Friday, 20 November 2015

Dog tales.....

Small Dog and I talk to each other all the time.

Sometimes our conversations are deeply philosophical, sometimes they're purely functional.

Tonight we had a mix of both.....

SD:  Muuuuurrrrmmmm.....hurrie uppp with mai dinnur.  Ai am starvven.

Me:  Oh for goodness sake.  I'm doing it!  OK?  Patience is not your forte.

SD: Forty!  FORTY?!?  Ai am onlie nein, as well yue kno.

Me:  You're nearly ten.  Do you know how old that is in dog years?

SD: Tenn?

Me: No.  According to the Pedigree website, in human years you are nearly 56 years old and are considered a senior dog.

At this point there was a loaded silence, during which Small Dog gave me a long, hard stare.

SD:  Phiphty sicks.  PHIPHTY SICKS!!!! 

Another long silence......

SD: Seenyore dog.  SEENYORE DOG!!!!

Me:  I'm sorry ..... but yes.  Like the rest of us you are no longer a spring chicken.

SD: *deflated* seenyore dog.  Ai kannot evin hardlie bileev itt.  

Me: * attempting to lighten the conversation* But look on the bright side.  There's life in the old dog yet!

SD: *withering look*  Harummph.  So.  Ai am neerlie retyrd.  Thats OKAI.  Ai eckspekt ai wil gett a penshun.

Me:  Ermmm..... 

SD: O bluddiehell.  Shurlie ai gett a penshun.  Ai have bean Hedd of Markitten & Komewnikashun.... thatt is a importent possishun.  Grate responsibilutie.  Perques of the jobb and orl thatt.

Me:  Yes.  Well.  I'm sure you will qualify for a pension commensurate with your level of management skills.

SD:  Ai shude thinc so too.  *mumbel, muttr.... seenyore dog... phiphty sicks.... peepul thees dais have kno respekt fore ther eldurs.

SD: *brightening*  Stil am yunger than YUE.

Me: Yes.  Yes you are.  Well done.

Me: *sigh*

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Christmas Survival Kit.....

As Christmas edges ever closer, it has come to my attention that alternative Advent Calenders are a thing.

Forget chocolate calendars, or the ones with sweeties in.  There is a whole new genre of Advent Calenders, or as I prefer to call them.... Christmas Survival Kits.

I am totally up for doing one of these.

But I will wrap each bottle in tissue paper and randomise the numbers so we never know what we're getting.

I might tie a little Christmas decoration around each bottle to further Christmasify it.

Anyway, on FB my post seems to have galvanised a movement amongst women who might view the countdown to Christmas as....what shall I say... a bit of a bugger?

So, if you're up for it, we're all going to post photos of our own Advent Calendar in the guise of a Christmas Survival Kit.

If you're in, say YAYYY!

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Call to action......

In January this year I did a 30 day blogging challenge and today I was re-reading the list of 'calls to action' recommended during the process.

One particularly caught my eye and I had to visit Tower House Dolls to see if we had it.  
'IT' being the opportunity for customers to leave a review on any items they'd bought from the website.

I don't know about you, but whether I'm buying a book on Amazon, researching a more substantial household purchase or planning a trip to a hotel or restaurant, I ALWAYS read the reviews.  Some of them make entertaining reading, some of them are downright useless, but most of them give me a good idea of whether it's worth buying whatever I'm looking for.

So, apparently, on the Tower House Dolls website we have a Write a Review button at the bottom of each listing.  It enables customers to give a star rating and write a short review, which will then appear alongside the relevant item.

Look for the Write a Review button at the bottom of your listing

Leave a star rating and your review then click Submit

To date we have a grand total of ZERO reviews.  I'm not sure why that is.... we get lots of repeat orders and I have loads of emails from satisfied customers saying how much they enjoyed making up a kit, or how delighted they are with their little toy doll or toy theatre, along with photos of their purchases in their doll's houses.

So, here's the thing.

If you have ever bought a kit, or a finished toy, which is still available on the website, would you be prepared to revisit the listing and leave a review?

As a small incentive, our Hedd of Markitten and Komewnikashun has come up with the suggestion that each month we'll put the names of everyone who has left a review in that month into a draw to win a £5 gift certificate.  The winner of the November draw will be announced on 1 December, and so on.  

Thanks in advance........   

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Christmas Home Workshop Pack - Miniature Mignonette Doll in Presentation Box

Due to recent events, I have decided to postpone the forthcoming November one day workshop until the spring. However, I have adapted the kit so that it can now be offered as a Christmas Home Workshop Pack

The workshop pack contains all the materials to make a Mignonette Doll Presentation Box, fully decorated and complete with contents.  This box harks back to the heyday of French dollmaking in the 1890s when beautifully decorated presentation boxes filled with a doll, costumes and accessories, were on the wish list of every little girl.

The box is wooden and will be finished with specially printed papers both inside and out, along with precision cut decorative paper strips. It also has decorative 'vintage angel' feet and box clasps.

The basic wooden box, awaiting transformation

Use small scale vintage-style papers and embellishments to decorate the box inside and out

Inside the box are two silk covered pads, which can easily be removed
 The jointed porcelain doll measures 1  3/4" tall and is dressed in an elaborately trimmed fitted silk costume in the Jumeau style.

Dressed in fine hairstripe silk, she has silk and lace underwear, and dainty silk shoes with leather soles.

Attached to her sleeve, a vintage Parisian doll label

Ringlet curls wig and silk toque bonnet

She also looks pretty from the back!

Her costumes and accessories include:
  • 3 different styles of silk dresses on hangers, each with matching bonnet
  • Set of tiny laser cut metal accessories in either gold or silver - jewellery (necklace, bracelet, brooch, tiny tiara, brush, comb, mirror, decorative hair combs, picture frame, all designed and created specially for this workshop session.
  • Tiny posy of silk flowers
  • Beautiful printed fan
  • Eiffel Tower silver charm

This heirloom box would make a wonderful Christmas gift (or self-gift!) for any miniaturist or doll collector.

Everything is provided to complete the box and contents as shown, plus comprehensive workshop notes.

The cost of this Home Workshop Pack is £80 and includes the box and all the materials you need to complete this project as shown. Shipping is extra.

A booking deposit of £25 is required (cheque or PayPal) with the balance payable on the day of the class.

I'm currently working on the special papers for the Mignonette Doll Boxes. I'm designing and printing them, including precision cut paper lace strips to decorate all the edges.

The doll's Jumeau-style costume and various accessories will echo the colours of the boxes, and I will be hand-dyeing silk ribbons and trimmings so that everything tones perfectly.

Currently the colour choices are.....

Pale Pink (the colour I used in the original box)
Pale Blue
Soft Green

I will only have a limited number of packs, which are available on a first come, first served basis.  To reserve your pack, please go HERE to pay your deposit.  It would be helpful if you could also let me know your colour choice in the comments box when making payment.

The remaining balance of £55 (plus shipping) will be payable on or after 15 November, after which the packs will be despatched.

As ever, if you need any further information, please contact me.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

L-o-n-g week....

Particularly apt card!
 It's been a long week.

A really long week.

Bits of it have felt interminable while others have been just like Groundhog Day.

Thanks to everyone, family and friends, who have phoned, emailed, messaged and delivered flowers and Get Well Soon wishes.  I really do appreciate each and every one of them... people have been so kind.

Last Saturday was just like any other.  Worked in the afternoon, had dinner, in bed by 10pm, watched some TV, read a few chapters of my book then settled down to sleep.  All perfectly normal.

Woke at 2.30, in pain.  Lower tummy pain.  Really bad lower tummy pain.  Nipped through to the shower room and that's the last thing I remember for some time.  Pam heard a loud crash and rushed through to find me unconscious on the floor.  Apparently I was out cold for around 10 minutes and when I did come round I was very confused.

With the pain getting worse, Pam left me sitting on the loo while she went to ring NHS111, which was when I realised that what was pouring out of me was blood.  Lots of blood.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur.  An ambulance arrived and I was taken to A&E.  If you've ever been in A&E in the wee small hours of a Sunday morning you'll have some idea of what awaited me.  It was like Sodom and Gomorrah on a bad day.

In the cubicle opposite a group of six burly policemen were gathered around a trolley, where an apparently unconscious man was handcuffed to the bars.  They seemed very keen to talk to him, occasionally poking him to see if he was awake.

A few cubicles down someone was vomiting, loudly and repeatedly and elsewhere people were alternately crying and swearing.... sometimes even the patients.

So, I wasn't lacking for entertainment, although by the time I'd had IV morphine and was hooked up to fluids etc I wasn't really in the mood for watching the various spectacles as they unfolded.  If there's one common denominator about being in A&E it's that you leave your dignity at the door.  In between trying to ride the waves of pain, and bleeding copiously into a standard NHS commode I drifted in and out of consciousness, the clamour outside my cubicle blurring the lines between reality and dreams.

Aside from the pain relief, IV fluids and twice being subjected to a painful digital examination (yep, too much information?) nothing much happened for around 5 hours.  Then a surgical registrar appeared and told me I was being admitted to the surgical assessment unit and would be nil by mouth till further notice.

So, about 7 hours after arriving at A&E I was wheeled to a ward, had the toilet pointed out to me and was left to it.

Obs were taken every hour, and due to technological innovations, pen and paper are apparently a thing of the past.  Nurses now carry what looks like a mobile phone, and patients obs/notes/medications etc are entered into it, instantly relayed to the main computer so that they can be accessed from anywhere in the hospital.  Remember that bit, it's important.

They're obsessed with recording pain levels.  However, the various grades of pain aren't really very helpful.

They go - No Pain - Mild Pain - Moderate Pain - Severe Pain - Extreme Pain.

I have my own Sandra Pain Scale, honed by years of dealing with neuropathic pain.

It goes - Meh - Ow - That Hurts - That Bloody Hurts - That REALLY bloody hurts - FFS KILL ME NOW!

Most of the time it hovered around That Bloody Hurts, with occasional forays up into the realms of FFS.  At that point I'd have morphine, which works amazingly well, but drops my blood pressure.  However, since I was flat on my back anyway, the low blood pressure was a risk I was willing to take, in order to be relatively pain free

Meanwhile, down the other end, I was still bleeding and had been for 36 hours.  Which may also have contributed to the low BP.

Day 2 the surgical consultant came round with his entourage and declared that I was having a diverticular bleed, which would resolve with bed rest and pain relief.  I'd have to have a diagnostic sigmoidoscopy, preferably as an outpatient, but as a matter of some urgency.
On the evening of Day 2,  a junior doctor appeared and asked how I was.  The pain was under control and the bleeding had settled a lot, so she said I could go home and wait for the oscopy appointment to come though.  

I can't deny I was surprised, but I was desperate to get home.  Hospital's no place to be when you're poorly.  But I'd had no diagnostic tests at all, apart from bloods.  No scans, no U/S, nothing.

Next day, felt not too bad, still having pain but controllable.  However in the evening I had another bleed. Following morning more pain etc.  PP phoned the endoscopy unit to find out if my appointment had been generated to be told that they hadn't even received my referral yet.  From the surgical assessment unit just along the corridor, via that computer system which ensures that information is transferred instantly.  Remember that?

PP got back to ward who said they'd sort it out.
Next day, no better.  PP rang endoscopy to be told.  Wait for it..... my appointment would be in up to 6 weeks time.

6 WEEKS!!??

By then, both mine and PP's sense of humour had disappeared completely.  In hospital, if one more medic/nurse/auxiliary had told me not to worry and that they would get to the bottom of it *smirk snigger* I'd have ripped their head off and shoved it up their own alimentary canal and see how they liked it.

PP's tether had finally been got to the end of and she rang the ward again, describing in graphic terms how I'd been since last Sunday and strongly suggesting that a 6 week wait for an urgent procedure was, not to put too fine a point on it, taking the piss.

An hour later, the ward matron rang back and said that endoscopy had had a cancellation and they could do me within the hour.

Mad dash back to hospital..... cannula back in, painful enema, (FFS KILL ME NOW!!!) then transferred to endoscopy suite where I was presented with the ultimate in procedural attire.
Don't get me wrong..... I'm a great fan of big knickers but WTF?

Trust me, you don't want to see the back view!

I then had sedation (BETTER than morphine) and some time later, none of which I can remember I was back on the ward.  Apparently, when I came round I was adamant that I'd been to a disco with kaleidoscopic lights but I'm fairly sure I'm an unreliable witness.

When the endoscopy medic came to see me, he reported that they found several areas of "angry bowel" with patches of inflammation, presumably responsible for the bleeding.  The 'skip lesions' were indicative of Crohn's Disease, but they'd taken biospies and I would be seen in outpatients in 2-4 weeks with the results.  Diverticulitis was no longer suspected, and the most likely culprits were Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis.

Not good news but not as bad as I was worried it might be.

So I'm back home again.  Again.  Gradually improving with a few blips from time to time. Pain control is key and we're getting very good at juggling the cocktail of painkillers I've been prescribed.  Soft, bland food is the order of the day, although I'm not particularly hungry.  Lots of fluids and taking it easy to give things a chance to heal.

Small Dog's nursing abilities have been stretched to the limits....

This was the first time back from hospital on Monday evening.  In an inspired effort to take my mind off the pain, SD presented me with her pup, which she then squeaked enthusiastically for 10 minutes until it was removed from her by force.  Her preferred position of lying on my tummy has been temporarily rescinded, much to her disgust so she has resorted to squeezing into a gap by my side, or perching on the pillow behind my head.

PP has been nothing short of amazing, acting as my advocate while I was in hospital and afterwards, sorting out the oscopy, keeping  my pain under control, keeping me comfortable and making me tempting tasty morsels.

So that's one week of my life I'm not sad to see the back of.  I'm tentatively hopeful of getting back into the workroom for some short stints this week, and gradually regaining some semblance of normality.

Never a dull moment eh......?

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

With apologies to Raymond Chandler......

My daughter is currently working on detective fiction with her Year 10 class and devised this as an example to inspire them to create their own characters.

Soooo, while I was waiting for a slew of printing to complete today, I simply couldn't resist..... 

Sammy sauntered into the bar, the very essence of squirrel insouciance.  Hopping onto a stool, he ordered a double weaselpiss on the rocks and from beneath the brim of his battered fedora, scanned the clientele.

He almost missed her at first.  She was tucked into a booth with her back to him.  But one glance at those endless legs told him all he needed to know.

She was sitting opposite Frankie Fox.  A good-for-nothing low life renard with all the charm and charisma of two week old bobcat roadkill. 

He didn’t smell any better either. 

Even from across the bar, Sammy’s nose wrinkled at the gamey tang emanating from her mangy companion.

She slid something across the table.  Her faux diamante bracelet glittered in the harsh lights and he caught a brief glimpse of her vulpine profile.

She was a head-turner all right.  With curves in all the right places.

And places in all the right places.

He had to stop thinking like this.  In Sammy’s book, broads were always trouble.
And the wife of Cornelius Capybara was more trouble than most.

Which is why Cornelius had hired him to dish the dirt on his paramour. 

Sammy knocked back his weaselpiss and declined the barman’s offer of another.  Things were going to get bitey and he needed to keep a clear head.

He jumped off his stool and scampered over to their booth, pausing only to whisk his tail as if winding up his resolve.

“Well….. helllllllo Sammy” she purred.  “Long time no see.”

Frankie’s eyes narrowed and Sammy was momentarily transfixed by his lopsided snarl, revealing freakishly pointed teeth.

Closely followed by a gust of halitosis that gave swamp gas a bad name.

“Hey Frankie….. still a stranger to personal hygiene then?”

She sniggered, then fell silent.

They all looked at each other. 


Things were about to get interesting……

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Miniature Porcelain Dollmaking Courses - starting in October!

Learn how to make beautiful heirloom dolls like these

Starting in October, in St. Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, during this fortnightly course, students will make 3 different porcelain toy dolls in the style and colours of your choice (completely from scratch!) plus accessories (approximate value £100)

Learn the skills and techniques involved in miniature porcelain dollmaking.
  • Casting from moulds
  • Soft-firing for cleanup
  • Bisque firing
  • China painting
  • Doll stringing
  • Costuming
  • Wigging
  • Accessories 
Costumes are made from fine silks

Cost per session - £20 plus a one off charge for materials and kiln firings – approximately £25

Provisional dates are as follows - sessions are fortnightly
Wednesday 7 October 7pm – 9pm
Casting and preparing for firing.   Costume preparation
Wednesday 21 October 7pm – 9pm
China painting.  Costume and wigging preparation
Wednesday 4 November 7pm – 9pm
Doll stringing.   Costuming.
Wednesday 18 November 7pm – 9pm
Costuming and wigging
Wednesday 2 December 7pm-9pm
Finishing touches

Jumeau-inspired toy dolls

Please note that these are very small dolls, measuring just under 2” tall.  If you are completely unused to working in a small scale you may find the classes challenging! 

However, most people who are used to working in the standard doll’s house scale of 1/12th, or who are active crafters (embroidery, knitting, needlepoint, sugarcraft/cake decorating etc) will soon adapt to the small size.  You may find a desk magnifier helpful. 

To give you a better idea of the scale and style you will be working in, please take a look at my dolls on the Tower House Dolls website, in the Dressed Dolls category.   
I can take just 4 students on this course so places are limited.  When I have 4 bookings I will confirm the start date and the course will definitely go ahead.
If you need any further information please contact me.

Shabby Chic Toy Dolls