Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Wednesday Bliss: Lists...

Well, we all know I love making lists. This regular feature is definitely evidence of that. But, I love making lists even more so at this time of year. Christmas lists, shopping lists, present will very rarely find a moment when I don't have a notebook and pen within close reach ready to join things down as they come to mind. Needless to say, this past week has full with lots of planning for the run up to Christmas, so let me share with you all what I've been planning, and what I'm thankful for.

1. Food. Not only the food I can put on our table on a daily basis but, all the lovely food that I know we will eat over Christmas. Week by week I've been putting little bits and pieces in our shopping trolley to put away for over the holidays. A couple of days ago, I rummaged through the back of the cupboards and in the bottom of Christmas shopping bags and was pleasantly surprised with how much I've actually managed to collect, and am more thankful than ever that we haven't broken the bank in the process.

2. Creativity. Ok, so I know I mentioned this in last weeks post but, I'm more thankful than ever for my creativity around Christmas time, as it means I can make unique gifts and wrappings for my friends and family, making the day all the more memorable. I'm already planning a Christmas crafting afternoon with my 4 year old niece next weekend, potato printing wrapping paper and decorating my mum's kitchen with homemade paper chains. This simple little things are what makes Christmas so special, and help to forge new traditions as well as re-vamp old ones too.

3. Small Businesses. As you all know, this is something I feel quite passionate about. They are the saviors of our high street. The days are fast disappearing and I still have a few presents left to buy so I'm scheduling in a pilgrimage to Cardiff Christmas Market on my day off next week with the intention of buying those last few gifts from the small independant retailers, and putting my money into the hands of the producers.

4. Family & Friends. I love planning things with my family and friends. Who doesn't?! But, this year it feels all the more special. For the first time in years I will have a proper break over Christmas, and have managed to fit in lots of lovely socialising time with my nearest and dearest. In my diary for the weeks ahead I've got a Christmas Tree Festival, a carol concert or two, a good old fashioned Christmas night out, a festive get-together with some of mine and the Mr's oldest and dearest friends...and who can forget the big day itself...

5. Christmas Day! Now, this is going to be a big one. Usually it's a quiet affair, just me and the Mr, my Mum & Dad, and my sister comes home from London but, this year it's set to be the stuff BBC sitcoms are made of. There'll be 11 of us in total, including in-laws and elderly neighbours too, and I can't wait. And keeping in with the tradition of big outrageous Christmas dinners, I even paid a visit to Hawkin's Bazaar for a few daft after dinner games too. This should be a goodun!

How are you all spending your Christmas this year? Will it be big and bold like mine, or more of an intimate affair? I'd love to hear what you've got planned.

See you soon,
Hannah. x

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Think Big, Shop Small...

This coming Saturday 6th December is Small Business Saturday. This nationwide event backed by credit card company American Express, no less, is dedicated to celebrating those small businesses which help to keep our high streets alive, and keep them from turning into clone towns filled with huge chain franchises which can ultimately suck the personality from our city streets.

You may not even realise it but how many of you by pass the local corner shop to buy a pint of milk and head straight for the Tesco Express 2 minutes further down the road? Or do you buy all your fruit and veg from the local supermarket when there's a green grocer right at the end of your street? Or how about stopping off in Greggs for a baguette and a coffee, walking straight past the bakery which has been churning out 'split tin' loaves for over 50 years.

So, in honour of Small Business Saturday, I thought I would share with you all a few of my favourite small businesses, in hopes that you will all buy atleast one gift for a family member from a small business this year, and help boost your local economy.

Nestled away in the hill top town of Llantrisant, this adorable little patchwork shop is a must for any fabric-a-holic, like myself. Not only does owner, Susan, stock patchworking fabrics and supplies but, she also runs courses for budding beginners looking to try their hand at making a patchwork quilt. This tiny little shop is an Aladdin's cave of fabrics, sewing kits, supplies and lovely gifts too. From cushions and doorstops, to sewing bags and cute little projects in a jar, you're sure to find something for any family who loves sewing. 

This interiors and gift shop can be found in the Cardiff suburb of Pontcanna, about 10 mins from the city centre. She is a proud stockist and painting guru of Annie Sloane Chalk Paints, and boy does she know her stuff. They also run painting workshops to learn the perfect techniques to shabbying up your furniture the Beti Biggs way. But, if decorating isn't your bag, don't worry, these guys have got tonnes of gifts and little trinkets to choose from, to cater for all. 

Not exactly a high street business but, a small business none the less. This website is a crafters heaven, stocking a whole array of supplies from yarn to embroidery thread, fabric, and washi tape...even lampshade making kits. The Homemakery was started up by a lovely lady called Kate who ditched her job in coporate finance to follow her dream of opening up a crafting boutique. So, if you're looking for a project to keep you busy on these cold dark winter evenings then bypass Hobbycraft for a second and head on over to The Homemakery.

Ok, this one isn't exactly a high street business either but, a small business it is, with world domination prospects to say the least. The Pretty Nostalgic Society started life as a bi-monthly magazine once sold on the shelves of WHSmith but when editor and founder Nicole decided to take things in a different direction she had no idea what a can of worms she would open. Once a magazine publisher, The Pretty Nostalgic Society now produces a quarterly compendium (it's first issue has just gone to print in time for Christmas. Yippee!) and is looking for members to add to it's growing readership. If you love nostalgia and all things vintage, or are just looking for a slightly slower less consumeristic pace of life, then this is the magazine for you. It's fab!

I'm sure you've all got a Christmas market of some description near you this winter. And whilst you may be drawn more to the smells of roast turkey and pork, or the scent of hot Gluhwein, why not take a minute to stop and some of the traders stands and see what gifts they have on offer. Guaranteed you'll be able to find something interesting and unique that you wouldn't normall see in a supermarket or chain store. Go on, try it. You might be pleasantly surprised. 

So, there we have it. Will you be shopping small this Saturday? Even if it's just for a pint of milk, think of our high street heroes as you hand over your loose change and the fact that you are contributing to helping our high streets keep their unique personality.

Merry Christmas!

See you soon,
Hannah. x