Tag : you-can-do-whatever-you-like

A wreath is for life, not just for Christmas…

Autumn.

For some, this is purely just the long, grey transition from the warm and bright Summer days into our dreary, cold, drab - and of late, very snowy Winters here in the UK.

For, me - it is the 'calm before the storm'... and I actually really love this season. I've talked before on this blog about my love for 'September', as it feels like a fresh start - a new term. Autumn actually officially starts this year on Sunday 23rd September 2018 - much later than I realised! As it already feels like we are there. The leaves are changing. It is starting to feel 'fresh' in the morning. Starbucks are even on with their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes!

Living in the glorious Northamptonshire countryside, and with a little man who loves a daily little jaunt around the village - you can see it. I love watching the leaves change from lush green to vibrant palettes of reds, yellows, russets and orange. You can just feel that Summer is starting to say goodbye for another year.

We are starting to gear up and say hello for our Christmas workshops here at The Crafty Lass - with our first 'private' wreath workshop booking being on October 7th - so just around the corner...! I have even started my Christmas shopping believe it or not... #organised. Working on Christmas 'all year round' pretty much - always planning the following year workshops at any given time - you might think I am bored of all the festivity... nope - I love it. And I hope that, that 'love' and 'passion' for 'the most wonderful time of the year' really shows in our workshops!!

I really love Autumn... as it signifies we are nearly there! It is nearly Christmas. We are allowed to wear big cosy jumpers. And scarves! (I own too many scarves so the cold weather means an excuse to wear them!) We start to eat all the yummy things in life - stews, roasts, crumble, pie. Syrup sponge! Red wine! To be honest, I eat (and drink!) most of these all year round, but somehow Autumn just signifies MORE of these yummy, scrummy things.

That is also why I particularly love 'Advent'. I love the whole excitement and build up to the very 'big day' every year. When I was a child, I would LOVE opening my little advent calendar door. One more chocolate to devour, and one more door down until Christmas Day.

Advent however, is no longer JUST about chocolate. You can get beauty advent calendars. Beer. Cheese! Well, I know what sort of calendar I would want...

You may have seen on our blog, or social media particularly - but The Crafty Lass, in collaboration with Craft Buddy are very excitedly launching a CRAFT advent calendar this year! A little box of craftiness every day to be opened and enjoyed across 24 days... We can shortly reveal exactly how and when and where you will be able to get your hands one! Where will the journey take you? #TheCraftyLassADVENTure

Anyway, this wasn't really meant to go on a tangent to Christmas (but I love it, so it does generally tend to appear often!) there will be plenty of time for that later...

When I joined the WI (this isn't another tangent, this is integral to the whole point of this post!) I hoped to become more involved in the community - I hoped to meet some lovely ladies, and make some new friends. I hoped to learn a few new things... All of this so far as been achieved, and more! There has been lots of lovely food, there has been plenty of tea and cake, chats, social occasions with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Oh, and the odd WI Life magazine front cover...(!)

This month's meeting was to try something completely new to me: Willow weaving!

I currently have a very large, and beautiful hand crafted willow wreath sat in the studio - and every year I think I MUST do something with this - it is lovely. And, how was it made?! Little did I know, we would get to make our own.

The tuition was held by the engaging and thoroughly knowledgeable Deborah Jones. She explained the hows and whys of the wood, and just how we could create a simple and beautiful wreath design before we were quickly off and giving it a go!

How quickly the wood transforms into a circular and flowing wreath is amazing! The wood bending naturally round into a circular shape - a bit like 'sewing with wood' is certainly how you could describe it. Flowing back and forth, wrapping the wood round and round and round. And the smell, was beautiful! Almost like Christmas 'pine' but more Autumnal and smokey. If that didn't make us feel ready for this beautiful season, I am not sure what would!

I have always admired 'non' Christmas wreaths. Wreaths that go with every season, a new theme and idea every month - but, I had never quite got the full inspiration and ideas (and time?) to do something about it. However, Deborah's class last night really got me thinking.

So, wreath complete, and inspired - off we went on an Autumn 'forage' today with our daily morning walk. Some beautiful fallen leaves, dried cow parsley and grasses. Berries and poppy heads. Things that actually, I wouldn't have maybe given a second glance to - but would have looked lovely all together just simply shoved in a vase! However, they had another purpose... I wanted to create an 'Autumn Wreath' using the newly acquired handmade willow base.

I tripped off to Hobbycraft too for an 'Autumnal' craft hunt (amongst lots of other ideas!) and purchased the 'pink pepperberries' in the display for the final finish - but everything else is simply either from my garden, next door neighbours garden (I did ask!) and some local hedgerows... attached with floristry gold binding wire, hessian twine and a couple of dabs of a hot glue gun for extra 'security'...

It may not last long, it may need 'refreshing' soon - but, that's ok. As, I will soon be planning one with Ivy, and Holly and 'Glitter' and much more 'Christmassy' 'traditional' wreath things... but for now, I have a daily reminder on my front door - it is certainly, and/or very nearly 'Autumn'. And, isn't that a lovely thing.

 

Categories: Business, Christmas, General Craft, House & Home

The best-laid plans of mice and (craftswo)men.

I am pretty sure that 99% of my blog posts start about how busy I have been. But, it’s true…! That – and/or, I am knackered… And, the year flies by… the featured image is over 15 months ago – what?!

Anyone who tells you that the self-employment route is easy, is LYING! Yes, I am my own boss, yes, I don’t dread Monday’s and yes, I have flexibility to change my day around when required – but – it is never easy.

Today, I woke up to the start of the week – ready for ambition, to get stuff done! I was working by 7am with a cup of tea whilst little man very happily played.  And, I even posted to say ‘Today will be fabulous’. End quote.

Got in the car, ready for lots of tasks to be achieved at 9am. Got to Brackley (a 30 minute car journey via a diversion) for the start of tasks being completed… and my little one was violently ill… 

I am not really one for ‘change’. I had a plan, and this needed to change dramatically due to the circumstances – E.g. cancel everything and return home. BUT – when it is this sort of situation, instinct kicks in. You don’t think of anything else, other than making sure they are OK and happy, and warm and safe and just not – sick. BUT – if this was about answering to a boss, and circumstances made me call my work to apologise for the change of plans – that would be even more of a stressful situation than it was. And, most people – most women and men too, this is just the norm and reality of life. Kids, you cannot plan for them – and absolutely hats off to anyone that has to balance full time work, with their children. My boss was OK about today’s changes… (:me.)

Coming home, and laying in bed with my child – is not the relaxing situation you would envisage. They wriggle. They kick. He doesn’t talk as much as you would hope – so he cannot tell you if he is tired, hungry, thirsty, upset, just wants a specific item – so I opted for cuddles, cartoons, and the hope he would be a normal happy chappy again soon. Which – he was, and is absolutely fine! Great! But, as much as you are super relieved – it now means the day is gone, and the planned work is not achieved. Instead, it is now 9pm and I am ‘working’ – a glass of red in hand and ‘trying’ to work and ‘relax’ at the same time…

On a completely separate note – today I did manage to achieve something different and out of my ‘comfort zone’ – and entered a local Business Women of the Year competition in the area of Business Communicator. Nothing may come of this – and a panel of judges need to check through this, short list the applicants and then the awards ceremony is later in September. Writing the application was actually quite a shock. It is isn’t often I truly ‘stop’ and look at where the last year has taken me, the business, the different achievements and actually life goals ticked off – I *may* have shed a tear! Anyway, having read the criteria – I feel like I do meet the requirements… but, you never know. It is nice for me to have been even asked to enter! Wish me luck! 

Life has generally been quite busy recently and I did originally blog a few weeks and months ago to say August was OFF – but it hasn’t worked out as planned. Now, in reality I am NEVER OFF – even if I have a break, I answer emails and am constantly THINKING about the next steps for the business, but I haven’t even switched off to the level that I anticipated – BUT there is a difference, I am ok with this as everything is very exciting! Products being designed, 1-1 craft workshops being held, awards to enter and plans for Christmas to be put in place! 

20th August… I am already in mega Christmas mode. Some very exciting things ahead, I don’t blame myself for getting caught up in everything when I am ‘meant’ to be on holiday… However, the true countdown is on for Thursday of this week! I don’t need to say much more than: #SpaDay.

It. Is. Needed.

I did think I wouldn’t even take my phone, but who am I kidding?!

But – my phone will certainly be switched off for my 50 minute booked back massage… #GoAwayWhoeverYouAre 

Categories: Business, Crafty Kids, Places to Go & Things to See, Workshops

Good things never came from comfort zones.

Rewind to 4 years ago. I WANTED to go self-employed – but there was no way I could.

Me? Go self employed?

Me, do my own accounts? Submit tax returns? Me, build my own website? Haha. Uhuh. OK. Not me.

 

I waited a while.

 

Fast forward to present day. Yes. OK… All that and more.

 

I never believed I could be self employed. I was scared. I didn’t know how to do everything. I didn’t know how to wear all the hats, and be everything for everyone. BUT – IT IS NOT AS SCARY AS I THOUGHT!

Being made redundant on maternity leave certainly focused the mind as to what I (and we) wanted out of life. I have mentioned before on this blog that I started to look at houses as a maternity leave activity… Each day, I would work out how to leave the house with a (then) 3 month old and a (huge) multitude of items – and go and view ‘properties’. Most of them, I sort of KNEW that they were not right from Day 1. They were just that – ‘properties’ not ‘homes’.

Why did I go and view them then? Well I WANTED to convince myself (and The Husband) that they WERE.

But, they weren’t.

UNTIL – this one came up – and it was a no brainer. If I could have signed the contract on viewing the particulars, I would have done. My dancing from foot to foot whilst the estate agent was there, didn’t really help with the ‘play it cool’ attitude I ‘should’ have had. (In reality, I cried when the estate agent when to ‘check on some paperwork’ whilst we looked around for the 3rd time.) It had a studio opportunity on site, what wasn’t to love? It was scary, but – the right decision.

 

With this in mind – last weekend, I stepped (even further) outside of my comfort zone. We held our latest workshop – but this time, not craft, but: CLICHE. Crafty Lass Inspirational Career Help and Education. And, the first thing that I mentioned (apart from the standard and ‘yawn’ health and safety, fire safety, personal injury safety, GDPR, safety safety introduction got-to-be-done – that is now the norm) – was to do a LIFE PLAN. 

Don’t think about what CAREER you would like, think about what LIFE you would like.

What career you would like is all well and good, but how does that fit in with everything else? Will that career give you personal satisfaction? Will you be able to have breakfast with your little one? Will you be able to do something for YOU – like exercise, or see your besties for a glass of vino, will you be on the road all the time, will you have to travel alot? If you like driving, and you like travel – GREAT! But, that’s the point – it needs to be what works for YOU. What you personally want. You do work to LIVE, not live to work.

Around the time I started to get fed up, and pretty angry, and not a nice person to live with to be honest in my 9-5 – The Husband made me stop and write a LIFE PLAN. Why do I want to leave my job – what are the negatives, just WHY do you want things to change? What is it about the job – is it the hours? The money? The circumstances and location? Or, is it none of those and actually, you aren’t just fed up of office politics – you are ready for the next step.

It was a real turning and focal point in my life as to how I thought, and how I approached what I wanted.

I kept thinking I needed to move from job to job, that the next big exciting opportunity would be ‘it’. But, being honest – it never would. For ME, I NEEDED to go self employed. As although the risks are obviously higher – in regards to income, in regards to working long hours, in regards to being all the different departments on an hourly/daily/weekly basis – I am my own boss. I can do it in whatever order I want. In what time scale I want. And, it is so far – exciting. Those long hours and effort are paying off!

I am super super lucky to have both a financially, and emotionally supportive husband and family – as at times it has been hard and ‘wobbly’ – but just like me, we can all see the greater plan. The ambition. The passion. The focus – and sheer determination that this WILL WORK. 

And, I think that’s it in a nutshell. BELIEVE. You need to truly believe that no matter what, it will work. Yes, you need to (MAJORLY) consider finances, legality, is there a gap in the market, branding, your dedication to the ‘brand’ at all times – but, as a note:

My ‘job’ never feels like work. EVER.

I HATE doing my accounts.  But, only as I need to dedicate 100% time and focus to it, when I could be doing something MUCH more crafty and fun like making my Christmas craft demos, or responding to an exciting journalist opportunity! OR (and that’s the work life balance ratio I am only just getting a handle on) I could be doing some water play with our little one, or actually going for a well deserved pedicure, but – when the accounts are done, I feel relaxed, super charged – I CAN DO THIS.

Recently, with a big studio turn around and clear-out, I found the original ‘Life Plan’ goals. 

And, without sounding ‘smug’ – this blog is not what this is about – this is about showing that you CAN do it too… Anyway, I had achieved 90% of them. And, without going in to particulars – what I would like to share is interestingly, as I am a forward thinker – I didn’t see it as ‘that’s done then’… the plans have grown, and changed. I read it as a new challenge, and that I should actually REDO the Life Plan again. And, visit it regularly if ANY aspect of life isn’t working. 

So – write EVERYTHING you would like from life. From the more frivolous things such as go on holiday once a year, to be able to shop in Waitrose, or maybe an Eco and Ethogical ideal – that you would like to buy sustainable clothing, or not use electricity as much. Remember, these aren’t the be all and end all things for everyone – it is what YOU want from every single aspect in life. Maybe you want to just have a 10 minute maximum commute, or to ‘work in the food, or entertainment industry’. Whatever those dreams, whatever those little acorns – oak trees will grow.

But here is the difficult part, pick FIVE. Just five. And focus… 

What I think is humbling and reassuring is – EVERY SINGLE business had to start from somewhere. Someone decided to take that plunge. And, what worked for them.

A GREAT example is ‘Jeff Bezos’ – and you ‘may’ have heard of his business: Amazon.

He started in his parents garage; selling books. He wanted to expand. He thought there was a 70% chance the business would fail. He was wrong.

Now, I don’t have the same ambitions as Mr Bezos – I don’t envisage (yet… hey! dreams change!) to being an international company and brand – but it is certainly inspiring to know that it started small, dreamt big, went HUGE (and certainly successful!)

Anyway, CLICHE – yes, holding craft workshops: I am 100% comfortable in. I KNOW how long things take to make, I KNOW what the costs are, the margins – why I am able to make money on what I do. BUT – CLICHE became, and is – a different ball game. 

I need to tell, and explain how and what I did. And most importantly – what I have LEARNT.

It was pretty ‘free-flowing’ with the writing of the course content – as it comes naturally to what I ‘do’.

I think, little details to the class made a huge difference (fingers crossed) – every attendee received a personalised motivational (and hand calligraphed (is that a word?!)) card to point them in their own direction. They all had one of the (very exciting!) new, The Crafty Lass notebooks and pencils to use in the workshop. 

We initially, at a very early stage of the class, learnt about each and every CLICHE attendee – and what THEY wanted to achieve – and actually, what their greatest fears were of NOT getting there. 

We came together as a group of self employed, want to be self employed, on maternity leave, about to quit my job (or, I have actually already quit my job) and about to be retired people – who all had the same purpose: to DREAM BIG.

It was an inspiring group of ladies. I set this class up to try and help, and inspire other people to achieve their own dreams (if I can do it, so can you!) but I left feeling that for myself. To see other people’s ideas and ambitions laid out on the table – openly, honestly, this is who I am. It was motivational in its self and hugely humbling and emotional to have people be that honest.

We went on to discuss the branding, social media, financial, legal, press, marketing, networking aspects of self employment. Along with balancing life, dealing with negativity and the all round support required to establish (and run) your own business.

The time flew by.

I genuinely believe we could have been there all day. I know how long it takes to make a ‘wreath’ or craft up ‘XZY’ exactly – but this, with all it’s discussion points…. took longer than I anticipated. That’s not to say it was a ‘badly planned’ workshop – far from it (I think!), part of the reason I set this up was so that small businesses could support, and interact with each other in a relaxed environment. It just meant after the tea and (triple chocolate shortbread) biscuits – we all needed to have a ‘working’ break. Just as you do when self employed! 

Time disappeared. Tea and biscuits were consumed. And, it worked.

Aside from all the thank you emails, Facebook messages, Instagram comments and beautiful pictures. People were actually onwards and upwards inspired…. Yay!

I have set up a ‘CLICHE’ Facebook group for the attendees – so firstly that we could all easily interact with each other, but also support and help if and when needed. In the few short days since we held the class – people have been chucking out stuff from wardrobes to make space for their dream plans, designing logos, setting up social media accounts, and have started to move out of their ‘comfort zones’. Big, thumbs, up. 

And, it’s amazing to see everything developing! Already! Please do keep me (and us) informed ladies! 😀 

The next CLICHE workshop is on Saturday 22nd September – and please do book your space should you wish to attend to avoid disappointment. As you may have gathered from the above – it is a structured (yet very relaxed) format to discuss through some ideas and learn about what you would like to achieve.

 

But, I am on with stepping out of my comfort zone again. I am dreaming, and aiming bigger. I really think the CLICHE course content could be across a whole day. With lunch. Guest speakers. Inspire more people.

Dream Big. Good things never came from comfort zones.

 

And don’t forget… Don’t Quit Your Day Dream!

Categories: Business, General Craft, Workshops

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