People who do lovely things

This week I wrote a piece for the Guardian, about leaving random little notes around London to cheer people up. It was inspired by Hannah Brencher’s initiative called The World Needs More Love Letters, which is all about making the world a little bit of a better place by connecting strangers and, well, just encouraging people to say hello.

In the aftermath of that article, I have been alerted to a whole world of wonderful people doing wonderful things across London (and indeed beyond) and thought it might be nice to celebrate some of them here.

Cheryl blogs at MakeMeJoyful and she is determined to make Londoners smile. Somedays she hands out daffodils at the tube station; other days she surreptitiously hides book vouchers and cinema tickets in tantalising little envelopes labelled “Open Me” for someone to find. Cheryl left a nice comment below-the-line on my piece, and I was going to email to say thank you, and then I changed my mind and posted a card to her snail mail (one of her mantras is that happiness is handwritten). I quite like the idea of a potential pen pal in town!

The Phantom Florist is a curiously wonderful idea. This anonymous florist leaves little handtied posies of flowers in mundane places – on the tube, in the station, lying on street benches or atop letter boxes – to bring a raindrop of pleasure to the everyday routine.

Image from ThePhantomFlorist.Tumblr.Com          

And finally, there’s the mysterious baker behind the, er, curiously monikered Wake Up To Muff, who bakes a batch of muffins and then bikes them, for free and for fun, to spread joy and sweet baked stuff, to Londoners on Sunday mornings. Just because.

Maybe I’m just in a good mood lately but I love all this stuff. Cynics mightn’t get it, think it all pointless, vacuous and meaningless but on the contrary; I think it’s just great, to show you care.

And with that, I wish you all an excellently golden weekend.


Posted in: My thoughts

I bought this today

So very relevant, on so many levels. From here.

Posted in: Design

My new year’s resolutions

I never really used to bother with things like New Year’s resolutions. They seemed pointless, inevitably made  to break or forget about. For the most part, they are. There is proof of that too.

But then last year, I worked my first year of full-time freelancing. And it was tough. But it was also good. I learnt a lot, about work and writing and ideas and editors and stuff, but also, crucially, about myself. Things I didn’t know about me before. And it made me want to try harder and be better and not worry so much. So yesterday, I made New Year’s resolutions for the first time ever.

On the first day of 2013, I sat down and made my resolutions to the soundtrack of Jessie Ware, armed with a bit of self-help (cringing slightly at typing that) on how to set goals and stick to them. I’ve made a list of three things to work on for the year. They are promises to myself mostly related to work and also beyond. Be kinder to myself; be a brilliant writer; make the most of those days when it feels like I’m not getting anywhere.

I’ve written my resolutions down in an Orla Kiely notebook that would otherwise not get used and now sits prettily on my desk. In the notebook, there is other stuff – like how to get over that feeling like you are faking it that we might all sometimes feel but don’t ever talk about (thanks, Psychologies). I have set myself yearly goals and monthly ones too. Hell, maybe I’ll do little daily ones as I go along just for the extra ride and the thrill of crossing it off my list! (I’m actually serious).

I draw the line at a vision board, even though my best friend does one every year. I’ll admit I may have scoffed at her, albeit adoringly, for doing this in the past (sorry, K). But that was before I tried this whole-resolution thing for myself and I completely get that idea of how sitting down and thinking about what you want to do and how you’re going to get there makes you feel better, hopeful. It just does.

Apparently if you declare your resolutions in some way you are more likely to stick to them. So my declaration has been made. I won’t beat myself up if things don’t work out the way I’d hoped. I will wake up early. I won’t force myself to sit in front of my computer screen when it’s totally futile because the words or the ideas just aren’t there. I won’t worry so much. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and so on.

I may sound naive, and by all means, check in with me this time next year, but I think my resolutions will stick. Or at least I hope they will. It’s exciting stuff, this New Year business. I hope your year is, and stays, brilliant.

Posted in: My thoughts

My Christmas picks for Two Red Trees

I love finding new quirky shopping sites, and Two Red Trees is currently one of my favourites. Ever since I got my owl print from them, I’ve been going back to browse and buy presents – I bought this cloud necklace and just got this ever so pretty white ceramic dove.

Seeing as I’m a bit of a fan, Anna who runs Two Red Trees asked if I wouldn’t mind curating a Christmas list… so of course I did. You can see what I chose here although I’ve also posted three of my six favourites from my curated list below:

I love the yellow and grey colour combo on this cosy cushion

Knitted Lambswool Lolli Cushion

Since I’ve taken up knitting again, I’ve started to wonder if I could take up crochet… this blanket is lovely, I love the whole handmade-ness of it.

Baby Person Blanket - Amelia

And finally, there’s something about these mugs that I really like – they are pretty but they’re not twee:

fine bone china, limited edition mug - designed in Cornwall

So there you go – three of my top six choices for cosy wintery presents, and you can see the rest of my selection here. By the way, this isn’t a sponsored post – I genuinely like Two Red Trees and its ethos, which is to showcase and promote up and coming UK designers.

What’s even nicer is that you can engage directly with the crafty creative person who made your purchase – my ceramic bird came with a rather lovely email explaining all about how they made it in their little studio in Rye. That’s exactly the kind of thing that you just don’t get when you’re shopping with big name brands, which makes it all the more special.


Posted in: Design, Homes
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Getting in the Christmas spirit: a John Lewis giveaway

I have totally outdone myself this year: Christmas presents, bought and wrapped, natch, thank you very much. Motivated by an any-minute house move, I figured it was best to get it all out of the way. I spent one evening last week wrapping them all up. I know.

I jazzed some red-and-white candy stripe and snowflake paper up with washi tape ordered from Papermash, making initials for the kids as labels (um, I ran out of tags).

I’ve never been this organised. It feels remarkably good.

Anyway, since the season of goodwill is fast approaching and all, here’s another little Christmas giveaway for you, this time by John Lewis. The good people over there have asked if I would like to give you a chance to win this gift pack bundle of fabric wrapping:

Fabric wrapping is one of those ideas that you’re like, huh, why didn’t I think of that before. You could just keep using the same fabric pieces to wrap presents again and again – reuse, recycle. Simples. Or… you could stitch them together and make a table runner, or a table cloth for a small Christmas table.

Pretty packaging is pretty awesome – so much better than handing over a present in a plastic bag (prompting the “er, I didn’t get time to wrap it” excuse). For some inspiration, the Christmas team at John Lewis have gone one step further and put together a gift wrap video with hints and tips which you can check out here and there’s plenty of ideas for gifts for everyone here too (I’ve got a few foodie gifts from JL this year for relatives – all wrapped up now).

So, as before, just leave a comment below this post with an email address so I can let you know if you’ve won, and I’ll pick a winner at random this time next week. Happy wrapping!

This is a sponsored competition

Posted in: Craft