Monday, 6 January 2020

Monday, Monday......

Way back in 1966, The Mamas and The Papas sang a very prescient song which featured these lyrics....

Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah.
But whenever Monday comes - but whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all of the time.
Monday, Monday, can't trust that day;
Monday Monday it just turns out that way.
Oh Monday, Monday, won't go away;
Monday, Monday, it's here to stay.

Mondays in general have a bit of a bad reputation, but the first working Monday of a New Year, after the prolonged period of festivity, is a particular doozer.  However, following my planning session yesterday, I approached this Monday morning with less trepidation than usual, clutching my chunking schedule to my chest, like a talisman.

I was well aware that my 4 x 1  1/2 hour sessions were somewhat optimistic, especially as the workroom was in a more than usual state of disarray so I had to spend a fair chunk of time clearing a space in which to work, and relocating the detritus of the past few weeks.

That done, I decided to start off with a casting session, the first since last summer.  Predictably, my tub of porcelain slip, having sat, undisturbed, in a cupboard for six months, had settled into a semi-solid state.  This is not unusual, but as the tub was only quarter full, I took the decision to break open a new box of slip and merge it with the congealed slip, a lengthy and time consuming process, never lightly undertaken.

After sieving the old slip into a bowl and returning it to a liquid state, I had to thoroughly clean out the empty plastic tub, a messy task which afterwards rendered my scouring pad sponge fit only for the bin.

That done, and with slip up to my elbows, I turned my attention to the box of new slip, which contained a heavy duty, vacuum-sealed polythene bag, which needed to be pummelled into submission to remove any lumps.

There is something strangely cathartic and comforting about punching the living daylights out of a bag of slip.  I set about the task with vim and vigour, releasing a goodly amount of accumulated, pent-up stress and frustration in the process.

Having subdued the new slip, it was then relatively easy to sieve it into two large bowls, at which point I belatedly wondered if all of the old and new slip would fit back into the gallon tub.  There did seem to be an awful lot of it.

Eventually, having decanted as much as I could into the tub, I was left with half a jug of slip, which I was confident would be enough for a casting session, given that I was only casting a few molds for very small toy dolls.  Thankfully, in this instance at least, my confidence was rewarded and there was almost exactly enough, with just a few millilitres left over.

However, all of this sent my chunking schedule out of whack, and it was a real scramble to complete another one, which meant that my final two chunks had to be punted.

Lessons learnt...?  

  • Some tasks just can't be achieved in a 90 minute chunk
  • Preparation time has to be a separate task
  • I have to be more conscious of the limitations of my MS-related pain and fatigue
  • I shouldn't beat myself up over not achieving all I set out to do
After all.... tomorrow is another day *sigh*

Sunday, 5 January 2020


In order to avoid a vertical plunge back into work after the festive break, I've spent time today doing work-ish things, the first of which was to call an extraordinary meeting of my management team at 12.30pm sharp.

Reaction to this news was tepid, to say the least.  Even with the prospect of tea and leftover Christmas biscuits.

During the morning I knocked together an agenda, a copy of which was distributed to each member of the team for perusal prior to the meeting.

Despite having retired a few years ago, Small Dog still likes to keep her paw on the pulse, so attended in her capacity as 'seenyore advyssir' and boney fido sleeping partner.

We quickly rattled through the first few items of business then settled down to hashing out the thorny issue of the website and related articles.

To be fair, we did cover a fair amount of ground.  Notes were taken, suggestions made, and tasks allocated, all in a reasonably efficient manner.  Small Dog interjected a few times, mainly on the subject of biscuits, but overall her contributions were insightful and concise.

More to the point, she didn't raise the issue of 'Dog Eared Dolls' once.

As a result I'm reasonably confident that my first full day back at work tomorrow will go swimmingly, especially as I'm chunking.

And no, before you ask.... that has nothing to do with the accumulation of excess weight over the past few weeks.

Although also yes.

No, I'm talking about time chunking, the premise of which is breaking up your day into larger chunks instead of reacting to constant interruptions. The more chunks of time you can devote to specific tasks, the fewer start-up moments you will have, and your efficiency improves commensurately.

Sounds eminently reasonable and sensible, doesn't it?  I'm going to start with 90 minute chunks and see how that pans out.  I've written myself a chunking schedule for the next five days and will re-assess things at the end of the week.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Happy New Year.....!

Regular blog readers will know that January and February are my two least favourite months of the year. This weekend in particular hits a specific nadir, as I've just spent several hours removing all traces of Christmas from our house.

Gone is the tree, resplendent with hundreds of sparkling white lights.  
Gone too is the mantelpiece garland, festooned with lights.
There is no trace of the greenery swags down the staircase, with their interwoven lights... although there is a trail of glitter all down the stairs which I can't quite bring myself to hoover up.

The little bird-decorated tree in the dining room has been packed away, and all the other decorations from throughout the house have been carefully wrapped and stored in boxes for another year.

Despite still having a variety of fairy lights in the sitting room, it still feels rather gloomy and the prospect of the worst of the winter still in waiting isn't helping with my January blues.

However, from tomorrow I aim to hit the ground running and get back to work so perhaps if I just keep my head down and focus, it will be spring before I know it......

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Forward planning......


In between eating unconscionable quantities of cheese and Christmas cake, washed down with lashings of Yuleade and gin, I've been doing some gentle planning for the next few months.

I've bought myself a new little notebook for ideas and the like, and am quietly looking forward to getting back to work and putting some of my plans/ideas into practice.

Small Dog opined that I should get one of these....

.... but I brushed off her sarcastic slander.

To be fair, I couldn't get back to work even if I wanted to, as the workroom is currently piled high with all the detritus of the festive season, as well as acting as a de facto laundry room because all of our spare bedrooms have been in constant use for the duration.  I'm itching to get in there and re-establish it as a proper workspace again, which will give me the opportunity to have a bit of a re-organise.  *ahem*

For my new venture I've decided that I really need a new little table to replace the utilitarian and unlovely folding camping table which has been acting as additional workspace since I upcycled my lovely bureau cabinet last summer.  I've been looking out for a second hand table for a while, but nothing suitable has come up.

However I'm really rather taken with this....

There are lots of reasons to love it, apart from the fact it's cheap.  The two drop down sides mean that I can have THREE different sizes of work surface and when it's not in use it has a small, dainty footprint.  It has pretty turned legs and a handy foot rest.  It even has a very useful little drawer (although I'll replace that basic black knob with something much nicer).

It will look much more in keeping with the style of the room and I will then have a dedicated workspace looking out through the front windows.  

I love it when a plan comes together......

Friday, 27 December 2019


And so.... like the lingering Ghost of Christmas Past, here we are again the limbo known as Twixmas.  I usually have a mini project squirreled away for this period, but not this year.

Although, strictly speaking, I still have my unfinished Twixmas project from last year, which I could unearth from the bowels of the workroom, if there was even a waffer-thin iota of space on which to work.

So no.

Traditionally it's also the time during which I plan work-related projects for the first half of the coming year, although I'm uncharacteristically ahead of the posse on that one, as I've been planning stuff for ages.

It's also the dawn of a new decade, which sounds as though it should feel sort of encouraging, although if the last few years are anything to go by, we're all still plummeting towards hell in a handcart.

However, impending apocalypse aside, I have put ALL of January aside to work on a very new, NEW project which is not in the slightest related to miniatures, but into which I'm going to put my heart and soul.

However, I have long, established history of doing this...... what could possibly go wrong. 

Friday, 29 November 2019

Christmas Show......!

This weekend marks the year's final major doll's house and miniature fair here in the UK.... the Kensington Dollshouse Festival Christmas Show.  We exhibited at this lovely fair for several years and always had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

So, to coincide with this seasonal show, this weekend there will be dozens of discounts (up to 50%!)  scattered across the website, from Friday till Sunday.  

In addition, newsletter subscribers will also receive a discount code, offering a further 10% discount on any order of £25 or over (excluding P&P).  If you're not already subscribed to our Tower House Doll newsletter, you can sign up HERE

Perfect timing to beat the impending last posting dates if you fancy a spot of 'self-gifting' 😉

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Christmas is coming......

While waiting for the glue to dry on a some projects today, I idled away a few minutes completing an online survey.
For some reason, I can't imagine why (!) I seem to get quite a lot of questionnaires about dogs.  Predictably, Small Dog seems to have a second sense about these, and usually emerges from one of her many naps, to offer her insight.

Scene: In the office with a spare five minutes, I'm sitting at my laptop embarking on a survey.  A few moments in, Small Dog yawns, stretches, then ambles over to see what I'm doing.

SD:*perkily* Ahhh..... a survai abowt dogs.  Ecksillent!
Me:*distractedly* Oh, hello SD.  Didn't notice you there.  Thought you were have a nap.... as usual.
SD:*haughtily* Doant be sarkastick. Yue kno yue olwais knead mai advys abowt survais.  Espeshullie when thair abowt ME.
Me:*resignedly* Hmm.... well, OK.  Come and sit on my lap if you must.
SD:*makes herself comfortable and peers at the screen* Rite.  Whotts furst? O gude.... itts abowt Krissmuss.

SD:*aghast* Onlie phiftean pownds!  Luke... thers an opshun fore £151+ !!!
Me:*undeterred* That's ridiculous SD.  As well you know.

SD:*mollified* Hmm....Ai shude thinck so two.

SD:*aggrievedly* Ai wil nevur fourgiv yue fore thatt.....

SD: *doggedly* Ai dident mined the Krissmuss jumpr too mutsch.... butt the elph and santa hatts wer ridickewluss.
Me:*challengingly* It could have been worse... there's a turkey outfit on that list!

SD:*regally* Wel yess off korse.  Ai doant jusst poot mai naim to evrithing.

Me:*swiftly* Right, before you start, sneakily jumping up onto an empty chair does not constitute you joining us at the table for Christmas dinner.
SD:*defensively* Ai doant kno whott yue meen.....

SD:*triumphantly* YESSSSS!!!!!  The besst bitt off the dai!  Ai liek oapening mai own presints the besst but ai do liek to plai with oll the rappen paypur and tare itt into tienie peeses!
Me:*resignedly*  Yes SD.  You most certainly do.