Sewing to stay sane!


What do we do when life throws us a curveball? What do you turn to as your day to day life is thrown upside down?

For me, it’s my creativity. My creativity has changed over the years. In times of uncertainty I have been known to write the odd poem, to draw, to garden and to bake (not the best escape for the waistline but the preferred one according to my family!) These days, I prefer to sew.

To be honest, when I think about it, I’m not sure why this is my preferred go-to when I need to de-stress. I still love all of the above. Then again, maybe I don’t need to question it – I just need to go with it.

I am entering the fourth week of Labyrinthitis and I can honestly say, I would have gone crazy without being able to do some sewing. There have been times when I have been desperate to sew but I have not been physically capable. Those have been the hardest times.

So when I have been able to see straight or been able to concentrate for more than 20 minutes I have picked up a needle and thread. I have lost myself in the rhythmic sewing and let go of my worries. I have counted cross stitches and ignored my fears. It has been my saviour. It has made being stuck inside somewhat bearable.


New wreath complete with sparkly bits – inspired by some of the colour palettes I’ve been looking at on Pinterest!

As well as a bit of cross stitch, I have also been working on some bunting for Dollies….


Yes I’m still working on this 🙂

I have also created a new Hungry Caterpillar wall hanging I wanted to show you.

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I was inspired to make this when I saw the spotty fabric on a website one day. I’ve been experimenting with a few ideas for this before I became ill but now I’ve slowly created a piece I’m happy with. I would love to hear what you think of it!

There are many downsides to being poorly and not being able to drive but I’m so happy I’ve had these projects to keep me going half an hour at a time and has definitely held me together.

What keeps you sane in stressful times? What do you do that allows you to forget your troubles?

Until next time,

Toni xx


The 100 happy days challenge


The #100happydays challenge. Have you heard of it? I hadn’t until this morning when I read about it from A Beautiful Mess. I suddenly thought that this was something I had to get involved in.

I’ve been ill for a few weeks now and this has meant no driving, being in the house the majority of the time and not being able to look after/entertain my children the way I want to. I have been doing some sewing as and when I can but needless to say there has been a lot of time to think and lot of time to feel sorry for myself 😉

The idea of this challenge really appealed then because to be reminded of the things in life I had to be thankful for is just what I need. If I find something inspiring along the way – what a bonus 🙂

Popping over to Twitter, I can see there are loads of people already in the midst of this challenge and it seems that I am not the only one who is in need of a few reminders of the good things in life. It seems too easy these days to focus on the negative or to be so busy and blinkered that we just rush from day to day doing what we need to do and not really appreciating the present moment or the happy times. I think it was this way of life that landed me in bed with the lurgy to be honest.

I hope you will join me on this adventure. Each day, you take a photo of something that makes you happy. The great thing is, your happy times don’t have to be made public. You can decide whether to make your photos public by posting on somewhere like Facebook or you can simply email them to the website so they can see whether you have completed it or not. Surprisingly, 71% apparently don’t finish the challenge….often because they don’t feel they have time.

So…I have prioritised. I have committed to completing this challenge to reconnect with a happier me. You can decide whether you wish to take part by clicking here.

Although it starts tomorrow, this decision has made me happy today. I am already taking time to savour play time with my girls and being more aware of what makes me smile.

Here’s to 100 days of happiness 😀

Until next time,

Toni xx

Are numbers just numbers?


It’s been a few days since my last post and I am so touched by the responses I have received from it.  You will never know how timely they were.  There are many days when I feel as though I am on the right track and that I am where I am meant to be and then there are the other days when that inner voice is questioning everything I do and I feel like I ought to just give it all up.

Starting off on a new venture is hard.  You want to pursue something you love doing, that you are passionate about and yet all of a sudden there is so much more to learn and consider. You have questions, you have doubts and lots of to do lists.  You have ideas buzzing round in your head, you sit and create something that you are really proud of yet to show that to the world seems like the scariest thing.

What if no one likes it?

What if no one buys it?

What if it’s all for nothing?

One thing that holds me back in life (not just my creative life!) is looking at others, comparing myself to them and thinking I should do what they do.  It is so easy to look at other businesses and see everything I am not doing, to see how great their work is.

This is where I was the other day when I wrote my last blog. I was wondering whether I’d made a mistake starting all this. I was obsessing over what the ‘magic ingredient’ was that I still needed be as popular as others. I was looking at other people and I could not compete.  Then some of you lovely lot got in touch and talked about how much the last blog meant or discussed your similar experiences and in a heartbeat the numbers didn’t seem to matter anymore.

I realised that I could have a business where I made things that I knew would sell. I could have a facebook page where I ticked all the right boxes.  I could have a blog where I sat and wrote all the things I think you want to hear, all the things that sound clever. I could dance that magic dance but I won’t.  If I did that I wouldn’t be happy. I wouldn’t be learning and I certainly would not want to continue with Dollies. Most of all I wouldn’t be finding so much out about myself. I wouldn’t be pushing my limits and stepping out of my comfort zone.

I realised that I am on a journey and if there are people that want to join me, to read my blog then that is fantastic – I would love to continue to share these experiences and all I am learning. I would love to know that some of my work has gone to a good home. For now, I am trying to remember that numbers are just numbers. They don’t guarantee success or happiness but if I receive only one piece of feedback like the feedback I received earlier this week it makes it all worthwhile and I know I am doing something right.

Go me! 😉

Until next time,

Toni xx

If I couldn’t fail….


I saw this quote the other day and it got me thinking.  Fear is something we have all experienced. Fear is an emotion we experience when we feel we cannot cope with what life throws our way.

When I was younger, I feared many things but with time, I have learned I can cope with many things but the one thing I find difficult to overcome is the prospect of failure.  It’s no secret that I can be a bit of a control freak – if I feel I  am in control, I feel as though bad things are less likely to happen. Crazy I know. I’m working on it.  I am a work in progress.


But… as well as being a control freak, I am a perfectionist – probably a by-product of trying to stay in control.  I am familiar with the critical voice inside our heads that questions whether we are good enough, whether our work is up to scratch and whether we can do better.

Anyway…I digress. The point I was trying to make was that when I saw the quote it struck a chord.  I felt full of hope. I suddenly began thinking of all the things I would do if the fear of failure wasn’t hanging over me.  For a while, I couldn’t think of a sungle thing. The fear of failure I have lived with for so long had pushed all hopes out of the window.  My daydreams had been limited…so I continued to think and here is my list (so far and in no particular order):

1) Audition for a West End musical. Once upon a time I danced – ballroom, latin, tap. I loved it all. I love music and the feeling of moving around a dancefloor is amazing. I loved watching musicals and when I watched a musical on stage, I imagined what it would be like to be a dancer. I didn’t covet the star role I just wanted to dance.  If I couldn’t fail, I would audition for that part.

2) Walk the Inca trails – to do this would be amazing.  If I knew I could do it without facing failure, this would definately be on my bucket list.

3) Become thinner 😉

4) Create something every day.  Sometimes that inner voice is so loud, it stops me in my tracks.  Even when I was doodling the quote in my sketchbook, I wanted to stop every time I drew something that I didn’t like and everytime I made a mistake.  I forced myself to use it on this blog entry to practice ignoring that voice, to become more comfortable with the imperfect parts of my creativity.


Next is a big fear…I have already faced so many fears from day one of starting Dollies Daydream and for each one I have dealt with the fear of failure and done it anyway. Today, however, if I couldn’t fail I would:

5) Quit my job to concentrate on Dollies Daydream.  This is a big dream for me.  It is one path that I am desparate to walk but the fear of failure, the fear of giving up our financial security is a big sticking point for me. I know I am not alone. When I talk to others about my dreams, there are many who will highlight the possible negative consequences of this action. It seems that we do not just feel that fear for ourselves but we feel the fear for others – we warn others against actions we believe will end in failure.

Why is it so easy to concentrate on the negative? Is it back to that old saying “to be forewarned is forearmed”? When I think of my children growing up and facing a decision to follow their dreams, I like to think that I would encourage them to walk the path they wish, that I would support them no matter what. I would tell them that whatever the outcome, we learn something valuable whether it is through tears or smiles.

So if fear is the result of a belief that you cannot cope with the othercome, I guess I have to ask myself whether I can.  I have to weigh up whether we will survive whatever events my decision may bring.  If the answers are yes then I have to see whether I really am brave enough to take that leap.

One thing I will aim to do is teach my children there is no such thing as failure. I will try every day to nurture a kind and loving inner voice in the heads of my children so that they aren’t limited by it and are free to follow their hearts.

So – what would you attempt if you couldn’t fail? What risks have you taken that have paid off?

Until next time,

Toni xx



A while ago, I gave myself the challenge of upcycling instead of buying. Since I made that promise to myself, I’ve made cards, painted some old Christmas tins for new storage and made a lovely frame for displaying and photographing my work.

You may remember a few weeks back that I bought a rather hideous picture from a local charity shop for the bargain price of £3.


I set about discarding the picture and back and re painted the frame. The original plan was to paint it grey then white and sand areas but I fell in love with the grey.

While I was telling my brother about my plans, he informed me that there might have some white boards left over from mums kitchen in her garage which happened to be the correct size….don’t you just love it when things fall into place like that 🙂


I’m rather pleased with how it has turned out. I also found a left over white kitchen panel in our garage which helps me photograph my other projects.

When we have something to frame, I’m sure, like me, many people think of Ikea, hobbycraft or buying online. For me now, my first thought is to scour Charity shops or car boot sales. It’s true they might need a bit of love like mine but they are often better quality.


Here is the finished item! I can’t take credit for the idea of upcycling old frames – my husband does this when he needs to frame his art work but it is very rare that I buy frames from mainstream shops these days.

What have you upcycled recently? What do you search local charity shops for?

Until next time,

Toni xx

New home

Welcome to my new home at WordPress! I’m giving it a whirl because I was having issues with Blogger and I thought it was the perfect time given I am doing nothing more than resting….still 😦

I’ll keep this short and sweet as I’m feeling more tired than inspired today but I promise to be back on form soon.

Please do let me know what you think of the new place!

Until next time,

Toni xx