Monday, 29 December 2008

In limbo

Merry Christmas! Yes, I know that I'm a few days overdue, but I didn't get a chance to post on the big day as we were too busy playing with B's new toys! We had a lovely time up with T's mum and B had a great time playing with his uncles and aunts and cousins. I hope you all had a lovely time too.

I always feel a bit in limbo at this time of year, as if I'm waiting for normality to return, for everything to start again, and from reading other blogs and talking to friends I know that I'm definitely not the only one. I'm trying to make myself slow down a bit and enjoy this time with B before he starts back with preschool/childminder and I start back at work properly (I say properly as I did take a couple of projects up to T's mum's!) next week, but at this time of year, after a couple of days off, I always get itchy fingers, wanting to get on with some new projects! I've got lots of plans for the next year, including plans to look after myself a little better so that I have a bit more 'off duty' time than I've had over the last few years. It is wonderful being a mum and having a business that I enjoy so much and can fit around my family (well, fit around them most of the time anyway!) but the downside, as every other work-at-home mum knows, is that it's so easy to spend every waking moment, plus many moments that you shouldn't really be awake, working. I've been reminded lately though that in order to do both of my jobs to the best of my ability I need some down time every now and then. Not exactly earth shattering news, but something that I need reminding of every now and then!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A domesticated Christmas

Today has been a day of packing up orders to be delivered or collected, baking and wrapping presents. I usually make my own gift tags but I've run out of time this year. I had some left over from last year but I ran out this afternoon. A Print a Day came to the rescue with these downloadable ones! I only came across this blog last week and I think I will be going back for more. The matching notepads are cute too!

The house is looking a complete mess with wrapping paper and piles of washing everywhere, but at least it smells lovely! B and I made gingerbread this afternoon using this recipe. He's getting pretty good at measuring out the ingredients and mixing, rolling and cutting out dough, but he still needs to improve his washing up skills!

Monday, 22 December 2008

The sweetest sound

Is B softly singing to himself as he's falling asleep - Twinkle twinkle little star has never sounded so lovely! I've just been standing at the bottom of the stairs listening to him.

I've taken him to music and dance sessions for about 18 months now, but it's only been since starting preschool that he's really started enjoying it a lot more and started singing to himself. Another favourite is Old MacDonald - did you know that he's got a robot and a fire engine on his farm?!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Welcome to the mad house!

B's birthday party yesterday was a fun, mad, crazy, hectic couple of hours. We had 12 children (plus parents), mainly 3 year olds, playing pass the parcels, musical statues, treasure hunt, eating the usual unhealthy party food and generally running round in a state of excitment! T had bought some glow sticks to put in the party bags and we decided to get them out after having birthday cake. That was definitely a good idea as dancing around with the lights off waving glow sticks round helped to calm everyone down!

Half the children there, including B, also had the preschool Christmas party in the morning, which was the perfect opportunity for me to decorate his birthday cake and generally run round like crazy cleaning and tidying. The cake got lots of compliments - but then I had to confess that it was a train cake mould from Lakeland that I'd borrowed from a friend! Lots of fun to decorate, just a shame that there are sweets left over from the decoration :P

Today has been a lot calmer as B has been at his childminder and, apart from packaging up and posting the last Christmas orders, I gave myself a very rare day off - and it has been lovely and relaxing - well, apart from the best part of an hour that I spent in the post office queue that is. I'm actually feeling a lot more relaxed that I have for at least a couple of months. B's party is done, I've only got one more Christmas present to buy and two more to make, if you don't count the ones that I will be helping B to make, the neighbours' cards to deliver and a few presents to wrap. I spent most of today writing Christmas cards and wrapping presents in front of the television, and I'm feeling very organised at the moment. Of course, that will change next week when I start packing to go up to T's mum's for Christmas itself!

Right, more episodes of CSI and a bag of malteasers are calling my name, so I'm off!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

'Tis The Season....

To stay up late finishing commissions.

To wait for HOURS in the queue at the post office.

To wonder where on earth the last twelve months have gone.

To feel quite chuffed with how far I've come business-wise.
This Christmas season has been busy, but I seem to say that every year! I've been lovely and busy with commission, some of which I can show you here, but others will have to wait until the New Year when everyone has opened their gifts.

I am pleased with the direction I've taken the business this year. As soon as I got my hallmarking sorted I was able to start creating some of the designs in my sketch book that used more silver. I still can't quite decide what silversmithing techniques I like the best though! I love making bangles and soldering, but I've been surprised at how relaxing I find pierced (sawn) work like my daisy cuffs. And it's obviously been satisfying that other people have liked my designs too! There are some new sketches in my book that my fingers have been itching to start work on, but I've been good and concentrated on finishing my Christmas orders. I am looking forward to the New Year, though, as I've promised myself some time to work on them then. B will be going to his childminder for an extra half day after Christmas, and I've got plans for that time!

Tomorrow is the last day for orders in time for Christmas, and the last parcels will be posted on Thursday morning. Tomorrow will be the only day this week that I will not be standing in line for what feels like hours at the post office as it's B's third birthday and I will be slightly busy putting the finishing touches to a birthday party to which 12 children are coming - I must be mad!! I will let you know you it went and how much hair dye I need to cover up the resulting grey on Thursday!

By the way, the gremlins have completely and utterly eaten the photo that should have been in last Tuesday's post so I'm going to have to take another one when I've finished the party organisation!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Sorry Mum!

I nearly gave my parents a heart attack one car journey when I was growing up. Well, to be honest, there must have been many car journeys that weren't exactly enjoyable with my brother and I bickering in the back, but this one journey was particularly memorable! I must have been about 7 years old, maybe a bit younger, and I decided to see what would happen if I opened the car door while we were driving along the main road. Needless to say, the result was my Dad pulling over straight away, and being soundly told off and smacked. My parents realised that this was what child locks on car doors had been invented for, and I never tried anything like that again! In my defence, I was actually carrying out a scientific experiment as I was wondering whether I would be able to open the door or whether the force of the car moving along would hold the door closed. My parents were not exactly impressed with this explanation though!

So, why am I sharing this childhood memory? Well, I after the car journey I had with B this morning I now realise how much stress I caused my parents! We've always had the child locks on both back passenger doors and also the lock on the windows so that they can only be operated from the driver's controls. This really annoys T when I'm driving as I won't take the lock off as I know that he'll only open the window and let the cold air in - he just doesn't seem to feel the cold! But anyway...... B suddenly realised this morning that he could reach the buckle on his seat belt and promptly undid it. Cue yells of fright from me, demands that he sit properly and STAY STILL!!! and pulling over to the hard shoulder of the motorway as soon as we could. The rest of the journey (thankfully only another 10 minutes) was spent with B crying as I had told him off so much and me trying not to cry as a) he had frighten me and b) I was feeling so mean and horrible for making him cry so much. But my theory is that if I've made him realise how serious it was and how much he frightened me then he won't do it again! I did think about trying to find a device that fits over the buckle so that he won't be able to undo it, but then I realised that he's got to learn that he mustn't undo it himself unless I've told him that he can. I think he's got the idea - T and I had a chat with him about it before bed time this evening. I think sometimes that all these safety devices that we can buy nowadays don't do children many favours in the long run as if you go over the top with different locks, guards etc then the children don't learn how to deal with and recognise danger for themselves.

So, I'm sorry Mum and Dad for giving you such a fright all those years ago! I'm sure that B will give me a few more grey hairs in the next few decades!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Daisy daisy

I realised last night that I never did show you what I wore to the wedding we went to at the end of October, so here it is! I've been wanting to make a larger necklace version of my daisy pendants for a while, so I took the wedding as the perfect excuse to make myself a prototype, and I'm really pleased with it. I was really comfortable to wear, and it stood up well to B wanting to play with it! He's careful with 'Mummy's jewels', but nearly 3-year-olds are only so careful so B is a good tester of my jewellery! Anyway, I have made another to tempt someone (hopefully!) and put it on the website here. It wasn't an easy one to photograph, though, which is why you've got a rare photo of me modelling!

I've also been making lots of daisy pendant bases. I try to keep some of these in stock as they are a popular commission but I have been running low. I even managed to decorate a few and actually photograph them for you to see! I've used onyx, aquamarine and some gorgeous rubies on these three.

The aquamarine one is for my Grandma for Christmas, but I've put one in on the website too. Grandma liked the one I was wearing when I saw her last and asked me to make her one, which was great as I never know what to give her - there's nothing she needs and only so many photo frames and cushions that she can fit into her flat! I think it's safe to post a picture of this Christmas present and Grandma is one member of the family who I know definitely doesn't look on my blog!
10.30pm Okay, who's put gremlins in my computer? The picture of my necklace has flown away! I've promised myself an early night though, so I'll find it for you/retake it tomorrow! Maybe the computer went into shock at the thought of showing you a picture of me....

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A quick update

I've managed to get quite a bit of work done this weekend. T and I made a deal - he looked after B in the morning while I worked in my shed until lunch time, then we did family things - more of that later. I did manage to take some photos today but I haven't yet had time to smarten them up, so I'll post them tomorrow instead. In the meantime there's a couple of quick updates for you...

Firstly, the last day for orders of made-to-measure items that require hallmarking is this coming Tuesday, 9th December. This includes items such as cuffs and bangles (like the one above), although it is always worth double checking with me to see if I already have what you need in stock. The relevant products will have this information on their pages. The last date for all other items is still Wednesday 17th December.

Secondly, if you fancy a new pair of earrings for the New Year then have a look at the ones above! These are the pair for the December newsletter prize draw, gorgeous garnet briolettes wired onto sterling silver hoops. In case you haven't noticed, I'm enjoying using briolettes in earrings at the moment, and I was really pleased with these when they arrived from my supplier this week. If you'd like to try and win a pair then all you have to do is add your details to my mailing list by completing this form. If you can't wait until the New Year then you can also find them made to order on the website for as long as my supply of briolettes lasts!

Handmade Pledge

You may have noticed the Handmade Pledge logo over on the left hand side of my blog. It refers to the Buy Handmade campaign that encourages everyone to avoid the horrible Christmas queues in car parks, on roads and in chain stores and buy our loved ones something more unique and thought out instead. I'd love for everything I ever give anyone to be handmade, either by myself or by another crafter, but I've found that I can't give certain people something handmade every year - my Dad did love the cuff links I made him for Father's Day, and the children I knitted scarves for last Christmas liked them, but I don't think that they'd like that every year.

I've decided, though, that everyone will get at least one small thing handmade, whether it's fudge or a bookmark. And mass-produced, excessively packaged boxes of smellies and holiday novelties will once again be banned from our house!

So, why not join me? Don't worry, I'm not suggesting that you buy every present from me (although don't let me stop you if you really feel that you need to!) but instead of raiding the 3-for-2 gift box shelves at Boots, why not have a browse through some of the websites of some independent artists for something more personal? Etsy is a good place to start, and remember that you can narrow your search to shops in the UK or even more local to you if you want.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Look at this!

Today was a tuition day - Phil was given a day's silversmithing tuition for his birthday and for once I remembered to take photos of what was made during the day. I usually forget until students have left! Anyway, he was busy working away all day, and I just had to show you my favourite of the things he made - this fantastic ring!

He came to the day with some clear designs in mind, and used the rolling mill to texture the silver with skeleton leaves, calulated how much silver to cut out for the ring, did lots of sawing, filing, sanding and soldering, used my lovely disc cutter to make the holes and melted scrap metal to make the little balls on top of the ring. The ring was oxidised at the end to highlight the texture. Doesn't it look great? And this was his first go at silversmithing too.


It's the same every year. Once the University craft show is finished I suddenly realise just how close Christmas is! In the last few years, though, I've also had a countdown to B's birthday as it's only a week before Christmas. This year is the first year that he's realised that his birthday is coming soon, and I'm really looking forward to seeing his reactions on the big day itself.

Anyway, the show last Sunday was a big success - thank you to those of you who dropped by to say hello. It was especially great to see some familar faces from previous years, and I had fun catching up with some of the other regular stall holders too. We did have one bit of disappointing news, though, as the Univeristy has decided that this is the last year that they will organise the show. I'm certain that this will be the main item on the agenda at the Wessex Guild of Craftsmen AGM in the New Year as we try to figure out whether it's possible for us to add it to the list of shows that we organise so that it can keep going.

I've been busy this week with orders from the show, including the luxurious earrings above - a warm mix of smoky quartz and delicate rubies! I think I'm going to make a couple more pairs of these for the website, so watch this space! I'll have some photos to show you tomorrow, including one of December's newsletter prize draw earrings. All the names for the November earrings were put in the hat (B's woolly Thomas the Tank Engine one) yesterday and he pulled out Nicola New's name, so Nicola, watch out for a little surprise winging your way!


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