Sunday, 22 January 2012

Made with love...

Recent research has shown Our good intentions can ease pain and add to our sense of pleasure…they can even make food taste better. 

Researchers at the Maryland Mind Perception and Morality Lab have found that physical events are influenced by the perceived contents of another person's mind. "It seems we also use the intentions of others as a guide for basic physical experience," whether this was the sensation of pain or quality of a massage. They even found that this effect could affect our taste buds.

Participants were given sweets in a package with a note attached saying either  "I picked this just for you. Hope it makes you happy” or  "Whatever. I just don't care. I just picked it randomly."  In both cases the sweets were identical however the candy from the benevolent group was perceived to not only taste better, but was thought to be significantly sweeter. The researchers conclude that "Perceived benevolence not only improves the experience of pain and pleasure, but can also make things taste better,"

However bearing in mind that we are coming up to Valentine’s Day, the real message is to make sure your partner, sibling, friend, etc. knows you care. Assistant Professor Kurt Gray notes,
 "It's not enough just to do good things for your partner -- they have to know you want them to feel good!"
 So if you’re thinking of making a present for someone make sure they know that it was made with love.

>> The psychology of gift giving - why homemade presents are best 

Hilary Bruffell

Monday, 16 January 2012

Blue Monday - You're having a laugh!

Today is ‘Blue Monday’, allegedly the most miserable day of the year, due to a combination of factors such as the weather, proximity to Christmas, levels of debt etcSo it’s interesting that on the supposedly the ‘worst’ day of the year a new report is launched in the press suggesting that money does indeed make us happy. According to a comprehensive think tank report, our happiness is indeed related to how much money we have and, contrary to previous studies, there isn’t a capping effect.  It It would seem that our happiness doesn’t level off at a certain wage band. 

But does this really mean we need money to make us happy? Don’t panic, the answer isn’t quite as simple as it’s presented.  This piece of work only focuses on the financial implications of happiness and it takes no account of the positive effects of health, relationships, lifestyle etc.

Here at MIAMI Towers we're taking very little notice of this piece of work as we know that one of the best paths to happiness is Making and Mending things.  There's a wealth of research out there that supports the positive effects of making things and we know from experience how good these activities can make us feel. 

However if you do want to buy into the ‘money makes you happy’ myth, you can rest assured that the MIAMI lifestyle can only enhance this effect, because let’s face it, if money makes us happy, making our money go even further, must surely make us even happier!  So either way, let’s make 2012 the year that we make every penny count and make ourselves even happier!

Hilary Bruffell

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Make 'making' your New Year resolution

This Christmas I set out to make as many presents as possible myself. What surprised me was that I  received several handmade gifts myself - as well as the means for making more - materials, equipment or instructional books. So much so, that on Christmas morning we all started yelling "Craft!" in unison every time someone opened a present that was either hand made or related to making or creating.

If you visit Make it and Mend it often you may have seen some of the gifts I made - some when reviewing books such as this cute felt pincushion and lavender bag and some where I've shared instructions with you such as this tea cosy and these cushions.

But here are a couple I don't think I've shared on the website. First is this apron for my sister-in-law. She wanted a 1950s style pinny and her brief was "Surrendered Wife" (if you knew her you'd know she was being deeply ironic!). I already had a coupole of metres of retro fabric in my stash on the theme of "How to keep your Husband Happy", so with the addition of some contrasting fabric for the straps and pocket - also from my stash, plus a bit of frilling, I made her an apron that perfectly fitted the bill. She was thrilled and asked me where on earth I'd bought it!

I wanted to make something for my six year old god daughter that could be something she could keep forever, so I made her a quilt. I was pretty worried that she might be disappointed not to get something to play with, but half an hour after opening it she'd dragged it off to her room and was later found curled up under it fast asleep! 

And I didn't only make an apron, I also received one - made by my sister -  monogramned with my intials, Masterchef style. (You can find out how to make an apron on the website.) She'd been very busy, using transfers to add motifs to homemade aprons for almost the whole family.
She also gave little jars of her scrumptious Chilli jam.

My brother-in-law made a most fantastic gift for me. In fact I think it's my favourite present of all. It's a lamp made from an old tree trunk. I love the way he's used the place where a branch was to place the flex. Fabulous! He also made a beautiful wall plaque for my sister to hang her jewellery on, and a similar one for sister number 2 to hang her keys. All from beautifully turned wood.

The pleasure of hand made gifts can't be over estimated. Knowing that someone has spent time and effort making something personal is so much more touching than anything bought in a shop. But doing it requires planning and time. So if you want to make it your New Year resolution you need to start right now!

What hand made gifts did you make or receive this year?

Clare Flynn