Friday, 20 June 2014

Exciting developments

Exciting things are afoot at Dolly Towers. Last month I was very priviledged to be invited to take part in the shooting of a TV advert for Etsy, the US based website I use to sell my creations on. They are having a publicity push in this country and invited 67 UK makers to take part. Obviously we British crafters are a good looking bunch!

A whole load of us took the time to travel up to London and it was such a fun day, especially meeting all the other Etsy sellers, who made such an amazingly diverse array of things. 

The advert aired for the first time last week on Channel 4 but it is also showing on Sky I think. You may have seen it! You can YouTube it (my special version) here

You can browse the items made by all the brilliant UK sellers on Etsy who took part in the advert in this section of the Etsy website

My owlie checking out the competition

Mr Lunaonthemoon and Jojo Hapuska

He's putting up my bunting!

Catching Up

Yes I am officially a terrible blogger. My updates have been hampered by a distinct lack of access to 'the big computer', although I have been managing (just) to keep on top of social media via phones etc.
If you are vaguely interested in keeping up with what I'm up to, mainly on a business/craft level, you can follow me:
Twitter @madebydolly
Instagram @laylambd
or indeed on Google+

Anyway, onto the tadpolios.

Our tadpole experiment went very well, and up until they turned into froglets we had successfully kept them happy and alive. Until the beginning of June.....

As it turns out, the froglet stage is tricky. Unless you provide them with enough places to get out, they are actually very easy to drown. They need to breath air, and are very fragile. They can get trapped, and they will insist on looking for the waters edge in the tank. As soon as I realised that they were in distress I changed the whole tank layout by taking out alot of the water and pushing all the gravel to the sides, leaving the large pebbles in the middle, so that where ever they swam to, they could climb out of the water. Still, we lost one, which was a sad thing to have happen at the breakfast table. Still, as inexperienced froglet nannies, I was pleased we realised soon enough to keep the others going. After that, they kept climbing up the aquarium walls, and we had to release them into the overgrown area next to the pond they came from. I cried! I have been there a lot since but seen no frogs. I hope some of the little guys make it to adulthood.

On a professional level May/June has been a rather exciting couple of months, you may have seen me on TV and not realised. Watch this space as I will have to put up a post all about that in a little while.

Bye for now x 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

More new additions and Introduction to TADCAM

As if our menagerie weren't large enough, our oldest daughter is always 'finding' new pets for us, Gerald Durrell style ( if you have read My Family and Other Animals you will know what I mean).

So last week we found ourselves to be the proud owners of an aquarium full of tadpoles. As she, thankfully, has been researching how to create an environment in which the little things are likely to survive, we were only subjected to 6. Also, before you ask! They are from our own pond, which is pretty deep so I'd rather they weren't hanging around it trying to observe the tadpoles in their natural habitat every 5 minutes. Particularly my accident prone 2 year old. 

I find them fascinating, but lets be realistic, any pet an 8 year old brings home is basically going to be looked after by the adults minimum 80% of the time. Also, she mysteriously has homework whenever it comes to cleaning tanks etc as I found out when we used to keep snails. Funny, she never mentions the homework at TV time, or when the weather is sunny, or at the weekend.

Now our wriggly little friends are living the high life in the kitchen, and I will keep you updated as they grow into tiny adorable, slimy, escapy (supress thought) froglets.


Tadpole Status: black blobs with "evil eyes" apparently. Long tails, little wiggly nubs where the legs will be

Food: boiled lettuce chopped fine and frozen daphnia which the man in the fish shop conned me into buying advised me to feed them

Friday, 2 May 2014

Where Cats and Children Intersect

I currently own two fur babies as well as three human ones, and the similarities between them astonish me. 

They all demand food from me as soon as the dawn has appeared with NO REGARD for the clock. I lock the furry children in the utility room at night because I became jaded at the sound of someone scratching up my bedroom carpet at 5.45am. But that only buys around 30 minutes extra sleep because at about 6.15am either someone will creep into bed blaming 'bird noises' for waking them or someone else will take out my eye with the corner of a book they NEED reading to them. No amount of ire has so far deterred them. 

They are all emotional wrecks. Most children have a sleepy time toy and mine are no exception, but even my cats have a security blanket! At the Rescue Centre we were provided with a fleece blanket that 'they were attached to'. For days we were telling the children off for moving the cats blanket until we caught one of the kitties dragging it through the house in her mouth, which it transpires they do whenever they can't find someone to stand next to. 

They all love a box. No matter what size or where it is, the cats will sit in it. Or the kids will sit in it. Or the cats and kids will try to gain supremacy over it. The children will write on it, and the cats will rub scent on it. The children will leave toys in it, the cats will leave their hideous blanket (see above) in it. Eventually, the children will move on, leaving the cats to enjoy the box. At which point, I will clear it into the recycling bin. I'm not a complete martyr.

They can't resist a toilet. What's that Mum? You want two minutes on your porcelain throne? Why thank you, we'd be delighted to join you. All of us. Why wouldn't there be space for two excited cats, a toddler holding a foam sword, a pre-school astronaut princess and an 8 year old reading aloud from Beast Quest in this little room?

I'm sure there are other similarities. So far, I can find few differences, apart from the fact that the cats always eat their food without complaining, and will happily spend all day outside in the garden without requiring a push on the swing. In fact they are the ideal companion. Remind me again why I have children? Only joking, I think.

Happy Bank Holidays x

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bedroom Ideas: Wonder Woman

For some reason I keep seeing Wonder Woman related things recently. A female super hero revival is long overdue, as I am fed up of all the children at my daughters nursery being loopy about Batman and Superman. Come on small people, aren't you aware of how much choice there is? Being entirely a product of their environment, of course they aren't cogniscent of the immensity of the 'marvellous' superhero universe, so, let's help them out a bit. 

Here are my decorating ideas for giving your daughters bedroom a little Wonder Woman style makeover. It's all basically unisex and the same shop that make this brilliant Wonder Woman picture also do Superman etc so you could get several and really theme it up! I'm thinking a primrose yellow wall. And basically nothing that will be ruinous to replace when your own supergirl is "too mature" for cartoon ladies. Although that's never happened for me. How about you?

 I'm not being paid to write this post, it's just some shopping ideas. I have bought from some of these retailers in the past but please don't hold me responsible for any dealings you have with them, thanks.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Trying to make Lent meaningful: #40Acts

"He went out to the field one evening to meditate"
Genesis 24: 63

I rarely post about my spiritual life - if you are a regular follower you probably know that I like to craft and sew, that I have children, that I do the odd thing for charity. But I am typically British and reserved about saying anything regarding my religious beliefs. Partly that is because this blog is usually not used as a personal diary, but sometimes I might just express myself a little more frankly, as a Christian. I'm not ashamed of my beliefs, but I certainly don't want to alienate the many people who come to read my blog with no interest in religious matters. Please don't be put off if you are yourself not a Christian. I'm not trying to convert you ;-)

Lent, in Britain at least, seems to me to have become a very shallow time for people to claw back their lost New Year resolutions. In other religions where fasting is involved, the fast is seen explicitly as an opportunity to purify oneself for spiritual purpose, not as a weight-loss tool with moral fringe benefits. I decided that I was not going to pointlessly give up chocolate or wine or whatever, but strive to think about what Lent might really be about. What are we really trying to do during Lent? Perhaps what we give up should be something important, like our time to those who need it, or give up a bad/pernicious habit. I did think I would give up social media but shouldn't that then be replaced with something you want to do, like spend time with family, or reading? In any case, my business is internet based so it seemed impossible!

Luckily just as I had reached that difficult point of not knowing what to do, a friend pointed me towards  40 Acts, a Lenten programme run by Stewardship UK. If you sign up, they will email you each day of Lent with challenges and reflection points. I am hoping to share some of my journey with you. You can also find participants by using #40acts on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.

Act 1 is to create a journal where you write 
 - things you are thankful for today
 - a 'wish list' of the people that you would like to bless throughout the 40acts process

Today I am thankful for so much in my life. The sun has been shining on the garden and I feel so blessed to have the type of life which enables me to stop and enjoy the little things. Today I can see God's creation shine in simple wonder: the wild daffodils growing in the hedge, the smiles of my precious little boy. I know that so many do not have all the priviledges I have been afforded including some of you who might be reading this (and passing out from sheer schmaltz overload). There have been dark times in my life, and quite often a cloud will pass over the sun, but I have all the good things I could have ever hoped for and I hope that I never forget how lucky I am. 

Who would I like to send blessings to? Of course, my family are so precious to me. I could do more for my elderly grandmother who lives so far from here, I pray often for her continuing health and wellbeing. My community and the Church who actually does so much for keeping our village alive, although there are many who do not realise how fundamental the existance of the church community is to the life of the wider community. Finally, I sponsor a little girl in Burundi and my thoughts are often with her as she strives to get an education and help her family survive day to day. 

I wish you all a positive and productive Lent. If you are giving up chocolate I will pray for you - I know I couldn't do it.

Love from Lx

Monday, 3 March 2014

Magpie Monday: Sanderson Wallpaper for £1

My local dump is a place of wonder and delight. It's true. Apart from having lots of different areas to help you seperate and recycle all your most random junk, they get all the decent stuff people have thrown away and allow you to buy it back from them. From one corrugated iron hut, it's a magnificent source of furniture that only needs a little upcycling, and all kinds of other great items. This time, I met a girl who had found a bunch of old board games like cluedo, incomplete, that she was going to use to do her wedding invitations and centrepieces (a cluedo wedding - how cool), and I got a big armful of stuff myself. So happy. 

For £3 total, I have got two rolls of Sanderson William Morris Wallpaper, so pretty (I know what I'm doing with it too - I will use it to line the inside of my new wardrobes which we have our bedroom redecorated in a few months time). Also a (new! unread?!) box set of Secret Seven books and a drawing instruction book for my daughter, two interesting old books from the 60s (one on vernacular architecture and one on anatomical drawing) which are in bad shape but I will probably use them for scrapbook or collage materials, a virtually untouched paper dolly book, and a very sweet glass bonbon dish with wheat ears on it.


Keen on this sort of thing?

If you like thrifting and second hand lovliness you can find more over at Me & My Shadow Magpie Monday Link Up