Saturday, 4 January 2014
This may sound silly but this cat is one of my treasures! She's got to be 50 this year, if she's a day.
Many moons ago, when a small child living in a small Dorset village I often walked into the village with my sister who is 11 years older than me. We always passed a hardware shop which filled its windows with all sorts of things from plumbing bits and bobs to trinkets. There I spotted a pottery ornament, a row of cat and kittens, and it took my fancy. As far as I was concerned that would be the end of it, my parents would no more have bought me the ornament than let me fly to the moon. It probably only cost pennies, but there it was, in the window when I passed and to me, it was mine, except I couldn't touch it.
This all happened when I was probably 5 or 6 years old, perhaps 7 - my sister left home to train as a nurse at the (now, Royal) London Hospital when she was 18 and I was 7. It was around then that she went into the hardware shop and bought me a present. Ooh, my excitement when I was given it, it must be the cat and kittens I had coveted for so long. I carefully opened my parcel and there was .......... the cat above. My heart sank. It wasn't 'my' cat and kittens; we'd been looking at different ornaments in the window.
I'd been brought up never to show emotions, they would make me 'a show-off' or 'ungrateful', and it came in handy this time as I beamed with 'pleasure' at my gift. I have never told my sister that she'd bought the wrong cat! Even now I can beam at the most unwanted gift, I have been trained well.
Years have passed and she's still here. Friends and partners have often remarked that I should put her in the bin or the charity bag, often giving me another ornament to replace. I don't have many, if any of those other ornaments. Sorry. No I'm not - I had to choose when space was limited and I chose her. She hasn't a name.
As I stared out of the bedroom window at the dark clouds and rain this morning I saw her, always there, often ignored. She's not valuable, except to me. She's not even fine china. She's not a recognisable brand, just being marked 'foreign' in red on the bottom.
Would I have kept my cat and kittens this long? I can still remember what that ornament looked like - the legacy of a stroke some years ago is that I can remember things from the past with incredible clarity but you'll need to wait several decades before I will remember what I had for breakfast yesterday! Cat and kittens? Probably not, I can't think that they would have help my attention for so long. But the blue cat, the Carmen Miranda of the feline world? They'll be throwing her out with many other things after I've moved over the Rainbow Bridge followed by many cats and dogs that waited patiently for me and probably asking 'what did she keep this for?'
Memories are priceless. When I got to 7 and my sister 18, many things changed and with it my life. I became an 'only child', the last to be at home. Those who know my family will understand what I mean. This morning, looking at the cat, many happy childhood memories returned. To the cat, I thank you.
Have you a worthless treasure? Share yours.
Thursday, 2 January 2014
2014 promises to be something different! I will make sure of that.
Last year I took part in a challenge to make 52 things in 52 weeks, and it inspired me to keep up the momentum and do something similar again this year. So, every time someone mentions the word 'challenge' I keep shouting, yes, me!' Should keep me out of mischief.
Apart from my personal challenge to make at least 52 different kinds of beads in a year (that way, I don't have to berate myself when I fail on the 'one a week' target) I have joined in with a monthly challenge on the Craft Pimp forum and the January challenge is to make something to feed our feathered friends without resorting to going to the shops, except to buy the bird seed. It has to be recycled or found around the home. As anyone who has been to my home will know, it is full of things that should have been sent to the charity shop, the tip or Freecycled long ago! My 'could be handy' cupboard and drawer are over-flowing!
For starters I had 2 cups and saucers left over from my 'tea cup planters' project to raise funds for charity and these seemed suitable for the garden theme. I've raided that old falling apart hanging basket for a chain, drilled the cup and saucer and fitted a hex bolt to stop them coming apart in the breeze (I can promise you, glue will not stand heat and cold for long, trust me, I've been there and picked up the pieces), drilled drainage holes in the saucer and bigger holes in the side of the cup so the seed can spill into the saucer. The 'roof ' is the top of a cotton buds pot - one less bit of 'ooh that'll be a handy pot for something' on my desk, to keep off a bit of the rain. Happily hanging outside my studio, it didn't take the sparrows that live in the overgrown bush in next door's garden long to spot it!
Then I decided to make some fat balls to feed my feathered friends - using this recipe from the Gardeners' World website. Now, I love Gardeners' World, I quite fancy Monty Don (even if he is pro badger-culling - we would fall out over that) but this recipe does not really work! Having made it up with Morrison's best lard (horrid smell) and Cleeve Garden Centre's finest bird seed (which my sparrows love) it does not work as a fat ball - crumbles and falls apart. It needs a container to contain it. So cup number 2 came into play with left over chop sticks from some long forgotten take-away or other. The sparrows have approved.
I had a 3rd idea, but that fell at the first hurdle - poor design so it has been shelved. I also had a lot of leftover fat ball mix that won't adequately ball - so plan 2B is in the fridge. More of that later.
The 3rd idea has been replaced by a 4th idea - if I can get through the garden detritus and find another chain to play with - the magpies and the pigeons (might be collared doves, I'm no expert but they are very fat so collectively known as Hoover birds chez nous) have complained there is nothing for them. So I am working on obliging them too. Watch this space - photos will follow when in situ. I could do with a dry day for it, so probably next week at this rate! But I have until 24 January to complete my mission.
I suspect rain will stop play tomorrow - so I will start on my next challenge of 52 different types/styles of beads. The first few weeks will probably be easy-peezies because I've not been near my torch for weeks, no doubt it will all get harder as the year progresses. I've also signed up for a 5 week business related web course, hopefully making what I love doing most more viable. That will take a lot of my time as I not only need to apply myself to the course work but apply what I am learning to my own business. Parting with (to me) large sums of cash always concentrates the mind!
Whatever 2014 throws at me, it will be changing and challenging and I am ready to meet it head on!
So, tell me, what are you planning to improve your world in 2014? Be it feeding the birds or feeding your life or business. We all have room to grow.
Sunday, 29 December 2013
Last year I 'signed up' to a Year Long Challenge - we would all be making 52 things in 52 weeks. Some joined in, some dropped out, some were on the ball and stuck to the schedule, some of us, like me, managed 52, but not something every week. But it kept me going!
Week 52's make is above, a beaded pen for my husband, for Christmas. I wasn't sure he'd like it but getting it back to photograph was a bit of a task, he seems very pleased with it.
More about the challenge can be found here.
I made more beads than I needed to make sure I had a good selection to choose from, so have listed those left over on Ebay, along with some other 'orphan' beads, some more small spacers and assorted other things in the 'I need to have a bit of a clear out' category.
These listings will end in a couple of days so why now have a look at what is on offer and perhaps restock your bead box for next year?
So, what for 2014?
Looking ahead, there will be changes and challenges. Some affecting Blue Box Studio, some affecting life in general. Some things will happen or not happen (keeping 'what' under my hat for now) and that will make other things happen or not happen. Who knows. Early days. Some changes will bring challenges, if those changes don't happen there will be other changes which will also be challenging, but for different reasons. Right now, everything is very uncertain. And a little stressful.
I enjoyed the momentum that a year long challenge brought so have decided that I need a focus for 2014 too. I have settled on making 52 different kinds of beads - they might be different techniques, different styles, different ideas; I'm not going to be too prescriptive but have, over the years, amassed rather a lot of tutorials that haven't really seen much use. I need to get out of my comfort zone and move on to the next level. I see courses I'd love to go on but haven't the confidence to convince myself I'd get the most from them and, most being several hundred pounds, I need to get the most from them! Sadly I am not 'of independent means' or bankrolled by a rich husband so if I want to do things I have to find the money myself so choosing what to do is paramount.
So watch out what new things turn up in my repertoire. I don't suppose all new techniques will be an instant success, but they will be fun. Some of them might be good enough to sell and there will be my usual lines of beads on offer alongside.
With less fairs booked for next year I will need to be selling more beads on-line - or selling up altogether and going back to working full time - this is a business, not a hobby, after all.
Probably the best place to follow what I get up to is my Facebook page, I get far more response there than I do from my blog! So follow me there - and also be first in line to hear about sales and offers.
Happy New Year and wishing you all that you would wish yourself doe 2014.