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A Tale of Two Fairies

8 Dec

As I mentioned in my last post, Mr Monster and I spent last weekend having an early Christmas with my family. I’ve been trying to incorporate as much of a handmade element into the festivities as I can this year, although not necessarily by me as I have a few commissions to get finished which is taking up a lot of my time. It’s been fun browsing Etsy, and some of Bristol’s many pop-up shops carrying work by local crafters and artists.

For my mum’s gift however, I called upon a friend. I met the wonderful Sarah of Curious Pip some years ago on an illustration course, and we’ve kept in touch united by our love of craft and all things vintage. She’s carved out a successful business making beautiful art dolls from vintage fabrics embellished with sparkly, spangly bits and bobs to create her glamorous and sophisticated little darlings.

Twenty five years ago, as a wee five-year old girl, Mummy Monster and I went shopping for Christmas decorations at our local John Lewis. I have vivid memories of this trip and have never forgotten mum’s reaction when we came across a dainty little fairy tree-topper with a diaphanous, glittering gown and a Princess Di hair-do. Once she’d picked her up, she just couldn’t put her down and carried her around the store agonising over whether we could afford to buy her and what dad would say when he saw the price.

It was £4.95…a lot in those days, but funny to think that it seemed so extravagant back then. She just HAD to have her, so we took her home and she became one of those ‘look but don’t touch’ items which adorned the tree every Christmas, before being reverentially tucked back into her box each new year.  This is the best shot I have of her:


Twenty five years on, despite being treated with the utmost of respect, she is starting to look just a little tatty round the edges and in need of retirement. Although she would never be thrown away, she has fulfilled her festive destiny and deserves a bit of a rest. I knew that we would never find a suitable replacement in the shops these days, so my thoughts turned to Curious Pip.

I asked her to create a new fairy for us, with a tip of the hat to the old one in terms of colours etc, but with a shock of red hair. She rose to the challenge, and when she revealed what she’d made I was thrilled, and knew that Mummy Monster would be too.

So, I wrapped her up, and off we went to my home-town for our Christmas weekend. Funnily enough, on the evening we all arrived at the house, a conversation started up about the fairy, how long we’d had her, what an integral part of Christmas she had become, and how it was time she should be allowed to retire. I sat smugly smiling to myself, confident that I had done the right thing in commissioning a replacement. Christmas morning came, and it was time to hand her over. A girlish squeal and some excited arm-waving later, mum was placing her on the tree. She looked perfect, and the old fairy has once again been packed tenderly into her box (still bearing the £4.95 price sticker) for a well-earned snooze.

I would urge you all to check out Curious Pip’s blog and Etsy shop, and look back at what she’s created over the last year or so. Her dolls are exquisite in their detail, and I’m so grateful to her for making my mum’s christmas, not just this year but hopefully for at least twenty-five more.

Curious Pip Fairy

Curious Pip Fairy

Curious Pip Fairy IMAG0971-1


2 Oct

Excuse my shouty capitals, but this is a post that I feel very strongly about.

Our baby-cat Barney spent a couple of days in the kitty hospital over the weekend after coming into contact with a bunch of lillies. I had been given them as a gift and had a vague idea that they were harmful to cats so put them somewhere which I thought was out of the little one’s reach. I came home from work on Friday to find a big orange smudge on his head. It took me a while to work out what it was, but when I did finally connect it up to the lilly pollen, I thought I’d better call the vets for a bit of advice. I was shocked to be told to bring him straight in. They admitted him and kept him on a drip for 24 hours.

So what are the facts about cats and lillies?

1 – All parts of the lilly flower and plant are poisonous to cats, including the leaves, petals and pollen.

2 – After a cat ingests lilly toxin, they can develop acute kidney failure and die within 3-6 days

3 – Without prompt treatment, most cats who come into contact with lillies die, or need to be put down.

4 – If a poisoned cat receives treatment from a vet within 18 hours, most will recover

Early signs of contact with lillies include vomiting, increased thirst, loss of appetite and lethargy.

I have learnt a valuable lesson and there needs to be more awareness of the risk these beautiful and common flowers pose to our feline friends, so please help me spread the word. Tell your friends, don’t buy lillies for anyone who owns a cat, and get your cat to a vet if they show any of the symptoms listed above.

Going for Gold!

9 Aug

I am unashamed to say that I have been absolutely obsessed with the olympics. I’ve always liked the olympic games, the first one I can properly remember was Barcelona in 1992. I would have been 10 years old and have vivid memories af the archer with a flaming arrow and cheering Linford over the line in the 100m. The excitement of it all stuck with me and has resurfaced every four years. I love the fact that you can measure out your life in olympic games. I can remember watching the Athens Olympics in 2004 with a tinge of nerves that I was off to University very soon, and I settled down to watch the opening ceremony for Bejing in 2008 the night before a good friends wedding. It’s great to know that I will remember London 2012 as the games just before my wedding, and can’t help but wonder what I might be doing when the games travel to Rio in four years time.

Despite being an olympic fan, I hadn’t quite grasped how special it would be to be the host nation. When the torch came through Bristol I didn’t bother to go and see it, a decision I now bitterly regret. It just seemed too early to start getting excited! It wasn’t until the day of the opening ceremony that my excitement really started to bubble. Mr Monster and I were  invited to a fancy dress olympic party at our neighbours, complete with opening ceremony drinking games (close-up of the queen…have a drink, Boris falls over…have a drink…you get the idea). Guests were required to come in olympic sporting garb. Mr Monster padded up in some of our boxing gear, and I did my best as a cheeky patriotic sailor.

Getting ready for the party, I was suddenly struck by a wave of girlish excitement which was only heightened by the appearance of Mr Bean and J.K. Rowling.

Since the games began, I have been glued to the coverage. I’m dead impressed with the way the event has been presented and managed, and with the amazing performance of Team GB. I’m so glad that it happened in my lifetime.

True to form though, my favourite part of the games has been the monster mascots Wenlock and Mandeville. Who could resist them? There truly are no words to describe how much I love this picture!


Christmas Give-Away

23 Nov

It’s not too late to enter my special christmas give-away to win a coveted CandyLand tree topper!

Sweetiepie give-away

All you have to do to enter the competition is comment on this post below telling me what you would most like from Father Christmas this year.

For extra entries you can also:

  • Subscribe to the blog
  • ‘Like’ the Mistress of Monsters Facebook page
  • Tweet about this giveaway
  • Post this give-away to your facebook page.

Make sure you tell me in your comment below if you have done any of these, you will get one extra entry to the give-away for each of these things so up to five entries are available. The winner will be drawn at random on Nov 25th.
Good luck!

ThreadHead Magazine – Now Live!

19 Nov

ThreadHead MagOver the last little while, Mr Monster and I have been working incredibly hard on producing an online magazine for stitchers, knitters, crocheters and the like. I’ve been really enjoying immersing myself in the craft community, and blogging has renewed my love of writing, so putting together something for fellow crafters seemed like the right thing to do. I am starting small but hoping to eventually turn it into something great and maybe even end up with a physical publication rather than just working online.

A massive public thank you must go to Mr Monster, Andy Valentine, my ever supportive and exquisitely talented boyfriend for all his hard work and attention to detail with the web design. It’s not as simple as just making it all look nice, he has spent HOURS coding individual parts of the site and everything you see from the colour theme to the logo, to the minute details of how the site runs, are all him. I could not have begun to think about doing this without his help and I am so pleased with how it has turned out.

I am hoping at first to publish a new issue quarterly so the next one will be going live in February and I already have some great articles and contributors lined up.

Thanks also go to those who have written for me this time round, Amy of Purple Thread Designs, Sarah of Curious Pip, our mysterious yarn-bomber from KnitDiss, the amazingly talented Lesley Bird, and Andy Valentine himself with a male perspective on craft.

If you have any ideas or would like to be involved in a future issue, be sure to contact me. In the meantime visit ThreadHead Magazine and let me know what you think!