So as the UK and we’ll most of the world goes into shut down, we all getting used to a very different way of life. I never thought I’d ever see something like this in my life time but for now this is how it is and I’m determined to try see the positives, I get to spend more time with my daughter who has just started school so I’ve missed those extra days spent crafting together, I’ve had massive mum guilt having recently gone back to work about the lack of time I feel I have with my one year old son too and I get to see my husband more too, so any extra time is a bonus.
I am lucky to be with my family to have each other. but lets face it this is a routine that although with its good point come equally hard parts and i know that after just two short weeks isolated at home im starting to feel I’m going a little loopy! juggling life, home schooling and coping with the house looking like we’ve been burgled is challenging but I’ve found that ‘craft time’ has become a great way for me and my children to take some time out, let our imaginations take over and for those few hours forget the worries of the day and just enjoy getting crafty together.
Its that time of year again, my favourite time, not just because of the baked treats but also because of the ‘magic’, yes now we have children in the house the magic of Christmas is so alive. I am one for traditions and keeping these alive for my children as my parents did for me. So when I was planning for this years Scandi Market I wanted to add some new items to my ‘little taste of Norway’ collection, so I turned to ‘traditions’ as my inspiration.
The biggest tradition we keep is the Norwegian (Scandinavian) Christmas celebration on Christmas Eve (instead of Christmas Day) and this is still always spent at my mum and dads house all together, with a large pork roast and present opening before the stockings are hung out for Christmas Day morning. The focal point of these family celebrations still revolves around the Christmas tree as it has always done, it’s always a real tree with that wonderful christmassy smell and the decorations that adored my mum and dads house and the tree had been collected over the years and all have a little story attached to them, a large majority are Norwegian and now over 40 years old. To this day these same decorations come out year after year and my siblings and me always want to be there to help put them up the same way we remember from our childhood.
Norwegians are amongst the happiest people in the world, along with their fellow Scandinavian counterparts, this is in spite of their extreme cold winters and long dark nights, they seem to know how to embrace the harsh outside and enjoy this time of year in the Norwegian way! They even have a word which sums up how they deal with this… ‘KOSELIG’ it has no direct translation into English and a single word like “coziness” doesn’t fully encapsulate it’s in-depth meanings.
Ive often believed children have the purest view of the world, as they enjoy the simple things and are less effected by what adult life brings. As I watch my daughter building her den using our dinning room chairs, every cushion in the house, several knitted blankets, she lines up all of her cuddly friends, packs some wooden play food (incase she gets hungry of course) and a lantern for when it gets dark (ever so practical even at the age of 4), I feel she is setting up what KOSELIG is to her, she has surrounded her self with all the things which make her happy, all the things she thinks she needs to get cozy.
You might expect that Norwegians would suffer from sad effective disorder, especially with 70% of this long country being inhabitable and often some areas being very isolated, during these harsh wintery months but no, why is that, maybe its because they create their own version of my daughters den, with warm lite fires, snuggled under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee (Norwegians drink alot of the stuff every year) surrounded by family and friends with bowls of sweet yummy bakes and treats enjoying each other’s company and often this is all done in a snug cabin in nature surround by beauty, why wouldn’t this make you happy? You have everything you need to enjoy the moments, the memories and take a break from the busy lives we live, where your personal well being is at its best, free and rested.
For this winter season I decided I wanted to try and encapsulate this KOSELIG feeling in a gift box. I have been developing my “my little taste of Norway” range for a few years now and have already designed some traditional makes and bakes using family recipes and childhood memories, so creating a KOSELIG gift box was a way to put these altogether. I wanted to try and use our sense as a starting point to build my gift box so that taste, touch, smell are key so you just need to add sound (hearing) and setting (sight).
KOSELIG is the feeling of cosiness, intimacy, happiness, warmth, being content and getting together in a snug, delightful and comfortable place and although I cannot ‘make’ you feel it, I hope I can help create the atmosphere in which you can, so switch off from the everyday, light a candle, display your julenisse (Christmas gnome), invite your friends and family around, open the bag of yummy Norwegian biscuits and get snuggly, enjoy my Norwegian treats and find your happy KOSELIG place.
As a graphic designer and baker I’m very lucky I can both brand and make all my products, although this would be my first attempt at a gift box. I knew I wanted to try and make the packaging reusable, eco friendly (where possible) and that items within could be used over and over (I mean except if the biscuits, once there gone there gone) so that it wasn’t just a gift that was used just once, but something that can come out year year.
My little julenisse were where my Norwegian ranged started really, I’ve grown up with my mother having more varieties of these fun festive characters than you can imagine (read my tree of memories post) but this was what Christmas looked like to me and nisse always featured heavily, so was a big reason why i started making my own nisse designs. I’ve added to the original four designs over the years and this year I added my 7th designed character in honour of my son Espen to my nisse family. I believe a product should tell a story, and this is mine, a journey of discovery and learning more about my heritage, techniques and about me and I carry this over into all I make for this range from the packaging to the names of my products.
The other item which has been on my journey since the beginning is my biscuit collection (syv julekjeks – 7 Christmas biscuits) which was born out of a love for my family recipes collected over the years which have been passed down to me. I spent a long time trialling and testing which of my family favourite would make it into the set and you can read more about them in my post. These sweet treats are made for sharing and enjoying especially in the winter season, with traditional scents and flavours of cardamon, cinnamon and almonds, there perfect for getting ‘KOSELIG’, so two yummy bags would feature in my gift box as well.
But although I will turn my skills to most crafts there’s something others do so well already that a collaboration is the way forward instead of learning to do it myself. I’ve worked with a fellow maker Ash owner of wattie wicks candles to create some candle wax melts that are a perfect addition to this box to ensure all the senses are invited to become more KOSELIG. I worked on the idea of day and night and the differences between them and wanted fragrances which reflected them, Ash was great and suggesting options and working with me to find the perfect blend for them both. Soft vanilla notes for Nysnø (new snow) and a warm seasonal spice aroma for julelys (christmas light), a wonderful balance of smells ready for melting and for these boxes im also including some wax burners to complete the set.
Branding for all these goodies was important also to tie everything together, so of course the Norwegian ribbon tag features and the dark grey i use for my branded table blanket, natural wood wool and white box content and labelling to complete my first scandi inspired box of goodies.
My Koselig gift box made its debut at the scandi market and was a big hit for that special ready made gift, it worked perfectly with my other items and with the choice of picking your own biscuits and nisse proved a popular choice.
SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS MARKET – SKANDINAVISK JULEMARKED I LONDON
23rd -25th November | Albion Street SE16 | Rotherhithe
In September i did a post about my summer Christmas making marathon due to the soon arrival of my second child, well here is a photo which should sum up how i got on!
Baby Baker number two arrived 2 days late and I kept busy that final few weeks with more making. i had managed to get 428 julenisse completed before hand, but only down to planning and being strict with myself with time management >read my blog post about the making.
I thought this year as well as being a seller at the Scandi Market id share my personal experience from both sides of the Makers Table, so you can see what it was like to visit the fair and what delights unfortunately you missed this year!!
Having had a great year last year at the Christmas Scandi Market in London and selling out on day two I wanted to get ahead of my self for 2018, not only to be able to physically make more stock but I would have another little Baker arriving in late September, so my hands would be fuller >read blog post about my christmas fair . I gained a lot of knowledge and insight into the designing, trial and error, making process and quantities but also of what people liked and what sold out from last year and thus I set about planning in June, yes the start of summer and the hottest weather we’d had in many years.
The whole process of being a maker is like making dinner it can take you hours to cook and then you eat it in an a fraction of the time, making ‘handmade’ items is exactly the same. Often the time you take designing, testing and perfecting your products isn’t truly appreciated or understood and having done a lot of hard work last year to get my designs, packaging and story set, meant this year would be more about the planning, time management and determination.
Those who know me would say I’m a pretty organised person but with the arrival of number two less than two months before the fair, we all know that a newborn and starting anything to do with Christmas would be a struggle for even the best multi-tasked. Starting so early in the year was a little weird and humming Christmas songs as i sewed each night might have made people think I was a little crazy, but most thought I was anyway wanting to tackle such a big fair with a new baby. But I like a challenge and wanted to do another year off the back of last years success.
The whole making process has been much more enjoyable in fact because i’ve planned out making everything in bulk, unlike last years small batch trial and test approach, it has seemed never ending at times but progress was visible as the studio slowly got taken over!!