Thursday, 29 November 2012

The judges' decision is final......

I realise that most people read this blog purely to find out what Small Dog is up to, but just in case some of you are actually interested in miniatures, you might like to pop over to my Miniature Christmas blog and enter the November Giveaway.  Just follow the instructions and you could be the lucky recipient of a seasonal kit.


As mentioned in the blog post, the winner will be drawn at random from all the entries by Small Dog.  

Questions have been raised as to her impartiality, but I can assure you that she will take her duties very seriously.

OK, so I know that last year she accidentally ate several of the name slips before we could stop her, and the winning slip had to be prised from her clenched jaws .......

.......... and dried out before we could announce the winner, but this year things will be different and I can promise everyone that the entire process will be carefully monitored and properly adjudicated.

She has had a stern lecture, and given that she's up for Employee of the Month (again) I'm sure she'll comply with all of the rules and regulations.

It only remains for me to wish all entrants 'Good Luck!'

Little Black Dress.....

Small Dog is well known as a dedicated follower of fashion and erstwhile snappy dresser, which is probably why my friend Debbie  shared this with me today....

Never averse to a bit of bling, Small Dog is entranced, and is currently writing her "krissmus lizst."

I've seen some amazing dog costumes on the internet, but the ones available  HERE  really take the (dog) biscuit!

Among my favourites are these....

Sadly though, our budget for Small Dog's krissmus present doesn't extend to $95 for a harness, although I'm sure I could run up something similar for her using an old jumper sleeve and remnants from my extensive stash of outrageous fabrics, feathers and sparkly trimmings......

She SHALL go to the ball.......

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Printer update......

The printer and I are still not on speaking terms.  It's sulking and keeps balefully blinking its status lights at me.  Hopefully by the time I need to prepare another complicated print run it will have repented its wayward behaviour and be back to its normal helpful self.

However, in the meantime, I received this email this morning........

Dear Morris,
Thank you for contacting Canon Technical Support.
We are sorry to hear that you are experiencing problems with your PIXMA MP980.
Since your printer is connected through USB we would advise you to try the following things:
-try to connect the USB to a different port
-try replacing the USB cable
If you continue having trouble, please do not hesitate contacting us again.
Your sincerely,
Bastiaan de Wit
Canon Services & Support


There are several reasons I'm unhappy with this response so in the unlikely event that Canon Services and Support keep tabs on what their customers are saying about them, I'm going to clearly delineate them here.

First.  My name is not Morris. The tech help form I completed asked for my first and last names, which I provided.  I'll answer to Sandra, or Ms Morris, but not a brusque Morris.

Second.  I do not have a Pixma MP980.  I have a Pixma iP4500, which is nowhere near.  How incompetent do they have to be to get that basic piece of information so badly wrong? I've Googled the MP980, in case it was generically similar to mine but it's an all singing, all dancing wireless all-in-one with built in 3.5" colour TFT screen.  Looks a nifty bit of kit and is probably far superior to my lowly iP4500 which can only print.


Third, fourth and fifth.  I had already tried both of the suggested solutions, a fact which I shared with Canon in the box marked "what have you already tried to solve the problem"? Also, since the printer they think I have is a wireless model, why would they think it's connected via USB?  

As for not hesitating to contact them again, in the entirely likely event that Mr de Wit's suggestions did NOT solve the problem, (and since they didn't when I had ALREADY tried them) I see absolutely no point in doing so. 


*mutter.... bloody tech support..... mutter.... bunch of idiots.......mutter *

Monday, 26 November 2012

Printer says "NO"!.........

I've just spent the entire morning trying to persuade my printer (with which I've had a really good-natured, trusting relationship up till now) to print a multi-page double sided document.

It will happily print off all of the single sided sheets but when I collate and reload them for printing the second side, it gets part way through, spits out a half-printed sheet and starts again.


This has resulted in about 50 wasted sheets of high quality paper this morning, as the printer interface has no way to enable me to pick up printing where it left off, so I have loads of half-printed sheets, some single sided, some double sided and no possibility of filling in the blanks.

I am SO FRUSTRATED I could spit.

I've tried all the usual stuff.  Switching the printer off and on again.  Switching my laptop off and on again.  Closing down the document and re-opening it.  Re-installing printer drivers. Plugging it into a different USB port.

All to no avail.

I've been onto the Canon support site and submitted a help request, which they assure me will be answered with 5 days.


I need that document printed NOW.

There is one manual solution to the problem but it will take me ages to set up, and what's the bloody point of having a printer that can't print more than a few sheets before having a mental breakdown?  Or giving me one.

*heartfelt sigh*

So, the low-tech solution is that I will have to take the document and instead of having a single 20 page booklet file, I will have to split it into groups of 4 pages.  This might sound like a dawdle but trust me.... it isn't, as I will have to get all the double sided page numbers in exactly the right order.  For example, the first sheet will have page numbers 1 and 20 on one side, and 2 and 19 on the other.  I will then have to ensure that I print them all out in the right order and get each sheet loaded in exactly the right way.  I will also have to do 5 separate printing runs instead of each one and hover over the printer every step of the way to identify and deal with problems as they arise.

The potential for chaos is epic. 

Just one page in the wrong printing order and it will all go spectacularly wrong and very possibly result in the printer being heaved out through the window.  My patience is stretched exceedingly thin at the moment anyway, so having to do all this additional messing about is not helping my equilibrium one bit.....  

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Soggy Sunday.......

It feels as if it's been raining forever!  We tried to dodge the downpours earlier while down on the seafront to give Small Dog a bracing walk.  There were massive puddles everywhere so she was quickly saturated, as were we!

The sea was really rough, and practically indistinguishable from the sky.... both a threatening shade of dark grey.  Definitely NOT inviting.  However, despite the atrocious weather, there were some hardy souls windsurfing and kite surfing.  I don't think that even a full body wetsuit would protect them from the cold.... and it must have been VERY cold in the sea with the windchill factor.

Back home in the warm and dry, it's felt particularly Sundayish today, and apart from trying to make a decision on decor for the shop I've been completely uninspired to do anything very much.  I've got a backlog of paperwork and filing which I really should tackle before it gets out of hand, as well as a whole boxful of tiny toys to list on the website.  I have made a start on that though, so I can allow myself a small feeling of satisfaction.

I do hope this ennui wears off by tomorrow as I have a to do list of gargantuan proportions to tackle.......

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Special delivery.....

We're quite excited as later today we're expecting a special delivery.  For the first time in over a decade, and in spite of the fact that we live less than half a mile from a huge Tesco Extra store, we're having our grocery shop delivered.

How exciting is that?*

PP discovered a whole bunch of online voucher codes on the internet which knocked nearly 40% off our shopping bill, but only on orders for delivery.  In these cash-strapped times that's not to be sniffed at, plus we're liberated from the soul-destroying 2-hour trudge round the store, packing it all into the car, unpacking it all again afterwards....

It's not my favourite use of what usually ends up being most of an afternoon.

In other news, if you pop over to the Miniature Christmas blog there are some newly released festive toy kits on the website, as well as several new deluxe and shabby chic toy dolls.

I've also found time to update progress on La Mignonette where I've been tiling the ground floor, with mixed results.  I'm cautiously hopeful I'll get it finished today, barring major problems.

How likely is that?#

Best go and get on then.

However in the meantime, because I've got nothing better to do, here's a random photo of Small Dog in her basket last night.  She was snoring loudly at the time.....

*well probably, admittedly, not very but I don't get out much and have to get my kicks where I can......

#well, probably, admittedly VERY likely, given that no two tiles are exactly the same size and therefore inevitable discrepancies have multiplied exponentially across the pattern.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Anatomy of a house viewing......

Back in the dim and distant past, selling your home was relatively simple.

You chose an estate agent, had a For Sale board nailed to the fence, and sat back waiting for the offers to flood in.

Nowadays, we're bombarded with television programmes telling us exactly what to do, banging on about 'kerb appeal' and the importance of presenting your house in its best possible light to maximise your chances of getting top dollar.  

No longer is it enough to simply ensure the beds are made and zip round with the hoover.

Oh no.

You have to ruthlessly de-personalise every room then 'dress' it to appeal to the neutral-loving house buyer, who, naturally, has been watching all the same TV programmes telling THEM what to look out for in a desirable home. 

We've got into a little routine which we implement before each viewing.

Well.... I say 'little'....

It's anything but and it takes hours.

I won't bore you with the details but it starts with dusting and hoovering and ends with plumping up cushions before we slump, exhausted into a chair (NOT any of the ones with artfully plumped cushions).

Of course, Small Dog generally has her own ideas as to what constitutes a well-presented room and is always keen to contribute her own doggy brand of help.

If I've carefully made up her basket with neatly folded blankys, she considers it doesn't look lived in and will spend several minutes digging them all up and/or pulling them out onto the floor.

If the fire is lit she considers that no fire is complete without a dog sprawled full-length in front of it.

If she has to go outside, (which she invariably does, about five minutes before viewers are due to arrive) she will come back in trailing leaves and general garden debris behind her and if I'm too slow to intercept her, will take up residence (leaves and all) on one of the recently plumped cushions.

As a result, we've learnt that Small Dog and house viewings are best kept apart.  She seems  incapable of grasping the fact that people don't come to the house purely to see her and will go to extreme lengths to give them the greeting she thinks they deserve.  This generally results in her transforming herself into a wriggling, squirming, whimpering bundle of fur desperately trying to escape from either PP's or my arms in order to wrap herself around people's feet.

So now, five minutes before a viewing, PP takes Small Dog off down the road for a long walk while I show people round.  Happily this compromise meets with SD's approval and supersedes any notion of staying at home and being ignored.

As to the actual viewings themselves, it never ceases to amaze me how people will ask the strangest questions which bear no relation to either the house or its environs.  It also seems to be 'de rigeur' to remain absolutely poker-faced throughout, giving absolutely nothing away.  Some people have been so deadpan I almost felt it necessary to check to see if they had a pulse.

There have been a few people who've been a joy to show round, who have deigned to smile at the picture of Small Dog in the study, or show interest in what goes on in the workroom.  Or who have answered MY questions with good humour and grace rather than with suspicion and prevarication.

The process is undoubtedly stressful and extremely wearing, but I suppose everyone who is undertaking a house move has to go through it. 

However, we haven't even passed the first (of many) hurdles yet.......





Friday, 16 November 2012

TFI Friday....

Phew..... such a busy week. 

A lovely influx of pre-Christmas orders has resulted in my burning the midnight oil every day, but I've finally got on top of it all and the last of this week's orders will go out today.

In other news, my Twitter account has been hacked AGAIN!  I have to admit I don't really understand what Twitter is for.  I'm only just getting to grips with Facebook and that's taken several years, so Twitter has no chance.

This perplexes me.

As a keen exponent of our rich and varied language, I should relish the linguistic challenge of encapsulating a single thought in 140 characters.

But therein lies the rub.

The OCD element of my psyche would INSIST on my using EXACTLY 140 characters (no more, no less) in each and every tweet.  I would, eventually, drive myself completely insane and be found one day, foaming at the mouth on the floor of the office, tweeting incomprehensibly like an overgrown dickie bird.

So instead I take the easy way out and use Twitterfeed to put blog posts automatically on both FB and Twitter.  Apparently this marks me out as a Twitter philistine but sod it.

However, no matter what I do with cast-iron passwords etc, my Twitter account is regularly hacked and apparently malicious tweets are sent from my account to all and sundry.  This would be entertaining if it weren't potentially legally incendiary. 

So if you're in any one of my legion of contacts across all platforms.... Linkedin, FB, Twitter, Blogger etc etc etc and are receiving tweets apparently from me, telling you how to lose 2 stone in 2 weeks, or accusing you of genocide, please ignore them completely.  They're NOT from me.  It's someone's idea of a sick joke.  Someone who has way too much time on their hands and needs a good slap.

I'm this far from deleting my Twitter account altogether and relying purely on Blogger and FB as my networking tools of choice.  Or, as Small Dog insists on calling them, "soshallmeejah."

I don't know WHAT the world is coming to......

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Playing with my Proxxon......

One of the joys of doing what I do is the opportunity to work with such varied materials, from porcelain to fabrics, wood to metals..... and the tools required by each medium.

This week I've been making Christmas illuminated toy theatres, which as they're wooden, means I get to play with all of the miniature power tools, my favourite of which is the Proxxon circular saw.  There is something ridiculously satisfying about reducing a pile of stripwood into precisely cut, accurately measured lengths to form the shell of the theatres.  

Not to mention cutting the proscenium arches using a bench-mounted jigsaw, and drilling holes in the ceilings for the electrics.

What is astounding though, is the amount of ultra fine sawdust produced..... piles of it around each power tool, and a light but thorough coating of it around the workboards and all over me.  I had to resort to hoovering myself before I could leave the workroom!

Nevertheless, I now have a small stock of both of our Christmas-themed illuminated toy theatres which are now listed on the website HERE


Monday, 5 November 2012

Multi-tasking Monday......

Small Dog is poorly.

Proper poorly.

I don't know if there is a canine equivalent of Norovirus, but if there is, she's got it.

As well as the dire rear she's been sick too and has been off her food since yesterday.  She did manage to force down a tiny amount of lightly cooked scrambled egg this morning but since then she's been languishing in her basket.  If she's not significantly better tomorrow she'll be bound for the vet.

Not only that, PP had to have sedation for a hospital procedure this morning and she's been sleeping it off this afternoon, also feeling proper woozy.

So I've been in nursemaid mode today, ministering to the afflicted.  Hopefully they will both be feeling much better by tomorrow.

While they've been recuperating though, I've been hard at work, putting the finishing touches to our festive-themed Kit of the Month, details of which can be found on the Miniature Christmas blog, or on the website HERE.

Choose between Holly or Ivy, both of which come with a bonus kit to make a filled wicker basket. 

Perfect for self-gifting in the run up to Christmas, we are also offering an optional online tutorial session at the end of November.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Shaggy dog story......

First of all I have to declare my interest.

I am completely fascinated by Little Red Riding Hood.

As a child I read several versions of the classic fairy tale, from the Ladybird version through to the original Charles Perrault adaptation of 1697, which was a real shocker as LRRH was  gobbled up by the wolf!

In the more acceptable Grimm's version, the young girl and her grandmama are rescued by the huntsman, who dispatches the wolf after performing a caesarian section with a pair of scissors.

Then in the more contemporary tale by Roald Dahl, the feisty, feminist LRRH "whips a pistol from her knickers" and in short order sports "a lovely furry wolf skin coat."

Quite what keeps drawing me repeatedly back to this story I don't know.  Admittedly there's a  lot going on under the surface.

For example the whole sexual analogy? 

Red = blood.... sin.... passion..... seduction.
Wolf = sexual predator

Or is it moral imperative not to stray from the path and to avoid all temptation?

Is it perhaps the childhood dread of being devoured?  Or the dichotomy between male as  predator or rescuer?

Or is it simply a rollicking good fairy tale?

I've had in mind for some time to undertake a miniature project based on LRRH which may, in the fullness of time, transmute from theory into practice.  

However, in the meantime, tonight, I persuaded Perfectionist Partner, Prodigal Son and Small Dog to watch "The Company of Wolves"  by the amazing Angela Carter, based on the LRRH theme.

I've seen it several times so the storyline wasn't new to me.  However to Small Dog it was a revelation!  She sat bolt upright on my lap, ears all a-quiver, wide eyes fixed on the screen, her whole body trembling in response to every single wolfish breath, pant and howl (of which there were many).

At the end, before bedtime, she had to go outside for a quick wee, but whereas usually I'm calling her to come in for ages while she's up the garden scouting for squirrels, tonight she was out and in again within 30 seconds.

I chanced to enquire if she'd met any wolves up the garden, as she is adamant that she often has to bite the heads off any she might come across.  She didn't even deign to answer.... running in straight past me, making a bee-line for her basket and burrowing under her blankys.

So much for our domestic dogs being two steps away from wolfdom!


Small Dog's right to reply.

i amm trommatized.  

mi mum (the kwite madd wun)  wonnted two wotsch a fillum kold "The Kumpani Ov Woolvs" whitsh i thot mite bea a dockumentari.

itt wos teryfien.  

i didd knott evin kno a wulf kude due eni of thatt  horibul transformen stuf and eeten peepul.

in the passt i hav bean kwite sanngwin abowt woolvs, espeshali ass i am neerli a woolf misellf butt i am haven two reeveis mi oppiniyons.

mi mum wil hav knobudy two blaim butt hursellf iff i hav badd dreemz and hav to gett intwo hur bedd inn the middul of the knite.



A Miniature Christmas blog........


It's that time of year again.

No sooner has Halloween disappeared over the horizon than Christmas hoves into view and approaches with frightening speed.

With just this in mind, I have dragged the Miniature Christmas blog out of the virtual attic, given it a through clean and brush up, and it is now live online HERE.

If you're not already a Follower, why not pop over there right now and sign up, as later this month one lucky Follower will receive a Miniature Christmas giveaway.

Friday, 2 November 2012

I'm back........!

I don't expect anyone has even noticed, but I've been away for a few days in deepest, darkest Suffolk.

It's not a part of the world I'm familiar with, but I have to say that it's an undiscovered gem of a place and one which I'm looking forward to exploring in more detail in due course.

Arrived back home this afternoon after a 3 hour journey, mostly in brilliant sunshine, to find a massive hailstorm in full flow from a sky as black as your hat.  Since then the storm clouds have cleared and the sun is shining fit to bust again.


Back to work over the weekend to make up for taking time off during the week.

Lots to do........ some of which might even be enjoyable!