The Big Plan

The Big PlanI need a plan.

Working from home is wonderful, but having all of my life based from home means that work, kids, the business, volunteering, housework and down time all merge into one.   If I switch the laptop on to update a record on the Guiding database, I end up also writing the agenda for the next WI meeting, seeing what is happening in Twitter, writing press releases to try and attract leaders for the local Brownie unit, checking another unit’s records to see if they managed to move Rainbow Maisy to the Brownie waiting list and looking up a random person on Wikipedia which leads to another person, and another and another.   I’ll go into the Craftyguidelets’ bedrooms to quickly collect their washing and I’ll put their library books back in their bags, arrange the teddies on the bed, sort through the wardrobes for hangers, dig out all the used tissues, empty their bins, which in turn leads to emptying all the bins, sorting the recycling and so on.

Right now I’m supposed to be tidying up the office, but going downstairs to fetch the stepladder, I also collected my diary and to do list, and brought my laptop upstairs to check on my planner which has led to me thinking of a couple of blog ideas to note down, and I’d better check my emails, and there are a couple of corrections to do on the WI newsletter and eldest will be a Guide after Christmas so I wonder if she’s done enough to be awarded her Music Group badge as soon as she joins…   See, I’m hopeless!

I’ve recently started investigating bullet lists and planners to try and get more focused, and with the extended Easter holidays ending next Tuesday, and therefore all my Guiding starting up again, a plan is needed.

Are there any methods that have worked for you?

Fiskars Simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker

Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker ReviewI have been looking for a tag maker for some time but haven’t been able to find one I trusted with the dimensions I wanted.   Watching the new series of Crafty Beggars in the House! on the Community Channel, I saw them use some Fiskars tag punches to upcycle some cards – exactly what I needed!Fiskars simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker With EyeletsI bought mine from Amazon and chose the Simple design as I like the shape.   The tag punch is substantial and sturdy – what I expect from Fiskars – and comes with 20 metal eyelets.   I have a large stash of last year’s Christmas cards and set to work on them to make some tags for this Christmas.Fiskars Simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker Card PreparationHaving selected the area of the design to use, I trimmed the card so that I could get the punch in the right place.Fiskars Simple 3-in-1 Tag Maker Punching TagWith punches, I always find that turning the whole thing upside down and viewing the design through the aperture gets it cut out accurately.   The punch cut through really easily, even on cards with glitter or cards with textured finishes.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Punching HoleOnce the card is cut, there is another slot to put the tag into to get the hole cut accurately.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Punched TagRight on the pompom!   The tags can be left like this with ribbon or string threaded through the hole (as a good Guide leader, I use a cow hitch or lark’s head knot).   The pack also comes with metal eyelets which can be used to reinforce the hole and make a really professional finish.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Applying EyeletSimply feed the hole in the tag over the post under the handle, add an eyelet and squeeze.   It doesn’t feel like you are doing much and that you need to press harder, but the eyelet attaches really easily.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker Finished TagI am never throwing away a card again.   I had some cards that I’ve used to make birthday tags, as well as the Christmas tags.   I also have my eye on youngest Craftyguidelet’s birthday cards at the moment, and they will be going through the punch as soon as they come off the mantelpiece.Fiskars 3-in-1 Tag Maker TagsI think this lot will get me though next Christmas, and all for just the price of the punch and a bit of twine.    I also have plenty of card in my stash to get me through every possible occasion outside of Christmas so if you need me, I’ll be punching tags out of whatever will fit in the machine!

Disclaimer: I own this punch and I haven’t been asked to review it, or been paid to review it.   All opinions are my own, and I have added some links to the normal Amazon site where I bought mine.   They are not affiliate links and I don’t get any money if you click on them.

Here’s to 2016

Goodbye 2015 (1)At the beginning of 2015, I resolved not to have any resolutions, not to sign up to any social media obligations like photo-a-day or blog-a-week, not to join in with quilt a month, crochet along etc. and not to heap too much pressure on myself to join in and fit in with the crowd.

To some extent I’ve succeeded in this (especially the not blogging regularly part – oops!) but I’m not quite there.

My aim for 2016 is to get organised.   I want to declutter and put systems in place to get my life, head and home in order.   I want to complete ‘to do lists’ rather than keep putting things off.   I want a crafting area that is inspirational, rather than a pile of work in progress.   I want to minimise food waste by planning meals better and shopping smarter.   I want to put my health higher up in my priorities.

But for now, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year and I hope 2016 is everything you want it to be.

Messers Valentine and Valentine (and Valentine…)

Valentine cardFebruary 14th is on it’s way and millions of people will be exchanging cards, men will be raiding garage forecourts for flowers and fretting over what size their other half takes in uncomfortable lingerie, all in the name of St Valentine.

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However, did you know there is more than one St Valentine’s Day and more than one St Valentine?

Here in the West we celebrate on February 14th, but the Eastern churches celebrate twice in July, and Brazil chooses June 12th.   Furthermore, there are two Saint Valentines celebrated on 14th February.   A whole lotta love!

Mwah! badgeOver the centuries, St Valentine’s Day has moved towards a celebration of romantic love through traditions and literature.   The tradition of giving cards and gifts started in the UK and then spread worldwide.

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This year, perhaps look out for something handmade rather than a mass printed card from the supermarket, or have a browse online for ideas to make yourself.   I’ve pinned some ideas on my Pinterest board, and I’m sure there is plenty more “research” to be done!

Follow Louise Craftyguider’s board Valentines Day on Pinterest.

#SBSevent2015 – Meeting Theo Paphitis

Craftyguider monkey #SBSevent2015On January 30th, Mr CG, the monkey and I headed to the ICC in Birmingham for the #SBSevent2015.   For those not in the know, #SBS is the twitter hashtag for Small Business Sunday, an initiative set up by Theo Paphitis.   Small business owners tweet to @theopaphitis on Sundays between 5pm and 7.30pm.   He personally chooses 6 winners and retweets them to his 462,199 followers (at time of writing).   I won on 6th January 2014 and for a week my twitter feed went mad, I wrote press releases for the local paper and the national Guiding magazine and tried to put Craftyguider out there.ICC #SBSevent2015About every 12 months or so, all winners of the #SBS awards get to go to a big event for networking, Q&A and meeting the man himself.   I felt a bit out of my depth as I’m not a career woman any more.   Craftyguider is a fundraising venture and I take no money from the business other than material costs.  It’s lovely when people do buy from me as it means a lot that someone has appreciated something I’ve created, and it means a lot to my Guides who benefit from the money that I invest in the unit.

After the networking session, Kypros Kyprianou, Group CEO of Ryman Stationery (and fellow Spurs fan!), took to the stage to introduce the next part of the day, and then his boss, Theo Paphitis.Theo Paphitis #SBSevent2015Theo talked through some of the great things that were happening with SBS, including the newly updated SBS website.   I’ve been on and updated my profile page already.

After lunch, there was a Q&A session with Julien Callede, co-founder of Made.com, Judy Naake who introduced St Tropez tans to the UK, and Rob Forkan, co-founder of Gandy’s flip flops.

Towards the end of the questions (which overran their time slot), some people started queuing for their photo with Theo.   I didn’t as I thought it would be a bit rude to walk out on the session, and I was interested in what people were saying.  Some people had long journeys ahead of them though, and with the cold weather, they probably needed to get away as quickly as possible.Craftyguider meets Theo Paphitis #sbsevent2015And this is me with my certificate and Theo.   By this time, I managed to squeak to him that I was Craftyguider, a Guide leader who made things, before my voice gave out completely!   Mr CG has had the benefit of me being almost silent for more than 48 hours now.   We collected our goody bags and fortunately had a clear journey home to relieve my parents from their 24 hour babysitting stint.

And when I got home, I found I’d been nominated to receive a Certificate of Good Service from Girlguiding Hertfordshire “for being totally devoted to Girlguiding and for helping in many and varied roles”.   Whilst my #SBS is fantastic, this Guiding award is more special to me.   It means that 2 people have taken the trouble to write nomination letters for me, my commissioner has agreed the nomination, and that the awards committee have approved it.

I’ll be back at #SBS next year.   Mr CG has said he might want me to try and get an #SBS for his company, and eldest Craftyguidelet will shortly launch her polymer clay jewellery.   #SBS winner at 8 years old?

Procrastination be gone

Everyone has 24 hours in their day to fill, whether you are Beyonce, the Queen or the greengrocer.   You have certain things that you have to do each day such as eat and sleep, certain things that you should do such as exercise, and certain things that you want to do such as play with kittens.Leonie Dawson Create Your Amazing Year Workbook 2014At the beginning of last year I bought Leonie Dawson’s Life and Biz Workbook 2014.   I wanted to focus my attention on creating an amazing year, and people had said that it was a fabulous planning tool.   I didn’t fill in my workbook much, so I thought I’d revisit it this year.

One of the exercises is to fill in a pie chart with how you spend your time and another with how you want to spend your time.Typical week day pie chartMy days are so varied, but this is a rough approximation of a typical weekday.  I might craft in front of the TV, I might snatch an hour to blog instead of housework, but I don’t dedicate my time to doing enough to make a difference to me.   I want a clean and organised house, crafting makes me happy, being prepared for my Guiding responsibilities is important to me, but I don’t make an effort to ditch the procrastination and get on with it.   Instead of getting on with my Christmas crafting last year, I organised my Distress ink pads and researched racks to put them on.   Very satisfying, something that was nice to have done, but not the urgent task in hand.

Target week day pie chartThis is what I’ve come up with for how I want to spend my day.

I’ve swapped the procrastination for me time, and prioritised my crafting and blogging.   I’ve got the TV on as I’m blogging at the moment, but Phil Spencer doesn’t need my full attention.

I need to exercise more.   I do about 30 minutes a day during the week but I could and should do more.

I also want to drop some volunteering time.  I spend about 4 hours a week at meetings with the Guides and Rainbows, plus the occasional District team meeting or training course, plus my WI commitment.   The key word is ‘volunteer’.   There is a certain amount of work that has to be done every week, but I need to concentrate on the essentials and know that I don’t have to sort out everyone’s problems as well as my own.

Some days it will happen.   Some days it won’t.   I know that I’ve probably forgotten things like long baths, reading and shopping, and sometimes my crafting mojo will leave me, but I have to get some focus back in my life.

Is your year still on track?

#SBS One Year On

circle SBSOne year ago today, I sent a tweet to Theo Paphitis for his Small Business Sunday (#SBS) competition.   I wrote “When I was a Guide, I earned 2 Craft badges. Now I’m a leader, I design and make badges.”   I was hoping to be one of the 6 businesses to earn a retweet from him the next day, and my aim was to keep trying every week during 2014.   I couldn’t possibly imagine that he would choose me as the first winner of the new year.

I can’t say that it has changed my life.   Craftyguider.com is strictly a fundraising venture for my Guide unit.   I don’t earn a penny from it (as all profits go into my Guide unit), and I don’t want to as long as I can recoup my costs.   I am interested in making it a success though, and I do get a buzz when people buy from me and give me positive feedback.   2014 was by far my best year and I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me.

One result of all this is my 8 year old is already planning her business empire.   She wants a career involving music, singing, polymer clay and chocolate.   She wants a business like mummy, and is keen to help out.   She was there on my stall the day Craftyguider started up in September 2011 when she was only 4.   She’s already asking for a twitter account so she can enter #SBS too.

On January 30th, I’ll be at the SBS Winners Event picking up my certificate and having my photo taken with Theo himself.   Perhaps Craftyguidelet can make it a family thing and be there in her own right the following year?   She’s already got 2 Brownie Craft badges so she’s got a head start on me already.

That was the year that was ~ 2014

photo (82)It was a great year for the shop.   Craftyguider had it’s best year yet, and I raised a nice sum of money to put into the Guide accounts.   I get to meet Theo Paphitis soon to collect my #SBS (Small Business Sunday) award, and I featured in Guiding magazine and the local press.   However, I didn’t manage to launch a presence on Etsy, or learn about taking better photos.

photo (74)I managed to make enough Christmas cards for friends and family, and sold handmade Christmas cards and tags in my shop for the first time.   However I didn’t start in July as planned, and had a few late nights before craft fairs frantically making stock.

yellow and grey bunting-001I handmade a few Christmas and birthday gifts this year, however I didn’t make as many as I’d planned to.

Q and A a DayI kept up to date with my Q&A a day diary (if you count the odd catch up sessions when I missed a couple/few/several days), however the Craftyguidelets didn’t do theirs.

book bag tutorial title pageI blogged more than usual, however I didn’t get into a rhythm and get all my ideas off the ground, especially more tutorials.

IMG_8261I worked hard to keep my local Rainbow and Brownie units open and helped to recruit new leaders, however I didn’t manage to get new units to open so that all the girls who want to join, can.

robin snowflake kitsI have completed quite a few magazine kits this year, but not the one a week I wanted to.   I have also tackled the magazine mountain and now say to myself that buying more magazines doesn’t make me happy, and the clutter makes me sad when I’m standing at the magazine display in the supermarket.   However, the magazine hill is still there.

I haven’t learned how to procrastinate less, I’m still carrying some extra pounds, and the office is a bomb site.

I have learned an important thing this year though.   I can’t (and shouldn’t) do everything.   I don’t have to fill every available minute in the service of others or dusting the bannisters or attending meetings or making things for the shop.   I need to prioritise my girls, my husband, my family and me.   All the ‘howevers’ above have occurred because something else came up.   A craft session with the Craftyguidelets, making Elsa dresses, going on family holidays, extra time at the park after school, a day out on my own to a craft fair as a customer, not a vendor.

Have a wonderful new year everyone, and I hope 2015 is everything you want it to be.

Louise x

Dear September

Hi!

Where did our time go September?   30 days and it was all over!

You gave me glorious weather (mostly!) and lots of time in the garden appreciating the wonderful flowers still blooming their socks off.   Considering that from February to April it looked like a muddy mess, now it’s landscaped and lovely.autumn garden 3

My little Leprechaun turned Imp now has her Brownie Gardener badge for the hard work she put in sowing seeds, thinning out, weeding, watering and finally clearing away.   Hopefully she’ll help again next Spring, and her grandparents want to hire her for her skills with a seed packet.

simplicity 2828 finished dressI achieved things, September.   This pretty dress for Rainbow Craftyguidelet, some cards, some bunting, and even a tutorial for the book bags I made for the Craftyguidelets’ music lessons.   Sales have been picking up with Craftyguider following a bit of promo work, and the big push to Christmas starts now.   The Christmas shop is now open.   I just need to fill it up a bit more!christmas tree decsMy Guiding life has started again.   Guides and Rainbows are back, and once again I am juggling admin, trying to get as many girls as possible off the waiting lists and into units where they can join the fun, and trying to encourage more volunteers to come forward and help this to happen.IMG_8261I have also started Trefoil Guild which is like the WI for Guiding types.   It was so lovely just going to a meeting for grown ups, not being asked to do anything, not being responsible for anything, not feeling guilty for not doing more.   I just enjoyed the talk on the fabulous work of Guide Dogs and the puppy walkers.   Finally something just for me to enjoy!Harry Guide Dog 1WI planning has started again for our Handmade Christmas Craft Fair on 16th November.   I need to get a shifty on for my stall!photo (59)

But then just like that it was over September.   30 days of full on busyness and then phwoomp!   October happened.

Autumn is here and I’ll be joining in with Miss Beatrix’s #BashSAD challenge to banish the blues of the shorter days.   I’m also attempting to complete a whole month of the Fat Mum Slim #fmsphotoaday challenge on Instagram.   My house is finally gaining some order after a summer of neglect, the kids are settled at school.   Let’s do this October!

What was that?   Half term at the end of the month?   *sticks fingers in ears and pretends not to hear*

What are you up to this month?

Simplicity 2828 – WIP Finish

simplicity 2828 title dress2 years ago (or was it 3?) when Craftyguider was still starting up, I made a duffel bag for eldest Craftyguidelet’s PE kit at school.   One of the mums at school saw it and asked if I could make one for her daughter.   She wanted something in a dark fabric that would be quite hard wearing, so off I popped to the local habby and found this.
simplicity 2828 fabricI love this navy corduroy with the embroidered flowers on it.   I bought some for the bag and got a bit extra to make a dress for youngest Craftyguidelet.
simplicity 2828 patternI was taken by Simplicity 2828.   I don’t think I’ll be making the fluffy hat somehow, but the pinafore was spot on.   The Project Runway patterns enable you to pick different design elements to personalise your own creation.   I didn’t want any of the ruffles or bows so I just did the basic square neckline dress.   Earlier this year I got on and cut out all the pieces for an age 5 girl so that youngest Craftyguidelet could grow into it.   She is now 5 and a half and tall for her age so perhaps she won’t have that long in it.   My fault for stalling all this time!   Note to self: don’t trace patterns or cut fabric until you are ready to make the whole dress!
simplicity 2828 finished dressEt voila!   I love how it has turned out, and luckily little Craftyguidelet loves it too.   It even goes over her plaster cast at the moment which is a big plus.
simplicity 2828 curly wurlyShe was so pleased with it that she brought me a mini curlywurly from the chocolate drawer.   What?   You don’t have a chocolate drawer in your house?   You are missing out!

So about 3 years after I planned to start the dress, it is now finished.   Have you got any long term WIPs in your basket?