Thursday, 27 September 2012

Room for a view.......

If it's difficult to manage running a small business from home, it's proving to be practically impossible to do so while trying to sell the aforementioned home.

Creative work and minimalism are not happy bedfellows.  At least, not in this house they're not.  I seem to spend inordinate amounts of time looking for stuff, putting stuff away, getting it out again, then putting it away.....

You get the idea.

However, three viewings in, we've already established a routine.   30 minutes before people arrive, I whizz round downstairs, tidying the kitchen, clearing the desk in the workroom, re-arranging the blankys in Small Dog's basket (which she immediately digs up into an unholy mess again) and making sure the floors are gleaming.

Meanwhile PP whizzes round upstairs, hiding make-up and toiletries, smoothing the beds, checking the bathrooms etc.

We then reconnoitre in the downstairs hall where we both stand very, very still, hardly even daring to breathe lest we inadvertently shed hair or skin cells.

My guided tour commentary is coming along nicely and my initial nervousness has dissipated sufficiently for me to almost enjoy showing people round.  Of course it's all still quite a novelty, which I fervently hope doesn't have time to wear off.

In other news, I've been diligently working on the backlog of commissions and am on the final two outstanding orders.  This may not sound like much of an achievement, but believe me, in the current circumstances it's nothing short of miraculous! 


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Tower House Dolls End of Summer Sale.....!

Having spent several hours today sorting through all of my stock boxes, I've now uploaded our end of summer sale onto the website with up to 15% off a selection of miniature doll's dolls and toys.

The sale starts today and runs for 1 week only, ending on 2 October.

Only one of each item available......HERE


Unfinished project...........

My life is littered with languishing projects, and in the current spirit of downsizing/de-cluttering, I've decided to cull my project box.

Several years ago I was delighted to find this kit, which I intended to transform into an overgrown garden folly.  Best laid plans and all that...... apart from trying a dry build to see what it looked like, it has remained in a storage box, still in kit form, from that day to this.

It's now for sale on the website, so hopefully someone will give it the home it deserves and fully complete it.

Full details are on the website HERE!  Due to its weight, I can only offer postage options to UK residents.  Alternatively if you can pick it up in person, so much the better.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sandra's Sale..........

Despite the current frenetic house move-related activity, I managed to make time today to begin listing sale items on the website.

I have a sizeable quantity of artisan-quality miniatures from my own private collection, as well as books, magazines, building components and related items, which will gradually be added to all categories over the coming weeks. 

I'm beginning to enjoy this downsizing mallarkey........!


Keep calm and carry on........

After a brief blaze of Indian summer last week, autumn has returned with a vengeance.  Yesterday and today it's rained continuously and the forecast is for high winds and torrential rain for the next few days.  I'm going to unearth my SAD lamp and sit in front of it for a few hours later while I'm working to try to get a head start on the winter blues.

We worked hard all weekend, giving the smallest bedroom a makeover, which it badly needed.

It was pink.

Not a pleasing, pretty, pale, pastel periwinkle pink.

No by no nonny no.

It was a vibrant, In-Your-Face, deep Barbie pink, which was completely overpowering.  Quite why we haven't re-decorated it before is a mystery, shrouded in the mists of time.  It was originally PP's daughter's bedroom and she didn't seem to mind it.  Then over time it became a repository for bits of spare furniture and general stuff, and we couldn't have repainted it even if we wanted to.

Which we didn't.

However, empty of all the extraneous stuff, a makeover was clearly called for.  The transformation is startling and was worth the effort.  Shame we were only galvanised into action by a desire to sell the house.

No matter.

The house is now gleaming and immaculate.  I'm scared to even walk into several of the rooms.  Like Pig-Pen from Peanuts, I seem to have an uncanny knack for creating a mess in my wake wherever I go and having worked our butts off to get it this clean and tidy, the challenge for the duration is to keep it that way.

Not only is the house now pristine and practically minimalist *cough*, I no longer know where to find a single thing and have to spend many minutes, eyes closed and immobile, playing a game of mental pelmanism to try to track down whatever I'm looking for.  This is both time consuming and exhausting.  I needed a pair of tweezers from the workroom earlier and had to hunt through just about every cupboard and drawer before I found them. 

However, we are now ready to GO.  Wish us luck.......

Friday, 21 September 2012

The final push..... denoument


It is done.

I feel like I'm living in the set of a spoof Ingmar Bergman film

Everything feels so alien.

So strange.

Where is all the stuff?

It is gone.

Like the wind.

Small Dog looks at us beseechingly.

To no avail.

It is gone.

As we all will time.

PS.... it IS a vin kväll.   God natt mina lovelies.

PPS.... *   Är det bara jag eller är Sigfried verkligen passar *

* hint.... use Google translate.

In other news........

Ostensibly, the raison d'etre for this blog is to disseminate information about that thing I haven't been doing much of recently..... work.  That is the method by which we earn a living and keep the ever ravening wolf from the door.

(Although as Small Dog pointedly pointed out, she is charged with that task as she apparently intercepts them at the top of the garden and bites their heads off.)

But I digress.

In response to a recent rash of pre-Christmas commissions, I'm sorry to report that my order book is now closed and will re-open in the New Year.  Customers currently on my waiting list for commission orders will very likely  might experience some delay in receiving theirs.  I am contacting everyone individually with updates.

Fortunately, preparations began in July for our Christmas offerings this year, so hopefully, when the house prep dust settles early next week (not that there should be even the slightest speck of dust) we will be able to get back in the saddle.

Also, from Monday, I will begin listing a phantasmagoria of miniature treasures for sale on the website.  Most are from my own collection and were made by long-retired artisans, plus  all manner of interesting and unusual items.

So watch this space............


Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Final Push.... continued

Both working hard again till 10pm this evening and we're so nearly there.  First estate agent coming after lunch tomorrow so just enough time to put all the finishing touches in place in the morning.

It's been a marathon week in every sense of the word and I won't be wanting to do that again anytime soon, but we've literally moved mountains since last weekend and although completely exhausted, I'm pleased with what we've been able to achieve in such a short time, given the scale of the task which confronted us.

Every single scrap of assorted offspring's stuff has been removed from the house and we've reclaimed so much space we don't know what to do with it.

Small Dog has gone from being disturbed to downright neurotic.  She spent ages today sitting up the top of the garden, staring down at the house as if trying to work out what had happened to it.  She's also taken to following us around, as if making sure we don't disappear, like so much of the stuff.

Poor wee soul.

Hope I have enough energy to drag myself upstairs.  Another early start tomorrow but come hell or high water I'm having a lie-in on Sunday...... or else!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The final push.....

We have been going 'over the top' in every sense, waging a war of attrition on the legions of stuff which had gradually infiltrated our lives, most of which wasn't even ours!  However, I think we may have turned the corner and the battle is being won, albeit slowly.

Today is going to be another epic feat of endurance, as is tomorrow.  But by Friday I'm determined that EVERYTHING that needs to be done will have been achieved..... even if it kills me, which at times over the past few days has felt like a distinct possibility.

I have aches and pains in places I didn't even know existed, and even full 10 hour sleeps are doing little to mitigate the complete and utter exhaustion.  

However, progress is undoubtedly being made which is A Good Thing. 

Small Dog has been wandering wonderingly through rooms which were hitherto all but inaccessible and we are down to the last few piles of assorted offsprings' belongings so yaayyy.

Right.... better go and get on with it then. be continued.........


Monday, 17 September 2012

How does this work then......?

With our house-hunting dilemma looming large, I've been trying to think outside the box to find ways of achieving the potentially unachievable.  This is proving to be a frustrating, not to say infuriating process.

I'll give you a for instance.

Take a hypothetical middle-aged couple who may or may not have a Small Dog.  They own their house outright, have modest savings, owe not a penny to any living soul (or any dead soul come to that).... absolutely no outstanding loans or debts, excellent credit history, honest, hard-working, upstanding members of society.

However, one of them has an incurable neurological condition, and the other is just a few years off retirement, so raising a mortgage is not feasible.  Not that they need one. 

Say, for the sake of argument, they want to move house, and in order to quickly secure a perfect property need to raise an unspecified but not insurmountable amount of cash to do so.  The value of their home will way more than cover the amount required.  Seems like a no-brainer..... borrow on a short-term basis using the house as security, pending the sale.  On completion pay back the loan quick smart.  Job done.

A bit of Googling reveals that yes indeed..... this is possible, and according to the interweb, lenders are apparently queueing up to offer all manner of home equity loan packages.  Obviously there are risks and drawbacks, but on paper at least, it appears to present one apparently workable solution.

But no.  

No by no nonny no.

Apparently you can only do this if you already have a mortgage on your property. It probably also helps if you are servicing a loan or two, and maybe paying off your credit card while you're at it.

I'm not quite sure how that works, but despite the whole sub-prime fiasco and subsequent world banking crash banks still seem to prefer to lend to people who already have debt, and limited assets.

Is it any wonder that bankers have a likeability/trusworthiness index lower even than estate agents and used car salesmen? 



Manic Monday...........

Our massive clearout continues apace to the extent that we have re-discovered two bedrooms we hardly knew we had.  It feels strange to be able to fully open the doors, and even stranger to be able to walk inside.  For what seems like forever they've been stacked floor to ceiling, wall to wall with assorted offspring's stuff, not to mention a modicum of ours, tucked away at the back.

Yesterday we loaded the car to the gunnels and had a trip to our local tip, which has been completely redesigned and  revamped so that it barely resembles a household waste and recycling centre at all.  In fact it was so swish that next time we go we might take a picnic and make a proper day out of it.

Up exceeding early this morning to escort Small Dog to her least favourite place..... the vet.  Since our return from holiday, her claws have been catching on the carpets as if she's velcroed to the floor.  To disengage her back feet she's had to develop a complicated reverse kick manoeuvre, which although entertaining to watch, does not bode well for her luxating patellae, or the assorted metal pins holding her kneecaps in place.  So there was nothing else for it but to take her to have all her claws clipped, a procedure which requires her to be sedated.

Stoic she is not.

While she's under sedation we take the opportunity to have some additional work done...... ears plucked, anal glands expressed (ewwww) teeth scaled etc.  So we left her trembling in the arms of the veterinary nurse who promised to take good care of her and call us as soon as Small Dog was compos mentis.

So around lunchtime we returned to collect her, still a bit woozy and quivery but in remarkably good spirits considering.

In the interim, piles of recycling, freecycling, charity shop donations etc have been slowly building, colonising the hallway and I hesitate to think that there might actually be light at the end of the tunnel.  Just so long as it's not the headlights of an oncoming train..... 

So focused have we become on the job in hand that we have even begun to ignore normal, commonsense health and safety precautions.  This morning I managed to get my feet tangled  in the vacuum cleaner lead and fell over backwards, narrowly missing cracking my skull on the edge of the bedroom door, then later PP split her chin open trying to dislodge a stick from a metal tube (don't ask) by jumping on it, catapulting the whole thing up into her face. I was upstairs at the time and when alerted to the incident by her cries of distress, flew downstairs dreading the worst.  After the blood was cleaned up, and ice applied, it fortunately transpired that the injury wasn't as bad as we'd feared, although I expect tomorrow her chin will look like Desperate Dan's.

I do feel sorry for her...... today's her birthday and instead of breakfast in bed and a relaxing, pampering day she's been up to her armpits in garden detritus clearing the patio and the junk areas beside the shed. She got that job primarily because she's not afraid of the ENORMOUS spiders who inhabit the whole area and live in massive structurally engineered webs which even Small Dog carefully avoids.

However, some welcome light relief today was provided by a very nice chap (Hello Bill!) who came to collect some freecycle stuff and revealed himself to be a reader of this blog.  It's not often I get to meet readers of this drivel  shimmering prose in the flesh.  Naturally, he asked after Small Dog and was rewarded with a personal introduction albeit she was a bit subdued.  In spite of feeling distinctly under the weather, Small Dog is always acutely aware of her responsibilities to her loyal fans, and is a consummate professional, adopting a similar modus operandi to that of the Queen.

Her tail wag may have been a bit lacklustre, and there was a definite lack of her normal joie de vivre, but she nevertheless gave a bravura performance, lapping up the attention before retiring to her basket to recuperate further.

Tomorrow we have more of the same. Dog help us......

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Stress squared......


As if the current preparing to move house type stress wasn't enough, we've wilfully gone and added to it by rashly viewing a couple of houses at the weekend.

We have identified the specific area we think we'd like to move to, and two of our friends already live there, so we have a reasonable perception of what it's like.  What we don't have any idea of, is can we find a property we could actually envisage ourselves living in.

A while back, we looked at one house there which on paper ticked many of our boxes, but which, in reality we didn't like at all.  So before committing to a final decision to move there we thought it would be a good idea to look at a few different styles of houses to identify what we do and don't like.

The first house we viewed at the weekend didn't tick a single one of our boxes, and on the way to see the second one, we were discussing the notion that we might not be able to find something suitable at all.


The second house was just like Mary Poppins....practically perfect in every way.  From the minute we walked through the door we could both absolutely envisage living and feeling comfortable there.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that on our way in, a couple on their second viewing were coming out, and apparently we're not the only ones who feel that it's a perfect house for them.

I almost wish we hadn't seen it as I'm sure that we won't be in a position to secure it any time soon.  As a pragmatist, I tend not to covet things I know I can't have.  Saves all sort of disappointment in the long run.  So the realisation that we're probably not going to be in the running on our dream house is a novel, wholly unpleasant sensation.

The cautious pessimist in me is urging me to just forget the whole thing and concentrate on the task in hand, namely getting our house sorted.

The go-getter optimist in me is saying, nothing ventured, nothing gained and to go for it, despite the fact we're currently in no position to do so.

We've been going round in ever decreasing circles, trying to think of workable contingency plans, to little avail. 

Small Dog, who was with us yesterday and gave the house and surroundings a firm paw's up has offered us her pocket money to buy a lottery ticket in the hope that might provide the necessary wherewithal to cushion our temporary cash flow dilemma.

She's obviously much more of an optimist than I am......

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Scottish play..........

It dawned on me today, as I was on my hands and knees, scrubbing eyeliner marks out of the smallest bedroom carpet, that my life has developed strong parallels with that of Lady Macbeth.

I too have double double, toil and trouble.

So this is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

Quite how the daughter managed to get so much eyeliner ground into the (beige) carpet is a mystery, as is the method for removing it.

Having tried various cleaning solutions I sat back on my heels and wailed....

"Out, damned spots!"

Later, trying to rationalise a room full of PP's daughter's 'stuff' (which is hopefully being collected tomorrow) I could be heard to mutter.....

"Who would have thought the house to have so much stuff in it"

OK, so I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea.

I think we're at the stage where things can't get any worse and can only get better.  In one fell swoop, we've managed to make an unholy mess in every single one of the four bedrooms. 

It is a sorry sight.

All of the stuff which has to go is in large, unruly piles in various rooms.  In addition to PP's daughter's stuff being collected tomorrow, (fingers firmly crossed) we've also organised a charity shop collection for early next week, comprising books, electrical gubbins, computer desk and chair, bed headboard, bric-a-brac, soft toys and assorted other stuff.

I've got to the stage where I'm so fed up with it all I'm being completely ruthless.  No more dithering about should we keep it in case we need it even though it's lain undisturbed under the bed for 8 years.  I've become a raging harpy, determined to de-clutter if it kills me.

Which is a distinct possibility if I carry on like this.  The milk of human kindness has well and truly curdled.

I need a drink and a lie down, not necessarily, but preferably, in that order.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness........

Following summer's last hurrah, there is a definite hint of autumn in the air this morning, in spite of the bright sunshine.  It's a wee bit nippy and leaves are beginning to turn and fall.

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find that I could actually move.  Late last night I had to practically crawl upstairs on hands and knees.  I even considered using Small Dog's step to get into bed.  Either that or curl up beside her in her basket on the floor if she'd let me..... which she wouldn't.

She's very terriertorial about her basket.

Fortunately a full 10 hour's sleep has restored me to what passes for normal these days so it's all good.  However, I'm going to take it a tad easier today, as I've definitely overdone things this week.

This is all to the good, as I must spend several hours in the workroom today if the ravening wolf is to be kept from the door this month.  Small Dog, who has a fertile imagination, claims that there are wolves living in the woods behind our house.  She is adamant that they even come into her garden and she has to bite their heads off.

I suspect that Small Dog may have been overdoing things too.

House move preparations continue apace today, with the removal of some bulky furniture this morning.  This will be followed by the redistribution of other furniture to fill the vacated space.  It's a bit like shuffling a pack of  3-dimensional cards.

In the hall are several bags and boxes full of stuff destined for local charity shops, so I do feel that things are progressing.  PP has been painting and decorating and I've been cleaning, de-cluttering, cleaning, re-organising, cleaning, tidying and cleaning.

Did I mention all the cleaning?

At this rate I'll be lucky not to end up with housemaid's knee, window cleaner's elbow and duster's lung to add to my burgeoning list of miscellaneous maladies..... 


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Multi tasking like a maniac.....

Have been in a whirl of activity since our return from holiday on Monday, and have managed to achieve quite a lot already.

We're anticipating the removal of the remainder of assorted offspring's stuff on Friday, which will finally mean that the great downsizing clearout can gain enough momentum to allow us to put the house on the market, hopefully in the next week or so.

It's been a long time coming.... we'd hoped to be able to move earlier this year but things just didn't work out that way.  However we've now got the bit firmly between our respective teeth and the wheels are slowly grinding into motion.

Of course there is still the small matter of having to earn a living, so today I've interspersed cleaning/tidying/organising and clearing out duties with several casting sessions.  I'll have to be careful to pace myself and not overdo things though, otherwise I'll land myself with a full-blown MS relapse. 

Which would be a Bad Thing.

I can't say I'm looking forward to the house-moving process.  Each time I've done it in the past it's been a potent combination of frustration, stress and worry.  The last time particularly so.  I still have nightmares about it.  Perhaps things have moved on and the whole rigmarole is less prone to the delays and setbacks which have informed my previous experiences.

Also, last time I moved, we mothballed the business for the duration, but this time I don't think that's an option, so I will have to be scrupulously realistic about what I think I can achieve and the time it will take.  Cue rafts of lists, planning, strategic, to-do and otherwise.

One thing is for sure, by the time we finally get moved, I won't want to do it again for a while.

Despite conscientiously concentrating on catching up with her sleeps, Small Dog appears to be aware that something is afoot and is rather unsettled, wandering round the house trying to find calm spots in which to nap.  I haven't the heart to tell her that it's going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Easing in gently..... NOT!

Operation Catch Up began in earnest this morning and I've already made some small inroads into the mountain of tasks all clamouring for my attention.

I'm carrying a timer around with me and trying to commit an hour to each of the most important items on my list, which is going not too badly thus far.  Mind you, I'm only 4 hours in so it's early days.

Small Dog is being very conscientious about catching up on her naps, and is also 4 hours into her rigourous routine.  She did wake up long enough to visit me very briefly in the back bedroom, where I am attempting to rationalise the boxes of office stationery stored under the bed, and which, even if I live to be 100, I'll never realistically get to the end of.  

Seriously, in this day and age, just how many white, self-seal envelopes does a girl need?

True to form, after a lengthy camping trip, there are also piles of laundry and assorted camping stuff littering the house, so I don't feel too bad about adding to it by launching into yet another grand clearout upstairs.

Paradoxically, the only other room in the house which can generally be relied upon to be messy as hell, the workroom, is as pristine and uncluttered as it's possible to be.  However, this will change later this afternoon when I make a start on the commissions and orders outstanding since before the holiday.

So far so good..........

Monday, 10 September 2012

Best laid plans......

We returned home this afternoon following our 17-day caravan odyssey along the South Coast to Dorset.  It's the first multi-site trip we've ever done, stopping at 4 different sites along the way and I can tell you that packing down a caravan awning, packing up the van, then doing the whole thing again in reverse in one day is both exhausting and character building.

Thankfully, for the past week we stayed put on one site in Dorset, and the weather was glorious.  Hot and sunny, with just enough of a refreshing cool breeze for comfort.

All three of us have returned feral.  There's something about living mostly outdoors for such an extended period that chips away at any pretensions of civilisation.  It's going to take me several days to revert to get used to being in a house again, with hot and cold running water on tap without having to drag a 40 litre aquaroll to the service point once a day.

I haven't watched a single second of television for 17 days, nor have I read a newspaper, or even listened to the radio, so I am supremely out of touch with what has been happening in the world.  Surprisingly, I haven't missed any of those things much.

Even being reunited with my phone mid-way through the trip did little to keep me informed as the mobile signal for the past week has been practically non-existent.  Similarly the mobile broadband dongle I use for my laptop could muster only a measly 2 tiny bars of signal, so pulling in emails or getting onto the internet has been impossible.

It will take me a few days to get used to having the world wide web at my fingertips again, and I feel strangely reluctant to return to being at its beck and call.  There's something strangely empowering about being disconnected from everything..... despite the fact it took me over a week of going cold turkey to get used to it.

However I have to drag myself, kicking and screaming back into the real world sharpish, as the next two weeks are shaping up to be insanely busy, both in terms of work and home-based stuff.

So I'm giving myself this last evening off before I return to the fray bright and early tomorrow morning.  Just as well we managed to salvage a single bottle of wine to bring home with us.