Christmas cheer

Christmas in October? The mere thought of it has people groaning and running for the hills. Despite this, it’s now common place to see ‘Back to School’ displays being replaced by the festive displays to entice the shopper in. From the earliest moment they can, shops are encouraging the consumer to buy the latest toy or gadget to make their loved ones Christmas perfect.

IMG_5539.JPG

As a crafter, I hold my hand up that I have also begun to create and advertise my christmas items. Although there are many who deny the festive season is coming, many people embrace it and prepare. They drool over beautiful displays in shop windows and purchase gifts before the panic buying begins. I have been working through a pile of Christmas orders for a few weeks and starting to look forward to December and all the sparkle that comes with it.

Facing an impending house move with two kids under 6 and a busy half term at work, the thoughts of a cosy Christmas in a new house with all the decorations up has cheered me up and given me something to look forward to in the midst of what feels like a mountain of cardboard boxes and endless rolls of packing tape. It has made me wonder if that is one of the reasons behind our enthusiasm to welcome the festive season.

Maybe shops are partly to blame for advertising the must have present of the year, the endless stocking fillers we should buy and the mountains of food we need for the big day and the dayss up to it but are we happy to buy into it because it is a nice escape from life? There’s something about Christmas that (for me anyway) brings excitement, anticipation and happiness. Yes, the shops are busy but there seems to be a buzz in the air. It is a time when life slows down, even for a few days. We have an excuse to watch cheesy heartwarming films and indulge in food and drink we wouldn’t normally eat.

IMG_5547.JPG
There may be arguments, there may be burnt Christmas dinner offerings and not everything will go to plan but I love going to my mums for Christmas morning bacon sandwiches. I won’t lie that I like opening my presents but I love watching others open their presents; watching my daughters faces as they discover their presents from Father Christmas is a joy.

In today’s world, I think we are all looking for that little bit of magic in our busy lives. To start preparing for and looking forward to Christmas earlier, I think, is to encourage the positivity it brings for a bit longer. There is a danger of focusing on all the consumerism of it all but Christmas is what you make it. There may be those that won’t even mention the C word until mid December but I am not one of them. It’s true that you won’t find me finishing my Christmas shopping early or buying a mountain of presents but give me a Christmas CD and some festive fabric this time of year and I am happy. Stopping for coffee and cake breaks during my shopping, making mulled wine and sitting down to my Marks and Spencer christmas dinner on the 25th is heaven.

IMG_5548.JPG
Needless to say, the thought of all this makes me smile. When I have finally unpacked all my craft supplies in my new den 😀 I shall breathe a sigh of relief and make a new Christmas decoration for our new home – well it would be rude not to! When we move to the new abode, I will be motivated to get the house straight to enjoy a clutter free Christmas.

Whether you are a fan of celebrating Christmas early or whether you prefer to ignore it altogether, I hope there is a bit of magic waiting for you in the days and weeks to come. Oh and when I regale you with all the stories of moving house, remind me to re-read this and reaquaint myself with my sunny disposition 🙂

Until next time,

Toni xx

Advertisements

Moving on

Well I hold my hands up. I admit over the past few months my poor blog has been more than a little neglected 😦

In my last post, I was telling you lovely lot about our plans to put the house on the market. In truth, that now seems like decades ago. We did indeed put the house up for sale and promptly went on holiday…along with all the house buyers.

For the first few weeks I wondered whether we had made a mistake. I tried desperately to be positive but everyone seemed more interested in sunshine than bricks and mortar. Everyone must have thought I was losing the plot. Houses are often on the market for months and sometimes years in today’s climate yet here I was – panicking that we hadn’t had any interest in the first few weeks!

I look back now however and feel incredibly blessed. Just before our month chock-a-block with weddings, a few weeks after we saw the for sale sign going up, we accepted an offer.

Since that day we have attended a few weddings….

IMG_5124.JPG

IMG_4940.JPG

IMG_4936.JPG

IMG_4945.JPG

We have found a house of our own….

We have got a few new grey hairs thanks to solicitors and estate agents…

Oh and we Have seen our eldest start Y1…. (Not sure where those 5 years went!)

In the last couple of weeks we have started packing and sorting years of stuff and clutter. No, we haven’t got a moving date yet but as I’ve learnt in the last 5 years, getting things done with children around makes you 10x slower 😉

IMG_5376.JPG

Despite the ups and downs of this interesting journey, I can’t wait for this new chapter. Stressful it may be but it is also a time of new beginnings, hope and promise.

Although I’m busy with orders at Dollies Daydream, I’m looking forward to carving some time out to make some Christmas garlands for the staircase and maybe a themed wreath for the door to my new craft room.

Until next time,

Toni x

Ps should I ever voice a wish to move again in the near future, please tell me not to be so daft 😉

Creativity amongst chaos

20140721-210318-75798154.jpg

I seem to have been a little quiet on the writing front of late and that is because we have finally got the house sorted and put it on the market. It’s felt like a huge uphill climb but now we are at the top we just have to sit and wait, praying the right person will come along and love our little house.

Throughout all this, I have been trying to carve out some me time – time when I can complete orders, sketch and sew. I have promised myself that if I can only take half an hour out a day (or less!) it’s better than nothing….and it would be a huge waste of my super tidy craft table 😉

20140721-204902-74942763.jpg

I have also closed my order book for now. I never thought I would be busy enough to do that when I began creating again. I have to say it snuck up on me but all of a sudden I was faced with that choice and for my own sanity and ongoing creativity I had to press pause. The difference in me was amazing – my head felt clearer, I felt calmer, I took stock and thanked my lucky stars.

So here I am, concentrating on orders and looking for houses. We missed out on the fun of looking for houses last time as we bought our house from a relative. This time, in addition to experiencing the fun of keeping everything super tidy, (not easy when my natural tendency is to make a mess!) we get to look round other places and decide where our dream home will be.

Exciting times ahead,

until next time,

Toni x

100 happy days revisited

20140323-070828.jpg

Yesterday, my 100 days challenge came to an end. I can honestly say, I cannot believe how fast they went. When I posted my last happy day, it felt slightly anti-climactic. I don’t know what I was hoping for; a fan fare? A round of applause? A pat on the back? There was none of that if course but there was a change.

Yes, there was a few days when I completely forgot to post as I got swept away with life but at no point did I not post because I wasn’t happy. Every day I enjoyed moments of happiness. Some days were filled with it, some days, happy moments interspersed the tears, the stress, the tiredness but the important thing was they were there and I got to share it with others.

It made me look at life and wonder whether our default as a society was to look at the doom and gloom around us. When did that happen? Why should that be the way of the world? Looking back, I remember a pivotal moment in my life when I consciously thought to myself ‘well, if I don’t get my hopes up, if I don’t feel excitement or anticipation, if I don’t pray for the best, I won’t be disappointed if it never happens’

Now I look back and I want to hug that person I was. I want to sit her down and tell her how much she will miss, how much she will hurt herself if she walks down that path. In these past months, I hoped. I prayed. I got excited. I got excited and felt happy for other people and it was great. I dealt with any disappointments. They were worth it.

20140705-204940-74980918.jpg

My 100 happy days have technically come to an end but I will still keep it going in one form or another. I don’t want to go back to being automatically gloomy. I don’t want to be Eeyore. I want to enjoy life and teach my girls to enjoy happiness and deal with disappointment. Whatever happens, if you want to look for it, you realise the good in life far outweighs the bad you just have to stay focused on the positive.

Until next time,

Toni x

All change

20140617-215634-78994429.jpg from http://www.lifehacker.com

In the last few weeks, I have been working hard. There have been orders to complete, ideas to get down on paper, events to attend and decisions to make.

One of those decisions has been to bite the bullet and move house. Honestly? We grew out of our first home years ago but made the decision to stay where we were because it seemed easier. We didn’t have to worry about sprucing up the place, packing stuff away and chucking things out.

Saying that, now we have made that decision, whilst it is challenging with two children under 6, it is liberating. It feels like a supercharged spring clean! Jobs we have put of for longer than I care to admit to are suddenly done – and they’re a lot less hassle than I’d imagined.

The process is stressful and while we are moving ahead, I couldn’t do it all without the help of my family who have been fab – not just at helping out but at bolstering me when I’m having the odd wobble and feeling overwhelmed.

It is a time of change but despite the odd freak out (after all moving house is one of the top ten most stressful things you can do) I am feeling hopeful. It is a time of new beginnings, of possibility and excitement.

Who knows where our dream house may be! 🙂

Until next time,

Toni xx

Failing to prepare….preparing to fail

20140607-072529-26729209.jpg

So here we are in June. I don’t know about you but I am seriously wondering where the time has gone since New Year. It doesn’t seem two minutes since we were celebrating the New Year and the possibilities and hope that comes with it.

It’s been a lovely six months where Dollies is concerned. Having my youngest in 2012 meant I didn’t touch my work or page for well over a year. I was unwell and overwhelmed by the culture shock that is suddenly having two children. Not the best business practice but I just couldn’t do it – and everyday I beat myself up about it. This year has felt like a new start – I have developed my fan base, networked, developed my products and began preparing.

Preparing for what you may be asking. For me, in life, I usually aim to prepare yet being a person who completes things when there is the pressure of a deadline I have a tendency to procrastinate.

20140607-074027-27627498.jpg

It’s not good. It doesn’t make me feel good but I’m learning that maybe I do it subconsciously because it allows me to criticise myself once again. If I was achieving, if I was ahead of schedule and working hard I would have to congratulate myself – something which doesn’t always come easily to me.

But….as they say, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. I am slowly breaking the habits of a lifetime and moving forward.

20140607-074344-27824928.jpg

I am sketching new ideas, preparing material, cutting shapes and creating items. I am making a start on Christmas orders and festive ideas.

Despite this preparation, I am finding there’s a part of me who wants to run with it all. I want to sign up for every craft fair, say yes to every opportunity and sew, sew, sew. I am pulled by my creativity and yet I am anchored by real life. I am anchored by reality – by motherhood, by the need to move house, by my day job.

So at the moment I am preparing and finding a balance. I am feeling all the things those actions bring: excitement, frustration, happiness and despondency. As much as I want to run ahead, I am (yet again) trying to be patient and reminding myself that everything will fall into place when the time is right.

Until next time,

Toni x

My networking journey

Last week I wrote a piece about my leap into the world of networking. I discussed the joys of finding a community, of shaking off that feeling of isolation and discovering lots of lovely new creations. This week I have found more lovely crafters and I admit that yes, I am finding lovely birthday and (dare I say it) Christmas presents for friends and family as I travel around these pages and follow my feeds.

Despite these ongoing rewards, I’m now into week 2 of networking and to be quite honest, the glow of networking has faded slightly. During these last few days, I have to say I have been in the company of my inner critic and naysayer. Now I don’t know about you but throughout my life I have been plagued with that little voice inside that is quick to point out my flaws, what I have done wrong and that slowly chips away at my confidence if I let it.

20140526-233757-85077214.jpg

Before my venture out in to the big wide world of social media and networking, I lived in my little bubble with my blinkers on to some extent. Yes, I wasn’t interacting with others, forging relationships with other crafters or my customers but at the same time I wasn’t open to all those other pages. I have found that while roaming, it is easy to put others above you. It is tempting to look at the work of others and compare it to my own. Obviously, in these scenarios mine rarely stands up under the scrutiny. It is also too easy to read my feed and see other people’s posts as wittier, prettier and downright amazing.

Needless to say, I’ve been putting myself through the ringer a little bit these last few days which is much easier when you are feeling a bit low anyway. Life is throwing me more of those sneaky curveballs and change is coming in so many different ways that it has been difficult to tell that inner critic where to go.

So what am I going to do about it? In all honesty I want to give up. I want to pack it all in and go back to hiding but that would get me no where would it? I want a magic answer – that solution that will fix all things but that’s not an option either. In the absence of magic and miracles, I am going to put my head down and keep moving forward. To those pages I admire, I will take note of what I admire about them and see if I can improve my work/photos/page/posts in any way to close the gap between us. I will continue to interact with my customers and other crafters to help and support them where I can and gather hints, tips and information from them too (just the other day, a customer gave me a wonderful tip that has helped me no end).

20140526-233757-85077532.jpg

I will STOP comparing myself to others and be proud of my work. As I saw somewhere the other day, I have designed my work, I have put it together and I have got me to this point – thats something I am grateful for and proud of. To that little voice inside, I will aim to ignore it. In those times when all this seems impossible, I will do my best and not beat myself up about it. I will try to remember that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else.

So networking and I have had our honeymoon period but now the rose tinted specs are off. I am learning that its not all hearts and roses. Regardless of all this, I am in it for the long haul and I’m sure we can get over this rough patch and I can become a better person for it. Fingers crossed 😉

Until next time,

Toni x