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a virtual Christmas shopping experience

I think it’s quite safe to say that this year’s Christmas present buying will, for the many, take place online. Although there are shops open, and a few local fairs and markets taking place, I fear a lot of us will decide it is safer to stay away and let the fingers do the shopping. Besides, it’s great to have a glass of wine (mulled perhaps?) or steaming cuppa and slice of cake by your side as you ponder over the vast array of fabulous gift ideas available from the comfort of your own home.

Push away the thoughts of the big online shops and marketplaces, this post will be highlighting three close to home online present buying opportunities, all of which will satisfy that need to find something a little different and be able to support the many small businesses too. Here we go ….

Virtual Norfolk Craft, Food and Drink Market – a group on Facebook set up by the very talented photographer and huge small business supporter, Paul Macro. At the time of blogging, this group has around 180 local sellers all regularly showcasing their beautiful wares to a huge number of followers. Joining the group is easy, just click the join button, you’ll be accepted and away you go. All the sellers I’ve come across have been friendly and professional, with links to shops or Facebook pages to navigate to in order to purchase an item or request further information.

1000 piece puzzle of Cromer beach from Paul Macro Photography.
Delicious hamper including shortbread, gin liquer and marmalade from Simon’s Table.
Fun and tactile handmade card from Covenant Craft.
Pretty beach themed mug from Zoe Crawford Art.
Made from recycled wood jumpers – thick and cosy wrist warmers from The Norfolk Farmers Wife.

@LincsConnect on Twitter is the handle for Martin of Mandarin Leisure. If you are looking to purchase gifts from online sellers in Lincolnshire, Martin has set up a hashtag hour called #LincsArtCraftHour, dedicated to Lincolnshire based artisan businesses to showcase their products. You can view the hashtag at any time, but the dedicated hour is every Monday from 12 noon until 1pm. Alongside this is the hashtag #LincsConnectChristmas, for Christmas gift ideas originating from the county.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Calendar 2021 from local photographers Dave Newman and Andrew Scott – available from Andrew Scott Photography.
Beautiful stag wall art print from Christine Dobbin Art.
Fun and festive snowflake necktie from Create England.
Elegant stoneware spoon rest from Made With Mud.
International Bomber Command Centre painted onto vintage maps from Original Art by Fiona Duncan – a donation is given to the centre for each sale.

Of THE MAKERS is a new subscription box service run by Kerry, a Norfolk based supporter of the creative community. Kerry’s vision is to support small independent businesses by offering a selection of handmade items from UK designers and makers that is beautifully packaged and delivered through the letterbox as a special one off treat or on a quarterly basis via subscription. Orders for the special Premium Gift Box of lovingly made items from eight small businesses, needs to be in by 2nd December, for delivery in time for Christmas.

Beautiful handmade items from UK based creatives, delivered directly to your home from Of THE MAKERS.

Reds, golds and mustards – the warmth of autumn.

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” (Jim Bishop).

a spark of colour as autumn sets in – small sunflowers

Savouring those last warm days, enjoying the crisp coolness of early mornings and evenings, the beautiful colours of nature, sightings of squirrels and robins and the lighting of an open fire all add up to why autumn is by far my favourite season.

autumn leaves – waiting for harvest with moody sky – close up of a pine cone

New items for autumn, like this squirrel brooch in mustard felt and little hanging artwork in sunflower yellow, have been inspired by the changing colours of nature. Endeavouring to be a little more adventurous with my mixed media style, I’m enjoying combining different colours and patterns of fabrics and embellishments to build a boho style piece, with a hint of vintage.

hand sewn embellished felt and fabric squirrel brooch and cat artwork hanging by Ellie's Treasures
mixed media squirrel brooch and little cat artwork hanging

beautiful wise owl

Did you know the Italian translation for “twit twoo” is “I love you”?

There are many things that define country life – a graceful flying owl is certainly one of them – and it is always a joy to experience him in action or sitting upon a fence post or tree stump, waiting patiently for his next meal.

hand sewn owl themed brooch

When the children were growing up, one home education activity that they’d get to grips with was dissecting owl pellets to reassemble the tiny bones of a mouse or shrew that had been previously digested and regurgitated. It may sound a bit gruesome, but it was always so fascinating!

mini owl brooches

As Westerners we often think of the owl as a wise bird, with Greek and Roman mythology associating him with education, as well as magic.  Think of the illustrations that depict the owl in a studious theme, wearing specs and a mortar board, and also the use of owls in the well known magical Harry Potter books.  In fact, the brain of an owl is small in comparison to the size of its body and apparently harder to train than other birds like hawks or parrots, but it seems they are thinkers and planners when it comes to hunting their prey, so to me, they are shrewd and intelligent.

website ref: owl symbolism; how stuff works

Virtual markets

As the current pandemic continues to change the way we go about our lives, I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll need to write off this entire year when it comes to participating in indoor craft fairs and markets. I’ve already been told one of the markets I sell at over the Christmas period won’t be going ahead for 2020, so there’s a good chance the vast majority will follow suit.

On the up-side, there has been a rise in online (virtual) markets – the ones I’ve seen have been on Instagram and Facebook. Having taken part in one last month with Bluebirds Handmade Market, I’ve got the bug and signed up for another for next weekend with Handmade and Creative and have realised that they require as much pre-planning and on the day dedication as a live market. One thing is for sure, I’m now beginning to get to grips with “stories” and all that goes with it on Instagram … Facebook, sadly, is still a head scratching puzzle for me!

So, the Handmade and Creative fair, which can be accessed by using the hasthtag #handmadeindoors on Instagram, will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June between 7 and 10pm – perfect for when you’ve settled on the sofa after a busy day with a cuppa or glass of something chilled and you’re ready to go virtual browsing and buying from a fantastic selection of UK sellers.

hand sewn mixed media brooches by Ellie's Treasures - black cats, unicorn, pegasus and black poodle brooches

I’ve been busy at the sewing table building up stock levels with a few cute mini brooches and small mixed media artworks added to the list. Commissions will be open before, during and after the market if you’d like something special made. Hope you can join us.

hand sewn mixed media small dachshund dog themed canvas with easel - dreamy days

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