A poem…

Sorry for not posting, but it’s been a busy week,
With so much to do and places to go, I’ve honed my multi tasking technique.
I’m now quite the expert at juggling, three hundred tasks at a time,
But I have to adnit that this week’s tasks have seemed like a mountain to climb!
It started with a party, a birthday extravaganza,
A balloon, soft play, jelly, ice cream, birthday cake bonanza!
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So next came Calonogi and the sewing machine’s been manic,
Two full days of bunting making had me in a panic!
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Some days I feel that social networking could be a full time job,
Just keeping the website, Facebook and twitter updated has been making my head throb.
I’ve actually cleaned my car this week (my children will be over the moon)
As they no longer have to travel in a rather untidy saloon *
My efforts at making an Easter Bonnet were quite a sight to behold,
The kitchen looked quite pretty decorated in swathes of purple, red and gold.
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And on to biscuit making, Easter bunnies all in a row,
And thirty five faces to decorate, each with a golden glow.
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So after such a busy time, some retail therapy was needed,
And with this lovely purchase from The Salmon Leap, I think I have succeeded,
In making myself feel that this week’s drama’s been worthwhile,
But if next week isn’t slightly calmer, I think I’ll run a mile!
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* it’s actually a people carrier but that didn’t rhyme with much!

Friday in photos…

Today has been a…

House tidying…

Manic sewing…

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Cushion finishing…

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Laundry doing…

Birthday party decoration making…

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Internetting…

Sweetie prepping…

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List writing…

Tissue paper ball making…

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Invoice sending…

Party bag filling…

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E-mail writing…

Gift wrapping…

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Photograph taking…

Fun filled…

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Takeaway eating…

Kind of day!

Here’s to a good weekend!

Over and out.

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…

Me, my business and I…

My blog posts often make reference to my business, Calonogi, but I realised that I’ve never formally introduced you to what I do or why I do it.

So how did it all begin? Well, I worked for the same large organisation from the time that I graduated until very recently, moving from one role to another as promotions came about. In the early years, I viewed it very much as a career; I was motivated to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as I could and basically thrived on building a good reputation for myself. Then came the children…and everything changed.

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After PFB (Perfect First Born) came along, although my life changed, having a child didn’t really affect the way that I viewed my career. I still applied for promotions and whilst PFB was in toddler mode, I was promoted into the most demanding and pressurised job that I’ve ever had. It didn’t bother me that I worked long hours, or did work on weekends or late into the night, I just wanted to do make sure that each task was completed to the best of my ability. And it was whilst I was doing this job that PSB (Perfect Second Born) decided to make himself known…

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Now, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll realise that PSB is quite a mischievous little thing and causes some kind of trouble on a daily basis; his 9 months of “cooking time” was no exception. It was a difficult pregnancy and one that was fraught with problems…I knew he was going to be trouble from the very beginning! And it didn’t end when he made his grand entrance either as my health continued to suffer (much like it is now actually, but that’s another story!).

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Going back to work was never going to be easy and what with two little ones to ferry around to breakfast club, crèche, football training and swimming lessons, it was hard. I felt that my life was not my own anymore. So I decided to do something about it and do something for myself for a change. I’d always loved to sew, it was a gift inherited from my grandmother, although both my grandmothers were quite crafty in fairness. Now, I’m not one for technical sewing and I have trouble following patterns; I love to be a bit more “freestyle”.  I like to think of my talent as creating art on fabric. So creating my bespoke fabric crafts business was a no-brainer really!

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So for a while, I did my crafty-thing, albeit only making things for friends and family at this point, alongside my 9-5 job…yes, I was completely insane to think that I could juggle everything and I had to come to the conclusion, that I, multi-tasker-extraordinaire, couldn’t do it all and live to tell the tale: this was a sad day. There were days that I would leave my desk, pick PSB up from crèche, collect PFB from after-school club, dash home, feed them both, change PSB into his pyjamas, take PFB swimming twenty miles away, come home, feed them again, put them to bed, get the sewing machine out and finally get to bed at around 3am. Not exactly a sustainable lifestyle I think you would agree!

Cue some difficult decisions and lots of heartache BUT, this did lead to my decision to establish my business and make a go of it. It’s been hard, it’s still scary, but I love every minute of it. It’s exciting when I see the orders come in and I love spending entire days making gorgeous pieces of fabric art for my customers and spending evenings sketching out designs ready for the following day. I could never call it a job, or a career, come to think of it…it’s an extension of me. This is what I was meant to do.

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It makes me laugh when I think back to my school days: deliberating over which subjects to do at GCSE, agonising over which A-Levels to take, which university to go to. Today it all seems so insignificant and irrelevant. I’m doing something that I don’t need any of those qualifications to do…unless you can think of a way in which a joint honours degree in Politics and English is relevant to making a coastal scene cushion?!

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So that’s where I am at the moment…self employed and loving it! Now for a bit about the business itself, Calonogi. I’m not one for making the same thing over and over again. I want everything I make to be unique to the person who commissions it…and I’ve had some great commissions! For me, it’s all about bespoke: if you can’t think of it, I can make it (and I’ve never said “no” to an idea to date). I work predominantly with fabric, with a bit of wood and clay thrown into the mix on occasion, just to keep it fresh! I make cushions, fabric frames, doorstops, bunting, children’s baking bags and everything in between…and they’re all personalised in their own unique little way, whether it be as  brazen as putting someone’s name across a cushion or slightly more subtle such as co-ordinating a doorstop to the colours of a customer’s living room. And then of course, there are the more unusual commissions…take a look at my facebook page to see some of my creations www.facebook.com/calonogi.

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So at the moment, my business is 75% “virtual” with orders pouring in through the Calonogi website and facebook page; the other 25% of my orders come through Calonogi displays on other retail premises. Breaking news for this week is the brand spanking new display at O&F’s Coffee Shop in Carmarthen. I was really excited to put his together as I had a particular concept in mind for the display. I didn’t want it to look like just a bunch of things for sale, so I went with the vision of “breakfast before travelling” complete with breakfast tray, travel ticket and vintage suitcase. So if you’re visiting the cobbled streets of Carmarthen in the near future, why not call in for a delicious latte and see what they have on display at O&F’s (the Italian leather handbags are to die for!) http://www.olioefarina.com/en/carmarthen

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There we go, insight into me and my business duly completed. It may be small scale at the moment…but I’m working on it!

See it all for yourself at www.calonogi.co.uk.

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…

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…

That Friday Feeling…

And so it’s the weekend again and what a weekend it’s likely to be! It’s an early start tomorrow to get myself looking halfway decent for a day out with friends to Cardiff. Cue the hunt for the dust covered heated rollers, a frantic false tan application and the debacle that will be searching for a suitable handbag…can you tell that any form of regular social outing is somewhat lacking? And then of course, there’s the getting ready with two small boys hanging around my neck. No doubt my preening ritual will be hampered by desperately trying to stop PSB (Perfect Second Born) getting first degree burns from my hair straightener and keeping one eye on PFB’s (Perfect First Born)attempts to sharpen my eyeliner pencils into oblivion. But it’s all fun…right? (If I keep telling myself that, one day I may start to believe it!)

So an update on my previous “5 Things I Need To Do” list.

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

To say it’s been a busy week work-wise is ever such a slight understatement. I have been overwhelmed by orders…overwhelmed in a “can’t believe it” kind of way as opposed to a “I can’t cope” manner. Seriously though, it’s so encouraging and I’m absolutely loving this working for myself lark. And there are quite a few exciting developments in the pipeline for Calonogi, so watch this space…

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2.Update my website

Ok, so remember when I said that of the five things on my list, this was the most likely to fall by the wayside? Well it has…epic fail.

3. Have a toy clear out

Breaking News…You will be pleased to know that we no longer need to vacate out current place of abode and neither are Buzz Lightyear, Optimus Prime and Fireman Sam liable for rent (which is quite a relief as I didn’t really fancy the legalities of drawing up rental agreements for plastic figurines and then there was the issue of collecting all of the arrears…it wouldn’t have been pretty).

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4. Have a clothes clear out

I am also pleased to report that there is no longer a single odd sock in this house (unless one day I actually find that den of iniquity where all the “cool” lost socks hang out, drinking some illicitly produced hooch and playing poker). I feel that my soul was cleansed just that little bit more with each item of clothing that was put in the “Charity Clothes Bank” pile…

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

This has been something of a challenge, not least because of the freakishly cold weather that we’re experiencing at the moment. On Tuesday, the weather was glorious; slightly crisp, but gorgeously sunny and warm enough to take PSB out to do a bit of Spring planting in the garden. We thoroughly enjoyed…not even PSB’s spectacular tumble right into the box of freshly purchased flowers could dampen my spirits (the pansies, however, looked rather sorry for themselves following their acquaintance with a two year old’s backside).

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So it was unsurprising that this lovely weather had a bearing upon the outfit that I bought that afternoon. It was a pretty navy and flamingo print skater dress that I would have completely frozen in given the dramatic change of weather…minus two degrees whilst doing the school run yesterday!? Needless to say, I had to revert to “plan b” with regards to my outfit choice and have plumped for a slightly more substantial dress and jacket combination.

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So there we go, my list complete…almost.

My efforts to provide enriching life experiences for PSB have continued with various outings and activities undertaken throughout the week. This evening we baked some biscuits (although I waited for PFB to return from school before we embarked on this task for fear of complete and utter PFB meltdown…he really likes to decorate biscuits). It didn’t start particularly well as the initial excitement spilled into a full on cookie cutter fight with PSB eagerly trying to knock PFB’s cutter out of his way so that he could cut out stars as opposed to PSB’s circles. Then there was the “flour” incident with PFB managing to cover half the kitchen in white dust as he threw the whole lot of flour into the food mixer at the same time…with the mixer on full speed. And whilst I turned my back, PSB had managed to crawl over the floured worktop, cleaning the surface with his jeans as he went: cue frantic clothes removal to avoid any further flour spreading. So with a half naked PSB and a moody PFB (following the row after the flour/mixer incident) we moved onto decorating. With icing. Blue icing. BIG mistake…unless you really want to see what your children would actually look like as real life smurfs. I managed to do a pretty good job of covering myself with the food colouring too and of course, it takes a few days to fade, which did instil a slight panic moment at the thought of having to go to Cardiff tomorrow with blue hands. I have consoled myself that this particular shade of food colouring, Wilton Sky Blue, will complement my chosen colour of nail varnish quite well…crisis averted.

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I am absolutely and totally looking forward to tomorrow’s shenanigans BUT I will have to regularly remind myself that I have 30 cupcakes to make on Sunday morning in readiness for a birthday party in the afternoon and then have to attend said party to face paint some kiddiwinkles who I’m sure would appreciate minty fresh breath as opposed to mojito infused exhalations.

I shall report back for duty on Monday and update you on the weekends frolicsomeness (it is a word, I checked).

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…

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…