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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

THE DAY OUR WORLD CHANGED


Welcome to the Multi-Coloured Blog Swap which has been organised by Trouble Doubled.  Don't forget to check out the other great blogs taking part for some great posts.

This post has been provided by Karen of Tales of a Twin Mum as part of the Multi-Coloured Blog Swap Carnival.

The day our world changed (1 May 2009)

 I lay on the bed and lifted my jumper, hardly daring to breathe.  The sonographer squirted cold gel onto my barely-there bump and swished the scanner in the goo.  Being pregnant had been the best diet I could have imagined; I’d already lost 10lb.  Within two days of conceiving I’d started being sick and hadn’t stopped since.  I tried to distract myself from throwing up by concentrating on the joy of seeing my baby.  At least morning sickness (‘all day sickness’ seemed more appropriate) was supposed to be an indicator of a healthy baby, or that’s what the midwife kept telling me…

‘It’s twins,’ said the sonographer, calmly breaking the silence. ‘There’s no easy way to tell you so I just thought I’d get it straight out.’

She carried on prodding my tummy as though she hadn’t just landed an enormous bombshell.  Matt squeezed my hand tightly and I squeezed it back, not daring to take my eyes off her in case she suddenly burst out laughing to tell us it was a joke.

‘Twins?’ Matt and I asked in shocked unison.  ‘Yes. There’s two babies there, look,’ she said pointing at the screen.  ‘Were you not expecting two?’  ‘Twins?’ we both replied again.   We looked at each other, unable to speak.  Everything felt like it was running in slow motion. My heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. I wanted to scream.  Tears stabbed at my eyes but I tried to hold them in.  The sonographer seemed to be taking it in her stride, as though it happened to her everyday.  Maybe it did, but to us twins was massive. 

We’d been dreaming of one baby for a whole twelve weeks, we’d planned the nursery, looked at prams…but twins changed everything.  It felt like the rug had been pulled out from under us.  What we had been expecting was wonderful; what we now had was the most amazing, precious, spectacular thing we could ever have asked for.  It felt like winning the lottery; better in fact, as we didn’t even know we’d bought a ticket.

Matt and I didn’t look at one another again as our eyes were firmly fixed on the screen, watching our babies bounce in response to the nudge of the scanner.  We were deep in our own thoughts, but joined together through a new bond that was greater than anything we had expected.  It felt like we were sharing something that nobody else had ever experienced.  We gripped hands and counted our blessing as the pictures of our two perfect little beings were printed.

 ‘You’re allowed double the number of scan prints for your money seeing as you’ve got two babies,’ the sonographer told us proudly.

Just one of the perks of expecting more than one.



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Thank you Karen, I am so pleased to have hosted your post - it is a lovely story and your babes are gorgeous.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

SUNNY CHRISTMAS PIE

Hello everyone

What a beautiful day it has been, it may have started frosty but the sun has been shining  for most of the day and it has been warm.  Apparently the temperature is likely to be around 18 - 19 degrees during the coming week.  Oh, so very welcome and fingers and toes crossed we have mild weather and continue into a gorgeous spring and an even better summer.

A big welcome and thank you to my new blog and Twitter followers - lovely to 'see' you.  thank you also to Jill & Georgie of POSH for your Friday Guest Blogger post - your jewellery is lovely and I really enjoyed your post.

The Friday Guest Blogger spot is progressing well.  I am hoping to have a fellow Handmade Monday-er on 2 March, the following Friday will be a fellow blogger.  Names will be revealed on the day .  Don't forget that apart from taking time out to write about something you feel strongly about (craft-related of course), this is a good opportunity to promote your business.

It's been a lovely week.  I had lunch with a couple of friends on Monday at pub by a lake - it looked very good in winter-time, I can only imagine how beautiful it looks in the summer when all the plants are in flower.  I worked very, very hard on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on my website and new ranges  - under pressure really as my first event of the year is in two weeks time.    I continued the de-cluttering exercise, but slightly added to the contents of the garage when I collected two spinning display stands I had bought on Ebay.  On Thursday evening I went out for a meal with another group of friends - we first met around 30 years ago when we were all on an accountancy day-release course at a local college.  We completed the three years of the course and all went on to do accountancy-related work; I eventually moved from 'doing' accounts (although I still do my own accounts) to teaching it.  On Friday I spent the day with my sister and we indulged in a little light shopping.

I spent most of today gardening and when walking around to see how much is either still in flower or about to flower was so pleased to see lots of shrubs had survived the recent frosts - some were well protected and are fighting back to life already.  The Prunus is covered in buds, some beginning to open - very early.  Polyanthus, crocus and snow drops are in full bloom, and daffodils are just about ready to burst their buds.  I love Helleborus Niger and have several in the garden; they flower throughout the winter and less frequently at other times during the year.  They are so beautiful and this is a picture of one in flower at the moment in our garden - the colour is so gorgeous (the only downside of these beautiful flowers are that they hang face down):


In addition to spending this week working and socialising, I indulged in some television viewing too.  I like antique programmes, not the every single day ones, but I have been watching the Antiques Road Trip because they do stop off at some beautiful houses.  Each week a different duo of experts  set off on a buying trip and last week they were touring around the South of England.  On Wednesday I was interested to see one of the experts visited Farnham and even more interesting they visited Bourne Mill.  Imagine my surprise when, having located items to purchase, the expert went to the reception desk and in the background my wall was clearly shown - several times.  I can quite honestly say my cards have been on the television - now, I wonder if I could add to my website blurb 'as seen on the Antiques Road Trip'?

My make for Handmade Monday (yep, it's that time again and as always I am looking forward to reading some great blogs) isn't a new card,but one I made last year.  It didn't sell, so I put it back into stock for my first event of this year.  The main section of the embellishment is woven paper, consisting of two sheets that I cut into wavy lengths.  When I had finished that section I framed the 'picture' and added different colour squares to two corners.  I was quite pleased with the effect and used it on other cards since this one.


My usual Wednesday mid-week blog post is changing for this week as I am taking part in a Multi-coloured Blog Swap Carnival.  I am hosting a post that is completely unrelated  to crafting and the host of my spot is also non-crafty.  My guest blogger's post is lovely and I am sure you will enjoy it.

That's me for this week, apart from the blog posting posting.  Have a good week everyone - enjoy the sun and warmth.  I am working hard this week to make up for my 'time out' last week, but having an away day with a friend on Thursday - some gym, swim, chat and lunch time.

Jill

Thursday, 23 February 2012

AND THE FOURTH 'FRIDAY GUEST BLOGGER' IS.....


Jill and Georgie from Port Out Starboard Home (POSH)

We are Jill and Georgie: a mother and daughter team who appreciate importance of having everything just right for weddings and special occasions and all of the finest quality.  We have wide experience and expertise in making jewellery, product design and dress making. 

We are passionate about beautiful, handcrafted jewellery and particularly enjoy using recycled and vintage items in our hair accessories.  We love vintage jewellery, the rhinestone, paste and pearl pieces have an amazing lustre, sparkle and luxurious feel.  Our glamorous hair accessories incorporate vintage items such as brooches earrings and necklaces and are carefully made to be timeless and classic heirlooms of the future.  Our extensive collection includes one off creations for brides, bridesmaids and flower girls as well as hair accessories suitable for wearing at any time when a touch of vintage sparkle is needed!



We often incorporate raw silk, brocade, satin, vintage lace and feathers in our designs.  We refurbish the vintage pieces if needed and then carefully wire or sew them to a hair band or comb.  All our pieces are finished to the highest standard with silk ribbon or felt to ensure a comfortable fit. 

We offer a bespoke service and love to design and create pieces from our clients’ own family jewellery or to make a special item to match a dress or colour theme. 

Our inspiration comes from the vintage pieces we find in England, France, Germany and Austria, where we have family connections and from studying historical hair accessories, jewellery and fashion.  We are always searching for special pieces we feel will make a beautiful and unique headband or comb.

We were inspired to launch Port Out Starboard Home (P-O-S-H) after Georgie’s wedding. We had an idea of the special hair accessories we wanted for that occasion, but found that the choice was very limited or very expensive.  Being on a very tight budget, Georgie decided to design and make her own headband from items in granny’s jewellery box.

The headband was a huge success and the business idea was born.  We started in a very small way as we both had full time jobs, but when Jill took early retirement in July 2011, it seemed an ideal opportunity to launch our business. P-O-S-H has blossomed from there and we have been busy making special items for weddings, balls, proms and other special occasions since our official launch in September 2011. 

People often ask how we got our name!  We thought long and hard about our name and wanted something unique to convey times gone by when well-to-do people would dress beautifully in hats and gloves and spend their time cruising on luxury liners and visiting ports of the world.  We believe our unique and glamorous accessories are perfectly suited to this wonderful lifestyle and era.   

We were reminded of P-O-S-H (Port Out Starboard Home) which was coined in the days before air-conditioning.  On the outward voyage to India, the cabins on the Port side got the early morning sun and had the rest of the day to cool off.  Conversely, the Starboard cabins were intensely hot in the afternoon and like ovens at bed time.  On the homeward journey the situation was reversed and it was the unfortunate passengers on the Port side who roasted.  VIPs travelling were given preference of the cooler side of the ship in each direction and were given cabins which were Port–Out-Starboard-Home.  Their tickets and baggage were marked POSH! We felt this name conveyed the First Class VIP image we would like to portray with our collections, and so that is how we came up with our name!

As you would expect from a responsible company, we take care to ensure we minimise the impact on the environment.  We use recycled jewellery and metals in our products wherever possible and are proud that all of our packaging and stationery is recycled paper and card.

Our website shows our collection but we are always delighted to discuss ideas for a unique hair accessory. We can be contacted by telephone or email, details of which are on our website. 

Twitter: Posh_info
  
Photos by Martin Wise Studio Wise Photography - http://www.studiowise.co.uk



Wednesday, 22 February 2012

MAKING, BLOGGING, BUYING AND READING - NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME

Hi everyone

I managed to let Valentine's Day pass me by on the card-making front - a very bad admission for a card-maker, but I am determined to ensure I have plenty of Mother's Day cards to display on my wall at Bourne Mill and also at my first event of this year (details on the right hand side of my blog).  Here is a pic of one I am currently working on - not necessarily to everyone's taste, but I do like unusual cards.  This one is made almost completely of bronze mirror card: I punched large flower shapes, folded the petals, stuck them to another sheet of mirror card and then using glue, added lines to the centre of each petal to join in the middle and sprinkled black glitter over them.  Where it was needed, I added green stalks to the flowers and also added a gorgeous orange/brown vase to hold the flowers.  I like it because even though it is nearly all one colour, the different shapes make the flowers stand out.  The photograph isn't great - still getting to grips with the light tent, but I hope you like the card.



I bought a glass shelving unit on Ebay over the weekend - this is to compliment other glass units (desk, table, shelves, etc) we have in our study/workroom.  When arranging the collect this unit, the lady I bought it from mentioned that she couldn't do a particular time/date because of her spinning class.  I thought, excellent, a fellow crafter - I didn't realise classes were held locally for this particular art.  Er, clearly I am spending too long amidst craft stuff, because when we met she put me right about it being an exercise activity not a crafting activity.

I love reading, I just cannot go anywhere or be anywhere without a book to read.  I have piles of books I am reading my way through that friends and neighbours have passed on to me, plus I have a Kindle (so brilliant and so tempting to keep downloading books).  However, I tend not to buy lots of craft books, as I feel the Internet can provide me with such a lot of good information, advice, etc plus I am running out of space for books.  Last week I received a belated (but very welcome) birthday pressie from a friend: Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts.  What a fabulous book - so many beautiful and different things to make - I already have post-it notes on lots of pages.  Watch this space, as some of the makes are bound to find their way into my blog (as well as my soon to be published website).

I have a great guest blogger on Friday, fingers crossed a fellow Handmade Monday crafter who is - as we speak - penning next week's topic, a couple more people who have said 'I could write about.....' - so I am going to encourage them to do just that.  If you have a craft-related topic you are happy to write about and share with others, please do get on touch.  This is a great opportunity to gain extra visitors to both your blog and your website.

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone - don't forget to check out the guest blog post on Friday.

Jill

Sunday, 19 February 2012

LIFE IS IS HARD - IF YOU ARE A CAT

Hello everyone

What a gorgeous day - chilly, but I just love the sunshine and can't wait for long spring and summer days.  How lovely it is to see the day light after 5.00 pm.  Lots of snowdrops, crocus and fat daffodil buds are in the garden.

The title of my post today reflects the following picture of Jazz:


Having been up since before the birds decided it was breakfast, Jazz spent his morning going in and out of the kitchen door into the garden.  We don't have a cat flap, and as it was just a bit too nippy to have the door open, we were both on 'open the door please' duty.  Jazz loves warmth and the sun - gets really ratty when it is cold and rainy (don't we all).  He has two favourite spots in the garden that get the sun for most of the day, and if he is not off hunting that's where he will be.  However, after a few hours of to'ing and fro'ing, he tired himself out and and took a short cat-nap.  It didn't last long though.

Daisy prefers to wait for the temperature to be in the high double figures before she spends a lot of time outside.  She doesn't like to get her paws cold and very sensibly stays inside in the warm - preferably draped along a window sill with the radiator sending up lots of lovely warmth for her.

Back to my week.  First of all a big thank you to Caroline Nash for her guest blog post on motivation - I hope every had the chance to read it and if you have any feedback about the post, please do let me know.  Secondly, another thank you to my new Twitter and Blog followers - I love your company and I am looking forward to sharing Tweets and Blog Posts with you.

It's nearly 6 months since I gave up my 'day job' and I just love what I am able to do now.  Yes, I miss pay-day (who doesn't) but the stress and heavy work load are things I don't miss.  I work long hours on my business, but it is all for me, not for anyone else to take the credit for what I am doing or producing.  Another thing about being my own boss is that I can have a social life in the week - something that didn't exist during term time as evenings were spent either teaching or marking the day's work or writing material for the next day's lessons.

Last week was busy and seems to have disappeared just a bit too quick - card-making, website 'doing' and everything else, as well as continuing with the massive de-clutter we are attempting.  I say attempting, because we don't seem to be moving very fast.  Oh well, it's been great fun looking at things and saying 'did we really like that enough to buy it?' and realising how much tastes change over the years.

Guess what?  Yes, it's Handmade Monday (HM) again - where do the days go?  My make is another one of the love decoupage items from Moonlight Bay.  Sue has added some to be downloaded so no waiting for the postman.  this one is called Deco Lady and I think will make a lovely topper for a Mother's Day card.  I added some glitter to the headband, shoe and hem of the dress to make it sparkle.  Don't forget to check in with the other HM bloggers - every week brings some beautiful work and good posts - some sad and some funny, but all very readable.



A request now for some guest bloggers please.  When I first mentioned I was going to have a Friday guest blog spot a few lovely fellow bloggers said I would like to write about....................., but sadly I haven't heard anything more.  Come on HM people, blog followers and Tweeters, the crafting community needs your words of wisdom.  It's a good opportunity to get more followers and I am sure more business.

Have fun everyone - 'see' you on Wednesday

Jill

Friday, 17 February 2012

AND THE THIRD 'FRIDAY GUEST BLOGGER' IS


Caroline Nash of Carolee Crafts

Thank you Caroline for being this week's guest blogger in my Friday blog posting venture; I know everyone will enjoy your chosen topic:

Motivation

Motivation can be hard when working for oneself and even harder in the current climate when sales could be slow to full stop.

How to motivate yourself? This is hard as I can be the biggest procrastinator out but find meeting up with like-minded individuals either as a group or one to one is excellent.  At these meets you can discuss problems, share ideas and hopefully motivate each other with the suggestion that you have to complete. Say, a, b and c by the next meeting.  If you start a craft meet try to make it at least once a month, any less and things can slide – any more, unless as a working group, can become tedious and too restrictive.

There are loads of small business groups around that are not all craft-related.  From personal experience I have found the mixed career ones harder as the people in non-creative businesses find it hard to understand what makes us creative types tick. but on saying that if you find a good one you have a captive audience to sell to.

One wonderful and easy way to get motivated is regular blog-roll calls, these can
encourage you to get on and make something to be able to tell a story about your make and get comments from others, there are many around like Handmade Monday with 1st Unique Gifts.  We all like to receive praise, it’s human nature, blogs are ideal for this if used in the right way, ie post, join a linky party, visit other blogs making sure you not only read the publication but leave comments.  Don’t expect to receive comment on your work if you don’t bother to leave a comment; I am afraid I feel if you have the time to post a blog you have the time to visit other blogs and comment.  Why join something you are not going to participate in – it’s a bit like going to the gym but sitting on the stairs, this does not mean you have actually been to the gym.

If you are having a down time, take a walk, watch a film, read a book or do something you enjoy.  If you can do this around something creative then all well and good but sometimes a break can be more motivational than sitting trying to force creativity.  I use journals not so much in the written format but a collection of sketches, pictures from magazines that have accumulated over the years and whilst not always in vogue, generally things are revisited over a circle of time.  I find these invaluable when I have a creative block as points of reference.  The pictures are not necessarily items to make they can be of a beautiful moment in nature with different hues of colour and shade but all give inspiration.

From experience do not force creativity, it does go but will soon be back and one thing is to enjoy what you are doing the biggest lack of motivation is working for yourself and making what you no longer like to make, it tells in the finished item and your general attitude.

Being passionate about your finished craft and your demeanour about your product tells a story better than a thousand words.

Happy Creative Motivation

www.caroleecrafts.com
caroleecrafts.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

MEANINGS

Hi everyone

Thank you lovely blog posters/followers for commenting on my Monday post and for producing such great posts this week for me to read.

Thank you also to the five great bloggers who have joined me in the Liebster Award - I am looking forward to seeing who you awarded it to.  It's great to be recognised by fellow crafters and and even better to be able to pass on the award.

A busy week so far - my car was in for its MOT on Monday and thank goodness it passed.  I sometimes feel an MOT is like going to the dentist - a painful way of parting with money and not an awful lot to show from either appointment.

As you know, I am in the process of producing my website and still not 100% sure what to put in the About Me section.  One thing that I thought would be good to include is why Christmas Pie is so called.  Shortly after we moved in, our local village historian society held an exhibition at the village hall.  We discovered that a family called Christmas originally owned the land around here and a pie (in land terms) is a parcel of land.  Apparently the Christmas family name in this area goes back to 1513.  More interesting information about the name and the area can be found on the Normandy Historians website.

As my post today is about meanings I came across the meaning of liebster which in German is friend, love or dearest.  A nice way to think of fellow bloggers really.

A brief post today - I hope you all have a fantastic day.  The sun has just come out and the temperature is so much warmer than this time last week.  Long may it last.

Don't forget, fellow crafters, I would love you to be part of my Friday Guest Blog adventure - so please do get in touch.

Enjoy the rest of the week everyone - check back on Friday for my guest post.

Jill

Sunday, 12 February 2012

SUMMER? PERHAPS NOT JUST YET

Hello everyone

Not really summer, but certainly warmer today than the last few days.  We have had minus double figures in Christmas Pie recently.  boy, has it been cold.  I hope you have all survived without any mishaps.

First of all I want to thank Pamela and Lottie of Livelearnlaughbehappy who have very kindly awarded me the Liebster Award.  Thank you both, it is very much appreciated and very welcome from a fellow crafter; your blog posts are always very happy and a great read.  The Liebster Award is given to bloggers who have up to 200 followers in the hope it will bring them new followers and friends.  The tradition is that is is then passed on to five other bloggers to help them too.

To accept the award, you need to:

1  Link back to the person's blog who gave you the award and thank them
2  Post the award on your blog
3 Give the award to five fellow bloggers who inspire you
4  Leave a comment on their blogs to let them know

My inspirational 5 are:

Ali's Craft Studio




Jem of Jam Dalory

You blog posts are great, I love your 'makes', you offer great advice and help when needed and you are lovely regular visitors to my Blog.  A big thank you.

Almost needless to say there are lots of other great bloggers I would have liked to give this award to, but you are so popular and have over 200 followers, so my apologies but I love reading your posts.

A busy week, lots of crafting started and woo hoo, finished too.  Slowly, very slowly, working on my website - very time consuming taking pics and thinking of words to put with them and also the 'about me' bit is hard.  Want to make it interesting and not frighten away potential customers but feel it comes own to the knowing what is just enough.  Perhaps I need a ghost write or maybe Jazz and Daisy can come up with something for me.  Er, on second thoughts, not so sure about that - in between snoozing and chasing things around the garden, doubt they have much time for anything else.

One of this week's makes was a gift bag for a friend.  She wanted something in dark blue and orange, so I came up with this:


For the backing I used bronze-coloured mirror card; the letters were negatives from Starform adhesive letters which I placed on mixed shades of orange-coloured card and cut around the outlines.  I added Starform stars (using the same card I had used for the letters) and fixed the whole page to a dark blue gift bag.  I used to make quite  few cards with the negative part of Starform letters, but haven't done so for some time.  I like the effect - both the positive and negative parts of the letters - and think it is something I should pick up on again.

Don't forget to check out Handmade Monday's Bloggers - week 53!  How amazing is that - as always I am sure it will be packed with great makes and lovely blog posts to read.

I am still looking for guest posters - if you have a topic related to handmade please do get in touch.  this is a great way of driving extra traffic to your blog and your website.

Have a good week - I will be back on Wednesday.

Jill

Friday, 10 February 2012

AND THE SECOND 'FRIDAY GUEST BLOGGER' IS.....

Me: Jill Spain of Christmas Pie Crafts

Why was my work not accepted?


I am sure many crafters have applied to show their work at events that required submission of work prior to the event (often referred to as juried events).  This can be stressful and at the same time every exciting, but it is an important part of ensure the quality of handmade is maintained.  Some organisers will require photographs of work, some details of the seller's website and some require samples of work to be sent in for assessment.  Very often work has to be submitted at least 4 - 6 months prior to the event and the waiting can be hard-going.

Hopefully our work is accepted and we have a place at the event - success.  However, it does happen that our work isn't accepted and often we don;t know why.  It's rather like a job interview, if you don't get the job you contact the company to find out why.  The same applies to an event, if you don;t hear from them by the date you expected to, or if they advise you that your application has been unsuccessful, contact them.  You need to know why you 'didn't get in'.

At this stage we question ourselves: what is wrong with my work, isn't it good?  Unfortunately, sometimes it is down to quality of workmanship.  Think of events you have attended where the work is declared as handmade - was it really handmade?  Was it good quality?  I am sure many of us review competitors work and occasionally doubt the quality.  The questions are 'would I buy this?', 'would I really want to sell this with my name on it?'.  I am sure that 100% of the time the answer is 'no' and this is partly how a jury reviews work.  They are looking for work of excellent quality to not only ensure their reputation is maintained but also the reputations of their exhibitors.

However, it is not always quality of work that prevents a crafts person taking part in an event, it can come down to something as basic as a poor photograph.  There seems to be a strange assumption that no matter how poor the photograph is, the viewer should still be able to see what great work is being submitted.  The percentage of high quality photographs submitted to juried events is staggeringly low - in fact I read recently that it is only 5%.  Isn't that worrying?  Very understandable why good work is rejected for no obvious reason - often we cannot see that our photography is poor.

Your work is good, but your photographs don;t do it justice.  This could be the photographs you submit to the event organisers as well as the photographs on our website.  Wrong backgrounds, poor lighting, wrong angle - all of these contribute to a poor photograph.  The important thing to remember is that the photographs may be the only representation of your work the event organisers and potential customers see - you want to wow them in the first few seconds of viewing, because that is all the time you have to grab their attention.

You don't have to hire professional photographers.  There are lots of websites providing guidance on how to take a good photograph.  However, just bear in mind the following suggestions and your pictures should be good:
  • Always use a white background to photograph your products - this makes your work stand out as there is no background distraction.  It can also make shadows an enhancement of the item being displayed
  • If you want to use a coloured background, use just one solid colour.  Don't be tempted by patterns, checks, swirls, etc as they detract the eye from the focus of the picture.
  • Ensure you have good lighting - this may be natural or artificial.  Practice will show you how to use lighting to improve and enhance the appearance of your work.
Good photographs show you are a professional and that your work will be an asset to an event.  Just think, one of your photographs could be on the front cover of the event programme!

There are other reasons why work is not accepted at events, not to do with quality of work or photography, but that's another blog topic for a later date.

Good luck

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE

Hello everyone

A very cold day in Christmas Pie and the temperature is set to drop even further with, apparently, more snow on the way.  We still have snow lying around, but think it is now frozen chunks of ice.  With the exception of a small circle of 'warm' water where the pond heater is, the top of our fish pond is a frozen sheet of thick ice.  Because the weather had been so mild up to last weekend, the fish have been very active - they need to get some zzzzz's before their fun-filled spring-time arrives though.

Thank you to all of the lovely bloggers who commented on my Handmade Monday post - I particularly liked the one from Aliza that our age should be all about how we feel, not what the numbers say - so, 21 it is then.  Also thank you to my new followers for joining my blog - it is lovely to welcome new people and I look forward to sharing my posts with you and visiting your blog's too.

So far a busy-ish week.  Monday was an extended birthday celebration day - went out for lunch with a friend, followed by some light shopping which included craft supplies (of course).  A good day.  Yesterday was a mix of crafting and the major clear-out we are trying to have.  Early spring cleaning?  No, just can't get any more 'stuff' into certain places!  Isn't it amazing what you find when clearing out boxes, bags and cupboards?

One of my 'makes' of yesterday was a d├ęcoupage bunny, which I placed onto blue mirror card, and then on to a floral sheet - all  ready for adding to a card at a later date.  One of my birthday presents was a photographic light tent together with lights and a camera tripod - something I had promised myself for a long time, so a lovely gift.  I have been practising using it, but my bunny pic was taken the 'old-fashioned' way relying on daylight (not much around at the moment):


I am still 'recruiting' guest bloggers for my Friday spot.  Although I have an article for this Friday, if you have a burning desire to take part please do get in touch.  I also have a blogger with a great post for Friday, 17 February, but need some takers for the Fridays after that.  This is a great opportunity to drive more visitors to your blog and your website.  My posts are sent to Twitter and Facebook, so lots of opportunity for new readers.

That's me for today - enjoy the rest of the week, keep warm and don't forget to come back on Friday

Jill

Sunday, 5 February 2012

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

Hello everyone

It's chilly, it's white and Jazz wants to keep going out into it.  Daisy?  A very sensible lady - 'one doesn't want to get one's paws cold and wet, does one?'  Here is a pic of Jazz who had already been outside several times, making paw prints everywhere so that when he ventured out again he could just tread in them.  However, this one shows him thinking ' well, I have been left, down to the end, now how about I turn right this time'.


One small step for a man and a giant leap for a tabby cat

It's been a very cold week and not surprising that it ended with snow.  However, I am sure you, like me are very thankful it wasn't as much as this time last year.  Roll on spring - please.  Pretty though the snow looks, walking on it frightens the life out of me.  I can drive on (and in) snow without any problems, but when my feet come into contact with snow they turn to slippery, sliding things that seem to deliberately make me fall over.

Last Friday was my first guest blog post day and a great post about Party Plan was delivered by Caroline Nash of Caroleecrafts.  Thank you Caroline.  I know the post had lots of visitors and a big thank you to those who commented - as always your feedback is much appreciated.

A few of the Handmade Monday gang have said they would like to take part in the guest posting adventure, and I am hoping they and others will do so.  Come on you bloggers, your world awaits your guest post.

I celebrated my 21st birthday on Friday too and had a great day.  Okay, okay, I have visited 21 many, many times but it was a great year (I got married then too) and that seems a really good reason to stick with it.  Not a lot of crafting done on that day or over the weekend, but have a card-topper to add to my collection:



A decoupaged train that goes with my growing collection of male card toppers.

Falling behind a little with my new ranges - seem to have got stuck into one, while leaving the others a little behind.  I need to get a move on as I have my first event on 10 March and want to ensure I have all of my new ranges ready (or at least examples from each one) and my website up and running by then.

A mini-post today (mini compared with my normal Sunday/Monday posts).  Off to do some snow-clearing, well to supervise actually.  Have a great week, I will be back on Wednesday, but don't forget to visit the great bloggers taking part in Handmade Monday.

Keep warm

Jill

Friday, 3 February 2012

AND THE FIRST 'FRIDAY GUEST BLOGGER' IS.....

Caroline Nash of Carolee Crafts

Thank you Caroline for being the first guest blogger in my new Friday blog posting venture; I know everyone will enjoy your chosen topic:

PARTY PLAN

As a business you are constantly evolving to find different ways of selling.  Party Plan (PP) has been around since approximately the mid 1950’s and, in some cases earlier, ebbing and waning depending on the current trend of what is in or out.  Currently going through a revival with the likes of Jamie at Home, Pampered Chef, Virgin Vie to name a few so what better way for a crafter to sell than give PP a go.

 1. Have a core sample of products that you know you can make again easily plus catalogues for the hostess to gain orders prior to the party.
2. Low start-up costs apart from stationery compared with craft fairs where a larger stock is required.
3. You need a hostess pack which would have a hostess guest list allowing the hostess to make a note of those she has invited plus a place for you to note names and total value of orders taken.
4. The hostess is responsible for getting people to the event and providing some
Refreshments; all you have to do is give her a hostess pack including invites approximately 3-weeks before the date with a courtesy call to check she is okay on the night along with the time you are arriving.
5. Arrive with enough time to set up your display, remember first impressions count so the display needs to be eye-catching.  Greet each guest as they arrive and when all are settled give a small speech (not War and Peace), thank the hostess for inviting everyone and opening her home to you, explain what you do and how the ordering process works.  If you are giving a hostess gift do so at this point and also ask for other possible hostesses.
6. To break the ice you can do some parlour-style games with maybe a small prize at the end.  This is up to you and how comfortable you are doing this type of thing.
7. As you get the orders, go through the details with the customer to ensure they are happy and it is suggested that you have a tear-off slip at the bottom of the order form where you can complete the total, plus the delivery date.
8. At the end of the evening total up the orders, noting this on the hostess guest list and work out the commission for the hostess to spend. Remember this should not be cash as this moves into the realm of pay for work carried out but must be in goods.  This is standard for most party plan business, but there can be an exception for a charity, but most charity events are happy to have something to raffle.
9. Pack up and leave having confirmed the date you will be delivering items to the hostess, making it clear she must have the funds ready for you at that stage. You could opt to take payment there and then but again remember if they have some time to save they may spend more.
10. Ring the hostess after the event to thank her again for the opportunity and to ask is she happy with the money side.
11. Ring the hostess prior to delivery to check she has got all of the funds ready.  Make sure you individually pack each order with the name of the buyer clearly shown.  This makes it easier for the hostess to hand out the orders.

 If someone expressed an interest to be a hostess give them a ring about 2 weeks after the event to follow-up, letting them know any promotions you are currently running.  These could be an offer on single purchases over say £50.00, extra commission if they get 2 more party bookings for you on the night.

Your stock needs to evolve as well constantly adding new products and if you can get emails and newsletter agreements you have increased your potential sale market, even if they do not want a party as not everyone does. If you make jewellery wear it at the event, a good form of advertising.
www.caroleecrafts.com
caroleecrafts.blogspot.com

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

IT'S A HOOT

Good morning everyone

Chilly here in Christmas Pie Crafts land, but not so frosty.

First a big thank you to everyone who commented on my Handmade Monday post, in particular those who gave me some great advice to get rid of my computer 'visitor'.

I am still looking for guest bloggers for my Friday slot.  Come on now crafters, if you love blogging this is a great chance for more people to get to know you.  Don't forget to check out the first post this Friday.

For today's post, I am joining in the February Linky Party with Bath Bomb Creations.  As it says on Bath Bomb Creation's blog post, dedicated to all things furry, fluffy and feathery.  I am a great animal lover and lucky enough to be married to someone who shares my love of the four-legged 'humans'.  We have had a cat (or two) all of our married lives and I grew up with dogs, cats, hamsters and budgerigars - not always at the same time though.  

Before we adopted Jazz and Daisy, we had Barney and Pebbles (true brothers and they were 6-years old when we met them at the RSPCA in Chobham).  Pebbles was a big tabby and white cat and Barney was a big dark tabby.  Three days after we adopted them, Pebbles managed to get out - we were frantic.  We put his details on all of the animal rescue websites, reported his disappearance to the RSPCA, put up posters all around our village, and did a leaflet drop in lots of roads near to us.  We received lots of phone calls, some with sad news about a 'find'.  

We continued with our searching, and leafleting, etc and about 3 months after Pebbles disappeared, we got a call from a lady living in a road about half a mile from us.  She thought Pebbles had taken up residence in her garden - and he had.  Because he was so new to us, he wouldn't recognise our voices, so calling him wouldn't mean much but we visited him every day and also took a cushion that Barney had been sleeping on so that he could pick up some scent.  Were were so pleased that he had stayed in the neighbourhood.  We used to have a lady not far from here who took in elderly and lost cats - we borrowed a cage from her and planned to used this to catch our Pebbles.  Easier said than done!  However, two weeks after he moved into his new garden, we managed to catch him.  A very skinny, wormy cat and I am sure you can imagine how very pleased we were to have him back home again.  Barney wasn't so sure as he had been Top Cat for a while, but eventually they both settled down together.

Strangely enough, my make isn't a cat, but an owl - a beautiful wise bird and we do occasionally see them local to us.  Not too local though as am sure the temptation of Owl Whiskas for Jazz and Daisy might be too much.


Don't forget to visit the other furry, fluffy and feathery bloggers, come back on Friday for my first Friary post, get in touch if you would like to join in this new venture and I will be back on Monday.  Have a great rest of the week everyone.

Jill