Dreaming my dream

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Sat in a cafe a few years ago, a friend and I, in conversation, realised we were both reading ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne and enjoying the possibilities this book was introducing us to. I am the first to admit that I can be prone to focusing on the negative as I have mentioned before. The concept of thinking more positively, focusing more on what I want instead of what I don’t want really struck a chord.

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I did feel however, on completing the book was that I didn’t gel with everything in the book. I felt that while it was a good thing to be positive, it was unrealistic to be positive 100% of the time. I don’t know how it came about that I bought Mike Dooley’s book but I bought ‘Manifesting change’ and signed up to receive his ‘Notes from the Universe’ each day.

One of the things Mile maintains (like The Secret) is that what we think about, what we focus on and what we spend time visualising will become reality. I always try to do this with little things – like car parking spaces and find that it almost always works. Some may say its coincidence – maybe it is but I like to think it’s more than that.

So… Has it worked with bigger things? To date I can’t say it has but that doesn’t stop me trying. Plus it’s so fun to imagine what I would have if I could.

Lately, I’ve been imagining my perfect craft room. At this present moment my craft space consists of a corner of my dining room but if I were able to have the perfect room it would:

1. Be light and airy with white walls.
2. Have light coloured varnished floorboards
3. Contain some kind of comfy seating like an old leather settee or an oversized chair similar to this….

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4. It would have a desk down one side of the room with an island in the middle tall enough to allow me to work/cut fabric standing up. (Hey if you’re going to dream, you might as well do it right!)

In fact something like this would be perfect….

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5. It would contain accessories from my favourite colour palette – the peacock 🙂

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6. My organisation would go beyond storing my buttons by colour and everything would have its place.

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Most of all though it would be a space for me. A place I can escape to to create – a room that is just mine. It will be a place I can plan, relax and dream. It can be a place I can leave for a while and come back to it – and it will be exactly as I left it.

You may not think much of the philosophies of Rhonda Byrne and Mile Dooley. You may think they’re a nice idea but not realistic….or you might hope that there’s a grain of truth in them and want to give it a go. All I know is that thinking positive and visualising the life I want is no bad thing and if it does bring about wonderful changes – even better. Thinking about the things I would like allows me to dream, strive and hope but in a strange way it also allows me to appreciate what I’ve already got.

For now I have my craft corner in my own little house with a great family. Anything else is a fantastic bonus. 🙂

Until next time,

Toni xx

One of my greatest loves….

Before I met my other half, before I had my two gorgeous girls and before I became obsessed with art and crafting, there were books.  Books were, without a doubt, my greatest love from being young.   I remember the books I loved as a child – and bought them for my children. I remember the first book that made me cry (Heidi) and exactly where I was when I was reading it. I remember being so engrossed in a book, (Enid Blyton’s Famous Five) I read it under my duvet with a torch so my Dad wouldn’t make me go to sleep.

I love the way they feel in my hand. I love re-reading a book for what feels like the millionth time and feeling how worn and beautiful the pages feel beneath my fingers.  I love the way a book can draw you in and make you forget everything, even the time.

Having children, I have found that I am not able to indulge in books as I used to when my time was my own.  These days, many of the books I read take me forever to get through not for lack of trying! Over the past few weeks however, when my attention span has been short (and my physical ability to focus on the written word has been hindered) I have opted for non fiction – the kind of books you can dip in and out of and consume bite sized chunks. There have been three in particular I find myself picking up at different times….

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The Handmade Marketplace – Kari Chapin

This was a birthday gift a couple of years back and while it is aimed at the US market I find there are some great nuggets of information in there.  Some of the sections such as naming your company and branding were irrelevant as I already had that in place but I find it interesting to read about the experiences of others within the crafting community which Kari highlights throughout the book.  It advises the reader how to spread the word about your product on a variety of social media as well as advertising. It also covers the different avenues for selling your work from craft fairs to holding workshops.  This is not an in depth book but I have found that it’s often sparked ideas or given me something to mull over regarding which steps I take next with Dollies.

Simple abundance - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Simple abundance – Sarah Ban Breathnach

Primarily a book written for women, Sarah has written a short entry for each day of the year.  I don’t religously read it every day and sometimes I go months without picking it up.  Each time I read an ‘essay’ I realise that I am not the only person out there that is overly critical of myself, that doesn’t like everything about herself and pushes herself to strive for perfection. It encourages me to be a bit easier on myself. Her words ask me to think about things differently. Her entries help me to start accepting myself just a bit more.  It’s one of those books that seems to have had the right words at the right time over the last couple of months – I just love it when that happens!

The Fire starter sessions - Danielle LaPorte

The Fire starter sessions – Danielle LaPorte (expertly decorated by my daughter…)

I hold my hands up and admit I bought this book on a whim some time ago.  I don’t know what attracted me to it. I can’t even remember what I was searching for at the time. All I know is that I love this book. If I were to describe it I would say it is a straight talking, to the point book similar to The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.  I’ve got the Artists Way on my shelf and I can’t get on with it to be honest so I cut my losses (though I know there’s many out there that would argue it is an invaluable book). Like the Artists Way it has activities you can complete within each section. This book challenges all the pre-conceptions, fears and worries we have about following our passion. It lays all those insecurities and pet hates people have about following their passion – whatever that might be – and encourages you to ignore them.  There have been times I have picked this book up to read and found myself reading about myself.  After reading her book I often feel as though I can do something I’ve feared – that I can face whatever consequences my decisions and actions may bring. I come away from the pages feeling hopeful and positive.

So there you have it, my three companions over the past couple of months.  What books are you finding useful at the moment? What books do you return to again and again? What books make you feel hopeful and positive when you’re going through some kind of rough patch? I’d love to hear about them – I may not have the time to read them at the moment but  there’s always room on my ‘to-read’ list 😉

Enjoy the Easter weekend,

Until next time,

Toni xx

Challenge and progress

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I’m nearly three weeks in to the 100 happy days challenge. How am I doing? Well… My children and food seem to be featuring regularly each day. 😉

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Have I learnt anything from it so far? I’m not sure. What I do know is that it has made me more aware of how I feel each day – I am conscious of what makes me smile and what I enjoy.

This has been very timely. It has given me something to focus on at a time when I have been finding it difficult to feel positive. This week has been the 5th week with Labyrinthitis – far longer than I ever thought I’d be experiencing it. Earlier this week, I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow for severe dizziness and nausea.

Those days, I was struggling to post positivity on Facebook. What the challenge did help me to do was see something good in a difficult day. I can honestly say if I wasn’t doing this challenge, I probably wouldn’t have tried to do so and probably would have felt even worse.

In all honesty, I desperately want to be writing blogs about my creations, my ideas and my inspirations. Maybe that’s what you click on here hoping to find…. If it is bear with me!

I desperately want to be posting photos of my works in progress. When it comes down to it just to get up without feeling dizzy sounds like the best gift in the world right now!

So despite all I want to do, despite what I want to show you this is where I am today. I hope beyond hope that there is an end to it soon. Until then bear with me. Until then, enjoy my moments of happiness I am sharing each day – it allows me to feel normal for a moment each day and allows me to pretend I’m doing ok 🙂

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Wherever you are in life, I would definitely recommend it. As time goes on maybe I will surprise you with other things that make me smile. I hope some of my posts bring a little sunshine to you too.

Until next time,

Toni xx

Be careful what you wish for…

We’ve all heard these words haven’t we. These are the words I heard again the other day.

A couple of days ago, I spent another morning at the doctors. It seems I have caught more lurgy which in turn has triggered my labyrinthitis yet again. I feel cheated. Convinced it was getting better, I began thinking about what it would be like to live my day to day life again – jumping in the car, popping to the shops, taking my children out for the day.

In the last couple of days that has fallen by the wayside again and I feel I’ve been catapulted back to the very start again.  I was feeling pretty low when my mum said those familiar words ‘we need to be careful what we wish for’. Yes I certainly got my wish of having some ‘down time’, of having a break from work but it wasn’t exactly what I’d wished for.

I took this image just before things took a turn for the worst.  The Red Admiral always seems to find me at times when I need to remember to smile and think of happy times.

I took this image just before things took a turn for the worst. The Peacock butterfly always seems to find me at times when I need to remember to smile and think of happy times.

This set back got me thinking. Yes, it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for but it’s what I’ve been given. Maybe I need to look closer at the positives it has given me instead of all the things I can’t or haven’t been able to do.

So here is my list so far:
1. It has given me time to think, contemplate and mull things over. I’ve made a few decisions which while them haven’t come to fruition yet, they have hopefully set a ball rolling.

2. It has given me more time to enjoy some down time with the girls. It’s true I can’t take them out or do many things with them but I can cuddle them on the sofa, read them stories, listen about the biggest’s day at school. Sure, I did all these things before but I tell you, I appreciate and savour them so much more when it’s all I can do!

3. I have started to appreciate my other half a lot more. I have always appreciated him on some level but like in any relationship there are times when you do take them for granted. He has been an absolute star – taking time off work when I’ve had to take a trip to hospital, looking after the girls to let me rest and just supporting me in general.

4. I have started being more honest with my Mum. This has been a tough one. In the times when Simon has been at work she’s been the one who has done the school runs, the one who has looked after my youngest, brought me food and listened to me vent my frustration and discuss my fears. I’ve been forced to speak up and ask for help – something that’s never come easily to me. So….

5. I’m learning to rely on others. I’ve been forced to realise, I can’t do it all on my own anymore. I realise it’s getting easier to ask for, and accept help from my husband, my mum, my Aunty. They, and others, have helped and offered support and I have been ok with that. Ok, let’s just say I’m more ok with that than I used to be!

6. I’ve had the time to plan out a few new creative ideas for Dollies Daydream. Downtime and thinking time has inspired me and while I am not physically capable of sewing thanks to this latest bout of labyrinthitis, I have new ideas and inspiration waiting for when the time is right.

My latest favourite... how apt for the moment!

My latest favourite… how apt for the moment!

7. I am learning to be patient and gentle with myself. I have recently been teaching personality types with my students. I am strongly aware that I am ‘blessed’ with many Type A personality traits…. Impatient, driven, competitive. I like to be organised and cannot understand people who are late to appointments. Impatience – well this has forced me to kick that into check. Driven? It’s difficult to push forward when you can’t do much. Organised? Nothing in my life feels organised at the moment and I am out of my comfort zone not knowing how I’m going to be feeling day by day. This is teaching me to slow down, count to 10 and take each day or hour as it comes (most of the time!).

8. I’ve caught up on trashy tv I’ve had taped for ages, reconnected with a classic film or two and read a few pages in some craft magazines – things I don’t have time for in my ‘usual’ life.

9. I have caught up on lots of sleep – maybe even slept away a wrinkle or two under my eyes (well a girl can dream anyway!)

10. I have been given the time and space to listen to myself and my body – to give it the rest and recuperation it needs (again, most of the time…it is a learning process after all)

That Henry Ford was wise as well as clever ;)

That Henry Ford was wise as well as clever 😉

So, maybe I should have been more specific when I asked for what I wanted or maybe this is what the Universe would have handed me anyway.  Maybe at this moment in time I don’t know what’s right for me, maybe I need more time to mull over my life and continue making changes.  All I know is that I’m not certain of anything.  Never knowing when it’s going to end – and now not knowing if it’s going to return – is difficult to deal with BUT focusing on the positive, looking at the blessings it’s giving me…however small…however unclear, is helping me (most of the time) to cope with it all. I only hope I remember all these positives and continue to change once I am healthy again.

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Maybe we don’t have to be careful for what we wish for after all. Maybe we just need to know that life will always hand us what we need. Sometimes we get lucky and it matches our wish. Sometimes the world smiles, blesses us and throws us those curveballs we all love….

Until next time,

Toni xx ,

Mother’s day gifts

Mother’s day – do you love it or hate it? I walked into a shop today and stood for at least five minutes listening to a group of women moan about how pointless it was; that every day should be a day when we show our mothers how much we love them, that retailers, card shops and restaurants cash in on those special days when we are expected to treat our nearest and dearest. To them, ‘a bunch of flowers’ is more than enough.  I admit, I did agree with them to some extent but I also see the joy and value in it.

Life moves so fast these days that sometimes, many of us become guilty of not taking the time to say the things we wish to say. True in an ideal world, we would say all the heartfelt things we wish to but we don’t. When we lose a loved one we are reminded of all the words that went unspoken and all the time we did not spend with them.   The last father’s day I spent with my Dad was in fact one of those times I will treasure – seeing his face as he opened his present and remembering how much he wore the t-shirt I bought for him makes me feel beyond proud. Father’s Day meant my dad had to listen to and accept all the kind words I wrote in his card – praise which I think, however deserved, was difficult for him to hear sometimes.

So yes, Mother’s Day may be a money spinner for retailers and the like but for me, it’s a day when I can take the time to go above and beyond the usual thankyou and show my mum how much I appreciate her.  Our relationship, like many has had its ups and downs but since I became a mum, I have seen her in a new light, appreciated her so much more and developed a new found respect for all the things she has done for me.

Over Christmas, I knew she admired the wreaths I was making for my customers but I wanted to give her something different, something she could display all year round.

 

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During one of my trips to Hobbycraft, I saw this heart that I thought was gorgeous and perfect for her house.

It would be a sin to cover it with fabric as I do with my other wreaths but I knew it needed something.  I wanted to give my mum something feminine, something with a dash more beauty.  Through Pinterest, I stumbled upon the fantastic Lines Across. Her site it full of fantastic ideas and tutorials like this one for felt roses.

After reading the simple, no sew tutorial for the flowers, I cut myself three sizes of roses out of three shades of pink (breaking away from my mum’s usual favourite of purple!). I used nothing fancy: a reel of ribbon, tupperware tub and beaker to do this. I had no idea what size they would turn out but threw caution to the wind 😉

As you can see they are three distinct, differing sizes

As you can see they are three distinct, differing sizes

So I set about cutting them into spirals as Rachel suggests and winding them up. I opted to leave out the leaves purely on a whim. I have read some tutorials that advise gluing as you go while some prefer to wind them up and just glue at the end to allow them to manipulate the petals before gluing them to their object. I admit I tried both and possibly just because I don’t have full dexterity in my right hand and I was worried it would unravel if I pulled the ‘petals’ too much and lose the effect, I preferred the ‘glue as you go’ option.

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While I was doing this, I remembered I had some crystal headed pins so I decided to see what they looked like in the centre….

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Adding some sparkle

I simply pressed these into the centre and cut off the extra length with some wire cutters.  I added these to two of the roses – I think adding them to every one may have been overkill.

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After playing around with the arrangement, I glued them in place. As the finished rose should be flat on the underside, they are easy to attach to any surface.

The finished heart

The finished heart

As always, even though I liked it, I worried what my mum would think. I am pleased to report the worry was unfounded and she is currently deciding where to hang it.  I love making presents instead of buying them – especially when I learn a new skill while doing it.  I’m sure you will see some felt roses in my future work sometime!

I’d love to hear of things you made for Mother’s Day and of any new skills you’ve learned recently. Please do pop over to Lines Across if you are looking for future inspiration it really is a fantastic site.

Until next time,

Toni xx