Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Cow Awards – moosic to my ears!

I like cows! There, I’ve said it! I’ve always liked cows – I still, as a fully-fledged adult, take pride in shouting ‘Belted Galloway’ when I see white-striped cattle in a field … my children have given up on me. Twenty years ago (now I feel old) my family and I were holidaying in Switzerland and I took a cable car ride up to the summit of Mount Titlis (yes, I know!) The journey is several-cable car rides and you ‘dip’ over alpine pasture; on our visit the pasture was full of cattle wearing their bells … the noise was hypnotic. Cable cars move silently through the air, so the only sound was one of ding-a-ling! It’s a magical sound, it honestly is. This summer I returned to Switzerland and we took our children on the same cable car – we were not disappointed as the cows were still there, ding-a-linging away! Here’s one …

Switzerland is, of course, famous for its cows (and the yummy chocolate that it makes from the milk) – but as I’m always on the lookout for quirky handmade items, I couldn’t resist taking a second look that this beauty. :) 

Anyway – are you now suitably convinced that I like cows? Good … then let me tell how you how chuffed I was to be asked to be a Cow in a professional capacity. Around early summer this year I was in the chatroom gossiping away with the ladies at Creative Connections (not heard of them? I’ll tell you more in a minute). We were talking about Theo Paphitis’s #sbs awards on twitter – how popular they were, how everyone we knew were winning them (!) and we felt a bit left out (we’ve never been picked ). That same day, The Cow Awards were born, with three main cows – Bessie a Friesian (moi), Daisy a highland cattle with no udders, and Cow Pat, a Jersey cow with a penchant for purple earrings. We each head up our own award category – Daisy picks the most ‘Creative’ entry; Bessie chooses what she believes to be an ‘Outstanding’ entry, while Pat chooses the ‘Weird and Wacky’ winning entry … C-O-W, there we go! We approached The Cow Lady to ask if we could base our cows on some of her amazing paintings (have you seen them – go look!) – she said yes! The other Cows chatted to the illustrator Richard Green who amazingly offered to turn our cow face paintings into real characters, and to draw our award badges - what he produced was incredible. Again, please do check out Richard’s work.

We then set up our own website, Facebook page, Twitter, and Pinterest, and we decided to run the awards via twitter, each Thursday evening between 4pm and 7pm. Anyone who makes something can enter one of their makes, by tweeting a link to it to our twitter page during those hours. Although it took off really well, we subsequently decided to run the awards on the 1st of each month – simply to give each of us more time to promote it as we all have other ‘day jobs’. So the next awards will take place on 1 December, and I can’t wait to see the entries! We get such varied entries, it really is difficult to pick a winner … but of course there are three awards each time, so even if you’ve won one category, there’s two others to aim for (and then you win a herd badge!)

One of my favourite Outstanding winners to date has been this patchwork chair by Kelly Swallow – it’s so bright and cheerful – I love it and want it for my study!

It’s all really good fun, we all have a laugh when we’re promoting it and judging it for that matter. It may be lighthearted but in a small way it brings the craft community together – some of them get quite competitive we’ve noticed.

The Cow Awards is a new venture, but it’s one that has already gained a lot of followers and support – and we’re all really looking forward to seeing where it goes. Can we be the ‘new’ Theo Paphitis #sbs? Possibly not … but what we are certain of is that our bright and cheerful awards are a lot more fun and funky than his beige badges.

Remember our next awards are on 1 December. If you fancy entering, tweet a link to your entry to @CowAwards between 4-7pm and you might just end up the winner of your very own cow!!

More about Creative Connections
WowThankYou has sponsored Creative Connections for a lifetime now. Admittedly I was a bit of a slow starter – I had to be encouraged in to the chatroom … but once in, you try and shut me up! It’s great! As the day goes by people pop in, have a natter, then go off again – everyone is involved in crafting (I’m one of the few non-creatives who live in awe of these folk, but try hard not to show it!) and we chat about everything – you name it, we’ve discussed it (yes, really!) It’s a great place to run ideas by people, ask questions, or just to break the monotony of a day at the laptop with a chat about the weather or the best way to cook a chicken! Creative Crafting magazine is also part of the Creative Connections empire, as is the mega CRAFTfest event – which is fast approaching. I could write pages – I won’t – so I’m sending you to this link … join in (it’s free) and pop in the chatroom for a few minutes; we’ll tell you all about it then!

My Friday Five (9 November 2012)

Each Friday I am going to pick five items that have caught my eye on WowThankYou – we have had over 10,000 items listed since we started, so there’s always going to be a few that jump out and demand that I buy them … and yes, ok, I probably do go on to purchase them … it’s not favouritism, it’s just personal preference (and I confess, I’m a shopaholic!) I’ve not necessarily bought the following five ‘picks’ (yet), so if you’re quick you can beat me to it! I’ll include links for you!

My first pick was an obvious one for me – these fabulous Lemon and Lime Soaps by ScENT.

Lemon and Lime Soaps by ScENT

I do own some of these – and they are a.m.a.z.i.n.g! They look SO realistic and they smell gorgeous. I swear, if you didn’t know in advance that they were soaps, you’d attempt to use them as decoration in your G&T! I love them and the presentation is excellent, making them ‘ready to wrap’ gifts – but there is more to it than this. ScENT is a husband and wife team – the wife (Carla) makes and the husband (Garreth) markets and promotes … and he’s such a lovely chap! It’s nice to know that you’re buying something from a genuinely decent and friendly pair. Did I say pear? You really should check out the pear soaps …. Wow!

My second pick isn’t so much of a single item, but everything they’ve ever made! I’ve bought three of these myself …. My current favourite on WowThankYou is this fab bracelet by Clarice Caine.

Handmade bracelet from WowThankYou

What I like about these bracelets are that they can be worn as ‘casual’ jewellery … but they can be dressed ‘up’ too when the opportunity arises. They’re also rather trendy – and as I’ve recently hit that dreaded 4-0 mark, it’s these little things that help me feel less geriatric when queuing outside school with all the whippersnapper mums! They all admire my bracelets, so I don’t feel so left out of the conversation!

For my final three picks I thought I’d chose some festive items, as Christmas is really not that far away now (we can’t avoid it any longer!) This knitted owl by Kozmic Dreams is adorable!

Knitted Owl from WowThankYou

It’s the perfect Christmas decoration or stocking filler … and owls are so ‘in’ at the moment! Over the summer I bought three knitted owls from Kozmic Dreams – gifts for the children for when we visited the Olympics. My son had a pirate owl, my daughter a Union Jack owl and our Canadian friend, a Canadian owl! They loved them – and still do! Laura, aka Kozmic Dreams, is also the perfect coffee shop companion who loves a good natter in Starbucks J

Next on my list is this simple, yet quirky, tree decoration from Cedar Cottage Crafts. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve got one for my baby niece who will be celebrating her first Christmas next month.

Tree Decorations by WowThankYou

This is something that will stand the test of time – it’s robust – and it’s inexpensive for a personalised item. I love it!

Last Christmas I bought a box-load of biscotti from The Biscotti Kitchen.

Oh wow was it well received from all the family and friends who dropped in over the festive period! In the end I only managed to have one piece myself as everyone else cleared the plate … Coffee is another love of mine, and this year I have a new coffee machine to show off, so I’ll be stocking up on biscotti once again – but this year I’ll keep some back for me!

Hello, and welcome to my shiny new blog!

As the title somewhat gives away, I’m Tracey and I’m the person behind the ever-growing UK-handmade marketplace WowThankYou. My working day, evening, and often night is taken up answering emails, whether from sellers, customers, developers, journalists or advertisers – I rarely get the opportunity to ‘be myself’ and give my thoughts and opinions. I’ve therefore started this blog, so that those who are so inclined can get to know me, not just as Tracey of WowThankYou fame, but Tracey the mummy to two young’uns who’s ambitious, optimistic, compassionate and if I say so myself, a ‘bit of a laugh’ at times!