Saturday, 30 April 2016

National stationery week 2016, why I'm a fan

There's something about a fresh notepad that fills me with happiness. Something about a fancy new pen that sparks the optimist within me. Something about writing a note on actual paper that makes me feel more connected.
   Mini Ninja Highlighters ~ The Crafterie
When I found out it was national stationery week this last week it got me a little pensive. What is it that brings out those feelings? It's just a pen, right? just a sheet of paper, just me, writing, doodling, creating.

Here's a snippet from the national stationery week website;

National Stationery Week celebrates the written word and all things stationery. The products which make it all possible, and give pleasure to so many people.

So where do those happy feelings come from?

Well, seeing as I'm in the pensive mood, I've had a jolly good think about it and I think, as with most things, it goes back to childhood.
Remember when the long, long summer holidays were drawing to an end and you had that sinking feeling when you had to face the inevitable, going back to school? Well, we all somehow managed to convince our parents that we simply MUST have a new pen collection, or a new jotter and that sort of made it a tad more exciting.
A new school year always felt like a fresh start, a whole new life even, and stationery seemed to play a big part in that.
I remember when I first discovered smelly pens, (that's what we called them!) and the sweet scent of strawberries and blackcurrant used to linger around our school desks. And remember those erasers shaped like little animals? My little collection here is quite possibly older than you are!

I couldn't communicate without my laptop these days, my whole business is online. I talk to my customers by keyboard, I make new contacts by tapping at those letters and I post my updates by buttons!

But there's far more meaning to stationery than just getting that must have gold polka dot set to make your desk look all fancy.

The thing about using pen and paper is that there are no restrictions. You don't have to worry about fonts, spacing, setting your image at the right pixels; you just go, it's your work in your unique style. Your handwriting is unique to you, those doodles in the margin can never be replicated exactly. That handwritten, heartfelt message you write means the world to someone and once you start writing 'old school styleee' you very often end up with a much more honed and creative message as you have the freedom to write notes, cross stuff out that maybe you'll keep, highlight bits to move etc.

So yeah, stationery, I'm a big fan. Always have and always will, hold you in my heart. Thank you.

PS. Those little flowers at the top are doodles I made on real life paper. I know they look a tad childish but I love them and it was a real pleasure to draw them ♥


Monday, 25 April 2016

A day in the life, juggling my dayjob and small biz side gig.

I often wonder how other online bizzers who also work a dayjob handle their time and I'm wondering if you're wondering the same too.
That's a lot of wonder isn't it? So if you want to know, here is a typical day for me.
 up and work it bitch
   Up and work it bitch print

6am Get up, make a brew, have a tinkle etc.
6:15 Open the laptop & switch on the printer, brush hair, do makeup, clean teeth, answer messages
6:30 -7:00 Print out order invoices & purchase postage
7:00ish Start getting dressed
7:10 - 8ish Pick & pack orders
8-8:30 Social media, think about leaving the house, call at Post Office
8:30 Get to the dayjob, make a brew & quick plan the workload
11:00 Break, check social media, answer messages, accept orders
11:07- 2ish Dayjob stuff
2:00 Dinner, work on dayjob stuff, blog posts, social media, messages, renew listings
2-5 Dayjob
5ish Break, messages, social media
5:07-6 Dayjob
6:15 Get home, make a brew, product photography (if needed), put something in the oven, open laptop & switch on printer, feed the cats & see the boy for a bit
7-8ish Print out order invoices & purchase postage, eat my tea
8-10 Pick & pack orders, check stats, messages, new products & seo tweaks, blog posts and website stuff
10 Shower & PJ's, quality time (if the footy's not on) with the boy and catch up with any programmes I can't listen to whilst in the office.
11:30-12ish Bed & last check of social media

So yeah, there you go, I'm sure I could refine it down, but for now I seem to be getting most things done.
I'd love to see your day if you're in the same boat as me so let me know in the comments.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Photoshop lesson and free printable

If you've ever wondered how you can make those pretty floral letters, words and quotes then wonder no more, as I've put together a little Photoshop tutorial for you. Just click on the image below to get to the how to page. There's even a free printable involved, it's been a while since we've had one of those, right?


 Photoshop how to, floral letters

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Saturday night Church nails

I always try and do my nails all fancy for Church on a Sunday. So one of my fave Saturday night routines is just that, painting my nails! Talk about living in the fast lane right?
Our priest actually commented on my nails in one of our RCIA meetings, to this day I regret not saying what was on the tip of my tongue, 'thanks, I did them for Church'.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a little nail polish DIY with you today that is super easy and fast. All you need is your two favourite shades and a roll from your washi tape stash.

Once you get the gist of it you can use more and more colours and designs. I love having nails that stand out. These days, due to the nature of my day-job, my fingers, nails and hands in general are shot to shit, but hey, it's nice on a Sunday at least!
So here we go then. Make sure you've had a wee and made a brew already and let's get going.

  1. Apply your base coat and top up as required. It's best to use the lighter colour as the base so the next colour will cover easily. 
  2. Once the base is fully dried, place the washi tape diagonally (or whichever way you prefer) and press down to avoid bleeding.
  3.  Apply your next colour and if fully covered, whip off the washi as quick as possible. If you haven't managed to cover over the base colour then give it another coat whilst wet. It's easier to get a smooth line with the tape whilst the polish is still wet.
  4. Once both colours are dry, go over the top with a clear sealer and ta-dah. All done.

I hope you enjoyed my little nail varnish how to, there's nothing better than fancy nails!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Cat pen holder DIY

If you're looking for a little project that won't have you spending hours round the craft stores looking for the right tools then this is the one for you.
I'd like to introduce you to my super cute kitty cat pen holders and I can pretty much guarantee you'll have everything you need to make them at home already.
These handy little office helpers are made from salt dough, if you're new to this age old craft then be careful, once you start you'll have trouble stopping!
So, here's what you'll need, apologies as I forgot to shoot some of them!

  • Salt
  • Plain flour 
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • A coffee mug (for measuring)
  • Some treats for all your hard work
  • Filler (like you'd use for a crack in the wall)
  • Sand paper
  • Your choice of paints
  • Tin foil

Ok, let's get going. There's plenty of salt dough recipes out there on the internet but I usually use one cup of flour, half a cup of salt and half a cup of water to start off. Mix the flour and salt and then add the water. This is the fun bit as if you don't mind getting your hands dirty, you can have a good old mix up with the dough!

Once you've let your cat examine your mix and they have declared it acceptable, you should end up with quite a handful of ready to go mix.
What we're aiming for here is a sort of play dough texture, pliable but not sticky and it holds its shape.
Don't worry if you need to add more flour or water during the mixing stage. Try and fold and roll for as long as you possibly can to get the air out. This will prevent any cracking once your designs go in the oven. Don't panic too much about cracks, that's what we've got the filler for, right ☺
The quantities in my 'recipe' will provide enough dough for around five decent sized kitties. The ones I made are various sizes starting from 5.5 x 4.5cm to 6.5 x 6cm but it's up to you. I also had a little bit left over which I used to make some footprints from my cats (that was fun).
To make the heads, just take a little chunk, about a handful and roll into a ball. At this point I'd like to point out that we'd ran out of tinfoil so I just layered a bit of flour down onto my baking tray. Put the ball straight onto the baking tray and use a pen or similar to poke the hole. I recommend rolling it round a bit to make it larger than needed, baked salt dough tends to shrink.
Next we need to make those cute little ears.
Take a small piece and make another ball then form it into a triangle and attach to the side of the original ball. Now these little babies are looking more and more like the cats we love so much.
It's almost treat time! Preheat your oven to 165 degrees C whilst you're fiddling around with the ears and while you're waiting, you can crack out those cookies!
I like to cook for about an hour but it depends on what's actually in the oven at the time. If you're baking something thin then times can vary a lot so I always have a check at around the 25-30 minutes mark.
When I checked at 25 minutes, the holes had started to close up so I simply poked through again with a spoon. You can see the cat footprints here too ♥

When the cats first come out of the oven (never thought that would be a sentence I'd ever use!) they may look a little burnt around the edges, you may even have cracks. If you do have a lot of cracks and the head has now warped then it's nothing a bit of filler and sandpaper can't fix.
It's certainly worthwhile spending a bit of time sanding down your cat now as once painted, any bumpy bits will stick out like a sore thumb.
Once I'd filled and sanded each head, I painted on a few base coats of matte white. Your hairdryer will come in handy if you're not the waiting for paint to dry type, like me. I chose a white shimmer as a final coat and once that was dry I added some gold for the ears.
Then you can get to painting the face. Now, get this wrong and all your hard work goes down the drain. I ended up drawing a few ideas freehand for the eyes, nose and mouth layout then once I was happy I scanned it into Photoshop and printed out a page with a few different sizes to match each cat. Then I just traced and flipped (remember, like at school?) got the design down and painted straight over that. Again, this is one of the details that it's best to spend that extra time on.
So there we go, I hope you have as much fun as I did making these little bad boys!

Sleep tight.

Victoria Wood is one of those people that affect you. One of those famous people that seem to be out of the 'famous person bubble'. One of those people who, even though you don't know them personally, hold a little space in your heart.

I first saw Victoria when I was in high school, one of her live shows was on tv and the following day at school me and my pals spent a lot of time running through it. I was hooked. She was the person that made me realise that it was ok for me to do voices and characters and yeah, this was a thing and you didn't have to hide it!

I remember a while back, I sold one of my 'Sugar Tits' prints to a Victoria Wood and I've often wondered if it was her, I doubt it, but I'd like to think that's something she'd get.

I've absorbed everything and anything she has done since that day and as I write this now, I feel like I have lost an old friend. I hope she knew, before she left just how loved she was.

Goodbye Victoria, you will be sadly missed.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Love is in the air

Wedding season is upon us and although we still haven't got around to setting our date (although I simply MUST be pregnant & barefoot by Christmas) I of course, have one or two of the best wedding presents you could give (if I do say so myself!) over in the shop right now.
 personalised wedding gift

If you're looking for anniversary present ideas, unique wedding gifts or that special Valentine's token to show your affection, then this set of love bird personalised mugs is the perfect choice.

 personalised anniversary giftI originally made a set for myself and my fiance but when a friend asked if I had anything cute she could give to a newlywed couple she knew I made some more and we fell in love all over again!
With matching pink and blue love birds and the happy couple's name and 'established' date, this is the wedding or anniversary gift that can be treasured forever.
Now, I have a thing about mugs. I love them, I make them and I can pretty much guarantee I'll get one or two on Birthdays and at Christmas. My collection is pretty vast now so I've had to be creative in my use of them to stave off my fella's increasing eye rolling each time a new one appears.
My cups and mugs can be found in pretty much all rooms of our flat, they hold my makeup in the bathroom, also his razors and nail clippers & man stuff. I have about six in the office with various pens, brushes and crafty type things and there's a few dotted around for spare change too.
 unique wedding presents

That's the thing about these everyday ceramic coffee mugs that we so often take for granted, to some of us they are far much more than something from which we drink our morning coffee.

So if you have a special gift to give sometime soon, then here is my offering.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Some cat themed gifts (and a treat for me)

You may have noticed in a few of my product photos and social media posts, that I use a rather dashing little ornamental cat as a prop.
I am sooo in love with it and no, I'm not going to admit that I have a cat ornament collection but I'm sort of thinking about getting some more to add to it.
Naturally, being an Etsy seller, this was the first place I looked and boy did I find!
As I'm in the UK I just filtered for local cat ornaments and now I'm just spoilt for choice.

Here's a few of my favourites so far.

1. Twin wooden cats £38
2. Kitsch retro cat £15
3. Tabby Kitty £8
4. Retro kitsch kitten £2
5. Brass cat £12
6. Hand painted kittens £4
7. Sitting kitty cat £3
8. Kitty cats salt & pepper set £5

I think maybe before I've published this post I'll have probably bought a few off this list so sorry not sorry BUT, go and take a butchers! If you're a cat lady like me then you won't be disappointed.

Enjoy ☺

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The fall

It's been a while.

I just wanted to do a little share about my giant fall from super organised robot to bumbling tearful liability.

Everything is back to normal at work, woohoo. My pal has returned, recovered from her period of sickness and we even have a temporary newbie who is also amazing so my workload has..... hmm, what's the opposite of tripled? Well, put it this way, I have barely done any work since last Thursday.

It's a stark transition from autonomy to full on colleague squad. Even more intense for a queen lone wolfer like myself! So pretty much the minute my tiny little brain realised it wasn't on its own anymore, it just basically went for a Burton.
Today I managed to push a few dispensing errors, lose an injection and get a cytotoxic drug in my eye which resulted in a trip to the Hospital!

I'm a touch worried what the rest of the week holds but thank flip my boss understood what I meant when I said I may need some time off after working alone for so long!

I hate using the word stress so we'll go for 'game'. I've been in game mode for six weeks while we've had a man down and now I don't have to be, I'm not quite sure how to transition into team mode without totally losing my shit!

Any tips for me? I have some time off next week so I'm just gonna hang out here, finish off re-watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer (currently on series 3 & I'm surprised how much of my day to day vocab comes from this!)  and chill with the fambo.

Thanks for listening, I feel much better now ☺