31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a very happy new year from me and the dogs!  Thank you all for taking the time to read my little blog; for your comments and your support.  I hope that 2011 brings you more of what makes you happy and less of what doesn't.  

I'm off to sip some champagne and brave the freezing cold on our balcony to look at the sparkly city lights and think about the year ahead.  Enjoy!

[Photo from Luz A. Villa]

30 December 2010

Etsy Spotlight: Handmade by Angela

Handmade by Angela is the Etsy shop of crocheter and self proclaimed 'crazy animal lover' Angela Davidson.  I just bought one of her crochet dinosaurs for my dino crazy nephew and I was so pleased when the little guy arrived.  Wonderfully hand crafted and bursting with personality - even my husband (who doesn't always 'get' handmade) was quite taken with it. 

Angela's creatures are colourful, unique and quirky, and clearly created with love.  Well worth the price if you are looking for an extra special gift for someone, big or small.

Etsy Spotlight is the Good Things* seal of approval!  Read more here.  And see all the posts here.

27 December 2010

Death by Doxie: The Etsy Edition

Isn't this photograph by Sibling Rivalrie just adorable?

25 December 2010

Happy Holidays indeed!

[By Coco Shack on Etsy]

Hope you're all having a wonderful day!

Emily x

24 December 2010

Death by Doxie: The Festive Cheer Edition

The now recovered (but maybe not so happy with her new no-treat, low-fat diet) Elfi says 'woof woof woof'.  Which I believe translates as 'happy xmas to you and your family' (although it could also mean 'hand over that ham').  

23 December 2010

Festive cheer: our tree!

I know there will come a day when I will get to have a christmas tree decorated with a single knitted scarf.  Or one decorated in nothing but white and silver.  Or one covered in vintage glass ornaments from the 70s (like these happy fellows).  And when that day comes it will be a little bit good but it will also be a little bit sad, because it will mean that the step-sons have lost their enthusiasm for xmas decorating.  And so much of the fun of xmas is having little people running about the house with wild excitement, isn't it?

This year the boys have done a stellar job on our tree.  It is a joyous mish-mash of, well, everything.  We have ornaments made of lego, more origami than you'd think a tree could hold, some pieces from Etsy, and a few treasured pieces I've picked up over the years - a santa hat wearing bilby which my Mum sent me for our first xmas abroad, a plump white owl which I received in a swap, a beaded angel I picked up on my first trip overseas.  And some chinese lantern lights from our last xmas in Hong Kong.  Oh, and then some blobs of plasticine.  All crowned by a glorious spiky red star.

22 December 2010

All wrapped up...

Even before I got back in to my crafting groove, wrapping presents would always turn me a little bit Martha Stewart, especially at Christmas time.  Each year I plan a theme and wrap all my presents using variations on that theme.  It is a little frightening how much joy I get out of seeing a big pile of co-ordinated presents under the tree (have I mentioned before that I am a little bit of a control freak?).

Last year it was all about stamps, this year it's paper-cut snowflakes and handmade tags.  And white, blue and silver (like this Etsy treasury I put together awhile back).  I was inspired by a few paper garland tutorials I've been eyeing off lately, like this one on Handmade Spark.

ps. one of the members of the fabulous Paper + Stationery Lovers group I help moderate posted a link to these gift wrap ideas - yowsers!  So much inspiration!  Next year I'm thinking I should embrace the step-sons 'more is more' approach - imagine these done in fluorescent brights!  Now that would be fun!

pps. the Paper + Stationery Lovers group is probably my favourite thing on Facebook right now. The members are so talented and friendly and post really great stuff.   So if you like paper goods, come join us!

More festive cheer!

One of my favourite parts of this years xmas decorations is this giant paper chain the step-sons made.  It snakes along our hallway in glorious colour.  I especially love the play of shadows and the translucent effect produced by the down lights.

My other favourite is the entrance hall, where we have a crochet garland (handmade by The Lovely Lily) and our collection of Alessi ornaments.  My husband has long been a devoted Alessite and one of our new traditions is to add to our collection each year.  The Alessi ornaments are a lovely mix of quirky, cute, funny and they're also sometimes strangely poignant.  

21 December 2010

Festive cheer!

The step-sons arrived in Seoul a few weeks ago and immediately set to work bringing some festive cheer to the apartment.  Their decorating philosophy is definitely along the lines of 'more is more', and having them in charge of decor the past few xmases has been a good exercise for me in holding back my inner control freak.  

I have always loved to decorate spaces.  Nothing makes me happier than a collection of treasured objects, arranged just so - a bright print from an Etsy artist, a miniature dachshund figurine placed at just the right angle, a framed wedding polaroid...

But, come xmas, I hand over the reigns and let the rather creative step-sons take control.  And although I normally fidget and twitch a bit during the process, I always love the results.  This year, not even the pot plants escaped undecorated.  And why yes, that is a lego dragon in a paper santa hat!

[Lego xmas house by Sam - complete with snowman, coloured lights and dachshund!]

20 December 2010

A Creative Odyssey - Blog Hop

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in a blog hop organised by the talented (and busy!) Jess from Epheriell Designs.  Each day one or two bloggers are posting about their creative goals and dreams for 2011.  You can see the full schedule complete with links to each blog here.  It's been quite fascinating reading along each day, so many different approaches - uber-practical, inspirational, big picture, small picture - a lovely insight into so many paths to creativity.

I've had a bit of time to think about this post and it's help to crystalise the things I really want to focus on in the new year...and here they are:

Make the time : Priority number one for me.  At the moment I have a small notebook full of ideas - designs for pin cushions, softies, brooches, notebooks, cards and a whole bunch of new exciting stuff (like Jorpins brooch/sewing kits).  But do I actually ever make any of it?  Only sometimes. When I craft I am a calmer, happier person.  So in the same way that I plan time to do yoga, or to cook a balanced meal, or to stay in touch with family and friends, I'm going to schedule (and prioritise) some crafting time.  In 2011, I'm going to make the time to create, each and every week.

Take advantage : This might seem a strange one but I realised late this year that I should be honest about the fact that I don't need to treat my Etsy shop as a hard-core, do-or-die business.  In fact, I should actually be taking advantage of my situation.  I don't need to generate a mass of income in order to 'quit my day job' because as a 'trailing spouse' - what an awful label! - I don't actually have (or need!) a 'day job'. 

So, instead of telling myself in a mild panic: 'You have to build up your stock!  Quick!  Make something! And lots of it!, I am going to slowly and steadily grow my shops, with a focus on making unique things that I love.  I have the luxury of being able to take my time with what I make, to work on improving my sewing and embroidery skills, to get creative!  Going forward, I'm going to be taking advantage of that.

Stay involved : Through joining Etsy, wasting investing time on-line (helooooo Twitter!) and starting this blog, I have 'met' so many lovely, talented, passionate, wonderful people (you know who you are!).  Next year I want to continue to connect with other crafters, to support people I admire in whatever small way I can, and just generally share the crafting community love!  

This might mean something small like taking the time to comment on a blog post, or maybe taking the leap and finally paying for ad space on a blog that I love, or continuing to feature talented Etsians right here on this blog and in my posts for Handmade Spark.  And it will definitely mean engaging in group projects (like the swaps organised by Creative Collective), and possibly even starting one of two of my own (I do have one grand idea I'd like to get off the ground, to do with the stories of Etsy items after the sale...).  And it means getting more involved in the two Etsy teams I've just joined (Etsy Greetings and Etsy Expats). 

Take better photos : Oh, how often have I said this?  Photography is my first creative passion, and this year I want to take it a bit more seriously.  Step one is to upgrade from my trusty point-and-shoot to a DSLR (ooh, err).  And then learn how to use it.  Properly.  After talking about it non-stop for a good few months, I think I have finally convinced the husband to get me a DSLR for xmas (in fact, by the time the post is up we will have hopefully gone on the shopping trip to pick it out!).  Now to track down some English language photography classes in Seoul...

Learn new skills : I am a total sucker for craft books, and the list of new skills I want to learn could go on for ten very long blog posts.  But I need to make the most of the crafty time I'm going to schedule (see point one), so I've narrowed it down to two things:
1. Learn how to make my own moleskine type notebooks, which I can then embellish and embroider.  This tutorial looks like a good place to start.
2. Tackle some needle felting projects from this craft book that I just bought.  I'd love to felt up some fanciful pin cushions!
3. Ok, three things.  I really, really want to learn how to tie Korean knots.  I have no idea how I'm going to learn that skill.  Any crafty Seoul-ites reading this who want to teach me?  Hmm, looks like I may have to purchase another craft book...

So, there you have it. (Actually, to be honest, I could go on.  But I won't.)  I'd love to hear your creative plans for next year - please do tell me in the comments!  And if you're in the mood for some more creative odyssey-ing you should head on over to the my girl thursday blog.  Partly because I think it's an ace blog, and partly because she is my partner is crime today.  So go, have a read!

16 December 2010

Festive Seoul

This year will be our first Christmas in Seoul and, to be honest, we have no idea what to expect. Korea has a long history of traditions based on Korean Confucianism and Buddhism, and most of the public holidays and associated celebrations and rituals stem from this.  On the other hand, well over half the population of South Korea are Christians and Christmas Day is also on the calendar of public holidays.

So whilst we are still figuring out the degree of difficulty involved in procuring tinsel (low, you practically trip over it in the streets), mint jelly (high-ish), and gravy powder (near impossible), one thing is abundantly clear - Seoul knows how to put up a Christmas light!  It seems that almost every day we spy a new festive extravaganza going up in our neighbourhood, the streets of Myeong-dong are a veritable twinkling feast for the eyes.  

And seeing as it's getting dark around 5pm these days, it's easy to enjoy the light show (provided you don't think too much about the cost and the waste and the environment...).  Here's just a sampling of what's on show, my particular favourites are the mash ups - a hint of xmas cheer + a bit of happy new year + a healthy dose of bunny (if you're wandering how the bunny fits in, the next lunar year is the year of the rabbit, which should make for some very cute lunar new year souvenirs!).

14 December 2010

Creative Collective: Handmade Christmas Card Swap

Have you heard of Creative Collective?  It's a group of crafty bloggers who have joined together to host monthly craft challenges, fund raising events, swaps and more.  

You may recall a few months ago I joined in on their Spring craft project?   Well, this month I signed up for the handmade Christmas card swap.  I decided to try my hand at some slightly more traditional paper crafts (as opposed to my usual make-it-up-as-you-go-along paper embroidery adventures).  So it was out with the scissors, paper punches and glue, and this is what I came up with.  I was pretty darn pleased with the results, I do hope my swap partners like them too...

And today I got the first cards from my swap partners in the post and they are gorgeous - each one is so unique and beautifully made, it's quite inspiring to see the different ideas and interpretations.  I can't wait to get the next three!  (I'll be posting about them once I have all five.)

Oh, and you could (and should!) get more information about Creative Collective here.

12 December 2010

Etsy Spotlight: Raw Bone Studio

I love felt and I love embroidery and I really really love the work of Raw Bone Studio.  I stumbled upon this shop while researching for this post on Handmade Spark and I had to get me some of those ornaments right away.  Don't you just adore the patterns and the detailing?

Robin is the talented (and funny!) lady behind Raw Bone Studio.  Here is a snippet from her Etsy profile:
Living in southern CA as a fair-skinned redhead, I've learned to spend the 8 month summers indoors creating. Kind of like Portland only opposite. If my hands are idle I can't think. Once I made a 12 foot gum-wrapper chain in one sitting.

Etsy Spotlight is the Good Things* seal of approval!  Read more here.

Etsy Spotlight...

As you may have noticed, I am a certified Etsy addict.  I buy a lot of stuff from Etsy.  Most of the time it's stuff I was going to buy anyway (that is, stuff I 'need' if you use a fairly loose definition of the word...), and I just choose Etsy to buy from.  Sometimes it's something I chance upon, fall in love with and buy on the spot.  Either way, it all adds up to a lot of purchases.

I know Etsy isn't perfect and that there are too many re-sellers, and that some people think it doesn't allow for enough customisation, and that sometimes it puts pressure on artists and crafters to discount the stuff they make.  But I love buying on Etsy because you can find almost anything there, and more often than not you end up with something that's lovingly made and unique (or lovingly preserved and unique, in the case of vintage items).  And you also get to help someone make money out of doing the thing that they love, which is pretty darn cool. 

All this is just a long winded way of saying I buy a lot of things off Etsy so, from here on in, Etsy Spotlight will only feature sellers who I have personally bought from.  That way it's not just about me loving the look of something, but it's also about the quality of the actual product in real life and of the customer service.  Think of it as the Good Things* seal of approval.

[Etsy Heart button by Bauer Designs]

10 December 2010

Death by Doxie: The Snow Edition

We had a bit of snow in Seoul the other day, not a blizzard by any means but enough that a good inch or so was still in the garden when we woke the next morning.  How could I possibly resist the temptation to deck the dogs in their finest winter coats and drag them outside?

I had to use a bucket of dog treats to lure them out.  Perhaps not surprisingly Elfi (she's the short hair for you new comers) seemed to quite enjoy herself once she got over the initial shock. On the other hand, Ferdi (the long hair) spent most of the time glued to one spot - apparently unable to move - with a look that said 'you have got to be kidding'.

Ostensibly I am 'training' them so that they get used to the cold and ice and snow and continue to go outside to 'do their business'.  But you and I both know I'm really just using them for my own amusement.  Those outfits!  Ferdi's tentative steps!  Elfi's romping!  That's what pets are for, right?

09 December 2010

The View From Here: Red

Today I'm taking part in the weekly photo challenge over at Gogovivi.  Gogovivi is a one of my very favourite blogs at the moment.  It's written by Kiley, an expat living in China, and it's full of really gorgeous photos of her day-to-day life.  

This weeks The View From Here theme is red and the sight of these red berries with a dusting of snow motivated me to join in.  We had a bit of snow in Seoul yesterday (and yes, I still get way too excited about it - give me another month, I might be over it by then...), and the garden looked so gorgeous this morning.  Blue sky, sunshine and a coating of crunchy crispy snow. Lovely.

[ps. stay tuned for a Death by Doxie snow edition coming up very soon.  Elfi's apres ski outfit is adorable...]