If you don’t know One Pretty Thing be sure to check it out – it’s a fabulous resource for tutorials on all things handmade. Rachel features dozens of new things every day from all over the blogosphere… a huge amount of work to collate, I don’t know how she does it.
Dear Top Bird,
As Christmas is coming up and I want to be a wonderful sister, I was wondering if you knew where to get a horse pendant from? I noticed Alexa Chung wearing quite a fetching one some time back – any ideas?
Many thanks and best regards
Alexa certainly gave her rather lovely horse pendant a very good work-out this year, wearing it long on a satin ribbon and slightly shorter on a chain necklace. This is a girl who’s not afraid to customise: for instance, she swapped the strap on her Mulberry Roxanne with a vintage Tyrolean-style guitar strap. Likewise, her horse pendant is an example of a “found object” she fashioned into jewellery.
So, thinking along the same lines, I found a similar silver galloping horse on a belt at Urban Outfitters (£26). It’s a good size to wear as a pendant (big and chunky) and you could give it to your sister along with a couple of coloured satin ribbons. I had a close look at the horse and it can easily be removed from the belt. Just tie the ends of the ribbon to the little hooks at the back of the horse.
Alternatively, Asos has an excellent horse pendant of a more stationary kind – a rather sweet rocking horse (and a bargain at £10, see left).
I’ve also found some horse necklaces on Etsy, but they’re of the smaller, finer variety. As they are more delicate, these necklaces look better worn around the neck:
Silver stallion necklace, US$19, from Leviticus' Etsy shop.
Roxy’s pre-school, together with the primary school, held their annual fair over the weekend. I volunteered to run one of the craft activities tables, and settled on the theme of Christmas decorations. These baubles are fun and easy for kids to make… though rather messy (but the kids love that).
Tomorrow is the first of December and Roxy can’t wait to wake up in the morning to start the advent calendar. I’ve assembled most of the treats, and will add the few remaining ones as the month goes on. This is what I have so far:
• Lots of written treats. Things like fish and chips picnic dinner on the beach, going to the craft supply shop to get some new supplies, face painting with mummy (Roxy loves having her face painted), Roxy’s choice of what we’ll do for a day, a day at the ‘flying fox’ park, a ferry ride, etc.
• Some alphabet stamps and a stamp pad.
• A silver unicorn ring
• A lollypop
• A butterfly necklace
• A flower craft punch
• A couple of lollies
• A butterfly ring
• Some little post-it notes with hearts on them
• A bottle of pink nail polish (Roxy went ga ga over this in a shop recently)
• A sparkly hair clip
Have you got an advent calendar organised?
The Christmas countdown has begun, and this year retailers are pulling out all stops to entice you to spend, spend, spend. But if you, like me, are looking for something a little special and unique, give the high street a miss and head to one of London's independent Christmas shopping nights. Here's my round-up of the very best…
1. The best for … checking off your present list
Christmas on Cheshire Street
Winning my vote for this year’s best Christmas shopping poster, featuring a rather charming Pearly King by East London
illustrator Paul Bommer (above), Cheshire Street is off to a great start. But it’s the line-up of shops that are the
main prize here, with some of London’s very best independent shopping
on offer. Christmas present ideas range from luxe handmade leather bags
(Mimi) to contemporary homewares (Ella Doran) with Wee Birdy favourites
including Labour and Wait, Shelf, Dragana Perisic, and Mar Mar Co. There will be mulled wine, mince pies and special offers
including 15 per cent discount off all purchases at Mimi.
Christmas on Cheshire Street
Thursday 4 and Friday 5 December 2008
6pm – 9pm
Cheshire Street, E2
Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
By far my favourite Christmas shopping event last year, I revelled in the warm glow of Columbia Road’s shops which illuminated a particularly dark and foggy East London night. And with a glass of mulled wine in one hand and a sprig of fresh mistletoe in the other, I was merrily on my way. The live music and neighbourly atmosphere generated by this small community of independent retailers is a welcome point of difference from the anonymity of the high street, with mince pies and glasses of festive cheer on offer in all the shops. And Christmas present shopping is a cinch with 40 independent shops, including Ryantown, Supernice and Sharon Elphick offering everything from jewellery, hats, vintage clothes, antiques, toys, cakes, fragrance, sweets, chocolates, art and furniture.
Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays
Columbia Road, E2
Wednesdays 3, 10, and 17 December 2008
5pm – 9pm
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street
3. The best for … cool design gifts
East London Design Show
With an extensive line-up of products by British and international designers, you’re guaranteed to find some seriously good gift options at The East London Design Show. This annual event on the Shoreditch Town Hall calendar promises brand new talent from Mexico, Moscow, Holland and Italy. Christmas present ideas include jewellery, ceramics, furniture, children’s clothes and toys.
East London Design Show
Thursday 4 December to Sunday 7 December 2008
Shoreditch Town Hall
380 Old Street
Admission: £4 Concessions: £2, children under 15 free.
Nearest tube: Liverpool Street
4. The best for … the coolest craft
Bust Christmas Craftacular
Hooray for BUST magazine’s decision to hold its very first London Christmas Craftacular (just ignore me while I crash to the floor in a dead faint). Craftacular is set to be huge with BUST cherry-picking over 25 British crafters for the event. Expect to find only the coolest local crafty talent around with rich pickings for one-of-a-kind Christmas presents. There will also be fun line-up of classes, live demonstrations, DJs, drinks and dancing.
BUST Christmas Craftacular
Saturday 6 December 2008
12 noon – midnight
St. Aloysius Social Club
Phoenix Road, London NW1
Nearest tube: Euston
With an excellent line-up of design-led products and books catering for all budgets, the Design Museum shop is a Wee Birdy favourite for unique gifts like gorgeous Suki stationery and Ed Carpenter’s pigeon light. Join in a workshop on the night and learn how to make "designer-style" gift wrapping, tags and cards. The museum will provide all the materials you need – fun! There will also be music and free wine for extra Christmas cheer.
Design Museum Design Overtime
Friday 5 December 2008
Until 10pm (last admission 9.15pm)
Shad Thames, London SE1
Nearest tube: London Bridge
6. The best for … late night shopping in central London:
As many of you will know, Wee Birdy has a particular soft spot for Marylebone Lane and its line-up of fashion, shoes, interiors, beauty and accessories. Escape the crazy crowds on Oxford Street and take advantage of great discounts (including a 15 per cent discount at Content Beauty/Wellbeing and 30 per cent off all purchases at KJ's Laundry), festive food, drink and a brass brand. I’ll be checking out VV Rouleaux for some pretty ribbons to decorate my brown-paper Christmas parcels.
Marylebone Lane Christmas shoppping night
Thursday December 4 2008
4pm – 8pm
Marylebone Lane, W1
Nearest tube: Bond Street
7. The best for … last minute shopping
The Super Christmas Market at Somerset House
If you’ve left your Christmas shopping 'til the last minute, resist the urge to high-tail it to the high street and head to Somerset House on the Strand instead. Here you’ll find 20 of Britain’s hottest young designers, including Martino Gamper, Tatty Devine, Lady Luck Rules OK and Gitta Gschwendter offering a host of ultra-affordable gifts, starting at just £5. Learn to make some stocking fillers with Kandy Diamond, or try your luck in the snowball-throwing competition and win some limited edition Lady Lucky Rules OK jewellery (see above).
The Super Christmas Market
Friday 19 December 2008, 6 – 9 pm
Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 December 2008, 10am – 6pm
Somerset House, Strand
London, WC2R 1LA.
Admission £2, which includes entrance to the ‘Wouldn’t it be nice…’ exhibition.
Nearest tube: Holborn, Embankment, Temple
8. The best for … local and handmade
We Make Christmas
With all things crafty and handmade big news for Christmas, head to this Christmas market for unique and one-off items by local London designer-makers. Bringing the world of Etsy to life, you’ll find a range of gift including jewellery, fashion, art, toys and children’s clothing. There will also be food stalls, carol singing, craft competitions and demonstations. Look out for Miss Bunny's hand-painted shoes (see left), Bombus homewares and Littlechook’s vintage fabric cushions.
We Make Christmas
Saturday 6 December 2008
11am – 5pm
The American Church
79a Tottenham Court Road
Nearest tube: Goodge Street
The idea is that you copy the list and bold all the things you’ve done – and of course unbold those that you haven’t. (I italicised mine too because there didn’t seem to be too much difference between bold and not. Or maybe it’s just my tired eyes.)
1. Started your own blog.
100. Read an entire book in one day.
I *heart* the feeling a new diary gives of a clean slate: the whole year is stretched out before you with endless possibilities. The diary is fresh and untouched, the pages – like the year – are waiting to be filled with your life: the big and the small things, the details of your days.
I love the possibilities and the symbolic fresh start. I have had a personal situation which is surrounded by (someone else’s) very negative energy hanging over me for the past two and a half years. It will finally be over in the next couple of weeks, so my 09 diary holds even more significance, promise, and joy than most others that have gone before. I’m so looking forward to closing the cover on 08 with a true sense of closure and opening 09 with clarity and positivity.
I’m admittedly a bit of a neat freak – if you haven’t read my previous post about that click here – and I hate the state my diary is in by the time we get to November each year. The frantic nature inherent in this time of year is reflected in my diary: bits a pieces are scribbled everywhere and there is an accumulation of various pieces of paper shoved in the pages. Not my usual style at all! I long for the visual respite of those virginal white pages that will be mine in just over a month.
My diary of choice for the past couple of years has been an A5 day to a page one from KikkiK. It’s nicely designed and comes in a range of good colours. It’s not my perfect diary, though it is close. I’ve had a fruitless search to find anything that I like as much. This year I have a soft aqua one which is the same colour as my office storage (also from KikkiK), but for next year I’ve gone with rosey, dirty pink (the colours are somewhat different to the photo and not nearly as bright).
I did come across a gorgeous diary in an art supply shop, and I would have loved to have it, but for a few reasons… The positives: it was a day to a page (a must for me), and just as important the design was simple and beautiful. The pages were divided in half horizontally and the top half of each page was printed in a solid colour. A different colour for each day of the year. Just gorgeous, and it would have been a delight to open each day. The negative: it was totally impractical for me. It was very small and there was very little space to write and make my many lists.
For a brief moment I considered buying a bulk standard diary from an office product supplier and customising it with a fabric cover and bits of collage throughout. But that’s not what my day-to-day diary is about – that’s more of a journal to me. And more importantly the thought of looking at bad typography (that those products inevitably have) every day would mortally offend and depress me.
I might seem a bit obsessive about this, but to me it’s important. My diary is always on my desk in front of me and I look at it and use it many times every day. Is your new diary as important to you? Am I alone in this quest to have a choice when looking for diary perfection? (I suspect in other countries you actually do have a choice.)
I have my beautiful new diary here in front of me and I can’t wait to start it. It makes me happy just looking at it.
London birdies alert – get your Christmas shopping sorted tonight at Carnaby with a 20 per cent discount at over 100 shops, including Wee Birdy favourites Beyond The Valley, Playlounge and Lifestylebazaar and big brands such as Fred Perry, MAC, American Apparel, Office and Ben Sherman. Register at Carnaby for your free ticket.
You know I go on about design and style, Christmas frivolities and other stuff that I love. But I see an image like the one below and read the article in the China Daily it absolutely sobers me up. The earthquake in Sichuan, China, in May this year has left millions homeless and now they brace for the coming winter. They aren’t thinking about advent calendars and designer bandages, they’re thinking about survival and a future with no certainties.
A home-bound migrant worker from Sichuan carries her child in a railway station in Shenyang, Liaoning province on Friday, after failing to find a job in the city. Many people displaced by the May 12 earthquake have left their hometowns in search of work.
Especially now as the season for giving is upon us, it’s important for us to give to others – like the people in Sichuan or needy people in our own country or community. Are you going to really give this year?