Monday 30 December 2013

Night time reading

Laser cut card (Waitrose) illuminated by candle light
 Do you like to read books? I read at night. I try not to read in the shop because it looks bad to the customer. Recently I've been waking at stupid o'clock 3am but been happy to read until it starts to get light outside. 

Currently I'm savouring Toni Morrison's 'Beloved'. It's a rich read but an anxious one. On any page something horrifying may be described and I'm a bit of a wimp. I can't read about the Holocaust or ghost stories or gory crime thrillers.

 I like something literary - ideally  it's won a prize - then it already has other peoples' seal of approval. When I find an author I like I read everything written by them. 

As a child I read what was on the bookshelf. An absolute red letter day was when Mr Loom arrived on business from England and he always brought me a wonderful childrens' book. Swallows and Amazons, Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did, The World of Christopher Robin, Fairy Tales from Hans Christian Anderson all were handed to me from his suitcase and all are still with me on the shelves of my bookcase now.  

Saturday 28 December 2013

Favourite things...

Christmas presents I love...
What did you get for Christmas? 

One of my favourite things is the pack of gold glitter alphabet stickers by Meri Meri above. How did Father Christmas know they are exactly what I wanted? And the pretty jotter notebook from friend Sue will have pride of place on my desk in HH. Perfect presents. I wonder if there is a website called that? What a fun job it would be to find perfect presents for everyone all the year round... Oh yes, that is what Handmade Happiness aims to do...!

I am thinking about fun workshops or making sessions in Handmade Happiness during the rest of the winter months. It would mean a different furniture layout so there was always a table free for people to sit round. I would like Pam Dew (patchwork, applique, sewing) to lead a few workshops as she did, so successfully last year. I wonder what other craft skills would be popular?  

Thursday 26 December 2013

Dreaming of a wet Christmas

Knitted snowmen by Sue Inglis
Well what weather! This Christmas will surely be remembered as the wettest Christmas.

On Monday it took my younger daughter five and a half hours to do a half hour journey by train from Guildford. When the train did finally get moving it struck a tree on the track and was too badly damaged to continue.  

On the drive to see my mother yesterday in East Grinstead we saw several cars abandoned in deep water on the road. Luckily my son-in-law is a good driver and steered us safely through flood water. He has an extra person to protect now. On Christmas Eve he and my lovely girl Amy announced that they're expecting a baby! Visitors to Handmade Happiness will know this already! I haven't been able to keep quiet about it. A first grandchild on the way is a BIG DEAL! But now the three month scan has taken place I am officially allowed to announce it online. Ta da!

My daughter wants me to knit a 'whole wardrobe' of clothes.They must be ultra soft but able to go through the wool cycle on her washing machine...all suggestions welcome.

Did you have a nice Christmas? I sincerely hope that you are having a wonderful time.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas to you!

Handmade Happiness this week
 I hope you, dear reader, have the best Christmas ever. Good company, a relaxed atmosphere, happy memories and tasty food. That is what I wish for you. Thank you for bearing with me through the ups and downs of the past year and a special thank you and a kiss to everyone who left a comment!
Handmade Happiness is open today til 4.00pm. Enjoy your Christmas!

Sunday 22 December 2013


Carluccio's Christmas packaging 
 My grandfather loved crystallised fruit. Seeing it reminds me of Christmas.

When my family lived in the Middle East it must have been difficult for my parents to provide a Christmas for us three children. Back then toys were hard to come by. I remember receiving a lamp from them one Christmas and on another occasion a chess set (I was only about 7!) 

My brother must have got a cap gun because I remember my Dad using it. At that time he was getting pesky phone calls from a man who just said,'I weel keel you.' Driven to exasperation by the frequency of these calls one Christmas Day Dad grabbed my brother's toy gun and shot off several caps directly into the mouthpiece. That might have stung a bit... Anyway there were no more calls.

Crystallised fruit, reels of caps for toy guns I'm not sure you can get those things any more.

Children today seem to want money or an i-Pad or clothes. It's magic to watch their faces as they look through Frank Higgins' handmade kaleidoscopes in Handmade Happiness. Or to see the little ones reaching towards Sue Inglis' hand-knitted cats, mice and bunnies.

Every Christmas I think: 'Let's make this a completely hand made Christmas.' It takes some planning but when I hear customers talk about the chutney, cakes, jams, handmade cards and gifts they make I am full of admiration. It is possible and maybe next year....  

Friday 20 December 2013

Ali Cooper's porcelain night lights

All lit up - Ali Cooper's tea light holders 
A good compensation for the dark afternoons is to light candles and see their cosy glow. And at night I love to watch the Christmas tree lights flash providing the only light for a while.

 In truth I have a very small Christmas tree this year. I wanted a real one, with roots, to plant in the garden afterwards. In recent years I've endured a white fake tree but yearned for the real thing. Then last year I heard people talk about paying £80 for the real thing and that put me off even looking. I found my small but beautifully formed tree outside Waitrose. I've tried photographing it but it looks pathetic. Next year, when it's grown a bit I'll show you a photograph!

Handmade Happiness is buzzing. A good place to find unique-to-the-shop presents. And at prices to please all pockets - there are lots of things at £3, loads to choose from at £5 and at the other end of the scale you may if you want to spend £150 or £200 on that very special present for someone you love.

Now I want to make some felt for flower brooches before work. Yesterday I painted Christmas puddings for earrings - they're in the shop now and if I can just make a couple of sheets of colourful felt I'll be well on the way to some brooches which are another well-priced present for Christmas.

Just a reminder - Handmade Happiness is open every day now until Christmas. 10-5 daily except Sunday when opening hours will be 9.30 til 3.30 and Tuesday (Christmas Eve) when I plan to close a little earlier at 4pm.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Gift tags DIY

Christmas gift tags by Jenny Stacy
Collage sheet by Jenny Stacy - to cut up
 If like me, you don't like the gift tags in the shops or the ones you like are too expensive, why not make your own?

Start by covering an A4 sheet of white thin card with torn pictures from magazines, old Christmas stamps, bits of gift wrap etc. I've then highlighted bits with a gold pen but this is optional. 

Get a luggage label and measure it. Using ruler and pencil mark out the back of your collage with rectangles the same size as your luggage label. 

Cut out your labels, from the back ignoring the front.

 Puting your luggage label over each piece cut the corners and mark on the back a dot for the position of the hole. Using a hole punch add a hole to each piece. 

Tie a scrap of collected old ribbon in each new gift tag. Easy eh?

If you wanted to you could add a bit of glitter, as I have before cutting up the A4 collage. You could also sew on a button, glue on sequins, use your own painted paper. Have fun and play!

Monday 16 December 2013

Nine shopping days til Christmas

A corner of Handmade Happiness
My marathon starts today. Handmade Happiness is open every day now til Christmas. Today I'm only open from 10-12.30 but that's flexible - if people want to come in I'll stay to the end of the day. 
Do you feel there's still so much to do before the big day? Lists, lists and more lists. That's my way of feeling in control. Somehow if it's on a list it's nearly done!

This week there are a few 'handmade' programmes on the telly to relax with in the evening. Last night and repeated on Tuesday BBC2 7pm the Great British Sewing Bee showed us some sewn decorations and gifts. I liked Stuart's man bag and worthy winner Ann's impressive teddy bear which reminded me of Steiff bears.

 Tonight it's Kirsty Allsopp's turn (8pm C4)- the review I read mentioned tie dye underwear (interesting) and mincemeat flavour popcorn (err not interesting!). And this Saturday sees the final of Strictly Come Dancing. After weeks of intensive excercise the female celebs can now be thrown about as if they were as light as a feather. Which they probably are by now. Appearing on Strictly must surely be the most fun diet in the world! 

Saturday 14 December 2013

Choose a card, any card

Christmas cards for sale in Handmade Happiness now
 Are you proud of the way your house looks? Would you be happy to see it in a magazine? Janet McMeekin is a specialist writer on lovely homes and her work has appeared in Country Living, Coast,  Country Homes and Interiors, Homes and Gardens etc. She is always interested in finding more homes to write about so why not contact her? 

 A while back she wrote about my life (not my house) and I was very pleased with the article. She came into the shop the other day and then wrote about it on her blog. If my house ever gets into a photo-ready state she may be hearing from me!! But that may take a while...

Handmade Happiness will be open for extra days in Christmas week:

 Open today (Saturday) as usual. Closed tomorrow Sunday 15th. Open just from 10 til 12.30 on Monday 16th then open as usual until marathon week when I'll be open 9.30 to 3.30 on Sunday 22nd; 10-5 on Monday 23rd and on Christmas Eve (Tuesday)  I'll be open from 9.30am until 4pm. After Christmas I'll take a two week break, just opening the shop during that time on Saturdays - December 28th and January 4th.   

Thursday 12 December 2013

A cute puppy visits

The irresistible cocker-poo - too young to be allowed out of the bag
Lulu (and us) get a closer look
 I had to photograph this tiny puppy. A-dor-able!

There are all kinds of visitor at Handmade Happiness right now. I recognise some of them as regular customers - people who recognise the quality of well-made, handmade in the UK presents.

 I love it when people really look. They spend time examining the virtues of each thing, moving slowly round the shop. They are often creative people who either make things themselves or who collect what others have made, hoping that one day they will have the time to create something beautiful themselves. Or they tell me they haven't a creative bone in their body but they appreciate what others are capable of doing. I never believe this claim by the way. I think everyone is creative but some have unfortunately been put off by a thoughtless comment from a parent or teacher which has dashed their confidence. 

Some people say they are unable to draw. I feel like replying, 'When did you last try?' Because every talent needs time spent developing it. 

There was an interesting item on the radio today about research into how successful artists spend their days. Not sitting about waiting for the muse to descend apparently but in a work routine using their skills whether the muse chooses to visit or not!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Pretty vintage fabric scrap packs

Penny Baker's assembles pretty packages of old fabrics
A collection of pretty bits for sewing provided by Penny Baker
Similar scrap packs by Penny Baker are available in Handmade Happiness now.

I had a lovely day off yesterday in Chichester where as well as doing some Christmas shopping I met an old friend for a coffee in M&S and had lunch with another friend who lives in the town. I appreciate what Chichester has to offer far more now I don't actually live there! There is such a variety of shops, I seem to find new ones every time I visit. I heard on the grape vine that tkmax may be moving into what used to be the Sadlers Walk shopping arcade on East Street. All we need now is for an Ikea to set up shop on the outskirts of Chichester and every shopping need will be catered for!

There was a 'craft fair' in the main streets and I was pleased to meet Nicole Phillips whose delightful artwork I'd like to stock in Handmade Happiness. Nicole's work shone out. I'll keep you posted...

Sunday 8 December 2013

Festive window

Peering through the Handmade Happiness window yesterday
All lit up for Christmas at Handmade Happiness
 If you like the Christmas window at HH and you live in the area please vote for it in the Petersfield Post window competition running next week and the week after. I've no expectation of winning. I'd like to see Tara Interiors win as her window is spectacular! And I'll be voting for that one!  However hopefully Handmade Happiness gets better year on year and this is its third Christmas. Onwards and upwards!

Friday 6 December 2013

Bee Mellor's work is in Handmade Happiness!

Colour for Christmas - specs or phone pockets made by Bee Mellor
Snow colours - specs/phone pockets by Bee Mellor
All six colourways of the specs/phone pockets made by Bee Mellor
Long before I moved to Petersfield I used to come over from Chichester to visit my friend Bee Mellor. Bee is a special artist and I've always admired her work. 

Bee and her husband moved to Australia to be with their daughter (and now grandchildren) but we've always kept in touch via email and since I opened Handmade Happiness I've always wanted the marvellous things Bee makes in the shop.

Yesterday a parcel arrived in the post from Australia with these beautifully made 'pockets' inside. Specs or phones or sunspecs fit them, there is a silk lining and a velcro tab to keep them safe. Which colour would you choose?

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Ali Cooper's work

I love these fine porcelain decorations by Ali Cooper
Porcelain tea light holders £15 and butterfly mugs £17-50 by Ali Cooper
In the dark evening Ali Cooper's pretty tea light holder shines out.
 Ali Cooper works with porcelain making beautiful objects that I am proud to sell in Handmade Happiness. This year she won a free stand at the Country Living fair after a magazine competition. The shop has a lot more examples of her work. Come in and see!

I am enjoying having a day out between writing posts on this blog.

 Christmas is surely the most busy time of year for all of us - especially if we know we're having relatives to stay over the Christmas holiday. To stay healthy and positive we must try not to get too stressed with the pressures that Christmas brings. Which is easier said than done. 

As individuals we are all equally important. I think women often forget this in their quest to make everyone else as happy and comfortable as possible. Them first, self last. This is not fair. I remember so many Christmases when 'Mum' (me) spends much of Christmas day in the kitchen hearing the whoops and cries of glee from another room as the rest of the family enjoys each other's company. 'Mum' (me) feeling a tad resentful but probably insisting at the same time that she doesn't need any help...

Now that my children are all grown up it's very different. Usually one of the men seems to want to do the cooking! But if you still have a dependant family try to have as good a time as you can. It's your Christmas too! As someone in the shop said yesterday: 'I've ordered all the food (ready made) from Marks and Spencer. I shall write a list to stick up in the kitchen of what time each thing goes in to the oven and that's it!'
Have a Chillaxing Christmas if you can. 

Monday 2 December 2013

Art gallery at Handmade Happiness

Sandra Izard's stunning oil painting 'Cobnor Point'
The entrance at Handmade Happiness is now an art gallery
Sheila Barrow's embroidered paintings in white painted frames.
Vicki Hunt's wonderfully depicted birds - painted then outlined in stitch.
I am proud to display three artist's original paintings in Handmade Happiness.
On Saturday I heard this conversation  between two women friends about Sandra Izard's painting, pictured top: 
'I love it. I want to buy it. What do you think?'
'I love it too. Hold on though. Why not just take note of the artist's name? You can see if it's online.'
Excuse me ladies. I am not deaf. But I am 100% certain that this painting is not available online!

Do you like the new gallery idea at Handmade Happiness? It's only now that I have enough paintings to fill a wall like this. Which is your favourite? I too love Sandra Izard's brilliant work but it is out of my league price wise. I must admit I will feel a pang when Sheila Barrow's long embroidery of the Downs sells.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Samantha Robertson's bowls and mugs

New work from Samantha Robertson at Handmade Happiness
My favourite piece - this blue washed ceramic jar by Samantha Robertson
 Samantha Robertson bought in new stock to Handmade Happiness yesterday. I like the soft colours of her designs and the fact that the insides of mugs and bowls are different colours. New designs include small 'olive' bowls, the big bowl pictured on top of the shelves above and unusual tree decorations.

Country Living magazine favourite, Ali Cooper, came in soon after with her new porcelain Christmas decorations. These are divine and I'd buy all of them if I could. Ali also delivered some new porcelain tea light holders which make lovely gifts.

This time of year brings the wrestling question of what extra hours should Handmade Happiness be open? Tomorrow (Sunday) for example there is the 'Petersfield Christmas Festival' in the town square. Because HH is a distance from the town square I don't think it would be worth manning the shop.

 However the shop will definitely be open on the Sunday before Christmas and the Monday just before Christmas. I might just look a little limp by then!! And late night Christmas shopping on Thursday nights starts next week. I'll remind you about that later. 

Thursday 28 November 2013

Sheila Barrow's little pictures

South Downs view by Sheila Barrow
Stitched into paint - the work of Sheila Barrow
Across the South Downs by Sheila Barrow
 I love these little works of art by Sheila Barrow. They are about 10 inches square and would look lovely grouped together or singly on a mantlepiece or in a group of other original paintings. Like her white painted frame pictures I showed you earlier they show views from the walk Sheila and her husband took along the South Downs Way - a distance of 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne. As Sheila walked she sketched.  

Customers looking in Handmade Happiness for Christmas presents see lots of things they'd love to buy for themselves. This has given me the idea of a 'Wish List'. I could have a pad of tear off sheets on the counter for anyone to fill in with what they themselves would love to receive. The wish list sheet would have all the shop details across the top so that husbands, parents or children could come in and buy something from the list their loved one has given them.

I have written this blog now daily since June 2011. That's two and a half years and I wrote it quite often before that too. Now I am tired and will write every other day from now on. That way you'll get a better quality blog! 

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Chunky necklace

I like big silver beads like the ones I've used in this chunky necklace.
 The thing on my mind at the moment is my advent calendar. I thought I'd make one for shop display and now it's nearly December and I haven't started it.  Hopefully I'll be able to focus on it today and make a good start on it in the shop.

Yesterday Kath Clay brought in some of her lovely silver jewellery. A selection of her work is now in the glass cabinet. Also a customer asked if I was getting in any more of Penny Baker's pretty 'vintage fabric scrap packs.' These are ideal for little Christmas gifts and co-incidentally Penny visited yesterday afternoon with more packs. I find it hard to resist buying these for myself!

I'm late writing this and you can blame Pinterest. Far, far too addictive!

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Frosty morning buttons

Wintery looking mother of pearl buttons
Yesterday, on my day off, I did a bit of Christmas shopping. First in Petersfield where I found some things I liked in Inside Out which is next to Waitrose car park. Smart gifts at reasonable prices I think. 

Then I drove to Waterlooville - destination tkmax.  I have a friend who always looks impeccably dressed and when I comment on what she's wearing she's often bought her outfit at tkmax. I usually flick through the rails and find nothing at all but yesterday a thick wool cardigan coat had my name on it. Really warm and at £29 not expensive.

  I also found some bits and pieces for presents for the family. The book section at tkmax is my favourite bit...I've also found great gift wrap there in the past and I was hoping to find some yesterday or, even better some printed tissue paper for wrapping.  Think I'll have to order some - do you remember the bird tissue and Liberty print tissue Handmade Happiness stocked in the past? Really nice. I'll order more of that and hopefully they'll have some nice Christmas themed tissue wrap too. 

Monday 25 November 2013

Colourful charm bracelets

Red and gold
Fun bright colours
I usually make all silver coloured charm bracelets at this time of year.  This morning I thought I'd have a change and make these, inspired by the many colours in Frank Higgins kaleidoscopes. I'll make all silver ones as well and maybe the odd all gold one too and it will be interesting to see which sell first. 

Today I'm weighing up whether to go to London or Portsmouth. I need to do some Christmas shopping as our family get together is really early this year. Portsmouth is easier but London is more exciting. Enjoy your day wherever you are!

Sunday 24 November 2013

Wouldn't want their electricity bill !

House of Fraser on Oxford Street
John Lewis, Oxford Street
 Isn't life funny sometimes. A couple of ladies came into the shop this week and told me about their business sourcing and selling on lace and linen in France. I checked out their website but frankly it was too expensive for me. Then yesterday someone else dropped off a lot of beautiful pieces of old lace for me to sell on! 

Now I don't know much about lace but I can imagine a few things that could be made with it - boudoir style cushions, Christmas fairy dresses, lingerie, pictures. I'm off to do a bit of internet research. Update: bedroom lamp shades look good in lace and linen and lace Christmas stockings.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Check it out - patchwork

Ruth Ellacott's cushion, rag rug and bag in HH
My camera throws too much light on things. Ruth's colours as actually deeper and more glowing. Her rag rugs and cushions would look equally great in a contemporary white interior and a cosy country cottage.

Handmade Happiness has its best months in November and December. Immediately after follow the two worst months, January and February and I'm planning on how to make those quiet months more worthwhile. Any suggestions gratefully received.

Friday 22 November 2013

Awash with good things...

It's dark outside, cosy inside with so much to see in Handmade Happiness
 The shop seems to be bursting with lovely gifts at the moment. There's so much to look at. Something for everyone as the old cliche goes.
It was good to have Amy's company yesterday and to benefit from her usual good sense. We put up fairy lights along the back wall and around the window so now we're twinkling with energy. I love the way you can touch a button and speed up the way the lights flash or just have them continuously bright depending on your mood!
Handmade Happiness is like Santa's workshop, full of creative energy. Christmas being so near has a galvanising effect on me and suddenly I want to make a thousand things knowing that there's no time to make a fraction of it. But I can try...!

This morning I've been sorting beads with the idea of making some unusual charm bracelets. Now I've sorted out the materials I can make on a tray in the shop today. Friday is funny, an all or nothing day. Either hectically busy with lots of people in or nothing doing, a time to make jewellery!!

Thursday 21 November 2013

New lino cut designs from Jacqui Watkins

Love these lino cut cards by Jacqui Watkins. £2-50 each.
Winter card designs by Jacqui Watkins 2-50 each
Unframed print by Jacqui Watkins £20-00
Unframed print by Jacqui Watkins £20-00
 Yesterday a big box came in the post from Jacqui Watkins. Her lino cut design cards are always popular with Handmade Happiness customers partly because they appeal to men just as much as they appeal to women. The red partridge in a pear tree design is a great stand out Christmas card!
As well as her cards Jacqui has sent some larger unframed prints and notebooks and mugs with her designs on.

Tonight the Christmas lights are switched on in the town centre. This is the signal for all the shops to unveil their sparkliest Christmas windows too. My neighbour Tara Interiors did her windows yesterday. They look great! I have three sets of fairy lights by the front door as I write which I'll put up today in HH.  I am looking forward to having my daughter Amy with me in the shop today.  

Wednesday 20 November 2013

New in Handmade Happiness

Kate Hackett's small size mugs £12 each.
Clare and Rebecca Lund's wood nativity decoration/puzzle £10 on a Kate Hackett cake stand.
 Yesterday morning the first person in the shop bought Ruth Ellacott's rag rug. I had only just collected it from her so it was on display for less than half an hour. So sorry but no picture of that!
It was good to put out Kate Hackett's popular small mugs and what do you think of these new wood decorations? I like the way you can push the pieces out slightly to achieve a 3D look. Clare and Rebecca Lund also make attractive trees in the same way which HH also stocks.

The postman brought two parcels. Juliette Orton's layered fabric star decorations which detach from Christmas cards and Natasha Rothschild's new style reindeer. Natasha makes wonderful knitted reindeer decorations that everyone loves and this year she has come up with a new look red velvet reindeer I really like.

Pam Dew visited with red patchwork tree decorations decorated with her own ceramic buttons. Pam makes marvellous quilts and applique cushions. She is also a very competant potter. It's a joy to see the work of so many artistic, creative people!!

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Christmas windows in Chichester

Between the Lines - colour
Advent calendars in Between the Lines
Smart gift boxes of luxury French products at L'Occitane
The White Company
Bit of a whirlwind day off yesterday. After a check up at the dentist I whizzed round the charity shops (should I have bought that beige Italian brand cashmere top for £5? I didn't.) I then met up with an old friend in the M&S cafe and we spent a happy two hours 'puting the world to rights'.

 Then to Ruth Ellacott's house to collect a rag rug. Ruth is an artist with a great sense of colour. I love this latest random stripe rug. It looks like moonshine on a dark sea. (You'll see what I mean when I show you a picture.) Ruth also enjoys patchwork and again it's the way she selects colour and pattern that makes her work special. I'll also have some of her patchwork pieces in the shop this week. 

Then I drove out to see ceramacist Kate Hackett to re-stock with her popular decorations and pick up some great Christmas mugs with robins, angels and snowmen on. (Pictures to come.) En route home I did another charity run in Midhurst and found a lovely pair of dark grey velvet evening trousers which will be good to wear at Christmas.

I'm looking forward to getting back in the shop today to 're-merchandise' (re-arrange the stock) and put out all the new things. I also have a very easy idea for a Christmas window display although that won't be done until nearer the weekend.

Monday 18 November 2013

Inside Liberty's Christmas store

An entrance
First view of the 4th floor - The Christmas Store
Larger decorations
Life size decorations
Themed decorations by colour and style.
There is so much panelled wood in Liberty's and in their Christmas shop they have used this to advantage by creating a vast wood cabin to house the thousands of decorations.

I'm off to Chichester today for a dentist appointment early and then to visit Kate Hackett who has made some robin mugs for Handmade Happiness and to Ruth Ellacott's to collect her latest rag rug. I also want to check out a few shops and hopefully bring home some more nice photos. Enjoy your day.