Crafty little things…

As expected, Saturday was a whirlwind.

It was an early start to get PFB’s (Perfect First Born) football kit ready for his game later on that morning and to do a last minute check that I had everything ready for the morning’s craft fair. Why is it that every time I do a “last minute check” it turns into an hour of complete and utter panic? Cue lots of running around the house like a headless chicken, walking into rooms and then forgetting why I went in there with PFB around my feet trying to “help” when all he succeeded in doing was making me trip over my own feet…or his. If I told him to be careful with the keys to the cash box once, I told him a million times…I had visions of prising it open with a screwdriver when he told me that this time, he thought he had “REALLY” lost the keys and that he’d looked “EVERYWHERE” for them! Needless to say that my stress levels by this point were rather heightened…

Following a mad ten minute hunt for the keys, during which, PFB triumphantly announced that he’d found them…in his pocket, he was duly dropped off with his Gramps. Gramps is responsible for football duties you see, which conveniently saves me from having to stand pitchside in cold, wet conditions. I think it’s an excellent arrangement.

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And onto the Gorseinon Food and Craft Fair I go with a neatly packed boot full of wicker baskets. I arrived at around 8.20am and proceeded to empty the car and set up the stall. My new, streamlined version of the stall looked very pretty, even if I do say so myself! There was a great atmosphere amongst the stall holders and I even managed a browse around the other stalls before the doors opened to the public. I met some great fellow crafters who were selling some gorgeous products…so gorgeous, that I thought I’d feature a few of them in this blog post.

The Pure Bliss Body Products stand was one of the first to set up and I was instantly drawn to it because it smelled so fantastic. The stand was brimming with brilliantly coloured and of course, glorious fragrances…the cherry bath bombs smelled good enough to eat. It was most definitely an assault on the senses! I believe that Beverley may be looking into doing house parties before long so keep an eye out for news on her website www.bevbombs.com

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The next stall to catch my eye was Little Bit Different who had an amazing range of quirky vintage products that were right up my street. Think hyacinths planted in teacups, personalised wooden letters, pretty floral jewellery and quaint vintage tea cup candles. A very eye catching stand which proved popular throughout the day with a steady stream of customers…no doubt helped by the lovely customer service provided by Vicky and her daughter. If you take a look at the website www.littlebitdifferent.co.uk, you’ll find that Vicky has given each design of vintage tea cup candle its own personal name…I love Agnes..and Belle…and Grace!

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Onto something a little different and it was Twiddleys Wedding Stationery and handmade cards that next drew my attention. Their range of stationery was simple, elegant and refined; a total contrast to the crystal encrusted, glitter embellished offerings that you often see. The choice of colours on the stand was understated and classical and it was obvious that it was drawing much attention. And if you visit their website www.twiddleys.co.uk , those of you who enjoy card making will find that they also supply a comprehensive range of card making supplies.

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My next visit was to the stall of Sam’s Invites. Sam had a great range of wooden embellishments and shabby chic plaques. One of her plaques instantly caught my eye as it summed up my morning with the children beautifully! It read “Having children is like being pecked to death by a duck”! Never a truer word was read…Sam specialises in blank wooden plaques and shapes so take a look at her facebook page www.facebook.com/people/Sams-Invites/100004499283469 for some great crafty ideas.

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And on to the stall of the Little Black Hen I go to rifle through the album of amazing celebration cakes that Alison makes. The cakes, whether they be for a birthday, christening or wedding, are a sight to behold. I totally recommend taking a look at the website www.littleblackhen.com or visitng the facebook page by clicking HERE to see for yourself…the rainbow creation complete with rainbow coloured sponge is ridiculously impressive. The Little Black Hen jam and chutney range was a definite hit at the fair with lots of customers taking time to read the tempting flavours on offer…I can thoroughly recommend the lime curd!

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My final destination on my whistlestop tour was to Goggi’s Cuisine. There was no way I could walk past Naseem’s stall without sampling her amazing Pakistani home cooked food. The onion bahjees and samosas were being freshly cooked on the stand and the smell was marvellous. A few samples later and I was set to go back to my own stall with my bag containing Chicken Tikka Massala, Lentil Curry, Vegetable Biryani and a selection of onion bahjees and samosas which served as my delicious Mother’s Day tea. Take a look at the Goggis Cuisine Facebook page by clicking HERE.

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And I hope you don’t mind that I’m sneaking in a few photos of my own stall! Come and visit Calonogi on facebook to see some of the commissions I’ve been working on recently… www.facebook.com/calonogi

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Before I knew it, it was time to start packing up the stall and say goodbye to the lovely people that I’d met…but I’m sure that we’ll cross paths again in the near future.

It was, however, rather nice to come home to an afternoon filled with good friends, mad children, my favourite food and one or two Cherry Fizz cocktails!

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Hope you all had a great weekend too.

Over and out…

Today…a photo diary

I have been so manically busy this week; I’m really not exaggerating, it’s been borderline “losing my mind through stress” territory. I could use twenty thousand words to tell you about my week, using the thesaurus to find suitable three hundred suitable alternatives for “stress”, “pressure” and “losing the plot” but I thought I’d make it a bit more interesting. So here is a snapshot of my week: today…a photo diary.

The day started with work and a visit to Gwendraeth Valley Fine Foods who kindly host my products. You could say that it’s the physical version of www.calonogi.co.uk! So a quick restock and some new products added and then a bit of time spending my profits on the wonderful food stuffs on offer.

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I am a total advocate of and supporting local producers and the content of my shopping bag was the epitome of high quality local produce. Even my shopping bag is a product of a local company…CaBW is based just ten minutes from Calonogi HQ.

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A short drive home and I was soon in my kitchen preparing the food for the Mexican buffet that I’m making for friends. You see, I have my first craft fair of the year tomorrow, so there was no way in the world that I could have prepped and cooked everything tomorrow. The ingredients look so colourful, I can’t wait to cook them. The menu is as follows:

  • Mexican Chilli Beef
  • Spicy Chicken Enchilladas
  • Veggie Enchiladas
  • Nachos with all the trimmings
  • Mexican style potatoes

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Before I knew it, the school run was calling and on a Friday, this is swiftly followed by PFB’s (Perfect First Born) guitar lesson. Here he is with his Spongebob Squarepants guitar (I still find it funny that in Welsh, the name of the spongey yellow character is “Spynjbob Pants Sgwar).

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The walk from the car park to Cadno Music Shop is always eventful and today was no exception; PFB insists on carrying the guitar himself. Today, he bashed at least three adults, almost knocked over a small child and narrowly avoided totalling an entire shelf of glass olive oil bottles.

So from the music shop back to the car we go, stopping half way to wrestle the guitar from PFB after he hit an old lady with it whilst pirouetting through the town centre. A swift journey home and it was then my chance to mock up my display at the craft fair tomorrow morning. At the craft fairs that I’ve previously attended, my display has been absolutely gorgeous but after the fourth two-hour long set-up, I’ve streamlined it somewhat. Cue the delivery of an exceptionally large box of wicker baskets, and here is the final configuration…simple yet effective (well, I think so anyway!)

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I then put the finishing touches onto a new product that I’ve been working on. A few weeks ago, I planted some Spring flowers to put outside the front door, but it still seemed as though it was “lacking” something. So this is a Spring Wreath by Calonogi, designed to brighten your front door at any time of year…who said that wreaths were only for Christmas time?

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Today’s “courier delivery of loveliness” award goes to this striking vintage suitcase that I bought from Ebay. I’ll be using it in the very near future for Calonogi purposes and that’s all I’m telling you! I’ll be blogging about it next Friday, so stay tuned.

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So with the display sorted and loaded into the car (I know, super-organised today), it was time to make a delivery of these lovely Calonogi Easter Jars to a very lovely customer and then back to the kitchen for some baking.

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I’ve been so busy this week that baking has taken a bit of a back seat, so it was nice to get the Kitchenaid working again. And the spoils of my baking bonanza? These obscenely rich, heart shaped, gold dusted chocolate fudge cakes that will serve as dessert tomorrow.

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I did get a very nice surprise during my baking as I had a visit from the Little Black Hen fairy. These freshly laid eggs were left on the doorstep which shall be used for tomorrow’s breakfast at Calonogi HQ…I think I’ll need a hearty start to the day to keep me going!

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And so here I am, ending the day by writing this blog. True, I haven’t had any tea yet, but it’s all in a good cause…your reading pleasure! Now you can’t say that I don’t make sacrifices for you!

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Have a good weekend all.

Over and out…

A Walk In The Park

I feel under pressure…today is the first Monday that PSB had been at home with me as opposed to being in crèche. As I’ve now decided to put all of my eggs into one basket, ditch the 9-5 and concentrate solely on my business, PSB is no longer going to crèche. This is TEMPORARY…and breathe a long sigh of relief. I have a few weeks in before he starts in the local Cylch Meithrin and I feel as though I need to provide him with the same stimulating experiences at home with me as he would have in crèche. In short, it’s all about enriching his life and all I need to do is provide a substitute for the paper plate decorating, pancake cooking, mud pie making, crazy foam spreading and full scale puppet showing that he’s now used to. Simple.

So this is what we did today:

  • Dropped PFB at school
  • Played in the park
  • Fed the ducks
  • Bought some crafty supplies
  • Modelled clay animals
  • Cleaned the conservatory windows (well, he seemed to be enjoying himself, so I ran with it)
  • Went for a bike ride to collect PFB from school

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Ok, so it might not be on the same “fun scale” as crèche, but I think he’s had quite a fulfilling day.

So around the enriching of PSB’s life, I have set myself a list of challenges to complete this week. Here are the 5 thing I need (or want) to do before midnight on Friday.

1. Start (and finish) this week’s orders

There’s been a rush of orders over the last week or so at Calonogi HQ. Not that I’m complaining, far from it, it’s great, so a big thanks to any customers who may be reading. Now this may well be a touch of OCD breaking through, but I don’t like to have orders from one week that roll over to the next; in other words, if I start it, I must finish it by Friday afternoon. This sometimes causes issues. Friday evenings can be quite tense. I sometimes don’t speak to anyone for an entire evening whilst I manically sew that final cushion or string of bunting. My sewing machine is often on the fastest possible setting, the vibration of which is taking its toll on the kitchen units…how long exactly is a kitchen meant to last for without falling apart? Note to self: must check whether sewing machine vibration is listed as viable wear and tear by the insurance company.

2. Update my website

My website, www.calonogi.co.uk, whilst looking fantastic thanks to my amazing web designer, needs a bit of an overhaul. I have a dropbox full (is that the correct terminology?) of new product images from the very talented GPhotography awaiting upload to the website. So this week, my mission is to write the product descriptions for each new product and perhaps also redesign the shop layout to make it a bit more “co-ordinated”. I’m going to think of a few product categories to group the items for a more “streamlined” look. Note to readers: if any of the five tasks is going to be shelved, it’s this one as now that I’ve written it, it doesn’t sound like a particularly fun thing to do!

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3. Have a toy clear out

We’re being taken over…not by an alien species intent on conducting some sort of experimentation with human DNA, but by various types of plastic playthings. Even with the pre-Christmas toy cull, the house feels as though it’s about to burst at the seams and PFB celebrating his birthday mid-January hasn’t helped matters…but with PSB’s birthday looming in March, something’s got to be done about this situation, before we have to seek alternative accommodation and start demanding rent from Buzz Lightyear , Optimus Prime and Fireman Sam.

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4. Have a clothes clear out

Do odd socks breed? I’ve come to the conclusion that in this house, they most definitely do. Somewhere in the process from removing socks, putting them in the washing basket, transferring them to the washing machine, then tumble dryer, and clean laundry basket, socks mysteriously vanish, never to be seen again. I’ve tried retracing my steps, I’ve emptied entire drawers,  I’ve even stuck my head inside the washing machine drum in the hope of finding a secret hiding place only for socks. But alas, I never succeed in finding any lonely item of hosiery. So I now have to tackle the single sock situation…no more keeping them “just in case” I come across its partner because quite frankly, I never do. And this cull isn’t going to just stop at the sock situation, oh no, these wardrobes have no idea what’s in store for them…

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5. Find myself a suitable outfit for a day out with the girls

Woohoo! Girls day out! So it’s a case of “Ladies First” this Saturday as the men and children are being left at home as we head out to our nation’s capital for birthday celebrations. I never believed people who told me that my social life would never be the same again after children arrived. Well, you don’t do you? You completely and totally believe that the new little bundle of joy will just be a fulfilling addition to the family and will not in any shape or form compromise your current lifestyle. Wrong. They do. Massively. I have made a vow to myself that I will never, ever, bestow on parents-to-be the warnings that were imparted on my pregnant self that “my life will never be the same again” by well meaning already-parents. Is this because I don’t want to burst that perfect bubble of delusion that encompasses parents to be? Not likely: it’s because it’s completely pointless and I have better things to do with my precious time. Seriously though, a day out with the lovely ladies sipping cocktails in Cardiff Bay is well overdue and I am mightily looking forward to it. BUT…what am I going to wear? It’s not a “day” thing or an “evening” thing it’s a kind of “go out as early as we can to make the most of it and see how long we can last before we admit defeat” so it’s difficult to choose suitable attire. And there lies the task in hand…I’m on a mission to find an outfit, let the web browsing commence.

So there we go, I shall be reporting back on Friday, hopefully with a tick against all of the above.

Over and out…