Welcome to the blog for Embroidered Originals, where I'll keep you up-to-date with all the goings on at our little cottage industry. You can also view our website and shop online at embroideredoriginals.co.uk Marion x

Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 - In Pictures

With the end of the year almost here, here is a quick look back to the last twelve months before we plunge into 2011.
January brought the first Trade Fair of the year at the SECC in Glasgow, where we tried out our new display racks for the cards.
February we took a long Valentine's weekend in London and visited as many museums and art galleries as we could, as well as seeing Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck at the O2.
March was just a heads down and work sort of month, but April brought news that our son, Nick had been nominated and won Multi Media Journalist of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards. Go Nicky!!!
And also in April, we welcomed home our daughter Laura and husband Greg after their year long world trip.

We headed off again in MAY, this time to Stornoway and the Outer Hebrides for a few days. The weather was chilly but gloriously sunny, and the beaches were vast, windswept, breathtakingly beautiful and empty.

JUNE saw the start of the Craft Fair season with Gardening Scotland at the start of the month and the Royal Highland Show at the end. So it was work work work again and in JULY too, in preparation for.......

the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe Craft & Design Fair. So that was the whole of August taken care of.

It was a bittersweet start to September when we decided to close our little craft shop and turn it into a stockroom. It was a big decision to make, since it had been open for 18 years, but we really needed the space to convert to storage and give us a house back. As well as that, the focus of the business has changed over the past few years with the majority of our customers now being either trade or website/mail order.
But I know some of our local customers of long standing will never forgive us!

However, we left it all behind at the end of September and embarked on a special holiday, starting in San Francisco,

before moving on to Las Vegas and

the Grand Canyon
and finishing up in Los Angeles.

Of course the last four months of our working year are always the busiest, and as soon as we got home from our holiday we were immersed in orders for Christmas cards. OCTOBER and NOVEMBER passed in a blur of 17 hour working days and busy Craft Fairs - Country Living Christmas Fair was just one.
But we mananged to take a weekend off mid November to celebrate a special birthday for Bob by surprising him with a Ferrari driving experience at Knockhill Racing Circuit.

While he was speeding round the track ( his instructor asked him to please keep both hands on the wheel!) Laura and I froze in the starter's box

and Nick was doing his Murray Walker impression.

We all know by now what December brought, and I think there have been enough snow photos already, but just before the snow came at the end of November we had some stunning fiery sunsets
And so we arrived at Christmas once again. The whole family made it through the snow and we have had a houseful in different permutations of people every day since the 23rd. Today (30th) they are all in Edinburgh shopping and having a meal (just the young ones) so Bob and I are once more just the two of us. Peaceful for an hour or two.
Laura and Greg will be back later this evening, and are staying to see in the New Year with us. Nick will be home again on the 2nd to go to the footie with his Dad....and then next week it's all back to normal. The diet will resume and the wheels of the business will crank up again in time for 2011's January Trade Fair.
It's been a good year, very family orientated and we are all well and thriving. I hope it has been for you too, and next year will be even better.
Happy Hogmanay when it comes! (I'll try to get a pic of Bob in his kilt playing the accordion at the bells!!! Quite a sight! But no sound, I promise - I'll let you off that one!)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas message

I don't know what kind of Christmas it will be this year - white seems likely, but with family scattered over the country it might be a very quiet one too if people can't get home for the holidays. I just hope this new snowfall today doesn't last too long. We are all but cut off again as I think the farmer has given up trying to clear the farm road, but at least we got our new boiler installed the other day so we are warm and toasty.
I'll be signing off for the holidays as there is a lot of work to be done over on our new Trade website. It's taking shape but there's still a long way to go, so any computer time will be spent there.
We've got two orders left to do and I can't imagine there will be any more before the big day, so it's time now to get everything ready in case our family do make it through the snow ( I'm sure they will!)
So Merry Christmas to you all - I hope you have a lovely time and see you back here soon. I'll leave you with today's snow pictures.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas Clean Up

I've now made a start to letting go for Christmas. Does that make sense? Probably not.
What I mean is, for the past six months at least, I've ignored the fact that this house is a home and treat it more like a factory cum warehouse. That's what happens when you run a business from your home and there is only the two of you left to worry about. It was different in the days when the kids were small, as it was important to maintain the homely feel. But of course they're off making their own homes now and we just slipped into being workaholics.
HOWEVER..... Christmas is almost here!!! The time when I do as big a clear up as I can (be bothered to do) and clear away as much evidence of work as possible from the sitting room before putting up the tree and decorations. That's the signal then to LET GO of work for a couple of weeks at least and have just the most relaxing, cosy time with our family around us.
There is still the small hurdle of a new boiler to be installed on Wednesday so the tree will have to wait until after that, which does give me a bit more time to tidy up and sort out. What a good feeling - to put things away in their proper place which have been aimlessly lying around for weeks, and tackle the grotty corners where the spiders have taken over.
I have this (unattainable) image of myself as temporary perfect housewife with my apron on, baking wonderful treats and serving them up on a gleaming table while a roaring fire reflects off the newly polished floor and the house smells of lavender and vanilla......dream on!
There is still work to do - orders are still coming in - in fact the phone has been fairly constant all day today. Twice I had my bottom wedged in the tiny cupboard door of the eaves, scrabbling about in the dark for Christmas decoration boxes, when the phone rang with an order. Both times I had to wiggle out backwards and make a dash for the phone before it stopped. Not a pretty sight.
So today, the windows were washed and the upstairs cleaned. It's a start.
Since I don't have the tree up yet, here is a flashback to last year..
And proof that the roaring fire does actually reflect off the newly polished floor, sometimes.
I have a growing pile of orders waiting to made up so that I can post them on Monday, so I'd better make a start.
Til next time....

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Don't mention Snow!

It's now officially a banned substance, this white stuff. We're all fed up of it now and just want it to go away.
So I won't talk about the weather except that it was SO cold today it was a pure pleasure to cuddle up to my computer and spend the afternoon adding things to the website. Bob went out for a walk as it was a glorious day - I preferred to use the light to take some product photos.
So the results are, some of these
and these

and these

not to mention these

and this
are now all for sale here.
And there were a few orders pinging through as I was loading them up.
These decorations are all made by a company called Birchcraft, whose work I sell alongside our own at the Scottish Country Living Christmas Fair every year. (They do the same Fair in London but don't venture north of the border). Have a look at the photo of our stand at this year's show on the left of this blog - you'll probably spot the Birchcraft products.
Anyway, they sell like hot cakes and I've now squeezed them on to the website in time for Christmas.
Bob is home from the walk now and I'm off to make the tea.But look what's just been handed to me -
This is our Christmas sherry. Our kind of Advent calendar if you like. Instead of opening a door every day from Dec 1st, we open a bottle! We never have sherry at any other time of the year, but from 1st December the countdown starts to the end of the business year, the end of 17 hour days and frantic work, so we celebrate with a wee sherry to get us in the Christmas mood.
Just one mind - I've still got the tea to make!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Christmas Trees and Special Offers

Getting in the Christmassy mood a bit today. We had a lovely walk down to the town in brilliant sunshine and dazzling snow and back via the Farm Shop to pick our Christmas tree ( Be warned - I have it on good authority that real trees are in short supply this year). We won't be putting it up until after the 15th though, because we're having a new central heating boiler put in, but it's been safely stored in the garden.
And I've been doing a bit of updating on the website in time for Christmas with more to be done tomorrow.
So while I'm in the mood, I've set up a special offer code to get free P&P between now and 31st December. Just put the code FREEDEC into the box at the checkout and the postage will just disappear. That's for all our UK customers.

AND there's a free giveaway of one of these
Christmas Patchwork cards when you spend £20 or more. While on the Christmas note, we've made the eleventh hour decision to do the Christmas Craft Fair at the Concert Hall in Glasgow tomorrow. It was a case of delaying the decision to see what the weather had in store.
So there has been a wee bit of a thaw and Bob is going ( me? no way - I'm a complete wimp if the roads are risky, so I'm staying home to do the accounts and work on the website).
If you are in the centre of Glasgow tomorrow have a look at the Craft Fair and say hello to Bob!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

A Standstill

This weather is getting way too much. We're still buried under feet of snow and yes, it's STILL snowing.
Although we're lucky enough to work in the comfort of our own home, things are beginning to become a problem.
No post since Saturday, so no mail orders have been able to get here. Also no supplies - getting dangerously low in red envelopes, for example. I know there are boxes of them on their way, but who knows when they'll arrive.
I shouldn't moan, at least I don't have to drive to work, and I really feel for those who do.

No collections by our carrier so the shop orders are beginning to pile up in their crates waiting to be packed up. The living room is getting more than a bit congested.
But there are still more orders to do, so this was Bob's array of cards made tonight, all lined up on the table to dry ( each card has a lot of paint).
And this is my little lot - they're not all finished yet - I'm just having a break!
Yesterday before the weather worsened, Bob took the camera for a walk. We're spoiled for choice when it comes to walks from our cottage. You can do a beach walk, a golf course walk, a glen walk, a woodland walk, a farm walk or combine them all. Bob chose the woods up the hill from us and then back home via the golf course.
These photos are for Laura's benefit.
(You'll know exactly where they all are Laura.)

Here is our very own hill, Largo Law. It's not ours of course, but when we moved here from the town many years ago, we were so bowled over by the view from our back door that we called it our hill.

 And this is looking back to our cottage across the field from the edge of the wood. Look closely and you will see our bright red back door. (The snow is more than twice as deep now as it was in the photo.)
As I said, Bob walked back along the golf course which is totally obscured by snow.
OK now I'm just wasting time - my teacup is empty and I should be getting back to these cards, but this is our cat - "the Wee Cat" - is his name, except that now he's not so wee. Anyway, being well padded he doesn't seem to feel the cold and enjoys being outside in the snow. I think it's maybe because he's mostly white so this is the only time he can mooch around and not stick out like a sore thumb. And he's also a bit of a poser, as you can see.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Snowed In

Yes, we're pretty much snowed in here at the moment. We are about 200 yards up a farm road and it's uphill -the farmer has been out with a snowplough attached to his tractor but although the snow has been cleared from the road now mostly, it has left it like a pure ice rink.
So no post today, no deliveries and also no collections from our carrier. The shop orders will have to wait until Wednesday.
We did have a walk down into the town this morning to go the bank and to post the latest website orders, so at least they are on their way. Six inches of snow on the golf course, which is our walking route to town, and it was lovely.
This is when you realise the benefits of working from home. I would rate trying to drive in snowy and icy conditions as way up among my most hated experiences. I used to have to do it quite a lot and it's left me with bad memories.
We've been doing a lot of looking out of the window today watching the blizzards, the thunder and lightning, the hail...and this...
Can you believe we still have a rose flowering outside our living room window in these temperatures?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Perth Andermass Street Fair

Just a quick note tonight to say that we survived the Arctic temperatures and had a good day at the Perth Andermass Street Fair today.
It was -4 and snowing when we arrived but the sun came out and we had our fan heater (shhh, don't tell - we weren't supposed to use the electricity supply for anything other than lights) and I was wearing six, yes six layers of clothes, so I was reasonably cosy all day.
With both of us there, we were able to take turn about dodging into shops to get a heat and also do some Christmas shopping.
There was brisk business with our Christmas cards and plaques and the opportunity to chat to a lot of our regular Perth customers who always brave the weather to come to the fair.
Back home in time for "Strictly" ( that's my weakness, not X Factor), a hot bath and a quick check of emails - I think a lot of people must have stayed indoors today in the heat and chosen to shop online, judging by the number of orders come in from the website. Thank you shoppers!
I'll be doing a bit of work on the website tomorrow - some new bits and pieces to add.
One more craft show before Christmas - that's the Glasgow Concert Hall next Sunday - a 3D2D Craft  and Design Fair - then we can put all the lights and craft fair props in storage until next summer while we have our winter hibernation.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Country Living Scottish Christmas Fair 2010

The last post was just before the fair when I was panicking about not having enough stock. ( In fact, I didn't get it finished and I've only just uploaded it - worth a look because it's all about a certain person's birthday treat.) 
Anyway, now we're home and the show is over for another year. We did have enough stock after all, but only because I took a large box of cards to paint in my hotel room each night. Picture me sat on a bed with a pure white duvet cover, surrounded by lots of cards covered in wet paint and bottles of fabric paint just asking to leak all over the place. Amazingly, the duvet didn't have a mark on it.

This was our stand - I was very pleased with its location in the hall - right next to the coffee bar.

And I always try to get a corner stand as it keeps it open and light.
I bring in a wonderful selection of Christmas decorations from Birchcraft for this show, because they go so well with our own products.

And also some red and white padded hearts, stars and stockings made by my friend Barbara. (This lets you see that I had them in pride of place, Barbara!)
Country Living is always a great show to do. I meet so many new customers who've never seen our cards before and their comments are so complimentary. The van was much emptier coming home - sign of a successful show - and the unpacking will be left till tomorrow.
It's feet up, glass of wine and probably a bit of a doze by the fire. Tired but happy.


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