This week, I learned…

1.That in this job, meetings are good

Meetings were once the bane of my life. Meetings called for the sake of meeting, when a phone call would have sufficed. Meetings arranged first thing on a Monday morning by people who obviously didn’t have children and hence no school run. Meetings convened in the middle of nowhere on a Friday afternoon. Meetings in which the agenda would be sidelined in favour of gossip…ok, so this one’s not so bad!

So this week I have learnt that being the owner and designer of your own business means that meetings are now more about gorgeous venues, delicious coffee, creative conversations, interesting people and usually involve use of my sketch book or iPad to demonstrate gorgeous photos of my hand made products.

I quite simply love this “alternative” approach to meetings. It really is about “meeting” people rather than skimming through 20 page agendas (40 if you consider the Welsh translation) and watching endless powerpoint presentations, fighting to keep your eyes open by drawing flower scribbles on a notepad in an attempt to seem interested. It’s about leaving a meeting not feeling downtrodden and sceptical but feeling positive and excited about what’s to come…and there are definitely some exciting prospects on the cards for Calonogi in the near future.

2. That no matter how hard I try, my house will never be tidy all of the time (or even most of the time)

I clean the house as close to the weekend as possible in the deluded hope that it will remain tidy at the prime time for surprise visitors. This plan of attack, however, is actually counter-productive; weekend equals children at home, children at home equals mess on a far grander scale.

My green tufted living room rug becomes PFB’s (Perfect First Born) camouflage for toy soldiers…this means that at some point in the day, I will step, barefoot, on a small plastic sniper, causing immense pain and suffering (not quite on a par with stepping on lego, but it’s close).

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Every cushion from the living room and dining room become construction objects for some architectural masterpiece courtesy of PFB. This usually descends into chaos as PFB attempts to build something akin to the Taj Mahal, whilst PSB sees it as an opportunity to do his best JCB impression, careering around the living room, knocking it down. This is usually followed by complete pandemonium with both boys hurling cushions at the other in anger: PFB angry at PSB’s destructive tendencies and PSB angry that PFB is now refusing to build anything for him to knock down. And that is my key to leave them to it and make a cup of tea…

So anyway, as I’m now sitting here writing this, I have half the contents of one of the kitchen cupboards around my feet (PSB does like to empty a cupboard), the knights of the round table in procession on my mantelpiece thanks to PFB and I think that’s a smear of raspberry yoghurt that I can see on the TV screen…this is following the house cleaning blitz which I finished only two hours ago…I give up.

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3. That if I’m not extremely careful, I will be decapitated when opening my stock cupboard door

I think I should look into some kind of life insurance policy to cover anyone who might accidently open the door to my craft stock cupboard. I’m really not being over-dramatic as today, I was actually knocked over by a fabric avalanche. It’s one of those cupboards that only I know how to handle. It requires a very slow opening, accompanied by frequent peeks through the gap to make sure that the pyrography machine or die cutter won’t take my head off. BUT, ask me where anything is in that cupboard and I will find it instantly…creative people are rarely the epitome of tidiness (well that’s my justification and I’m sticking to it).

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4. That the more I rush, the less gets done

I never learn from this mistake. Trying to pack in the three hundred things on my to-do list whilst PSB is taking an afternoon nap is never a good idea, this I know, but will it stop me from trying to do it tomorrow? Of course not. Will it stop me from starting twenty tasks and only finishing one properly? Definitely not. What can I say, I’m a professional multi tasker! I just need to finish the things I start!

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5. That I will never be able to get an early night, even with the best intentions

I CANNOT get to bed before midnight, no matter how hard I try. There’s always that “last minute” thing to do: tidying the kitchen, getting the school uniform ready, writing this blog! And one thing always leads to another: if I get school uniform ready, then I may as well sort out the packed lunch, and whilst I’m getting everything out of the fridge, I may as well give it a clear out. Before I know it, it’s 1am and then I’ve passed the point of being tired…perhaps I should use this time as an opportunity to finish those tasks that I’ve left on half throughout the day but then I don’t think anybody would appreciate the dulcet tone of the vacuum cleaner in the early hours of the morning…

 6. That my banana muffins need more banana

These weren’t my most successful bake I have to admit. It was more of an attempt to use up some over ripe bananas in the fruit bowl, but I think I needed a few more of them…they just didn’t taste “banana-y” enough. They still looked good enough to justify a photo though.

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7. That PSB (Perfect Second Born) will cause no end of destruction if left alone for longer than it takes to make a cup of tea

When PFB was a toddler, he wasn’t mischievous or naughty, he didn’t demand attention  and most of the time, he would actually listen to what he was told (shame that trait didn’t last). PSB on the other hand is the devil incarnate.

One of his favourite past times is climbing. The breakfast bar stools, the back of the sofa, the odd windowsill…nothing is too much of a challenge. This week has seen two rather more dare devil climbing attempts though. The first is the stacking of toy boxes against the door so that he can reach the light switch and plunge us into darkness. It’s only a matter of time before he uses this technique to launch himself over the safety gate. The second is rather more dangerous and this involves using the TV stand as a ladder to climb up to the level of the TV so that he’s actually hugging it with his nose pressed against the screen. This has got to be seen to be believed. He has me lost for words on an hourly basis at the moment.

He has also recently taken it upon himself to strip all of my floral arrangements of all flowers, be they live or artificial, wooden or fabric, he doesn’t discriminate. He happily stands there plucking flowers and leaves and scattering them over the floor. I now have five vases of stalks and twigs…I like to refer to them as “modern art”.

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And then there’s the crayon drawings that he decorates the house with. So far, I have found PSB’s crayon masterpieces on the freezer drawer, the oven door and the DVD player. The walls have so far been preserved, but it’s just a matter of time before I have something akin to Banksy-style satirical street art covering the living room.

8. That my brain does not have the capacity to store all of my creative ideas

As my business is taking off, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reign in my ideas for new product ranges. I get an idea, I scour the internet for suppliers of the products I need, I order them and then for the next few weeks, I get various boxes of loveliness being delivered. I have to admit that I do sometimes forget what I’ve ordered, so each box is a surprise! Take this week for example, I thought of a great product idea and ordered everything in readiness. Now, I have difficulty in gauging quantity. So imagine my surprise when I saw the size of the box which contained the 1000 polystyrene balls that I’d ordered last week…the box was bigger than me, which seems quite funny initially, but then I have to work out where to store it…not so funny when you have a garage that’s so full, it requires GPS to navigate through.

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So I’ve decided that I’m not going to make any new product ranges for a while but concentrate on perfecting those that I already have…she says as the fourth courier of the day knocks on the front door.

9. That those “little” changes to my website will actually take days to do

I had an idea. I would overhaul my website to make it more streamlined. Simple.

Wrong!

My father, aka website maintenance man, is now faced with spending the whole weekend updating, amending and re-jiggling.

“Just a few changes Dad” she said…

10. That my life is not my own

The sooner I accept his fact, the better.

There are not enough hours in the day, not enough days in the week and not enough weeks in the year to do everything I need to do. I am constantly on autopilot, moving from swimming lessons, to football training, to guitar lessons, to sewing, to baking, to cleaning, to entertaining.

We all do it though, don’t we! Well, life would be quite boring otherwise!

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus i chi gyd…Happy St David’s Day to you all. We’re toasting the patron saint of Wales with some Welsh inspired cupcakes for tea this evening…my hands are still green from the food colouring! Hope you all enjoy the weekend.

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Over and out…

Never a Dull Moment…

Wow! What a day! To say its been, um, ‘fulfilling’ is quite the understatement. It’s been non-stop taking, doing, starting, finishing, running, talking and organising…hence starting to write this post at twenty past nine at night. It was an early start to get PSB (perfect second born) up, dressed and ready for crèche (no mean feat when you have a tired, moody nearly two year old on you hands). So after much disapproval and disdain from PSB, he was duly dispatched to the lovely ladies who make it their mission to make sure that he and the other little bundles of fun, have an enriching and action packed day…lucky them. The upshot of this…early bedtime!
 
This week of course is half term, which means that I have PFB (perfect first born) on my hands for the entire week. Now, any other week, this wouldn’t be a problem, but this week happens to be one of the busiest weeks for my business, Calonogi, that I’ve ever had. Add to that the need to make 60 cupcakes for PSB to take into crèche tomorrow and the two school projects that require some elaborate 3d creation on the theme of ‘environmental patterns’ (?) and its a pretty manic week. So this morning, following the deportation of PSB, the cupcake production line began.
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I’m the first to admit that I’m not ‘tidy’ when it comes to cooking…or crafting come to think of it. As hard as I try to keep things clean and tidy as I go along, the kitchen always resembles a battlefield when I’ve finally finished baking and the entire room has quite a heavy white covering from the flour and icing sugar. At times, it actually feels like I’m walking through a snowstorm the kitchen is so thick with icing sugar dust…all adds to the fun though. Today however, amongst the utter devastation was PFB on the laptop giving me a running commentary of the Ninja Turtles game that he was playing. He just didn’t seem to understand that it wasn’t feasible for me to take even a passing interest in Raphael and Leonardo having a pizza hurling battle with Shredder. Did my obvious inability to interact with PFB’s incessant description of the pizza assault have any effect on his verbal diarrhoea? Of course not and quite frankly, he nearly drove me insane. I do, however, now know the ins and outs of the lives of four crime fighting reptiles…every day’s a school day! 
 
So here are the spoils of this morning’s efforts…I’m really pleased with my little owlet cupcakes as it goes!
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Moving swiftly from baking to crafting, the next task on the list was to get a few orders ready for my lovely customers. This was altogether a far more relaxed hour or so as PFB had been cunningly amused with a box of crafting supplies…the fact that I’m still scraping gold glitter glue off the breakfast bar is by the by…he was quiet for an hour and I have some beautiful lollipop stick puppets to show for it (the one that is supposed to be me has a pink head).
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The main reason for this week being so ridiculously busy is an amazing commission that I’ve been asked to do as a present for the husband of the ‘commisisoner’ for want of a better word. Sounds great you may say, and indeed it is…problem is that it’s a huge piece of work and it needs to be with my customer by Saturday…no pressure there then. It’s a lot of fiddly, intricate work and of course, me being me, I can’t do this without creating carnage. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go…my kitchen worktop!
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Before I knew it, it was time to collect PSB from the happiest place on earth aka crèche, with PFB also in tow. Cue 10 minute battle with PFB over getting his shoes and jumper on with sustained threats of making him leave the house shoeless and cold. And then ensued the 30 minute drive, with numerous pleas for PFB to have a ‘five minute talking break.’ So we reach crèche, collect PSB, get them both back in the car and then I have to deal with the drive home with one child incessantly talking about nothing, but making it sound extremely important and the other child singing ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’ with constant interruptions to point out every bus, lorry and emergency service vehicle he sees on the way…I take solace in the fact that when I look at the car in the next lane, that that parent is probably having to deal with exactly the same thing (please no-one comment below that this isn’t the case, I will be irreparably crushed and will have to sit in a dark room for a lengthy period of time).
 
Then of course is the usual feeding and bathing, snatching time here and there to do a bit more work on that commissioned piece. And then I look at the clock and its that absolutely fabulous time of evening…bed time. Up we go for a story before sleep time, the choice of book tonight being David Walliams’ ‘Ratburger’ throughout the four chapters of which, PSB read his own incomprehensible nearly-two-yearold babbled version of the text, periodically pointing at words as though he’s actually reading them…PFB was not impressed. And then the amazing happened…as I reached the final few paragraphs of the fourth chapter, I looked to my right and PSB was contentedly snoring on my shoulder,  mouth wide open, soaking my shirt with his dribble (I have been told that he takes after me when it comes to his sleep traits) and to my left, PFB arms and legs wrapped around me in his usual vice like grip, fast asleep.
 
So following a quick meal, here I am, writing this post for your reading pleasure…and after an hour of writing, deleting, editing and a panic moment when my iPad ran out of charge and I thought I’d lost the whole thing, here it is, hope you’ve enjoyed it.
 
Over and out…