Monday, 30 April 2012

Tempus fugit......

Last day of April and we're already one third of the way through the year.  How did that happen?  I'd swear yesterday was only January.


Time to take stock and check my to do lists, which are sorely in need of updating. 

I have SO MUCH TO DO!!!!

That level of stuff to do which effectively immobilises you, and makes action impossible.  I must sit down and systematically sort through and prioritise my tasks.  For example I must make a start on the annual accounts so that I can submit the business tax return.  We also have a fair looming at the end of this month for which I have done precisely zilch so far.  Not to mention the May Kit of the Month which should be ready for release at the end of this week.
Plus a few commissions.....

Like I said.... SO MUCH TO DO!!!!

And the only way to deal with it all is to make a start.

Which I will do.  Just as soon as I've finished tidying up in the workroom*.....

*Procrastination skills = excellent, top marks 


Sunday, 29 April 2012

It was a dark and stormy night......

Just as I was about to go to bed last night there was a loud thrashing and crashing noise from the back garden.  On investigation I found that the gazebo on our patio had been completely wrecked by the wind, two of the legs had buckled and all of the mooring ropes were broken.

It was only a cheap gazebo, bought three years ago to provide shade and shelter over our patio table.  At the end of the first summer, we decided not to dismantle it so it has remained there ever since and has done sterling service.  

This last winter it has deteriorated and we'd been going to take it down and replace it with a new one when the weather improved, but last night's storm was a pre-emptive strike and it's now lying on its side with its legs splayed and broken like a dead insect.

As it has been raining steadily all morning, we've not been inclined to take it apart.  Hopefully the rain will stop at some point today so that we can clear it away, thereby completely exposing our garden furniture to the elements.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

Pastures new........

A few weeks back I made mention of an exciting delivery.....

As not one soul has even attempted to guess what it is, I will tell you.

Or rather show you.

But you need to go HERE first to find out the back story, then work your way up.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Age shall not wither her......

.... yeah right.

So, it's that time of the year again, and I have celebrated yet another birthday in some style, with good friends.  Last year my birthday coincided with Easter and the royal wedding, and we basked in summer temperatures for the entire 10 days spent in our little caravan in the New Forest.

This year, we didn't go so far afield, which is probably just as well, as the weather was fairly diabolical for several days, culminating in a torrential downpour this morning, just as we were packing up to leave the campsite.

Actually, I don't mind it raining when we're camping.  Our caravan is very cosy, and it's lovely to snuggle up with a book while it's pouring outside.  

Now, however, it's back to work and I'm determined to catch up on emails/enquiries/orders/commissions etc as quickly as I can as I have an exciting project just around the corner which I've promised myself I wouldn't start until my to do lists were more manageable.

Sounds like a plan.....

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Kit of the Month gallery........

I had a lovely email yesterday from one of the ladies who bought our April Kit of Month - Daffy Down Dilly.

Jean, from Kent, has already completed her little toy doll, along with the tiny woven basket of daffodils and the teensy, weensy toy chicks. As you can see from her photographs, her little doll turned out beautifully!  

I especially like the alternative hat she made, which sets off the costume perfectly.

 She took these photographs in front a photo of her own garden, so to give you an idea of scale, the little toy doll is just a smidgen under 1  3/4" tall!

It's wonderful to have such talented customers......

We still have a few Daffy Down Dilly kits remaining, so if you too would like to make her, the kits are listed on our website.  We also have a full-length online video tutorial which is exclusively available to purchasers of the kit so you can see, step-by-step how the doll and accessories are made. 

As with all our kits, we also offer full email support until your project is completed.  And as you can see, our kits will make lovely miniature toys to grace your 1/12th scale nursery, toy shop or the doll can also be used as a 1/24th scale child.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Clowning around.....

Horrible grey, dismal, dreich day today in tandem with a fine drizzle, alternating with steady driving rain.

April showers it ain't....

However it is of no matter, as I am scheduled to be in the workroom all day today, working on four commissions which really need to completed by Thursday if at all possible.  

My mission today is to finish off a little clown toy doll which I started yesterday.  I'm having so much fun with it that I'm going to do another later if I have time, just for the hell of it.  I'm also toying with the idea of a juggling clown if I can turn my theory into working practice.

Normally, even the thought of clowns gives me the heebie-jeebies, but my coulrophobia seems to be well under control, probably because I'm not giving mine scary clown faces.

Other than the clowns I will be making a tiny Alice in Wonderland doll, a shabby chic doll, and a tiny witch doll..... so quite a variety.  To give a notion of the scale, none will be more than 1  3/4"  tall.

Which isn't very.  

Tall that is.

So I'd better go and crack on.....


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Spontaneous Epistaxis.....

One of the very few advantages of living with MS is that your body gradually loses the capacity to surprise you.  On a daily basis, bits that were working an hour ago can suddenly pack up, nerve pain can erupt anywhere and weird sensations come and go without so much as a by your leave.  I used to be constantly on the alert for new and diverting symptoms but that level of vigilance is exhausting to maintain, so I've settled down to a more laid back attitude which can best be described as benign neglect.

Which is why, when I started having spontaneous nosebleeds a few days ago, I wasn't too fussed and treated them as minor inconvenience.

However, this morning, while I was in the shower, I looked down at my feet to see blood swirling down the plughole in a manner shockingly reminiscent of that scene from Psycho.
Having swiftly discounted being stabbed by a madman dressed as his mother, I traced the source of the bleeding to my nose, which was running like a tap.

Holding a face flannel to my nose I managed to exit the shower, and towel myself dry with one hand, all the while aware that the flannel was going from merely damp to saturated.  Safely over the wash basin I attempted to survey the damage, which only resulted in the backlog of blood spattering everywhere, as I floundered around, trying to locate a wad of tissues, with which to plug the offending orifice.

After a full 10 minutes of nose-pinching and continued spattering, the shower room resembled  a scene from the Texas Chain-Saw Massacre,  and since I had dismally failed to staunch the steady flow, I enlisted the help of PP, who calmly viewed my blood-stained surroundings and quickly took over.

A further 10 minutes later we were no further forward, except that I'd moved my nasal sprinkler system into the bedroom.  Small Dog took one look at me and promptly made herself scarce.  She hates the sight of blood, although usually only her own.  She's normally fairly sanguine about anyone elses.

I tried to make a rudimentary nose plug from a twisted tissue, but within seconds it was saturated, so we hit on the damn fine idea of using a tampon, cut in half, then rammed up my right nostril as far as it would go.

Thankfully this did the trick.  The end swelled up and formed a blood-tight seal, preventing the flow from running down my chin and soaking my clothing.

Useful it might have been.  Dignified it was not.  

Pottering around the house this morning, with half a tampon sticking out of my nose I was extremely careful to stay away from the windows, in case I was spotted by a neighbour or passer-by.

It also brought a whole new dimension to my morning cuppa, as I had to avoid the end going into my mug and sucking hot tea up my nose.

It seems to have stopped now, although I'm wary of sneezing, coughing or bending down, just in case it erupts again.

Never a dull moment in this house........

Friday, 13 April 2012

Friday at last........

It's been a long week.

Yes I know there's only been 4 working days but they've felt like much, MUCH more.

I've been china painting since Tuesday which accounts for my warped sense of time passing.  However it's all finished, fired (twice) and I now have the warm sense of a job well done.

Plus I had an exciting delivery today.....

Can you guess what it is yet?  

I should have taken the photograph from a better angle which shows that it is about as high as it is wide.   Although as I have added no indicator of scale*, for all you know it could be 6 inches wide.

I'll give you a clue.

It's quite heavy.

*OK, OK.... another clue then.


The address label is 4 inches wide by 6 inches long. Extrapolate......



Thursday, 12 April 2012

Dogs who went down with the ship..........

This week marks the centenary of the Titanic's ill-fated maiden voyage, so the media is awash (absolutely no pun intended) with stories of the famous ship and its infamous end.  That it still holds such a fascination 100 years after the event is not surprising, given the wealth of tales surrounding it.

Last night I finished reading Voices From The Titanic: The Epic Story of the Tragedy from the People Who Were There.  Among the many dozens of eye witness accounts from survivors, the one which most sticks in my mind is that by Madeleine Astor, the young bride of the millionaire John J Astor who said that she could see, not long before the ship sank, her favourite Airedale terrier Kitty, running around on the deck by her husband.  Both went down with the ship. 

I find this extremely poignant and sad.  

In the book there are mention of a few other dogs, and even of a few who survived, hidden in their owner's clothing and taken onto the lifeboats, so there presumably were more.

After a bit of research this morning, I found this... The Canine Casualties of the Titanic Disaster, and this... Remembering the 12 Dogs Aboard The Titanic 

Of course the loss of nine dogs pales into insignificance compared to the loss of 1517 men, women and children, but I still find the thought of it very distressing.

Would I leave a sinking ship without Small Dog?  Absolutely not.  But then she is extremely portable and rarely leaves our sides so separation would be unthinkable. 

And then there is the reassuring knowledge that ships today are very safe and carry enough lifeboats for everyone on board.  However, a few years ago, when we went to France by ferry with Small Dog, she had to remain on the car deck in our little campervan for the duration of the journey, so if anything had happened, such as THIS or THIS, she would have drowned.

A case for using the Channel Tunnel if ever I heard one.....

EDIT:  Thanks to Winnie for this link Fate of Pets Who Sailed in the Titanic

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Business enterprise.......

So, as planned, this morning we all congregated in the office for our weekly business meeting.

Small Dog did deign to join us, and while I was sorting out my notebook etc, she took a few minutes to peruse the agenda.

This done, she was then fully briefed and ready to participate.....

The normal day-to-day business stuff (who's doing what, when and how) was accomplished fairly quickly and we then moved on to do some strategic planning (what are we doing, when and how) which is normally more contentious as we each have firm ideas about what will and won't work.

Small Dog became quite animated and really entered into the spirit of the thing.  She fancies herself as a bit of an 'ideas dog' and in no time was extolling the virtues of blue sky thinking, and insisting that we "run her ideas up the flagpole then see who wees against it".

Granted she did come up with some feasible suggestions, none of which involved the purchase of better biscuits, or getting an engraved name plate for her basket, so we did decide to run with one of them, or as Small Dog rather mystifyingly put it, "let's throw it against the wall and see if it sticks"

She'll be wearing red braces next.....

Flushed with success she then requested an addition to the agenda under 'any other business' and since her contribution up till then had been so helpful, we felt it churlish to refuse. 

Until, that is, she revealed her suggestion as to a suitable 'brand identity' for our growing catalogue of video tutorials......


EDIT: She must have had help with the Latin motto......

Monday, 9 April 2012

Bank Holiday Monday......

What is it with Bank Holiday Mondays?

They seem destined to always be cold, wet and miserable, and this one is living up to its reputation.  The half-hearted drizzle of yesterday appears to have given itself a good talking to, pulled itself together, manned up, decided to mutate into full-blown rain, and has been falling steadily all day.

Quite a large chunk of this morning was taken up with uploading our latest video tutorial onto t'interweb, a process which takes an inordinate amount of time and slows my laptop down to a crawl.  A mere three hours later it's finally finished, so I'm turning my attention to some strategic planning with a view to calling a business breakfast meeting tomorrow morning.  

Needless to say, business mascot, sleeping partner and aspiring 'Employee of the Month, Small Dog, views the prospect of having to attend as a gross infringement of her canine rights and has requested that I move the meeting to a more convenient time as her morning diary is rather full.

Presumably she couldn't possibly fit in the appointment between her wall-to-wall snoozes and power naps.... 

In any event, her attendance is not, strictly speaking, required.  Especially as her contributions during business meetings are mainly restricted to requests for better biscuits, or proposing that we re-assess her remuneration package in view of the fact that she is now the international figurehead of Tower House Dolls.

That animal has ideas way above her station.....

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Easter Sunday......

It's a rather miserable, murky, mizzly day, with leaden grey skies and a steady fine drizzle.  It's also cold.

Very cold.

It's hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago we were basking in temperatures up in the 70s.  I knew it couldn't last.

My lovely daughter spent last night in a mountain tent on the shores of Ullswater, in the Lake District.  I haven't heard from her today so I hope she hasn't succumbed to exposure or hypothermia.  Normally we'd have been away camping this weekend too, although in the rather more luxurious, centrally heated comfort of our little caravan.  However due to a combination of relative penury, the looming fuel crisis, and a complete inability to get our act together to make a campsite booking, we've been at home over Easter for the first time in 7 years.

Small Dog has taken this particularly badly, as she is a keen camper, but we've placated her with the promise of a caravan outing later this month, by which time we're hoping the weather will have got its act together.

Having had the last two days off, I'm inclined to get into the workroom today and do some tentative tidying.  There was mayhem in the workroom last week as I had to get the April Kit of the Month completed, and the video tutorial made. I also need to compile my work schedule for next week, while being vaguely aware that it's THAT time of year again, when I have to do battle with the annual accounts.


I think I might leave that till later in the month.......

Or May.

May sounds like a good time to make a start.


Thursday, 5 April 2012

April Kit of the Month......

Our April Kit of the Month is ever so slightly late, but hopefully all the extras make it worth the wait!

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The kit only went on the website yesterday afternoon but already 1/3 of the available kits have gone.

As well as the little toy doll  kit (height 1  3/4") dressed in daffodil yellow and pale green, this month's kit also includes 3 additional kits to make a little half scale wicker basket, a bunch of 6 assorted daffodils to fill it, plus, just for fun, 3 teeny tiny spring chick toys.

Our kits contain everything you need to complete the project, along with a fully-illustrated, step-by-step instruction booklet.

As with all of our Kit of the Month offers, purchasers also have exclusive access to a full-length video tutorial showing how to make all of the items, as well as the opportunity to attend an optional interactive session in our fully-featured virtual classroom, and we also offer full email support until your kit is completed!

For full details, or to buy the kit, please visit our website HERE.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Over the moon........!

I had a lovely surprise in the post this morning - a copy of the May issue of The Doll's House Magazine featuring my day nursery on the cover and an absolutely wonderful 2-page spread inside, showcasing my little toys, games and doll's dolls.

I'm sooooooo pleased with it.

You'll have to get your hands on a copy of the magazine to appreciate all the finer details but I hope you can see a tiny version of Small Dog in the foreground, gazing hopefully at a plate of French Fancies on the doll's tea party table.

My thanks to everyone on the team at Doll's House Magazine, especially their photographer Anthony Bailey who came here specially to do the photo shoot, and Assistant Editor Karen Bamford who has been unfailingly helpful throughout.

This has absolutely made my day.......