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…

And the weekend went…where exactly?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term ”Weekend” is defined as:

Noun

Saturday and Sunday, especially regarded as a time for leisure:

“She spent the weekend camping”

Verb

[no object, with adverbial] informal; spend a weekend somewhere:

“He was weekending in the country”

Now, neither did I spend the weekend camping, good God no (imagine my forlorn self wandering around a tent looking for a socket to plug my hair straighteners into), and neither did I “weekend” in the country. In fact, both these definitions couldn’t be further away from the truth. Quite the opposite actually!

Saturday was spent with the girls in the capital city of our home nation, eating Latin American and drinking cocktails (no tent or rolling hillsides in sight). I’m pleased to report that the closest we came to anything to do with the great outdoors was walking within a two hundred yard distance to the Cotswold Outdoor store.

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It was simply a great day. It started well with a few preambulatory glasses (slightly pushing it there as they were actually plastic) of bucks fizz on the train followed by a leisurely stroll into the city centre for a little window shopping… I challenge any fashion loving female to resist the lure of the window displays of Kurt Geiger and Reiss.

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An hour later and we were all gossiping with the accompaniment of some very sensible coffees, or Mocha in my case (hit of caffeine without the calories of a hot chocolate…perfect) before hitting Las Iguanas. And this is where it went slightly awry…through no fault of our own of course, but more due to the buy one get one free offer on the cocktail menu. Let’s just say that a significant proportion of the final bill was taken up by Cherry Fizz cocktails…

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Following a short peregrination of Cardiff’s finest drinking establishments, we ended up sampling some absolutely delicious cocktails…I can highly recommend a strawberry and vanilla daiquiri should you ever come across it.

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No w as I read over what I’ve already written, our jaunt to Cardiff comes across as quite a tame, respectable affair, and indeed it was until our final stop…Caroline Street aka “Chip Alley”. For those of you unaccustomed with the cultured streets of Cardiff, Caroline Street is a side street with more fish and chip shops and take-away outlets than you would care to imagine, hence “Chip Alley”. BUT, as much as one may disparage and admonish such a spectacle, I am 100% sure that this little transgression from the norm was our saving grace come Sunday morning…sans hangover!

We took the short walk back to the train station…we were tired, we had aching feet, but we’d all thoroughly enjoyed. The conversation on the journey home included lots of “pyjama” and “cup of tea” and “collapsing in front of the tv” references and this is exactly what I did: I got home, I put on my pyjamas, made a cup of tea and promptly fell asleep on the sofa before I’d even drunk it…I think it’s a cert that the Rock’n’Roll lifestyle just isn’t for me!

On Sunday morning, boy was I glad that the hangover haze didn’t feature…it was an early start to get two dozen cupcakes made for a party that afternoon. The KitchenAid was at full speed by half past eight and 100 royal icing flowers had already been prepped (organised, I know) ready for the decoration. I can’t say hand on heart that they were the most complicated cupcakes that I’ve ever made, but they certainly looked very pretty! Pretty that is, until PSB (perfect second born) got his hands on them…I’d put them on the dining room table so that I could clean the disaster zone that was the kitchen and ten minutes later, it occurred to me PSB was being unusually quiet. Although I seriously hoped that he was entertaining himself with toy cars in the conservatory (not likely) I knew in my heart of hearts what he was up to…he was redecorating my cupcakes! The cupcakes that I had painstakingly decorated to make sure that all the flowers faced the same way and were of equal height. The cupcakes that had caused serious tendon damage in my hand from a way too full piping bag and even harder butter icing. The cupcakes that were due to be delivered to a party in around an hour.

I was almost afraid to look but when I eventually did, a very proud looking PSB was sitting on a dining room chair, carefully removing small icing flowers and placing them tidily in a row and not so carefully squashing the larger flowers into the actual cupcakes, completely wrecking my carefully piped butter icing grass effect. Cue frantic retrieval of piping bag, removal of all cupcake decoration, re-piping of the grass and replacing of the flowers. Crisis averted. (NB…I negated to tell anyone of this heart attack inducing moment on arrival to the party…so Mel, now you know what I had to deal with!)

All things considered, I think the cupcakes were a hit and in the end, they did look party-worthy!

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The party was a lovely ensemble of pinkness with nail painting, dancing and butterfly tattoo application with a handful of boys, including my own, refuting any form of girlyness by playing the Xbox for the duration, only looking up to collect the coveted party bag at the end. My face painting efforts were a hit too and to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in pink, purple and silver butterflies instead of the usual tigers and pirates that tend to be the norm at home.

And then it was home and feet up.

Last night, I sat on the sofa wondering how it was possible for a weekend to pass so quickly. But then, that’s the way isn’t it: on a “quiet” weekend, you desperately look for something to do to occupy the children and on a “busy” weekend, you covet a “quiet” one. Seriously though, if next weekend is as busy as this one has been, I think I’ll be incapable of functioning in a logical and rational manner.

Needless to say, it’s an early night tonight (if only to stop me from me from eating anymore…I’ve managed to scoff my way through an industrial sized bag of popcorn whilst writing this)…nos da pawb x

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…