Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The box of treasures


I’ve finally done it!

I’ve managed to find the time to make Ida’s memory box beautiful and personal for her to keep forever and ever.

By searching, cutting, gluing, painting, scribbling and writing I have made Ida a very personal box indeed.
The thought behined it is, 

Inside I have started to collect things that she will hopefully love and cherish. Her first pair of shoes, her first bracelet, the first romper suit i put her in, the Fingerprint jewellery charm that has her 6 month old finger print on, the celebratory cork to celebrate her birth, her  I-d tag from the hospital etc etc.

To these things I hope she adds more happy memories, treasures and oddities that she holds dear.

The outside of the box I planned to be very much only a beginning. By using decoupage, she can add more images or things and people she loves. At present there are out of proportion plants and undergrowth to give it a feeling of searching though the tall grasses at the end of our garden looking for fairies.

If she looks carefully she’ll see her great grandparents and grandparents hiding under the bluebells and toadstools being nosey.

The box itself is made from sustainable alder.

Ida, I hope this box is a start for your collections of all things meaningful and wonderful. 
I hope you like it. With age I hope it will hold lots of secrets, treasured things and good memories.


Mum x

*Once I've made Samson his own little memory box I will be able to make "to order" memory boxes for other Mummies to give to thier little ones too!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I'm now doodling to order... how did that happen?

I'm still doodling... quietly and consistently sketching away!

OK so the book is coming along and both Freddy & Dancer have featured... so those illustrations are in, but I've hit a snag. No no not writers block pre-Christmas requests for doodles! I mistakenly posted some of my doodle pictures on my personal Facebook page and now the ladies want me to draw something a little more girly. To be precise their daughters want me to draw something a little more girly.

So here I am, nursing a sick baby, pencil and notepad in hand sweeping those lines across a page hoping that somewhere in the swirls a ballet dancer will appear. You see I can't draw humans, no really I can't. I've spent my entire childhood doodling bunnies, horses, sea shores, shells, dragons, more horses and any number of animals. Figures? Nope, it's literally back to the drawing board for me.

I've started with stick men and then added blobs and then sketched around the blobs to form an outline. For some reason my arms or legs (never both) look a little stumpy... and my noses look huge and that knee there looks a bit like a horses... I don't think I'll ever be happy with the end result.

However, I've given it a go and here's my first ballet dancer effort. It's taken me nearly 10 days to doodle, refine, doodle, throw away and start again, doodle... sketch... ink!

Let's hope Mia likes it and Ava doesn't want one but different...

I'll do 3 different ballet poses, 3 different Pegasus poses and then on to the seaside theme someone else has just asked for... I'm leaving Fairies and Princesses and wotnots to Anna. She's the one with the Art degree for heavens sake!!

So please check out our Facebook page for our abc (art 4 babies & children), I can draw to order and if you're quick it can be gift wrapped and posted to you in time for Christmas!

Inked Pegasus about to take off...

Inked Dancer the foal. Mounted ready to frame

Line drawings £10 plus postage
Paintings £15 plus postage

Email for full images  & details. More pictures available on our Facebook page

Monday, 28 November 2011

Family treasures?

Anna recently helped her Mum move house, which meant that she found a host of family treasures in the attic. Like most people, Anna has lived in one family home for her childhood and her family have probably lived in the area for a generation or two. So her family have been able to treasure and store items for each generation and the next to enjoy! What a wonderful treasure hunting day it must have been discovering things in the family loft.

My childhood couldn't have been more different. We moved every 18 months or so, packing up our treasures in paper and placing them into boxes hoping that they would survive the journey to the next house. Many didn't, moving men in those days being of the 'throw it in the back of the truck' kind. This 'gypsy' lifestyle meant that we couldn't afford to carry around precious momentos that our parents had enjoyed as children. Since HM Forces didn't usually provide an attic or basement with their accommodation, we had very small storage and really had to be selective with our 'treasures'.

Now that I'm settled in a permanent family home [no more moving for me!], I'm keen to start a collection of family treasures – things that both Kathryn and I love and treasure. When she's grown out of them I'll put them up in our attic and save them for her children. I'm looking forward to the day when I send my Daughter upstairs to find treasures that we loved and that her children can play with!

It's this thought I use when selecting items to suggest to Anna that we sell through u-ni-k gifts. Some gifts for children should be investments in this generation and the next... a supersoft blanket to wrap baby in, a wooden car for them to brrrrm [or for future generation to laugh at the fact vehicles used to roll along the ground!], a memory quilt made from great granny's baby clothes with her name and birth date in, granny's name and birth date in, Mummy's name and birth date in..squares to add each generations name and date of birth. A true Mother to Daughter gift that will last generations!

The very talented Susan of Fat Hen and Flo famed put a lot of love and work into the Davies Family quilt and Kathryn has already sneaked a play in it before it was whisked off to be wrapped up for Christmas** . Here's a few photos of our family quilt:

 The aplique details!
 Hand quilted with flowers, birds and hearts!

Memory quilts and lots of other lovely Fat Hen and Flo creations– coming soon to u-ni-k gifts.
Contact us for more information!

**yes Kathryn found and was delighted with the bunny when she sneaked a play in her quilt!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

What kind of shopper are you?

OK so 'black Friday' has been and gone... not sure why the start of the Christmas shop rush is called 'Black Friday' but hey ho! I understand that Christmas shopping might not be for everyone, so here's a little bit of light hearted fun at the expense of us shoppers:

What kind of shopper are you?

Organised (Shopperbi listus)
Usually seen checking labels while clutching a piece of paper in hand. These shoppers have a list, probably printed out from a spreadsheet, and they know exactly what they want.
Gift type => Practical, sensible well thought out gifts

Impulse (Itsperfecti buyits)
These shoppers are a bit like learner drivers, prone to stopping suddenly. Shopping and indeed just browsing is a pleasure for these shoppers.
Gift type => It's a lucky dip. Some gifts will be lovely, some just way out there

Choosey (Difficulti decidus)
You've seen these shoppers, they have one of each items in hand. To the untrained eye these two items look identical but to a choosey shopper there are slight variations that need to be examined before the purchase selection is made.
Gift type => Gift vouchers, they just couldn't choose

Researcher (Readeri reviewus)
Men are usually this type of shopper, unable to read the instructions for the purchase because they've spent 10 weeks reading reviews, forums and stats on their purchase before actually buying the item.
Gift type => Electrical gifts, something with a blue light probably. Or something from Apple!

Bargin hunter (Shopperbi offerus)
Traditionally found bartering in boot fairs, these shoppers can now be found in the 'Clearance' section of large shops or shops dedicated to items for less.
Gift type => Gives many gifts, it's quantity not quality with these guys.

Reluctant (Ratheri notshopus)
Not really a shopper but this type can be found paired up with one of the other types thus making them shoppers by proxy. These will be spotted with a glazed look or stood deeply engrossed in their smartphone (especially if their partner is of the 'research' type).
Gift type => Unknown. They give up and leave it to their partner!

Now most people swap between types; I'm a 'Choosey' when food shopping, 'Reluctant' when clothes or shoe shopping but 'Organised' when Christmas shopping!

Whatever kind of shopper you are, remember to buy your gifts in plenty of time for wrapping for Christmas! Or buy at where we gift wrap it for you... order now to receive your gift before Christmas.

Sarah xxx

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Dear Father Christmas

Dear Father Christmas

My u-ni-k gifts Christmas List

Pedal toy car
Trio nest of cashmere hats
Hand smocked baby bed linen
Make your own paper animals
Party dress
Merino wool new born set
Limited Edition letterpress print
All in one organic cotton sleep suit
A floral hand stitched blanket
Up cycled silver spoon
Silver bangle
Framed vintage playing cards
Organic cotton hat and bootie set
Hand Painted porcelain breakfast set
Traditional printed organic cotton baby blanket
Pedal Plane with propellers and engine noise!
Original Victoria Plum drawing
Finger Print jewellery
Hand carved wooden toys
Silver Hallmarked keepsake nappy pin
Hand knitted squashy animals
Hand carved breakfast board
Personalised Memory box

Me x

Monday, 21 November 2011

A little bit of vintage

My Mum is selling the family home for something smaller so she’ll be more comfortable. So we have had many a weekend towelling through the loft, garage, cupboards and cubbyholes, editing, dumping, recycling and renovating the contents of the past 30+ years. 

While emptying the loft last weekend, we found lots and lots of treasures that were BIG parts of our childhood. I bought many home to look after till Mum settles into her new abode. When she gets set up properly they’ll all be bought back to the 2nd bedroom or as it will be newly re-named- the "Grandchildren’s" room. Actually, Ida's room!! First Grand child and all that!

I’ve taken a few pictures of the beautiful toys that originated with my sisters and I. I am so happy to know that my children are enjoying and will continue to enjoy the toys, games and books that I hold special memories of using.
Next year we are hoping to bring a new section to u-ni-k, of nostalgic and vintage treasures. We have a wonderful lady called Katey who is a magpie and collector of all things old and wonderful that will be helping us to find treasures to make us all swoon.

So remember to buy gifts that will last this Christmas. 
Gifts that will continue to create smiles and laughter even after the little ones that they were intended for have grown up and out grown them.

Colour Establishment

We have reached the stage in project new home where we are making good and decorating the naughties bedroom. We are not even close to choosing colours for the walls as we are still at taking the layers upon layers of paint off the 1930’s fireplace and taking down the badly put up picture rail stage. But being a women, and a picky woman at that, the colour we choose is an important decision. I refuse to do what Mr Kircher would do if I let him, which is pick up any tin of paint in the shop, probably the nearest to the cash desk and not really worry or care about the shade, mood or feeling of the room it will be situated in. Luckily he is colour blind so I am in charge of colour!

RED- Annafie dress
I am big on colour. I have always been drawn to colour. My favourite colour is RED.
Whether it’s because my favourite dress as a child was my RED boat dress or whether my love for red happened much later in my life, I don’t know.
What I do know is that colour has a big impact on our children. Otherwise why would all the toys in my house be so brightly coloured?
ORANGE- Porcelain Breakfast set
Children are drawn to colour and respond to it. Round about the age of 18 months a child will be able to recognize different colours as they do shapes, size and texture. They probably won’t be able to name a colour till they are 36 months old, but they will be able to point to the correctly coloured shape if you ask him/her to “point to the RED square”.

YELLOW -Mibo paper friends

Eighty percent of information the brain receives, is information accepted visually. Colour stimulates the visual sense and encourages the retention of information. While studying for my GCSE’s I used cue cards in various colours to help me remember facts, figures and findings while studying. Parents are also encouraged to use cue cards in various colours to help children learn through play.

Colours also create different moods. Hues of BLUE, GREEN and VIOLET induce relaxation. Whereas RED, YELLOW and ORANGE stimulate and increase brain activity. 
GREEN - Syot Pedal Car
BLUE - Organic cotton blanket
So with all the above in my mind, I am looking to the things the naughty has warmed to in her little life so far as to clues of her colour preferences. This could be a little problem…apart from the very loved Mr Elephant who is a pale GREY, all the things in her life so far are pretty much rainbow coloured.

When Sarah and I trowel through the products we carefully choose for our children and u-ni-k, we try where possible to always remember how important colour is. Every colour.
So we won’t have a typically BLUE section for boys or a predictable PINK section for girls. We’ll have an array of wonderful rainbow colours to help our little ones learn and grow with the simple things around them.
VIOLET- Organic cotton hat

INDIGO- Recycled Sari Kantha stitched blanket

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Christmas traditions...we BBQ on boxing day!

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who came along to the Christmas Markets to support us. It was lovely meeting you all, we look forward to seeing you all very soon at the next fayre!

Having spent two whole days in Christmas mode, Anna and I are definitely now feeling very Christmassy. I know we still have a while to go, but I'm thinking of sending Daddy DayCare up to the attic for those boxes of decorations... we now have a playpen especially for the tree (to keep the little angel from pulling it down on herself)... and the local Christmas Tree farm has it's 'Opening on Dec 1' sign up. OOOOOHhhhh I can't wait, we'll be there on the 1st all wrapped up warm finding our perfect tree!

When we had builders there was only one place for the tree
Putting up the tree on the 1st Dec is the start of our Christmas traditions. From that point onwards we have a mixture of our families traditions from all around the globe. Here's our traditions:

1 Dec - Tree is put up... the youngest person always puts the star on the top.

5 Dec - St Nicholas Day... children put their shoes outside of the door on the evening of the 4th) to see if they're on the good or naughty list (if they've been good the shoe is filled with sweeties by the morning of the 5th)

24 Dec - Evening, everyone is allowed to open one family present.

25 Dec - Christmas Day - presents, small breakfast, goose for lunch, family games or a walk in the snow!

26 Dec - Friends invited round for our BBQ. Yep in all weathers, some years we have to dig the BBQ out from under the snow! The adults drinks gluhwein or mulled wine to keep warm... and the younger ones all play snow croquet or football or rugby! After 35mins in the cold, everyone is hungry for their hot dogs or burgers cooked on the BBQ.

Anyone seen the BBQ?

From Boxing Day onwards Christmas is slowly wound down as we look forward to the New Year and soon after my birthday!

So those are our traditions... what are yours?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Snips and snails, & puppy dog tails...

At the Handcrafted Christmas Market we were asked 'Do you have anything like this but for boys?"

It seems that parents find that the world is catered to little girls rather than little boys, now as I'm a Mummy to a little girl it's hard for me to notice but this week I've tried to see the world through the eyes of a Mummy to a boy... 

Here's what I've noticed:

1. Young boy articles always mention that they develop slower than their female counterparts. Even it it's not part of the article?!
2. Clothing stores dedicate about 1/3 of their space and stock to boys [not the 1/2 it should be!]
3. Boys clothes seem to be placed furthest away from any doors, tills, and usually in narrow spaces behind the little girls tights.
4. Boys toys are all aimed at traditional manual labour roles or uniforms - policemen, firemen, building blocks, work benches....
5. If you want to dress you son in anything other than blue, brown or green... Good Luck!

Now we already have a page dedicated to gifts for boys (click here), many of them would also be appropriate for girls... infact a wooden car is a favourite of my daughter!

However since the Welsh Mummy asked for some nursery pictures for her sons... I've put pen to paper and created some images of dragons, dinosaurs and of course Fred the Rabbit just for you boys!

Welsh Dragons eat English castles
for breakfast!
Fred the hungry bunny!

The baby dinosaur pictures haven't been painted yet but once they are I'll post up on our Facebook page!

All the finished pictures will be mounted and available to purchase at this weekend's Christmas Fayre in Farnham!

Date: Saturday 19th November
Times: 10.30-3pm

The Rural Life Centre is on Reeds Road halfway between Frensham and Tilford 

(follow the brown tourist signs).

Farnham and A31 - 3 miles
Milford and A3 - 6 miles
Hindhead and A3 - 6 miles
from M3 jct. 4 - A331/A31.

Free Admission

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Try to never break that routine!!!

Oh my goodness…never again!

As I have said before in my "Put a plug in it" blog, my daughter is and has always been a fairly good sleeper.

UNTILL routine is broken.


With the first fayres under our belts my brood stayed at Grandma’s house for a night to make things easier for me. What-a-mistake-a-to-make!


Ida who has had 3 bedrooms in the 18 months she has been alive due to us moving house, should be good at adapting and sleeping anywhere! And normally she would be fine. But unfortunately she has reached the age where these little things do matter. Not in her room, not in her bed, not  her house, not her normal routine. 

So far, one nights worth of making my life simpler by staying away from home has resulted in 4 days worth of unsettled sleeping for my whole family.

The day time nap has stopped. If i try she screams like a banshee. At bedtime she tries everything to delay getting into bed. A book to read Mummy, Mummy cuddles, more mummy cuddles, asking for somthing to eat and another book Mummy. When she is finally put in her cot the screaming banshee returns.

I wouldn't mind her dropping her day time nap if i felt she didn't need it but she becomes frustrated by 11am and then the temper comes out to play. Not fun for her, me or her little brother who felt the wrath of her anger the other evening when she decided to bite him. And to make it worse the little minx smiled at me just before she bent down to kiss him....and bit him instead!!

SO never again will I make my life easier. From this day forward I will make sure that my little ones lives are kept simple and routines are kept where possible. 

Here's hoping that Ida's good fairy, Victoria will have a quiet word with my daughter and get her sleeping again, and back to normal.

Fingers crossed x

Infact everything is crossed!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Muse Music

I find that music inspires my mood, especially if I am feeling creative. I have been bought up with music blaring from a radio or from a music player of sorts and not always my own choice of music.
My Dad was renowned for his music tastes and collection and many a Sunday morning as a teenager I would find myself woken from my slumber to Cream, The Who, The Band or some other form of Eric Claptonesque music BLARRING from my Dads player VERY loudly! For most teenagers this is a bit of a role reversal. But for the Matthews clan, this was very much the norm. So when I moved in with Mr. Kircher, and his house of silence…well it was all a little too quiet for me.
Soon I had a player in most rooms and a lot of the time, all were on, playing some type of music, all at the same time. Something Mr. Kircher has had to learn to live with!

When Ida was born, I wanted to make sure I played the music I loved to her, normally LOUDLY. I choose to play my music rather then nursery rhymes or children’s clunky clonky music  as most parents choose to play. At only days old I was using loud music and bopping as a form of entertainment for her and sometimes also to soothe her. She has always been a little bit of a rock chic and already bops, shimmy’s, wiggles and sings in the back of the car as the radio blares out. She is like me; she doesn’t enjoy silence unless she chooses to contemplate for a little moment. We play and have fun with music…any music. And I often play a little of Clapton, The Who or Cream very loudly and tell her that this was her Granddaddy Allan’s favourite. Music was such an important part of my Dads interaction with my sisters and me. Without him around I am making sure she hears who he was as his music explains him well. And it is always played LOUDLY!

Me, My Daddy and my sisters Katie and Sarah

At u-ni-k HQ both Sarah and I have very different music tastes. Sarah is a radio 2 fan whereas I am very much an avid follower, listener and supporter of 6radio. Music inspires me, winds me up, calms me down and very much, is me. So while I’ve had my sewing machine out getting ready for the first Christmas craft fayres we are participating in over the next few weeks, I have been choosing carefully my music to listen to. Hoping it will inspire me and my love of aesthetic will come flooding back after being hidden in my back pocket for well over a decade. I was always a cutter, sticker, gluer, painter, drawer, moulder…just ask my Mum. I was the messy one that filled the bin with off cuts of unwanted paper and left the sink with paint splats. Luckily I have learnt to recycle and tidy a little better!

I have also leant to choose my music wisely.
Thinking about music choice made me stumble across this written piece by Edmund de Waal OBE. I met Edmund through working at egg. He showed his work at egg during it's very early years and now flourishes with his prestigious work being shown at the V&A. He is an amazing potter, writer and teacher. His apprentices are renowned for being “his” apprentices. And he too finds muse music very important.

Enjoy reading about his playlist, seeing his minimal, understated beautiful installation of ceramics and most importantly listeaning. I myself am sitting back and spending a moment listening to his muse music while my little ones sleep. 

 *Our ceramicist, Helen Beard apprenticed with Edmund de Waal. See her whimsical, naughty pots here

Monday, 14 November 2011

Cut, Stick, Stitch, Glue, Scribble and much much more!!

As the Bagpuss mice’s sing,

We will find it,
We will bind it,
We will stick it with glue glue glue,
We will stickle it,
Every little bit of it
We will stick it like new new new....

This is exactly what Sarah and I have been doing…. With the festive period almost upon us, Sarah and I have been beavering away, cutting, sticking, stitching and scribbling as we normally do at this time of year. Except with a different incentive this year.

With our new little love in mind...

Last Saturday was our very first Craft market in Weybridge. Everyone loved our very own micies, Larry Lamb's and Lazy Susan's.
 People adored our hand smocked dresses and MANY MANY ladies, Grandparents and Daddies stood stroking our super soft cashmere pieces. 

But by far, our biggest hit was our happy chappy moose’s head. A perfect gift for every child’s room. Never again will your child have the excuse to leave clothes on the floor!

We left very happy and very  very excited about our next Craft market this Saturday- 19th November 2011 at the Farnham Rural Arts Centre between 10.30-3pm. We’ll be amongst 40 other crafties showing our wares. Come and find us at Reeds Road, Tilford, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 2DL. Admission is free so no excuses to come and see the wonderful crafts and handmade goodies that will be on show. Perfect for Christmas shopping!