The Domestic Goddess Mission

And so begins another busy week. On top of the usual domestic goddess type duties, completing this week’s Calonogi orders and making sure that PFB (Perfect First Born) and PSB (Perfect Second Born) don’t start the next world war, I have a birthday party to organise.

PSB hits the grand old age of 2 next Sunday which means that this week, I shall be consumed by party planning. I could get all philosophical at this point, spouting about how it seems like yesterday that he was born, but I won’t…all I shall say is “time flies when you’re having fun!” And it is a lot of fun, as will be PSB’s birthday party. But, parties for small children are hard work, especially when they’re in the house. This means that today, I have started the mission that I am fondly calling “Operation Blitz”.

Operation Blitz constitutes everything that needs to be done to get the house, the children and myself ready for next Sunday. It started today with window cleaning…this isn’t exactly a chore that gets done on a weekly basis, but I swear the house looks bigger when the windows are clean (I am aware that that does sound slightly mad!) The dining room has also been tackled and my boxes of stock have found a new, albeit temporary, home…in the garage. I next took on the kitchen drawer. I swear this drawer has the ability to multiply the items within it ten- fold whilst I sleep. The last straw was when I tried putting a few pens and pencils this morning and couldn’t physically close it. And speaking of straws, they have also now found a new home and are a particularly pretty feature perched on the windowsill.

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The doors and skirting boards were next, bleaching away to my heart’s content. I now realise that wearing black jeans whilst doing this was not the best idea…has tie-dye come back into fashion yet?

Now some of you may know that I had to cross the threshold of the local hospital last week to have an operation. I HATE hospitals. I HATE Doctors (the vocation, not the people, I’m sure they’re all very nice). I have a heightened case of white coat syndrome and it is seriously debilitating. I may enlighten you with one of my hospital experiences at a later date…I’ll need to psyche myself up for a few weeks beforehand just to be able to write about it. Anyway, as I am still somewhat painful following this operation, I have been advised to take it easy. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but me and taking it easy don’t really see eye to eye. I’m finding it hard not to carry on as normal…I’m sure I’ll suffer for it tomorrow.

As a reward for my thorough, if not slightly OCD-ish, cleaning, I spent half an hour or so internetting, searching for party decoration ideas. Cue some YouTube tutorial viewing and hey presto, some pretty impressive tissue paper pom poms. I’m not showing you yet, even though I’m dying to! You’ll have to wait until next Monday’s blog for the whole PSB party experience…bet you can’t wait!

Now, during this frantic cleaning, PSB has been the golden child, happily playing with his cars and garage, but by this point, even Lightning McQueen had been cast aside. So out to the garden we go for a bit of fresh air and watering…lots of watering.

image (95) image (94) image (93)PSB has a bit of a penchant for his watering can and he thinks nothing of watering every inanimate object he can find. By the time he’d finished, the garden looked as though it had been subjected to a monsoon…still, it gave me the opportunity to sit down and have a cup of tea.

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Before I knew it, it was time to collect PFB from school. In a vain attempt to keep them both amused, we embarked on a bit of cupcake making. PFB takes his cupcake making very seriously. He likes to assume full control, mixing the ingredients himself, spooning the mixture into cases, icing and decorating. PSB on the other hand, just wanted to lick the icing off every one of his cupcakes. He still stuck his Postman Pat wafers on top of his saliva covered offerings though…best to be avoided methinks.

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Perhaps I’ll have one of PFB’s cupcakes after dinner, which tonight, has been cooked for me…now, I can’t complain about that!

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I thought I’d show you a few of my Calonogi offerings from the last few days. This “Fabric in a Frame” is quite different from my usual style , but I’m very pleased with the final result. The name “Zaha” means “blossoming flower” so it’s quite apt. And the little house sign is something totally new…in fact, this is the first that I’ve done, however, I now have quite a few more to do! For those of you not “in the know”, the Welsh phrase “Ty Bach” literally translates to “little house” but is commonly used to describe the toilet/bathroom/WC, delete as appropriate.

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I also have a new project to finish this week. Well actually, I need to start it as well. If it works, it’ll be amazing, if it doesn’t, needless to say, you’ll hear no more about it! Intrigued? Here’s a clue…

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I can’t finish writing this post without mentioning the by now infamous Six Nations rugby game that took place on the weekend. It was an epic win for Wales. Some say it was down to the experience of the players, others say that their previous five consecutive home losses was a huge motivational force, I say it was down to PFB’s rousing rendition of the national anthem!

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So onto tomorrow and day 2 as a domestic goddess…yeah right!

Have a good week all.

Over and out…

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…

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

Today is a day that I need to write a list…

It’s one of ‘those’ days today. One of ‘those’ days when just the thought of getting out of bed seems like a chore. One of ‘those’ days when daytime TV seems quite appealing.

No chance of a lie in though as it’s a school day which means one thing, the faffing around to get PFB ready for school and all that brings…and I’m beginning to severely dislike making packed lunches. If PFB wasn’t so fussy with food, he could have school dinner just like the majority of other children, but no, PFB has a penchant for crustless sandwiches, peeled and sliced apple and home-made biscuits. So there we go, packed lunch it is. His fussiness with food has me racking my brains for ingenious ways to feed him fruit and vegetables without him finding out that he’s actually eating something healthy.  Which gives me an idea…today, I shall find another cunning and devious way to penetrate PFB’s ‘fruit and vegetable’ force field. And whilst I’m at it, the kitchen needs a bit more colour and I need to finish my latest ‘creation and I’d like to go for a walk and…hang on, I’d better write a list.

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Well, I’ve got to start somewhere and this seemed like a good place to start…onto the next task.

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Given my initial lack lustre approach to the day, this coffee is somewhat medicinal…from “bleurgh” to “brilliant” in one easy step.

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And ono the next item on my list…

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My wonderful idea to go out into the fresh air to clear my head before making a start to the day was somewhat blighted by the raging wind that is plaguing the country today. It turned what could have been a picturesque and pleasant stroll along the coastline into a head-down battle against the gale force conditions which left me with nothing but an earache. I think the grass in the photo is quite telling… Thinking that it would be slightly more sheltered at an alternative location, I headed for the waterpark where I was greeted by these exceptionally elegant if not slightly scary swans (well, have you seen how big they actually are when they get out of the water! And I also have a vivid childhood memory of my brother being attacked by swan as a child. Ok, so “attacked” is slightly dramatic, more along the lines of brother taunts swan, swan retaliates, brother is taken aback, swan seizes opportunity to pounce, brother tries to make a run for it, swan gets hold of brother’s trouser leg, cue lots of “tug of war” type to-ing and fro-ing, brother manages to get free and starts to run, swan in hot pursuit!)

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got some nice photos though! Onwards and upwards…

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Ok, now to tackle adding some colour to the kitchen. Flowers seem an obvious choice, but how about adding a slightly more unusual twist? I can’t actually remember why I purchased this little colander given that it’s too small for the majority of the usual “colander” tasks and quite frankly a useless kitchen implement, but it makes a lovely daffodil planter.

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That’s another task ticked off the list then…

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And now for the top secret mission that is trying to feed vegetables to PFB. The answer…cheesy fish pie.  Now this would usually be topped with mash, but my version will be topped with potato, sweet potato and carrot mash. How do I explain the distinctly orangey coloured “potato” to PFB you may ask? That’s easily answered and quite frankly, the more elaborate the answer, the more likely PFB will accept it…orange coloured potatoes that only grow deep in the Igazu rainforest in South America, harvested by the native black howler monkeys and transported back to the UK by nuclear powered, torpedo armed submarine and dropped into our back garden by Apache Longbow attack helicopter…totally plausible to a six year old and ultimately effective given the successful result.

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I have rather a large box of empty jam jars in my dining room, which have for a while, been awaiting my “eureka moment” when I actually figure out what I’m going to do with them and this brings me onto the next task…

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There have been many prototypes, but this is the finished article…Jars of Hearts. I’m very pleased with them and I’m also very pleased with the photos that I took (had to brave the wind again to take them though). Perhaps this would be an opportune time to tell you all a little bit about my business. It’s called Calonogi, which is a Welsh word meaning “to hearten” or “to encourage”. I’ll save the story of how it all came about for next time, but it’s basically making things out of fabric (although I have diversified as of late). To sum it up, it’s something that I love to do and my enthusiasm is reflected in the quality of the items that I make. If you have a few minutes to spare, take a look for yourselves www.calonogi.co.uk or give me a “like” on my Facebook page www.facebook.co.uk/calonogi .

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And there we have it, my list is complete.

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That’s it for this instalment and quite frankly, it’s been quite a busy day so I’ll make my excuses and leave whilst no-one’s looking…