A Good Home, Art, Artesans, Artists, Authors, Birdfeeders, Birdhouses, Books, Handmade porducts

“The Blog Shop”: Great Gifts by Creative People

My blogging community is brimming with ultra-creative people.

They’re remarkable. They make beautiful things with their hands, hearts and minds.

Or support projects that help talented artisans to make a living.

Blog Photo - Lotus Wonders Clutch

So today I’m celebrating these creative types and highlighting some of their products/projects that would make great gifts for loved ones.

  1. LOTUS WONDERS, made by women in a Cambodian village, in partnership with other women in Canada.  Order products and read their story at: http://www.lotuswonders.com/collections/all

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Lotus Wonders Products

Thanks to consultant Stephanie MacKendrick,  former head of Canadian Women in Communications, for bringing Lotus Wonders to my attention.

   2. MICHAEL’S WOODCRAFT. Michael lives on a mountainside in S. Carolina. He carefully chooses the wood and makes each beautiful object himself: cutting boards, ice cream scoops, and other useful items.  

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Michaels birdseye-maple-cheese-boardgif

 Visit his blog and online shop at:  http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com/shop/

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Michaels wood-cheese-boards

 3. JEAN LONG AND JESSICA CHARNOCK’S CREATIONS.  In their gorgeous log cabin east of Toronto, this couple is always creating beautiful objects.

The Log House - Photo by H. Grange
The Log House – Photo by H. Grange

Jessica hooks original wall-hangings using recycled wool, and makes large teddy bears using recycled fur. 

Blog Photo - The Red Barn copy

Grey Bear made of recycled Persian lamb

Jean works with wood. He creates large pieces of furniture and unusual birdhouses and feeders.  

See: https://cynthiasreyes.com/2014/01/11/youve-never-seen-birdhouses-like-jean-longs/ – or email: jenjes@mac.com

Blog Photo - Birdfeeder 2

4. SIMPLY SPLENDID VICTORIAN AFTERNOON TEAS by Marilyn Mirabelli. Check out the gift packages including the Tea and Cookie of the Month Club.

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Simply Splendid Tea and Book

http://www.splendidafternoonteas.com/services/TeaAndCookie.html

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Simply Spldendid Bespoke Tea Tray

 5. SARAH VERNON’S FIRST NIGHT DESIGN. Blogger Sarah produces beautiful art prints.

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Sarah Vernon Pears

See Sarah’s website at: http://www.firstnightdesign.co.uk/

Blog Photo - Great gifts Sarah Vernon 1

  6. BOOKS BY GIFTED AUTHORS:

  • MT McGUIRE’s award-winning K’Barthan Trilogy series isn’t just for young people. She’s a very good writer,  with a wicked sense of humour. Who else would write a trilogy made up four books?  For more about her new release and the series, visit her blog: http://mtmcguire.co.uk/

Blog Photo - KBarthan Trilogy 2

You can also read about MT at:  https://cynthiasreyes.com/2014/04/02/author-mt-mcguire-at-home/

  • SK NICHOLLS’ writing has also been highly praised. Her new novel, a roman-a-clef, is titled Red Clay and Roses. 

Blog Photo - Great Gifts SKNicolls

Visit her blog for more: http://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/redclayandrose/

  • WHEN CONCHI BLOWS, by Omar Sheriffe Vernon El Halawani. It’s an interesting book, based on the author’s own interracial family history in Jamaica.  He died before the book was published, and asked that proceeds from it be used for a worthy cause.  His cousin Robert Vernon carried out his wishes.

Blog Photo - Great Gifts When Conchi Blows

http://www.amazon.ca/Conchi-Blows-Sheriffe-Vernon-Halawani/dp/1463712235/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1382PA7Z0Y7T30Z9AWZ3

Blog Photo - Great Gifts Tumbledowns cottage

 7. And, finally, from New Zealand, Quarter Acre Lifestyle has just launched their online store of handmade soaps and other products. I know this couple is still setting up some payment options, but thought I’d give their products a mention now. Visit:   http://www.tumbledowns.co.nz/for-sale
Blog Photo - Great gifts tumble downs1

As my blogger friend Gallivanta (whom I’ve never met in person) did for my book, A Good Home, I’m shining a little light on the good work of others.

**Dedicated to everyone who creates something, hoping that someone else will value it.**

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A Good Home, Aging, Architecture, Artists, Book lovers, Books, Childhood Memories, elderly Parents, England, Family, Family Stories, Famous Places, Georgian Architecture, Georgian Homes, Home, Home Decor, Interior Design, Lancing College, Life Challenges, Lifestyle, Restoring old houses, Sussex England, Young Adult Books

Author MT McGuire At Home

Author MT McGuire is one of my favorite bloggers. That’s partly because I never know what MT will write about next.  Or how.

Like the time she went metal detecting and found “a strange um…. thing.”  Well, with an opening like that, don’t we just need to press on, to figure out what the um… thing is?

The Thing
The Thing

One day she’s unearthing an 800 year old object and the next she’s breaking your heart with her worry about her parents’ health.

My Mum was 80 a few months ago. She told me, gently, that her father didn’t survive to see 81 and I had a horrible feeling that she was telling me she thinks she mightn’t be around for long.  And I think this is the root of it all.  That my parents are knocking on, and soon they won’t be here.  And I want their last years to be happy, and for life to be kind to them, and while I think they are happy, I know they are struggling.

So I suppose I’m just scared.”

That ability to confront both the weird and the deeply moving may help explain the appeal of MT’s  K’Barthan Trilogy.

Blog Photo - MT Few Are Chosen
 She describes the young adult fantasy series as:  “Above all else, a romp. If it makes people laugh, then — to be honest — anything else is gravy. There are bad jokes, silly names, an unspeakable baddie, flying cars, flying car chases, exciting fights and a smattering of romance.  But I’m hoping there might be the odd universal truth buried in there somewhere, even if it’s only by mistake.”

MT McGuire’s self-description?   “A 45 year old who still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.”

Any luck with that?  “None yet.”

One day, I checked MT’s blog and discovered a wonderful old building where she and her family lived while her father was housemaster of Gibbs House, at Lancing College in Sussex, England.

Gibbs House, Lancing College
Gibbs House, Lancing College

Here’s how she describes it:

“Miles and miles of corridor and a couple of enormous rooms (you know, bed in one post code, wardrobe in another) and a couple of tiny ones just big enough to fit a chest of drawers and a bed, on each floor. You have the spare room; the dormer up top (horrible room, we thought it was haunted – so we kindly put our guests there – phnark).”

Lancing was definitely not a “normal” environment for a young girl, since it was mostly a boys’ school.

“If your life is not like other people’s you end up with an alternative perception of what normal is.”

You also learn to see things that others may miss.

“There were always the lads who were having a hard time at home. They were the ones my parents were extra kind to and for whom they went the extra mile. I never knew what was going on in these boys’ lives but there was something unmistakable in all of them.  So, I guess I developed an eye for people who were hauling baggage which has helped a lot with the characterisation in my books – not to mention day to day life.”

Lancing College Chapel
Lancing College Chapel

So – back to the pictures of Lancing College. They reminded me of another fantasy series — the Harry Potter books.  And sure enough,  Lancing was the producers’ first location choice.

“The school was offered a lot of money to be the ‘film-Hogwarts’ but declined. The headmaster at the time said that it was a place of education and not for Hollywood. He is a charming and mild mannered man.  I wonder what on earth they must have said to him to get such an uncharacteristically pompous rebuttal.”

Back Garden

Today, MT, her husband (“McOther”) and young son (“McMini”) live in another old building (above, built in 1800).

Blog Photo - MT Stairs to Landing

She loves it, despite the fact that the plumbing and heating systems and the plastering need repairs.  MT says it’s like owning a 1960’s Rolls Royce.

Blog Photo - MT Office via landing

Blog Photo - MT LRoom comfy corner

“Sure it needs a bit of care and tinkering but it’s like living in history and it’s so beautifully made. The banister rail is beautiful and the doors and the floors are lovely.  The look and feel goes with our furniture, which is mostly family stuff, generations of hand-me-down antiques and some nice modern things McOther and I have bought.

Blog Photo MT LRoom red sofa

Comfort matters.  “I like a well cared house, but not too neat. It has to look lived in or it makes the guests nervous and then they are far more likely to spill stuff and break things. Well, OK — I am, if I’m your guest. It may be different for normal people.”

Blog Photo - MT Stairs

For MT, home is a place, but, above all, it’s the people who love and understand you.

“Someone as well as somewhere to come home to. When I was a kid it was my parents and brother. Now, it’s McOther and McMini. Unless they are in it with me it’s not a proper home. I guess they are my home in many ways.”

MT McGUIRE’S BOOKS

There are 4 books — not three — in The K’Barthan Trilogy.

(MT cheerfully admits:  “Unfortunately, I’ve never been very good at maths”.)

The books are sold on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the other online booksellers. To learn more about MT and her books, please visit:

Blog: www.mtmcguire.co.uk
Website: www.hamgee.co.uk/books