Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Small Irish Business Christmas Gift Guide

Nothing to disclose

Hi!

I'll leave aside my usual rambling intro because there's a lot to get to, this is a post featuring almost 60 small Irish independent businesses that sell products online across a wide range of categories. I've broken them down as best as I can. If you have any other small business suggestions please leave them in the comments.

Many of the businesses mentioned have stated on their websites and/or social media that they are happy to gift wrap and/or include a gift message and send directly to the intended recipient. 

If you don't have the means to buy anything at the moment, it costs nothing to give a business a follow or like on social media which will help them be more visible so that others may be able to buy something. Thanks so much for reading! 

BOOKS


1. The Gutter Bookshop have a huge selection of adult and childrens books. Their customer service is almost as good as a visit to the shop itself, with orders arriving in great time and wrapped carefully. 

2. Kennys have an enormous selection of used and new books of all kinds. They also offer free delivery within Ireland so they're a great alternative to some of the UK sites. Their new and second hand books start from just a couple of Euro.

3. The Bookshop.ie are Ireland's largest used book website. They take in tonnes of used books every week, and there are currently tens of thousands of books for sale on their site. This is a great place to find old childhood classics (it's where I bought most of my Point Horror & Babysitters Club books from). They offer free delivery over €20.

4. Charlie Byrnes offer a large range of books, if you've ever been in their gorgeous shop in Galway City you'll know that they stock just about every book you could imagine. If there's a particular book you're looking for, you can message them through their site. 



FOOD & DRINK


5. Organico are a Bantry based business who sell a huge range of products online from hundreds of different Irish & worldwide brands. They make it incredibly easy to put together a box of treats for someone and have it delivered, plus their packaging is always sustainable and their customer service second to none.

6. Picado Mexican are a boutique Mexican grocer who sell a range of Mexican foods and ingredients, perfect for foodies to make authentic dishes. I've bought their dried chillies a few times, the flavour is unmatched by anything you can get in a standard Supermarket. 

7. McCambridges will be familiar to anyone who has strolled through Galway City. They stock a range of products from many small businesses, and they curate and deliver food and drink hampers within Galway City and nationwide.

8. Ardkeen are based in Waterford and stock "the Worlds best selection of Irish artisan food". They have a variety of products but I think the standout for Christmas are the hampers and the option to build your own. This is really good because it covers many different price ranges - you can get a really impressive gift hamper for under €50 or you can go as high as you wish - ideal if a couple of people wanted to go in together on a big present for someone. 


TOYS


9. Mimitoys stock wooden toys, furniture, and arts/crafts supplies for children up to 12 (or any age, really). They have some really stunning "big" presents, including beautiful Dolls Houses and Kitchens. Santa brought my own twins their first play kitchen from Mimitoys a few years ago.

10. Freddie and Millie Toys have toys and books to suit all ages and budgets, featuring some beautiful pieces that I hadn't seen anywhere else. They stock the Miniland doll range, which are known for their inclusivity. 

11. Jiminy Toys stock eco friendly & plastic-free toys. They have some really wonderful things to suit most ages, including shadow puppetry, flat-pack playsets, and solar powered toys. They also stock the linkilonk activity tube, an Irish-designed and made product that features a selection of art activities in a fully recyclable tube. 

12. Sensational Kids feature a range of sensory toys ranging from fidget toys to learning aids. They're a company originally started by a mum who had difficulty finding support for her own children. They have sections filtered by skill and ability levels, and they have items to suit even the smallest budget. 


CLOTHING


13. Fauna Kids stock organic clothing for children & adults. They have beautiful handprinted designs and their prices are incredibly reasonable for the quality of the clothing. They have free delivery in Ireland on orders over €40, and they also offer stunning gift boxes for babies. 

14. Grey + Ginger are a Galway based clothing company who offer contemporary handpainted designs printed onto t-shirts and sweatshirts. They also offer art prints. I have one of their sweatshirts and it washes really well and has kept its shape. Their recently launched "Mother" collection is particularly beautiful.

15. Bean an Tí have stunning organic & ethically made t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies & bags featuring pop culture slogans As Gaeilge. I want everything. They also donate a portion of their profits to some incredible charities including rape crisis, LGBTQI+ & pro choice organisations. 

16. Gina's Tie Dye stocks a range of tie dyed cotton clothing and accessories, from masks and babygros right up to adult sweatshirts. Gina is happy to ship directly to recipients and include gift notes. The mask I bought from Gina is my favourite, it's the most comfortable one to wear. You can DM her for custom orders. 


KNITTERS & STITCHERS


17. Girl VS Thread is a Cork-based stitcher who sells embroidery patterns and finished hoops based on feminism, body positivity, Schitt's Creek and My Favourite Murder (all the good stuff). Her crafts are finished beautifully and she also sells personalised Christmas hoops. 

18. Golden Stitch Designs have colourful fibre crafts and fat positive art. Combine the two and you get some really beautiful gifts, including embroidered hoops, wall hangings, prints, stickers and more. 

19. Fluffbeag is a knitter and weaver based in Galway who creates the most beautiful knitted items. She makes beanies, wall hangings, doll house miniatures, printed slogan bags, ear minders, and also sells knitting patterns. 

20. Hooked by Em is a Limerick maker who creates sustainable products for the home. She makes reusable eco-friendly crafts like crochet rounds for face cleansing, soap savers, and ear minders which are really helpful for people who need to wear masks for long periods at a time. DM to order. 


If you are a knitter/stitcher/ crafter in general or are looking for craft supplies to make a craft pack up as a present, I use and recommend both The Crafter's Basket and Vibes and Scribes


CANDLES & WAX MELTS


21. Wickcraft & Wickery sell homemade cruelty-free soy wax melts in a variety of scents and shapes. I recently bought some of these myself and can personally recommend them (as with many of the brands in this section). The orders are packaged beautifully using sustainable plastic-free packaging and would make a gorgeous gift. 

22. Cailleach Candles I've become somewhat addicted to Cailleach Candles this year, especially their Sabbat boxes. Inspired by myth & magick, Nola creates the most beautiful candles, melts and curated seasonal boxes. 

23. Cauldron Candles make and stock a range of gothic style soy wax candles and melts. Their pumpkin scent is legendary (and strong, you don't even have to light the candle or burn the melt to smell that one in a room, it's delicious). These products are every bit as good as they look, and they look GOOD. 

24.  The Bearded Candle Makers describe what they do as telling stories through scents - and with scents like "a great drying day" or "camp fire in your clothes" who could argue? The standout for me here is that they offer a range of candle subscriptions, which would make a fabulous gift - especially with so many evocative scents and a loving attention to detail with (sustainable) packaging and gift message options. 


25. Cloon Keen produce probably my favourite candle of all time, Antique Library. Their candles are truly stunning, and they're all made in Galway. I have never tried their perfumes but their devotion to scent could only indicate that they're every bit as impressive as their candles. An incredibly special, memorable gift to receive. Fun fact - one of my kids still uses the presentation box from one of these candles as a money box and I still use one of my empties to store hair bands because the packaging was too pretty to get rid of. 

26. CME Candles produce stunning unique candles based on the human form. Their candles are unlike any I've seen before. They're sustainably sourced, hand poured, and 100% vegan. 5% of all sales are donated to MASI. 

27. Wix and Wax are a Co. Clare based small business who produce wax melts in the form of snap bars & brittle wax  in a variety of scents inspired by popular perfumes. They also sell very cute burners and gift sets. €0.50 from every Touch of Pink snap bar sold in October will be donated to Breast Cancer Ireland.

28. Kin Candles & Oils is a business owned by two sisters inspired by witchcraft. They have a gorgeous range of eco soy wax candles and skin products. Their twisted Halloween candles are adorable so I can only imagine what they have planned for Christmas!

ART & PRINTS


29. Art by TríK, a Dublin based artist/graphic designer, sells beautiful comic book inspired art prints. The detail is incredible. The artwork comes with a protective sheet, in a gift wrapped tube with custom packaging labels and custom gift card. 

30. Nially Pea is someone you've probably seen before, his iconic gold prints pop up on my timeline regularly and I have been meaning to order one for a long time. I did just that while typing this up, the "Jesus, Mary and Joseph" one both sums up 2020 AND makes a deadly alternative to a crib, don't you think? He also has a book, an amazing THE NEEECCCKK scarf, cards - just go and look!

31. Cardigan Jezebel designs contemporary art prints that look really cool. I bought a set from her a few months ago and the quality was excellent. They make really cute gifts and she releases new sets regularly. 

32. Pickled Pom Pom is a gorgeous small business owned by an Irish Mam. Laura produces beautiful prints and cards with really unique & emotional designs (the one pictured made me cry when I saw it online). 


33. Maria Jordan O'Reilly is a Bailieborough-based artist who creates stunning pieces of art, both one of a kind and in prints. Her art is the kind of work that everyone could see something different in, so if you have an art collector in your life or someone who loves abstract art then Maria could be the one for you. 

34. Nocturnal Lines specialises in linocut prints and artwork. Everything is visually striking, the detail is incredible. As well as prints, the shop has printed cosmetics bags and cards.

35. Josephine Hardiman is a Kildare based artist and illustrator. Her work is beautiful and would make a particularly nice gift for a Grandparent. If my own Nana were still with us I know she'd have loved that Brigid's Blessings print. The shop stocks cards too. Honestly I'd recommend a scroll through her Instagram too, it soothed my soul this evening. 

36. Chloe Doyle Designs is a young graphic designer & illustrator & NCAD student who makes the cutest contemporary prints. Her Michael D Higgins one is adorable, and her body positivity & self love ones would make gorgeous gifts for friends.


HUMOUR


37. Maktus are a store that make it very easy to buy multiple gifts at once. They've a huge range of really funny and well made products that would be especially lovely to send to any Irish people abroad who are feeling a bit homesick. They also have the best cards. 

38. New Irish Icons have, among other things, candles that make incredible gifts. I received a Panti one myself from someone as a gift and it still makes me smile whenever I see it. Need convincing? "St. Twink of the Gaiety". GENIUS. 

39. Jam Art stock prints and gifts by Irish artists and designers. They often have new products in, so keep an eye on their social media. This Roy Keane inspired print is one of my favourite items that they have currently and could definitely apply to more than one situation.

40. Hairy Baby are well known stockists of uniquely Irish funny gifts and clothing. Ive bought from them for years and have always been incredibly impressed with the quality of everything I've owned, from mugs to kids clothing to sweatshirts. 

HANDMADE JEWELLERY, STICKERS, PRINTS


41. West Queer Art stock really lovely unique handmade polymer clay jewellery, super cute stickers, pins, prints - they'd make a beautiful gift for anyone, but especially a young LGBTQI+ person in your life to show your support. They also have the option to request custom colours etc through their site. I have some of their earrings, pin and stickers and everything is gorgeous. 

42. Framing Harley Creations have handmade costume jewellery & prints with a spooky twist. They have mystery bags which would be a perfect addition to a Christmas gift for the spooky gal/guy/ghoul in your life, especially for a teenager.

43. Sweet Acid Witch has a host of handmade goodies from masks and other fabric adornments to jewellery, stickers and mystery boxes, including a section with some proceeds going to various human rights charities. 

44. The Cat and the Moon are a Sligo based retailer who carry a huge range of Irish designed items to suit many different budgets. They have an incredible selection of jewellery, prints, homewares and other gift items. 


BABY


45. All 4 Baby were mentioned a few times when I asked for small business suggestions on Instagram. They're a Galway based business who focus on baby goods, including equipment and gifts. Everyone who mentioned them mentioned their fantastic customer service. 

46. Bébé Personalised, based in Sligo, is a small home business owned by a Mam that makes personalised soother clips and teething rings. You can personalise your items according to your own theme/colour preferences, DM Elaine to discuss & order. 

47. Josh & Jenna sell gorgeous soft & wooden toys, furniture and baby products, as well as gifts for older children. They have a luxury build-it-yourself gift hamper that woud be an incredible present for a group of friends to buy together for an expectant parent. 

48. Stork & Co are a Dublin based business who sell the most beautiful gender neutral baby clothing and accessories. They have several build-your-own gift box options (I keep harping on about gift bags and boxes but honestly they're such a good idea). 


SKINCARE, BATH & BODY


49. The Soap & Bubbles Shop are a favourite of mine. Since I discovered them, I haven't bought bath bombs anywhere else. They do other gifts too, including wax melts, burners, and mugs. The quality is every bit as good as more expensive retailers, and they have a huge range with stock coming in all the time. Their customer service is second to none. 

50. Moments Bath & Beauty stock handmade natural bath and body products that focus on relaxation and aromatherapy including pillow mist, body butter, and bath milk. They offer free delivery on orders over €50 within Ireland using an on-site code and gift wrapping is available.

51. Golden Rootz stock a range of natural handmade hair products. Their ranges are all Curly Girl Method approved and contain no harsh chemicals, instead using essential oils and natural bases. They are currently offering 20% off with an on-site code as part of Black History Month. I just ordered their hair growth oil which sounds lovely. 

52. Three Witches Skincare are a beautiful sister-owned brand who make and sell handmade skincare products infused with natural oils and herbs. They have a range of other items including soaps and candles. I've personally bought their Witch Cream and some other moisturisers before and I loved them. 

PERSONALISED FRAMES


53. Gary's Wall of Frame make personalised wooden frames, wall plaques and Christmas decorations. They make beautiful gifts and are available to order via DM.

54. A Dainty Detail are a Donegal based small business creating customisable personalised handmade box frames, decorations and wall hangings. They have a huge range including some really lovely Christmas bits. 

TEXTILES


55. M.I.O - founded by lifestyle blogger Florence Olufemi-Ojo, Moulded Inside Out sell stunning (mostly satin/satin lined) printed hair bonnets, wraps and scarves, pyjama sets and aprons featuring beautiful African Ankara & Kente prints. Keep an eye on their social media for their next stock drop - they will sell out fast. 

56. Pillows and Patterns stock beautiful throw pillows, cushion covers, prints and shirts. I have one of their cushions and it's really lovely, as is the print I bought from them. Their prices are incredibly reasonable and they have a beautiful new "Black" collection in honour of Black History Month. Designer & owner Lizelle describes her patterns as "playful & happy with a flashy nod to the 80s" and I completely agree, I love the vibrancy of them.

57. Anzer are a small family-run business who make fabulously sweary barrier masks and beautiful 100% silk satin pillowcases. These have become increasingly more popular over the past few years as more and more people learn about the hair benefits of sleeping on a silk pillowcase, but they can be hard to find. Items are made to order.


Finally, I'm going to pop my own Etsy shop in here at the end - I open the shop every year in early November for a month before Christmas and sell handmade cross stitched items, cards and personalised Santa letters. I will not be taking on any custom portrait orders this year but I will be taking custom small frame slogan orders. I am happy to giftwrap, write cards, and send directly to gift recipients. 


There are a total of 61 links in this post, and I could have linked 601. There are hundreds of small Irish businesses out there that need your support more than ever right now.  I'll never shame anyone for shopping at bigger online retailers but if everyone bought at least one or two gifts from small Irish sellers right now it would give everyone a massive boost. 

Stay Safe,



Friday, October 9, 2020

Spooky Reading Recs for Children under 10 & Level 3 Library Info



Hi!



I recently posted my own Halloween reading recommendations and TBR pile for October. Do you think I've read a single one of them yet? Guess. 

This is a childrens edition in case you want to read some spooky books with/to your children during Spooky Season. The library is a brilliant resource when it comes to Halloween books for children, because they have such a huge selection to suit all ages. Personally, I used to borrow so many Goosebumps, Fear Street and Point Horror as a kid (which would still all be perfect for a pre-teen to read now).

Ireland is currently under Level 3 Restrictions, which unfortunately means that libraries are not open for browsing. However, at the time of posting this, libraries ARE still in operation for click and collect or delivery in some areas (Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown are currently delivering books to coccooners, for example). You can check the Libraries Ireland Twitter account or have a look at your own County library website for more information, but please do continue to use the library during this time. You can also join the library free online at any time of the day or night, and you can use the free Borrowbox app for audiobooks and ebooks on your phone or tablet. 

Let's get straight into the books. All of these would be suitable for children under the age of ten, some are scary and some are not, I'll let you know which is which. All bookshops linked are non-affiliate links to independent Irish bookshops. 

ROOM ON THE BROOM by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler


The witch and her cat are having a great time flying round on her broom until she loses some of her belongings and needs the help of some animals to help her find them. In return, the animals want a ride on the broom, but is there room? This book doesn't have anything scary in it. 




HAVE YOU SEEN THE DUBLIN VAMPIRE? by Úna Woods


Join the vampire as he takes us on a tour all around Dublin City, home of Bram Stoker. This is a gorgeous new book with beautiful illustrations depicting some of the famous City sights. There's nothing scary in this book. 




SCARY EDWIN PAGE by Alec Sillifant, illustrated by Daniel Postgate


Edwin Page loves to scare people. His hair is blacker than the night, and he loves Halloween more than anything. Nothing scares Edwin - until he knocks on the door of a nice old lady...
This one is a little scary, the old lady is actually a bug lady and scares Edwin so much that his hair turns white, so if your child is very nervous then stay away from it. My boys are gross and adored it. I bought this book in Dealz, so please do have a look in their book section because they always have really cute Halloween and Christmas books for €1.49.



MR. MEN HALLOWEEN PARTY by Roger Hargreaves & Adam Hargreaves


Lots of the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters are having a party. Everyone has their own cool costume, but who is the spooky ghost?? This one isn't scary and is suitable for a 6+ year old to read on their own.




THIS BOOK IS NOT A BEDTIME STORY by Eoin McLoughlin, illustrated by Rob Starling


A very sweet book about some monsters who think they're very scary, but are actually very loveable and cuddly. They tell stories about a haunted house, a creepy wood, and lots of other spooky places - but they're not spooky at all. Spoiler alert - it kinda IS a bedtime story, it's not a scary book.



If you are on the hunt for Halloween books for young children (why else would you be reading this) then you can find LOADS in a similar vein to the ones above by typing "Halloween" into the search bar on Kennys.ie. They have hundreds of books, all priced really reasonably, with free delivery. 

There's also thebookshop.ie, Ireland's largest second hand online book retailer. This is where you'll find books you probably read yourself as a kid - Goosebumps, the Buffy TV tie-ins, Point Horror (search by author, like R.L. Stine or Caroline B Cooney), and more. Prices start at only a couple of euro, you're shopping sustainably AND supporting a small Irish business. The search function can be a little funny so I recommend a good old fashioned browse through your preferred genres instead. Delivery is free on orders over €20.


Do let me know if you have any Halloween reading traditions or any books you love to read every year at Halloween!







Saturday, October 3, 2020

Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun - Spooky Reading Recs & My October TBR

Only Kindle links are affiliates.

Hi!

I'm taking part (or trying to) in the Grimdragon Spooktober photo challenge on Instagram, and the prompt for today was the title of this post - Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun. I thought I'd do a round up of some of my favourite spooky reads and tell you the ones I'm most looking forward to reading this month. 

A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS
Paul Tremblay

A tale, essentially of two sisters. Marjorie and Meredith went through a very harrowing experience fifteen years ago during the filming of a reality TV show based around a possession, and now one of the sisters is telling her side of the story to a horror blogger.  I love a story about sisters anyway, but throw in Reality TV and possession and I was hooked. It also made me think about how women with mental illnesses were treated by the church and society and often labelled as being possessed or inhabited by demons.




REBECCA
Daphne du Maurier

What better ghost is there than the one of a former lover? In this book, the second Mrs de Winter lives so much in the shadow of her husband's first wife, Rebecca, that we aren't even told her name. The real main character in this novel after Rebecca is the house. Manderley is full of atmosphere and has just the right amount of spookiness going on to give an uneasy feeling throughout. Mrs. Danvers contributes to that too, she's a great villain. I also listened to this on audio and would recommend the Anna Massey version. 




THE DEAD SUMMER
Helen Moorhouse

After her divorce, Martha McKenzie moves to a small village in the English countryside with her baby daughter. But her dream of a quiet life is interrupted by the presence of something strange in her new home - footsteps, scratching, and a general uneasiness that soon develops into some very scary occurrences. Martha begins to unravel the awful history of the house, but will she be too late to save herself and her daughter? This was SO creepy. It's a modern-day gothic horror, and very much worth a read. 




THE UPSTAIRS ROOM
Kate Murray-Browne

Eleanor and Richard are having trouble with their dream home, a Victorian townhouse in London. The name "Emily" begins appearing in random places, and their daughter Rosie begins to exhibit strange behaviour. They take in a lodger, Zoe, who starts to have strange dreams. Is there a spirit in the house, and what does this mean for the residents? Spooky but with a contemporary edge due to Zoe's arc, I enjoyed this one a lot, I'm a big fan of a creepy house.


 

THE WOMAN IN BLACK
Susan Hill

I read this book for the first time the night before I had my twins, in 2013. An odd choice for someone preparing for childbirth, but one that takes me right back to that cold, damp Autumn night and another creepy house. Everyone has probably seen the film version at this stage, but I'd really recommend that you give the book a go too. It's deliciously creepy. 




PRACTICAL MAGIC
Alice Hoffman

The film version is one of my favourites, it reminds me so much of my sister. Thankfully, it stayed fairly true to this beautiful novel of two sisters, witches descendant from a long line of sister witches. I also highly recommend the prequel The Rules of Magic if you want to find out more about who the Aunts were when they were younger. 




MY OCTOBER 2020 TBR

I've owned two of these books for ages but just haven't gotten around to reading them, the others I really want to buy or borrow as soon as I can. 



Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
A horror story about an ageing rock star who collects really weird, disturbing artefacts. He buys a box that supposedly contains a ghost - and indeed it does, one hell bent on vengeance. I've only read one other Joe Hill book (Horns) but I really enjoyed his writing. I've owned this on my Kindle for years and will read it this month.


Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
A prequel of a prequel, this is the third book in the Practical Magic series. I have read and loved both of the others so I can't wait to read this. I missed this one on Netgalley but will be buying/borrowing when it's released on October 6th. Shoutout to Rare Opal Reads for reminding me of this one with her recent TBR post on instagram!  


The Familiars by Stacey Hall
A fictionalized account of the Pendle witch trials in Lancashire in 1612. I bought this way back when it was released but just never got to it, so I've bumped it to the top of the list for this month. 


The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story by Kate Summerscale
The true story of a woman at the centre of a poltergeist story in London just before World War II and the team who tried to determine whether or not she really was experiencing a haunting. I've heard a bit of buzz around this book recently, so I'll be buying or borrowing this one. 




Have you read any of the above? Or are you planning on any spooky reads for October? Would you like a children's version of this post? Let me know what you think below!