While scrolling through the collections of treasures I noticed many were treasured items from infant years. Or heirlooms handed down. Not things of value but things that were simply treasures.
 
The collections that caught my eye were-

1. Eric Heins from Boston MA. His childhood blanket, his cat and current journal.
2. Shawna Ernst from Spokane Washington. Her copy Peter pan that her Father gave her when she was seven, her lucky bamboo & a pebble pot made by her son.


3. Helen Stuttard from England. Her Teddy & her Dad's first shoe and a poem from her sister. 
4. Sarah Neuendorf from Berlin. Her Teddy from her childhood, her sketchbooks, her rabbit Lotte and her copy of Moby-Dick.
5. Laura Brown from Portland OR. A quilt that she and her mother chose while bargain hunting as a child, A shell from her father from a long ago trip & a beaded purse from her great grandmother.


6.Tiffany Dyer from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her box of memories, Her Grandmother's camera and her Childhood Rabbit Rosy.
7. Loria Crews from Atlanta, GA. Her son's blanket (can't leave home without it, and make sure i have the original one!) & Her daughter's baby blanket.


8. Rachel from Raleigh, North Carolina. Her baby book given to her by her mother containing irreplaceable items and photo's & her baby blanket that she still uses for comfort when she is sad!

I didn't get to the end of the website and the lists of collections before i started to think what my collected list would be. I sat for a while listing my treasures and trying not to miss anything important. My list is as follows-

  • My Children, Ida & Samson
  • My bunnies Primrose & Seth
  • Mr Elephant (for Ida)
  • My William Phipps silver spoon that i was given when i went on maternity leave on my 31st birthday.
  • My photo albums
  • My photo's of my Dad.
  • Ida first scribbles and works in glitter (her favourite medium at the moment)
  • Ida and Sam's collection of baby things
  • My Grandma's hoya plant that is still alive and thriving today.
  • The blanket I bought my Grandma for her 90th birthday. I told her that when she turned 90 she needed to sit with a blanket on her knee.
  • My Nana's beads and treasures. Mostly plastic but I love them and loved playing with them as a child.
  • My favourite childhood story books.
I keep adding things Ive forgotten ....I think my list is endless. 
Why don't you make a list and see what treasures you would take with you! You can even submit them to the website!




Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Cashmere- LOVE IT & WEAR IT…and WASH IT so you can WEAR IT again!


Cashmere thrives with love and care. Just like a baby! And such a lovely thought...as I had always thought cashmere was a fragile difficult fibre.
 I have been incredibly spoilt. I didn’t own a piece of cashmere until I worked at egg, my last place of employment.  I always thought before egg, it was a fibre/material that should be looked at and not touched, or kept in your wardrobe for special occasions. Only that occasion never arouse so it would sit there and never be worn.  Or was simply worn by rich ladies as twin sets with pearls. How wrong was I!!

Whilst working at egg I was given an a few amazing cashmere pieces. One that I will always treasure is a navy blue sweater by Sine of Yarmood that I wear as I type. To simple describe it …it feels like home.

I have worked with Sine for many years and have grown to love her pieces slowly over time. Not because they weren't beautiful but because I was always a little scared of the peices. I was at first too frightened to wear a piece of her gorgeous cashmere. I now am never out of my lovely jumper! Once had had a peice on it was never coming off! It’s perfect for sleeping in as it’s super soft and breathable. It has no ego and simply is what it is. Beautiful and sublime.

Nest of hats-  newborn, 3-6 months, 6-12 months
Sine is a master of her craft. After the birth of her twin daughters, Francesca and Sicily, many moons ago, Sine set to work teaching herself how to machine knit after being unsatisfied with the cashmere baby products available. She knitted simple pieces to ensure ease when dressing her twins and items that can be easily worn by both little boys and girls.

Sine’s mathematical approach to knitting means that each piece must work out and balance proportionally to be able to pass the Sine test aesthetically. If the sums do not work out or feel unbalanced a whole piece is changed to “balance” the mathematics behind it!
Samson in his Yarmood jumper


The result is an understated, unpretentious, precious pieces that can be treasured for life. Cashmere is one of the few materials that grow softer and more beautiful with age.  The Yarmood cashmere pieces when worn give warmth and protection. Perfect for our little ones.

Ida & Sam in Yarmood sweaters 
We’ve been lucky enough to have Yarmood join our family of makers. And even luckier now that we have Yarmood baby versions of my lovely jumper. 






Samson is especially lucky to have a little jumper of his own to match Mummies! We have Jumpers that will be worn with love, we'll love wearing, they'll protect us from the cold and last forever and ever. Mummy just needs to make sure she puts them on the right temperature in the washing machine!


Simply beautiful!
Lucky us x


Thank you Yarmood for creating such wonderful pieces!
Read my little story about "MY" cashmere here. 


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Oompa Grampa speaks wise words...

This is aimed at all the grandparents out there who like me are enjoying immensely the joy of having beautiful grandkids.

Time goes by in a flash and it only seems like yesterday that I was stepping on small toys in the dark and wondering if there was enough money in the bank. There never seemed to be enough time to read the paper let alone to enjoy things with my children.

Now in the autumn of my life and blessed with 3 adult children who are making there own way in the world and my two daughters have married super guys, [though against the rules both of my son in laws’ are taller than I!] So I find myself elevated to being a granddad [or Oompa!] and it is a role I thoroughly enjoy.

My two beautiful granddaughters are not only different in ages but also in tastes:

Kathryn is known as ‘Danger Baby’ and is 18months old. As you know she's an outdoors girl who loves to get her hands [feet, clothes and everything else] dirty!

Poppy is 4 years old and lives on a stud farm which is run by my daughter and son in law. She also lives very much an outdoor life around the farm and is learning to horse ride on a weekly basis.

I live in Germany and have spent many years here. Additionally my children grew up and were partly educated over here. Therefore my children discovered many things about living in Germany which they still miss today. They miss great choice of wooden toys, the tastes and traditions they grew up with. The memories are still with them and fondly remembered by them all. 


Being an ‘old’ guy with old fashioned ideas I steer clear of cheap and easily broken plastic tat when buying Kathryn & Poppy presents. Therefore classily made wooden toys which last forever, are amongst my favourites and I can now treat my granddaughters to these treasures. Thankfully I live nearby to Markus Kampe who makes beautiful wooden toys for children. 


During a recent visit to Germany my ‘DangerBaby’ granddaughter was extremely active and exhausting to keep amused [her usual self]. A visit to his workshop came to the rescue and the 30+ minutes of peace we had while DangerBaby played with all his magical creations was a welcome respite. He now works with u-ni-k to share his classy and magical wooden toys.

Yet another favourite where us grandparents cannot fail is a superbly home made cuddly toy with character and lovability. Again there is a super range available at u-ni-k of lovely toys to say to a particular grandchild that they are special and you love them.

I have to say that u-ni-k has taken all the hard work of present buying from me. There is always a chance that us grandparents are ‘out of date’ and therefore buy the wrong things which are soon broken or discarded. I trust that Anna & Sarah at u-ni-k to choose what present is right because they are mums with young children and therefore they are on the toy battlefront all day long.

The wise amongst us elder folk know from experience that the cleverest and most needed person in any family is the mother, they know best and always will. I believe that is the main reason why I love www.unikgifts.co.uk and have no hesitation with recommending it to all grandparents who are not worldly wise enough to be as astute as myself !, ;-)

I wish to add that I am not just any old granddad, I am Granddad [OOMPA] of the Year as voted unanimously by Poppy and Kathryn who like there clever mummies – are never wrong!.


Monday, 24 October 2011

Christmas on a budget-Gifts under £20

We are all feeling the pinch this year with the current recession depressing us all. 
If you are currently planning how to make Christmas a special one without spending the earth, here are afew  u-ni-k ideas that won’t break the bank but are still beautiful treasured gifts that your little ones will adore. 
They will also last a lifetime!

Gifts under £20


£18            Helen Beard, egg cup

These whimsical naughty porcelain egg cups are perfect for any child as a treasured  gift they can keep for ever and use everyday with their dippy egg and soldiers. Hand thrown and hand painted.







£19-£15 Pull along toys by Markus Kampe
These stunning handcarved pull along toys are fun and beautiful. Made from sustained Oak, Ash or Maple.
All wooden toys carry CE safety registration mark.

With pictures by Chris Brown, Printed by Hand and Eye Letterpress
An ideal gift for a young reader, or a grown-up admirer of craftsmanship- a beautifully presented, enchanting story to read and enjoy over and over again. To order contact sales@unikgifts.co.uk










Gifts under £15

£12.50 Breakfast boards, by Markus Kampe

Perfect for any weaning team, these wooden breakfast boards are a great addition to any meal time. We've used them to wean our babies...read the Baby Led Weaning blog! 
http://www.unikgifts.co.uk/products/woodwork_breakfastboards.php



Gifts, £10 and under

£10 Hand knitted pair of mice

Knitted lovingly by u-ni-k. These cotton bamboo mice are beautifully soft and wonderful for babies little hands.










£10 each Little wooden cars by Markus Kampe

Hand carved little cars made from either Birchwood, Alder or Cherry. These wooden toys all carry the CE safety registration mark.










£7 Old Rectory hats


Organic cotton hats in a choice of rainbow colours. Perfect for keeping the little ones heads and ears toasty during these cold months.


http://www.unikgifts.co.uk/products/textiles_oldrectory.php












Wild Bunch
 £6-£8.75 Paper Animals from Mibo


 These funny paper animals are quickly transformed from 2-D to
3-D with scissors and glue. Printed with vegetable inks on recycled card.
They have lots of friends that are also under £10 too!











We'll even make it easier by wrapping it for you

Happy Shopping!

Friday, 21 October 2011

A bit of Friday fun...

Yesterday all the u-ni-k ladies went to Wisley with Italian Stallion & his Mummy for a 'Taste of Autumn'

There are three telling photos from yesterday that just need a witty caption:

Photo 1
Photo 2


Photo 3


Please let us know what you think the little ones are saying in the comments below. Anna & I will judge the best one on Monday and contact the winner with a little surprise!



Thursday, 20 October 2011

Work Life Balance anyone?


It's hard to be in business and be a Mum

My former work life
- the only thing that's the same is the no. of coffees!
Anna and I have a system, it's not perfect and really neither of us keeps to it but we're in the early stages so we're trying to stick to it. You see – we're supposed to work 4 days on and 4 days off. So I'm supposed to switch off for the 4 days Anna is rota'd on and visa versa. This includes Saturday as a work day. We have a pretty spreadsheet to track our days, a holiday system and an IOU days system. It's all very organised but doesn't take into account one fatal flaw. Anna and I.

Neither of us switch off on our rota'd off days, OK so we don't blog, Facebook or watch the sales inbox but we both work those days in our own separate ways... Anna will do more press work and I'll do more website stuff. Each day, every day. It comes with the territory of starting a new business, you just don't switch off.

I'm actually writing this blog at 11.30pm on a Sunday, Daddy DayCare is watching some movie by himself while I tippy tappy at the laptop. He'll come and find me every now and then to see if I need anything [aka 'have you finished yet?!'] and then he'll pop back to his movie for a while. Needless to say he's been a little neglected for a while.

He's not the only one. While I still keep 100% of my attention on my daughter, I do find myself watching my iPhone far too often – sorry to say at least once a week I'll look up and she'll have her head cocked to once side and will have emitted a 'eee?' noise. Heartbreaking. I'm more than happy to put the phone down, if the laptop is on and I can hear the email 'bing' for those all important sales emails.

All weather gear
Just to quantify things a little for those that don't know me, I am very much a Mummy. My Daughter and I spend hours a day playing, we spend time gardening, reading, playing ball, swimming and being outside. Both of us have waterproof trousers and jackets so that we can play in all weathers and we often do! But we have our indoors moments as well, which is when I fall into the temptation of working and turn to the technology.

So I'm trying to keep a life work balance, it's hard but it'll be worth it, as long as I have managed the balance just right! 

The result of all this hard work is the website http://www.unikgifts.co.uk and the lovely products you find there.

[Please note DangerBaby and I are meeting Anna & The Naughty later today to walk around RHS Wisley - the kind of work life balance I like!]

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Make your life a little easier!

 Breakfast board- The Essential Baby Led Weaning tool!


Has your baby decided that solid food is for him/her? Mine did, at nearly 6 months old she crawled over to the old pear tree in the garden and helped herself. From that moment on she refused my attempts at baby rice, mashed up vegetables, and puree baby food from a jar. It was solids for her or nothing.
Breakfast just like Daddy's


Not that I had a clue about baby led weaning, I'd not done any research as I didn't know it existed – I was holding a baby who wanted to suck on pear, or broccoli or anything green (she was a bit colour specific at first). We were still breast feeding at this point, so it was more of an experiment with food rather than her main source of nutriment.

Thankfully Anna had done some research and was a source of information. I was to present DangerBaby with an array of foods, let her touch, feel, taste and explore for herself. She'd soon understand about feeding herself. Oh and don't worry about the chocking, baby's have a very high gag reflex and will usually stop short of actually choking themselves.

Lay out food in front of her?! Hmmmm, mine is very good at picking up those brightly coloured plastic plates – the food goes everywhere!

A solution was to hand. In Germany breakfast is usually served on a wooden platter and for children these are carved into shapes that the children enjoy unveiling as they eat the food from them. Since I'd grown up in Germany I had a few of these breakfast boards! Since they are heavier than plates it's harder for the little ones to pick them up. Once they realise that they're animals there's more fun in pointing and making the animal noises [or signs if you do baby signing]

Hurrah! Now that we are 18ms [nearly] I can arrange a rainbow of colourful food out for my little one on her favourite board. 

As you know, rabbits are big in our house and our Markus Kampe rabbit breakfast board is a favourite. We use it in all our meals – chucky egg and soldiers for breakfast, crudites and cheese with bread for lunch, and perhaps a veggy baby pizza for supper!



Egg & soldiers a favourite


Best of all, you just lift the breakfast board up off the high chair tray with a minimum of fuss to clean in the dishwasher ready for the next day!





If baby led weaning is for you then you should invest in one or two of these fantastic boards. They make life a lot easier.









Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A Creepy Crawly Paw Prints Story by Holly Skeet


 u-ni-k gifts first book



Meet Albert.
 After the success of his magnificent flea circus had led to a number of other interesting 
and potentially lucrative ideas, Albert wanted to put the insect world on the map.
Albert’s Grand Orchestral Flea Chorus was, for a short while, the hottest ticket around. 
He’d recruited a number of other creatures to join, the most important, of course, 
being Pedro, the choral cat, who made a fabulous host.

Find out about Albert’s future shenanigans in,

“Insectissimo”

A Creepy Crawly Paw Prints Story by Holly Skeet
With pictures by Chris Brown
Printed by Hand and Eye Letterpress



An ideal gift for a young reader, or a grown-up admirer of craftsmanship- a beautifully presented, enchanting story to read and enjoy over and over again.

£15
To Pre order
Email
sales@unikgifts.co.uk




Monday, 17 October 2011

We are Unique


We are Unique.

As the dictionary defines unique, we are one of a kind, unlike anything else and particularly remarkable and special. We named ourselves so because every child is unique.  And to be pedantic we chose to change the spelling because not only did we want to explain in one simple word what we stood for but we also wanted to include our daughters, our first-born’s, into the equation some how. So we re-spelt it using an I for Ida and K for Kathryn.

Now let me explain why we are so different to every other baby website around.


Here is what makes us a cut above the rest.

Our Makers
We have carefully chosen our makers because they are all masters in what they do. Not only are they lovely kind people (Our rule is beautiful people make beautiful things)
Each has been selected as the product that they make is exquisite and the best we could find. In most instances we were so blown away with the quality, we simply had to show everyone our finds. The pieces they make have enriched our own lives along with our daughters, and we felt that we had to share the love!
-Since introducing Shuktara and their wonderful baby blankets to Sarah she hasn’t been able to leave her’s at home. Kathryn carries it everywhere. I know both Kathryn and Ida will love theirs forever and pass them on to their babies when the time comes and the blankets have become super super soft through love, wear and washing. How gorgeous to give your child an heirloom blanket with a difference.
Kathryn with her Shuktara Blanket

-Our Potter, Helen Beard, apprenticed with renowned Edmund de Waal while building her own collection and style.  While on a study trip to Japan she scribbled all her findings and threw pots alongside Taizo Kuroda and came back with the most wonderful group of organically thrown pots with beautifully drawn Japanese studies from real life adorning them.  We’ve been lucky enough to persuade her to add to her whimsical, naughty pots with a collection especially for us. Most definitely worth waiting for. We can’t wait to see them!
These are just examples of two of our very special makers. Masters of their craft.



Our Personal Service
Most baby websites versions of personalisation are adding a name of a child to a gift. At unique we go a little further.
We believe that a personal service goes along way. When you buy a newborn gift for a friend’s new arrival we will remind you the following year to buy a gift for thier first birthday.
We will happily discuss how what you dreamt of buying a little person can be put into realization. If you dream of buying a specific coloured blanket, we will happily find a floral for your baby in a specific colour to match the newly painted nursery. We will even happily email you several florals to view before they are sewn into blankets. We will gift wrap the present you buy, and will happily add a personal note from you. We can arrange for a dress to be made 2 inches longer and for a sweater length to be made 1 inch shorter. That’s what Sarah and I are here for.

Samson with his Yarmood hat & blanket
The Quality 
Where else can you find a cashmere blanket that is so sublimely soft that it feels as close to being back in Mummy’s tummy. Sam has slept underneath his Yarmood Cashmere blanket every night since we have bought him home. The cashmere lets his little body breath. Keeping him warm, as the nights have started to get chilly and keeping him cool when it was warm.
Where else can you find exquisitely gorgeous baby basics in cotton and merino wool at the highest quality? Frillo Swiss made have produced beautiful, high quality basics that are must have's for every new Mum. 





Our Commission service
Most of our makers will happily create something exclusive and special for you. If you want a Annafie dress is a personal fabric we could make it happen. If your tom-boy little girl hates dresses as they get in her way as she crawls across the floor, we will happily organize for one of the rompers to be made up in your chosen floral. You tell us your wishes and we will help them happen.

Our Baby List & Parties
We are happy to help you create your own baby list. A list of what you as a new Mum chooses to have her baby surrounded by during the first months. The first blanket to wrap him in when taking him home, the hand knitted booties in the colour you want to keep her feet warm and the bedding sets for them to sleep in. We will happily help you choose and then host the list so that friends and relatives know what you have chosen. What could be easier!

That is why we are unique. That is why we are special. 
There are many baby gift websites out their selling nappy cakes, rompers saying “Just like Daddy” and Gimmicky bibs with the babies’ names on.
Our gifts are just that little bit different. Beautiful, Individual, Traditional and different. Gifts to last forever. Most things that our makers make are one off’s, meaning each treasure will find a happy home and a gurgling baby to cherish it. Our service is personal. There is nothing that we won’t do to help you. We’ll organize your baby shower and baby list and help you decide what to buy as a present when you can't decide what to buy.


That is why we are u-ni-k.



Thursday, 13 October 2011

Robots - so cool they're not cool. Trust me on this

What you don't know your keywords from your metadata?
OK so not everyone is a nerd. I admit I'm a nerd (don't get me started on the difference between a nerd and a geek... geeks do hardware, nerds do software. It's as simple as that). But there's a few things everyone needs to know.
A little bit about SEO.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. Everyone likes to talk about this, it's a hot topic! Basically it means writing a website and a web page for optimal searching by the web search engines robots. This means that on an organic search your website should rank quite high if you have optimised it for the keywords that have been searched on.
[Lost you at robots didn't I? OK...] WHAT FOLLOWS IS A VERY SIMPLISTIC VIEW OF WEBSITES...
Websites are just files saved in folders, that are available for other people to access, read and view. They just look like webpages because they use a different computer language to Word or Text files.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, AOL, Bing and others all use two types of searching:
  1. Keyword or Keyphrase searching – The big search engines go through the whole world of files and folders saved everywhere on the world wide web looking for your search term to find what you are looking for (organic searching). Most websites help out by putting 'keywords' in the top part of their page code → you don't see these words but the search engines do!
  2. Pay per click searching – This is where companies pay some money to be brought up in the search results for keywords of their choosing. So searching on handmade knitted bears may bring up u-ni-k gifts's handmade section in the search results, but the top three maybe craftfair.com, knittingbyoldladies.org, freeknittingpatterns.co.uk – all of which would have paid 75p for their pages to come in the top 3 if people searched on “knit” or “knitting” or “handmade knitting” (the Keywords). Google shows these in yellow boxes.
So the search engines have computer programmes that 'crawl' through all the internet files and folders looking at the content and storing information on each page. These programmes are sometimes called 'robots'. They search, find and store information about the files and folders saved in web locations all around the globe. The efficiency of these programmes makes the search engine, as no two companies use the same search programmes!
However, they all have their own resulting databases so that when you type a word into their search box – they have a database of results ready to show you. Clever eh?
So Search Engine Optimisation is a term that collectively describes all the things a website designer can do to help all the different search programmes of all the different search engines find the website they are designing.
It's a way of one type of nerds helping to attract another; a bit like a nerd mating dance done behind the scenes of every webpage... Just without the David Attenborough cameras.
I'm currently working on our new website, using all the helpful advice that Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL can provide me on how to make our new site attractive to these search engine robots.


There's lots of chocolate to be found at u-ni-k

Did you know it's National Chocolate week (like we needed an excuse!). Well we celebrate chocolate every day at u-ni-k.

OK I could fill this page with lots of lovely chocolate recipes but I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk a little bit about branding. No no no... don't run off.. it's an important part of starting a business. I promise to add in a chocolate recipe as well.


Branding is important. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So how you name and brand your company should mean that people understand who you are and exactly what your company is about in a first glance.

Now when starting out u-ni-k, Anna and I spent many months discussing names before coming up with u-ni-k. Not that we were sure about u-ni-k, we knew we wanted to incorporate Ida and Kathryn in the name somehow and I'd penciled in InK but InK didn't tell people who we were and what we were about in that first impression. [Sam of course was still a twinkle in the eyes of his parents so we didn't have to try for the S... or we could have been Sink!]

So here are the questions we asked ourselves [taken from our meeting minutes]:

Create a fictional bio for your brand / company. What are they like? What values does it have?

What does your brand want from life? What are their motivations? What bugs them? What’s important? 

Trigger the right connections, what words are going to trigger a response from your future customers?

What brands would our future customers already trust?

Is there anything we can “borrow” from these brands?

ABOVE ALL ELSE: Be focused and specific: a company or product that tries to satisfy everyone, satisfies no one.



So here we are, an online resource for unique children's gifts, called u-ni-k gifts. Did we succeed in naming our company correctly? Are you aware of who we are and what we do? Are our values clear? Do drop us a line and let us know how we did, we're always happy for some feedback.

What happened to the chocolate I promised you?! Oh yes, this is the more subtle part of our branding. We don't have the word 'Children' in our company name, OK so we have it as part of our strap line but we don't use our strap line very much. So where's the reference to children?


Instant chocolate mess?
Just add a grandparent!
Ever wondered where the u-ni-k chocolate hand is from? A lot of thought went into that colour. If a child mixes all the paints together – what colour is formed? If a child squeezes together all the play doh or plasticine? What colour do you get?

Anyone who has a little person in their life or has given a small child a square of chocolate will be more than familiar with the u-ni-k colour. Yes, those chocolate handprints would remind any parent or grandparent of a time when there were lots of brown handprints to be found all over the house!
So I used Kathryn's handprints & footprints from when she was 3months old and used photoshop to colour them that lovely chocolate brown!

To celebrate chocolate here's my favourite chocolate brownie recipe:

250g butter
200g dark chocolate
80g coco powder (or hot chocolate powder)
65g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
360g caster sugar
4 large eggs

Heat oven to 180C
Grease and line a baking tray

Melt the chocolate and butter (you can do this in a microwave or in a bowl over simmering water – results are the same).

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add the chocolate / butter mix to the bowl and mix

Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl

Mix well – leave some lumps and bumps if you like.

Pour them into the tray and bake for about 25mins.


ENJOY!

PS
You can add nuts if you like but then they are not so baby friendly!