Posted on Leave a comment

Xmas or Christmas

The other day Gemma asked whether people liked the abbreviation “Xmas” my natural reaction was that I didn’t, but I have no idea why – so I thought I better find out the back story of Xmas. As a child I don’t remember anyone talking about the abbreviation as good or bad but I do remember seeing it on Christmas cards. So I decided I had better find out a bit more about the history of Xmas.

According to Wikipedia the prefix “X” comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is written as 𝛸 (that looks like a normal X). The suffix “mas” is an abbreviation for mass (a church service).

There are examples of the use of the term Xmas going back to the 16th century, historic authors including Lord Byron and Lewis Carroll used the term. While the BBC reports use in Anglo Saxon Chronicle in 1021, suggesting it would be a parchment saver… Indeed, the use of Chi as part of an abbreviation for Christ goes back to the Roman Emperor Constantine in the 300s.

So Xmas is a well established term, we can each choose whether we like it or now, but now when I see it I will remember it is steeped in history.

Posted on

Too early for Christmas?

There’s a lot of debate in the crafting world around when the best time is to start advertising and selling Christmas products, and I don’t think there’s a right answer.

Concrete Christmas star

I had a sale of a Christmas decoration in February, and that couldn’t be much further from the next one.

Generally though, I don’t think people start buying Christmas stuff until after a specific date, such as Halloween or a birthday. For me, is after my birthday in October. However there are, increasingly more it seems, people who like to get organised and start stocking up throughout the year.

So what’s the best way to capture these sales but equally not annoying the people who don’t want to think about Christmas until at least the autumn.

From my limited experience, I think the products should be available from July/August time but posting about them should come slowly. Maybe test the waters in August, but don’t go full on Christmas in every social media post until October.

That said I know of some who have already been making Christmas orders, so who knows really. Let me know what you think!

Posted on

Things are changing

I wanted to let you all know that there are a few changes which may affect how you view this blog and I wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to adjust.

Gem’s Concrete Gems has a brand new name, a new logo and soon, a new website.

I am becoming Concrete Gems, a more succinct name, but retaining the same ring and analogy to my name.

From 20th August, you will no longer be able to access gemsconcretegems.co.uk. Instead I will be at concretegems.co.uk where you will find not only a blog, but also my beautiful new shop. It will be changing as I get to grips with it all, so please bear with me.

To ensure you don’t miss out on anything, please do sign up to my mailing list, where you will be privy to special offers as well as the most up to date news.eepurl.com/dK3ccc

Social media links may also be changing so please keep an eye out for that too.

Apologies for any hassle this may cause, but I hope you’ll agree that this is exciting development for Concrete Gems.

Posted on

Just a Review

I started following the “Just a Card” campaign when I saw Gemma mention it. The campaign aims to get people to support small independent business such as Gem’s Concrete Gems, and to realise that every little purchase makes a difference.

The other night we were talking at our crochet group about the various businesses people are involved in. The conversation went like this:

“I saw X, she and her friend went on one of your courses and they loved it.”

“I wish they would write a review.”

Followed by a collective sigh, as everyone knew of people who love their products and services but don’t post positive reviews.

I came home and posted reviews on recent Etsy purchases that I had liked but never got round to writing. I would have posted reviews on NuMonday purchases but they don’t seem to have a review mechanism…

However I have a caveat to my recommendation to post a review. If the service or product you get from a small business is not what you would expect don’t immediately post a negative review, contact the supplier and explain why you are unhappy and maybe suggest how they could improve. I bought something that was a long time coming and what was delivered wasn’t quite what I ordered; when I contacted the supplier it turned out she was a young mum, on jury service for something lengthy, and she had sent my order out in a hurry when distracted. A negative review would do no good in this case, jury service only lasts a short time and hopefully her experience with me was a prompt to be careful in checking orders.

So when you buy something from an independent business take the time to give them a 5 star review. If they are not up to scratch don’t post a negative review unless they are dreadful and you feel strongly that fellow buyers need warning off.

If you have bought from Gem’s Concrete Gems, please consider leaving a review on Etsy or Facebook.

Posted on

Gifts for Teachers

There is an expression “Apple for the Teacher” and I assume in the olden days if you wanted to ingratiate yourself to the teacher your would give him or her an apple. When I was at school we didn’t have an apple tree nor did it ever cross my mind to take a gift for my teacher. When our children were at school it wasn’t routine to give gifts to teachers, although at some point one of them would announce they would like to give something to Miss X, this was usually the evening before the end of term and we would have to hunt around for a suitable something.

Since then it has become routine to give gifts to teachers at Christmas and the end of the school year. My daughter is a teacher and I know she has no expectation of gifts, and I have used surplus chocolates/biscuits from her to bribe my postgraduate students to meetings.

If you are thinking of getting your children’s teachers gifts here are a few things to think about:

  1. Fresh flowers are lovely, but it is best to present them early, they can brighten the classroom or their home, and you are not risking them going off if the teacher is going away as soon as term ends.
  2. Hand made is lovely, but have you and your children got time to do what you have in mind?
  3. How would you feel if you discovered he/she had re-gifted your present?
  4. Each of your children may have more than one teacher and teaching assistant.

If you’re looking for point number 2 and want something handmade, have a look at Gemma’s online shop.

Posted on

Father’s Day

Earlier in the year I wrote about Mothering Sunday, so I thought that I should write about Father’s Day. My father always called it Dad’s Day, and the celebration wasn’t mentioned in church, so I assumed it was a less established celebration – perhaps conjured up by my dad! However having looked at the Internet I discovered that there are varying days dedicated to Fathers around the world, and that one of them dates back to the Middle Ages.

In the UK we celebrate Father’s Day on the 3rd Sunday in June, and actually we imported the idea from the US, where it was established in the early 20th century. When in the 1930s Australia adopted the idea of Father’s Day they chose the first Sunday in September, as this was away from other special days. While some northern countries, including Norway and Finland, chose the second Sunday in November.

First celebrated in 1919 former USSR countries celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day, this is also known as Men’s Day, but also includes male and female members of the armed services. Russia celebrate this on 23rd February, while other countries celebrate it on varying dates.

The Catholic Church mark Saint Joseph’s Day on 19th March, and have used this day to celebrate fathers since the Middle Ages. A number of Catholic countries now celebrate Father’s Day on this date.

Concrete Dad letters for Father’s Day

Posted on

Coaster Making

I really enjoy making things, and along with some family members I had a go at making concrete coasters, using Gemma’s Make Your Own Coasters Kit.

The whole process was fun. We started with a cuppa and looking through the pack. We then moved outside to do the concrete mixing, using the face mask provided the pack (you shouldn’t breathe in concrete!). It was all surprisingly straightforward using Gemma’s mix and instructions.

We then cleaned up and had a leisurely lunch, by then the concrete had “cured” sufficiently for us to remove our coasters from their moulds.

The next day some of the group decorated their coasters following suggestions on Gemma’s blog. I thought mine looked beautiful as it was.

I think the Make Your Own Coasters Kit would make an ideal present for anyone who enjoys crafts. Why not treat your mum this Mother’s Day?

Posted on

Concrete and Clay Collaboration

I have something very exciting to share with you today, which I guess you might have seen if you follow me on social media: my very first collaboration. I’ve been working with the fantastic Kim from @maidinards to bring you this wonderful gift set.

The set includes:

  • a marbled black and white concrete trinket trays – the tray is hexagonal and about 10cm diameter. It has a cork base to protect furniture and has been sealed with a gloss finish. The marbling is completely unique and no two are ever the same. The tray is finished with a silver leaf edging.
  • A pair of personalised initial cufflinks. These are made of clay and come in a choice of square, circle or heart shape. Your initials are then added in red or black. These come in a small box as well.

The whole set is £20 plus postage, which is an exclusive collaboration price.

This is a fabulous gift idea, especially with Father’s Day coming up soon, so why not grab yours now. Send me a message here or on social media @gemsconcretegems to reserve yours now.