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Open Studios countdown…..4 days to go

Tuesday morning and only 4 days to go……………..

It’s that time of year again, when artists around the Horsham area fling open their doors and invite the public to see their work at home. I’m taking part again, and this year I’m with my friend Angela Jenkinson, who mainly makes fused glass items, jewellery and home accessories.

My main focus this year is on my loose beads and bead sets, but I’ve also been busy making lots of small items, my very popular beads on adjustable length cotton thongs, and some reasonable priced earrings (I call them credit crunch earrings), I also hope to make some greeting cards and keyrings. I will have my posh glass cabinet with a display of my range of jewellery and lots of bargain bead pots full of yummy single beads.

Come along this weekend and next to see our art, watch us demonstrate how we make our glass pieces and take some refreshment with us.

Venue: Oakhurst, Pondtail Road, Horsham, RH12 5HY (5th house on the left)

See you there.

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Happy New Year

Wednesday lunchtime

Happy New Year to all my friends, customers and family.

Ooh my! almost a month since my last post. It always happens when I’m really busy, too busy really. The last 30 days have gone in a haze of exhibition preparations, stewarding trips to Guildford, Christmas shopping trips, Christmas day itself, then …the inevitable illness that always seems to follow. Oh yes, just when you think you have survived, you (well me) get struck down with something seasonal. I managed to hold out until Boxing Day, when I was home caring for our little one, when I started the inevitable sniffle, then masses of sneezes. I’ve now been unwell for 9 days, I’m feeling much better but I’m still struggling with feeling giddy, especially now as I type, and I’m also struggling to breathe properly.

But of course with a new year, those pesky resolutions come to mind. I think I managed to do most of the ones I made regarding my business last year, all except one….wannna guess which? ha ha, you know already! That would be the one where I keep up to date with my accounts, which I didn’t, of course. Actually I did make a decision this last year about 4 months in, that I wouldn’t try, and that I wouldn’t beat myself up about it either. And here’s why.

I think it actually uses more time up to do accounts once a week, as you have to get everything out, get into the mindset, then do your task. You also have to remember what you did before and not replicate the task. I believe it’s better to save it up to do in one hit or a few smaller ones, so that is what I plan to do this year. Although things are easier again as I did all my filing and tidying up for this years accounts after I did last years work, always a good idea that, and I had a mega filing session half way through the year too, so invoices and receipts only need sorting from January to April. It also helps to be more organised with the paperwork, and I’ve been far more disciplined this past year with where I put my papers and printing out relevant paperwork. So I’m not going to get disappointed with myself, but pat myself on the back and hope that I can get through my accounts as quickly as possible. Here’s hoping.

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Squidoodle

Wednesday morning

Newsflash…dit dit dit…I have windows that open again! So my new shed last year had 2 windows that were supposed to open and one ended up very jammed. The lovely ‘Man from Malvern’ came today (first thing)  and fixed it, so I can now have both windows open again and keep the howling gales outside, well hurrah. This is actually double hurrah as I thought I was going to have to wait all day for him to come and wouldn’t be able to make any beads, but my day is clear now, up until 6pm, yay. (Hey come on, I know it’s a small thang, but I’m easily pleased.)

Talking of easily pleased, a couple of weeks ago we were pointed to several websites with a cool form of doodling on called Zentangles, and spent the whole of Saturday after the party just doodling (yes, the whole day, but we were shattered and it was very relaxing). Here’s a couple of mine

The tuition date of 13th May has been taken now, but more glass beadmaking lesson dates are still available for May, June and July. Just drop me a line with your preferred dates and we’ll choose one that suits us both.

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Super Doopahpah….(tribute to Abba)

Tuesday morning

This blog post is coming to you from my new super doopa shiney laptop…..and it’s taken me all morning just to get to this point…..gah! So after weeks of looking and waiting I finally took the plunge and got the one we’d settled on before Christmas, which had gone up £20 over the new year (they said it was the VAT increase but it was way more than it should have been) but then suddenly came down by £70, so I’m well pleased I waited. Dickie Doo Dah very patiently spent all last evening laboriously transfering all my files from the old one to this (thank you!) and warned me this morning that I might struggle to find stuff….ha ha…that’s the understatement of the new year….and where’s my spellcheck for this blog gone? Please excuse any extraenous letters (or missing ones) that may pop up in your face. At least I don’t appear to have stickey keys again, you know (or maybe you don’t), ones you press but don’t appear to leave a letter on the screen! These new ones are just very clicky, but I think I like that.

We had a fab day at Ardingly last Sunday, thank you all for coming to say hello and buying my beads, meeting you guys is what makes our day at these events. Unfortunately the preparation and the day itself left me absolutely exhausted again, so much so that I was really flaked out for most of last week. The bad news was that Dickie managed to break our new Pump Pot before the show even began, and we’d only had the pleasure of using it on two occasions before Ardingly. Do they do spare glass flasks for these?  It’s looking very much like they don’t. BUT The good news is that I did manage to get my accounts and tax sorted out in time, and I’m sat indoors today in my new bid to be a good girl and do all things admin at least one day a week. Although the rate I’m progressing with this new pooter I will be here all week before I get anywhere…lol. I’m planning to get some more new pieces in my shop or my new Etsy shop this week, but I will let you know when I do. Toodles.

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Nuts!

Friday evening

They’ve been sat outside in our new nut dispenser for birds since Sunday now, and have they touched them yet? I’ve been concerned about the birds and wanted to feed them during the snow, and I know it can take up to 3 weeks for them to find a feeder, but how sad that they don’t seem to have noticed it yet. My daughter thought she saw movement on it late this afternoon, let’s hope she right. I’ve been trying to entice them with fresh water in the large pot saucer that the blackbird normally uses, that definitely caused a stir when I uncovered the dish and refilled it yesterday with slightly warm water… a female blackbird came and wallowed in it for about 15 minutes while all the other birds bobbed around to see what she was doing. I also moved the filled coconut shell near the bath and nut feeder and put out a halved apple. If that doesn’t work I don’t know what will!

It’s been a lovely week watching the birds forage for food. They’ve been raiding the Bud-lea next door and the shrub we have which I don’t really like, but I may decide to keep for the sake of the bees in the spring and the birds in the winter. We’ve had our regular robins and blue tits, sparrows and blackbirds. But we also have some other finches, I’m not sure yet what they are. Don’t forget next weekend is the Big Garden Birdwatch, you can get details from the RSPB website

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Tax doesn’t have to be taxing

Tuesday morning

Still snowy out there, and very cold. Far too cold to be in my studio at the moment, but hopefully it will be warm and snugly by February when we’ve put in the insulation.  Normality is sort of returning, as today is the first day back at school since all the snow, they had 4 days off in total and my how it disrupted my work plans.  I’m taking a very quick break from doing my accounts, as I have thrown myself headlong into getting them done in time. I have so much to do this month it’s crazy, as I also have a bead fair at Ardingly on 24th January, and lots of other jobs to be ready for the 20th January….but I guess I can’t tell you about that, you’ll have to wait and see what I’m not talking about ;.)

I’d have to agree with the statement of my title, it’s not taxing, but doing my yearly accounts is. I was feeling very despondent last night as it all seems to be taking so long and all the things I did throughout last year to make things easier don’t seem to have worked particularly well. I appear to have a few receipts missing in action, although these are from when I was officially on sick time off and following that when I was technically taking it a lot easier. I have to admit that my head was a bit all over the place then, and they’ve probably been ‘put’ somewhere that seemed sensible at the time. Some of the processes I put into place did work, sort of, but it’s still a mix of some bits been entered and others not, which means I have to check everything. NNNNrggghhh.

I really want to get to grips with this so I don’t have so much stress next year. So I have another resolution…..wait for it…to try and do my accounts monthly or every 2 months (sounds familiar doesn’t it!)…..if possible…remembering that I need to work a couple of months behind so that I have all the relevant paperwork and statements. I honestly tried so hard last year, but as I was trying to do January at the end of Jan I got unstuck straight away. Hmmmmm, I wonder if I will manage it?

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Snoooooooooooooooooow

Thursday evening

Snoooooooooooooooooooow. Yes it came 2 nights ago and there’s loads of it. Yesterday we went for a walk and admired all the huge snowmen and women. Normally when you make a snowman all the snow on the lawn disappears and you get left with patchy snow and a straggly sad looking snowman. Not this time. There are loads of monster snow families around the place and still masses of snow left to play with. We had several snowball fights, my daughter came off worse than me (oops) and I made my first snow angel. So she’s home again tomorrow, that’s the third day in a row, let’s hope she can go back next week or I’m really going to struggle to get my work done. I’m loving it, but below I’m going to have a rather huge moan about something…..

So my question is, what on earth is going on with this country when people are too scarred of being sued to clear the snow? I remember when I was a kid, most people used to clear the snow in front of their house, much to my annoyance. Now it would appear we all sit home and whinge about the councils not gritting everywhere, instead of taking responsibility for our paths and clearing up. This really gets me hot under the collar, especially as my approach to life is that if you need to complain, then something obviously needs doing about whatever you’re complaining about, so why not get off your derrière and do something about it? But apparently now people won’t clear the snow because if you do and someone has an accident, then it’s your fault! What’s that all about? I think this government should do us all a favour and make it compulsory to clear snow and ice like many of the countries in Europe and stop pandering to this compensation culture. I think things have got into a bad state when people are too scarred to help their fellow human beings when help is needed. Moan over!

I have to say though that all this snow keeps reminding me of a Cat in the Hat story I had as child. The Cat had a bath and left a pink ring around the bath, and his friends tried everything to get rid of the pink, which gradually got transferred from one item to another. Things came to a head when they used a fan and splayed all the pink on to the snow outside and ended up with a huge pink snowdrift! And on that note…have a pink warm and toasty evening.

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It’s here again!

Tuesday morning

Oh yes, it’s the time, and it seems to have come around so quickly, that I have to do my tax return. And guess what? I think you’ve guessed it! If it was just a matter of filing in a form with a few details it would take about half an hour tops, but of course it isn’t. Yet again I have let the finance side of my business slip dreadfully, and actually this year it really bothers me, well it sort of does and kind of doesn’t. I was reading an article in Glass Bead (the magazine by the ISGB) about the 7 deadly sins of business, and ‘Running in the Dark’ was one of them. So what is this?….It’s what I’m doing! I have a rough idea of how much money is coming through my business, but I don’t know exactly how much until I do my yearly accounts. Hmm. This would be a real problem if I was driven by my company profit (or loss), but I’m not. I am doing this professionally to earn money, and I am running a business, but huge profits are not my primary aim.  My main objective is to be creative and to teach others the wonderful creative experience that is glass beadmaking. I guess this attitude goes with being creative, I would rather use my time making beads and jewellery than doing boring accounts. Oh well.

So maybe the question is should I get all accounty and do forecasts and monthly accounts? Would this help me focus more or would it just use valuable marketing time? You see the problem with running your own business, especially where you spend time personally creating art to sell, rather than buying in stuff and selling  it on, is that you only have so many hours in the day, and way too many other jobs to do to keep up with everything. I have written about this before, probably last January and the one before!

Anyway, I’m not going to ponder this issue for long, well, at least not here. I have stuff to get on with, and maybe I should be grateful I have to do office stuff this week as it’s way too cold outside and I still have to go get my warm studio boots from my friend. I’m not procrastinating my jobs, and have ‘set to’ with vigour to get this done, the first thing being to finish tidying my desk, especially since I need to fit a new larger laptop here.

Toodles.

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The end of the naughties

Thursday morning

To quote Britney Spears  ‘Ooops I did it again’. This is becoming a bit of a bad habit, not blogging for days on end. But, well, you know how it is on the lead up to Christmas and over the holiday.  At least Rick didn’t put Buffy on again the day after our mammoth Buffy Fest. Unfortunately we now also own the complete box set of Angel and 2 series of Dr Who, the ones with Billie and David Tennant (no 2), and one with Martha and David (no 3) ….I really have no idea when we’ll be watching these, as contrary to popular belief we do not spend every hour of every evening glued to the telly, as we have rather of lot of stuff to do all the time. And did I mention Shaun the Sheep? I also had series 1 of this given and was staggered to see there are 40 episodes…I had no idea there were so many.

It’s been a good holiday so far, probably far too much relaxing going on in all honesty, but I certainly needed a rest after all my running around to Guildford and back and keeping my exhibitions topped up with jewellery. So what else did I get for Christmas? I have to say my favourite present is a Wally trolley! Oh yes, I thought I’d never be seen dead with one, but they’re coming back into fashion, all the trendy ladies in France use them. I really don’t see much difference between a trendy trolley (and it does have to be trendy) and a suitcase on wheels. I was also very encouraged to see about 4 ladies my age and younger using them for their Christmas shopping in Horsham town centre. I shall be using mine for my exercise power walk to the local shop and back. This summer I was totally weighed down with very heavy bags of spuds and copious pints of milk and it was really getting very tiresome and sore on the hands and my back and shoulders. So I shall now parade to the parade with my black, red and white spotty bag on wheels (oh my dear, a plaid one just wouldn’t do….I wouldn’t be seen dead with the traditional looking ones).  Mine also has a built in coolbag, a pocket for a brolley, and various pockets for different things. Click here if you fancy a sneak peek at my designer chic! Oh what a wally trolley dolly!

Dates are booking up fast for beadmaking tuition in the New year…..see my tuition page for details and contact me for available dates.  I have 1 space for a beginner on Friday 5th February. I also decided to add some of the many testimonials regarding my courses that I’ve been collecting for the past few years. Thank you to everyone who has written such lovely comments in our book, you’ve all been great students!

Have a Happy New Year!

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Buffy Fest

Monday night

EEEk, almost a month has just gone since my last blog entry. Looks like I’m slacking a bit here…..OK, so I am on the blog front but it’s been all go. After a couple of months of hard preparations for my 2 exhibitions and 2 school craft fairs I can now see light at the end of the tunnel. Both exhibitions are in full swing and are going really well, details are on my home page and events page that I updated tonight. All I have to do now is to keep my work topped up with new pieces as they sell before Christmas, as both venues are attracting lots of attention, as is the Surrey Guild gallery in Milford. So if you are in need of inspiration for lovely Christmas gifts then you could do no better than visit one of the 3 venues, or even all 3 of them!

I’ve also updated my events page with some of my Bead fairs for the coming year, it’s already starting to look busy.

Today has been a bit of a weird one, as Rick stayed home still trying to get over the cold he got last weekend. The naughty boy put on an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just to have a peek, and 8 hours later we had got through half the 4th season….that’s 11 episodes for the uninitiated…..oh my…sounds terrible, but we have NEVER done anything like that before, and in my defence I did sit at the table the whole time and make 5 pairs of earrings and core 15 of my Cloud Beads. I also managed to break 2 as usual, I always break one in every 9…..I hope he goes to work tomorrow!

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I did it!

Saturday evening

Oh yes, I walked with my mother in law Mel and our friend Anna, around the lovley Tilgate park in Crawley. We did it in 56 minutes, 10 minutes less than I thought it would take, going by previous walks. I’m so pleased, and on my return home, my lovely hubster Rick presented me with a little magenta pink sparkly bead for my Pandora bracelet to mark the achievement. I will treasure it always, and be reminded of the important event, doing a sponsored walk, doing over 3 miles and all without a walking stick. I think I can class myself as normal now, well, would I ever be normal? hee hee.

To date I have raised over £300 for Cancer Research UK, so I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored me online and on paper, and everyone who has sent such encouraging messages, thank you, it means a lot to me. If you feel moved to sponsor me and haven’t already, you still have time to make a donation for this worthy cause, as my Just Giving page will be availbale for  afew more weeks. Here’s a link http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/sarahdownton

Enjoy the rest of the gorgeous weather!

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New studio arrived!….at last

Friday morning

Where did the last week go? So much for blogging 3 times a week. We have been busy, honest, and you already know how hard I find it to concentrate when works are happening at home as I have to be tech (which I like)  and nourishment support, doing all the stuff that women normally do, and you know how much I can’t stand doing that for long. lol. Well, we bought our sleepers and got them down bit by bit (hmm, sounds like putting a baby to bed), but work had to stop as we weren’t totally confident where the door would be and how high it would be off the ground, but most are in and holding back the slope while we speak, and we’re going to get a couple more tomorrow to finish the job neatly. Our garden looks a bit like the Somme at the moment, with trenches and piles of earth all over the place, together with piles of slabs, yes they’ve been piled up in 3 places now during this job, 2 Hippo bags of earth, one forming a temporary home for an old Hydrangea, and general mess around.

The shed arrived and was installed yesterday morning, much to my relief, and looks lovely in the garden, well, I think it does, but our daughter keeps saying it’s too big. It is big, 12 x 8 foot, but actually sits down quite nicely, even if it is a bit pale and eye catching at the moment. I had thought I’d leave it ‘au natural’ but I think it could do with painting a nice colour so that it merges into the garden a bit while remaining a feature due to it’s size, but that will have to wait for a couple of months until the timber has dried a bit from the pressure treating. Plans were to have it all neatly fitted out for when I start teaching again next week, but as it’s arrived so late we’re only putting in the bare essentials to get started and so I can prepare for my next bead fair in May and Open Houses in June. We did have 3 weeks clear for the lining and fitting but that was truly mucked up by the shed people.

Here’s a few pics to keep you amused, a bit of a photo story

Old studioInside the old studioinside old empty studioEmpty space baseNew baseLovely sleeperssides comingNew shed!inside new studio

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New Beads for sale, in time for your Christmas makes

Thursday lunchtime

At last, I have restocked my shop with some of my handmade glass beads, and I hope to add some jewellery later to the jewellery and pendants sections. Please do go and take a look see. To order just drop me an email and I’ll send a Paypal request unless you tell me otherwise.

2 deg C, that’s what it was in my studio yesterday, brrrrr, and it was soooo cold that I decided to have the heater up full blast.  That was a huge mistake, as halfway through my session something went click and I was plunged into darkness and silence as the light went off and my radio, oxygen concentrator and fan heater came to an abrupt stop. Oh dear, my first thought was that we had just had a power cut, but a quick whizz up to the house to inspect the many clocks and appliances told me otherwise. An hour later and I had pulled myself together and found the blown fuse in my new Wattmeter, removed it from the circuit and managed to have lunch too.

So today, I just can’t bear to be outside again, its been really cold this week, and even with my thermals head to toe I’ve been feeling it. Let’s hope it warms up a bit next week, a bit of rain would help……tee hee. I’m hoping to make some icicles (glass ones, not ice ones, I know I’ve been complaining about the cold snap), some big holed beads for my lovely Pandora bracelet that Rick gave me for my birthday (which reminds me I need to order some larger silver tubing), and some whopper beads to adorn some of the many beadable winestoppers I had Rick bring back from the States in October.  I’m hoping to make some of these to put in my shop, and I’m planning to make a new section for my big holed silver core beads that I made to fit the Troll System. I’m still trying to think of a suitable name for them, I wish the names came as easily as the designs.

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Brass monkeys…….

Tuesday evening

96 beads today! woo hoo, but boy it was freezing in my studio today, it’s such a good job that I’ve finished my teaching for this year, as it’s reet proper cold now. I was dressed snuggly in thermals from neck to toe and my feet were still cold, even with the heater on. I’m going to have to resort to thicker hiking socks and hiking boots next time I think, at least I can get the laces done up now I hope…..which reminds me, I put my socks on every day without thinking about it. What’s that about? Well, before and after my op I couldn’t reach my right foot to put socks on, and I definately couldn’t do up my shoelaces. Picture this if you will, I have to sit on the bottom steps of the stairs (even now) so I can reach my feet to put socks and boots on, and for the last couple of days I’ve been sitting down and popping my right sock on without even noticing I’m doing it, you know, one minute I sit down to do it, the next I’m wandering around the house and realise the job’s done, well, woo hoo. I must try shoelaces next. lol.

All this cold weather is making me want to stay indoors and not make beads, which is sort of good because I should be making and polishing headpins, making up jewellery and generally getting ready for this weekend, although I do need to make some icicles to send to the Surrey Guild Gallery, and some simple beads for my ‘credit crunch lampwork range’. This year I have given up making any silver plated jewellery, and I’m working excusively with sterling silver, my beads, bought lampwork beads and gem stones and pearls. I will be reducing some of my silver plated jewellery and doing a few special offers for the remaining pieces to clear the decks for my silver work.

If you’re wondering about my title, follow this link to Wipipedia for a fun explanation.

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Geekiness abounds

Monday teatime

The start of another week and I really must have a day off! Unfortunately I’m actually having to cook dinner every night this week as Rick has swanned off to the other side of the world and left us to fend for ourselves. He’s been cooking almost every night for the last 4 months, initially because I was recouperating, and for the last month because I’ve been working so hard making beads, teaching and selling at shows, that I’ve been too tired in the evening to cook. I have to interject here that I haven’t been a complete lush recently as I’ve made my more than my fair share of lunches, and we’re not just talking sarnies here, but salads and stuff, and I cooked a little on holiday too.

So where has he gone and why? Well, he’s popped over to Minneapolis with a work colleague to meet with a bunch of other programmers and be geeky in a room together at this do called a geekfest…actually I lie, it’s called a Backnet Plugfest. They all sit in a room and make their controllers ‘talk’ to each other, then after a set time they get up, move around the room and start over with another geek…..woops, programmer. A bit like nerdy speedating. Don’t you just love it 😉

My day has been peachy, instead of going to class, I stayed home to see himself off then spent the morning cleaning my beads, I managed the handsome sum of 200 today, woo hoo, and you know how much I hate cleaning beads. Tomorrow I may just attack the wash pile, it may just be one of those weeks.

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Un-Comfort-able news from the Deep South.

Thursday evening

I have let this blog go over the last few months, but it’s time to get things on track, so I’m hoping to come here and chat with you 3 times a week like the old times. lol. So what’s been happening in my world? All sorts of stuff, mainly masses of glass beadmaking teaching, so much that I’ve had to abandon my poor beadlog for other pressing jobs. Also I seem to have had a few mini migraines or precursors to Migraines. Yuk, but I think I may have found the latest culprit, and it’s……drum roll…..my favourite tipple……drum roll……..Southern Comfort….boo hiss boo. First Pimms, now this, and what’s the problem? why it’s good old orange. Honestly, I never could be bothered eating the things, too much peeling and pith (yes that’s pith, not the other word) but I love the flavour in just about anything, chocolate oranges, now there’s a fine partnership, orange liquor,  lemon and orange cake,  and they stuff it in all the fruit cakes and mince pies at Christmas, so I’ve had to resort to cooking my own. We’d had a few tipples in the last couple of weeks, and boom, another few days with a numb left side and niggling headache, not enough for a full blown humdinger of a migraine, but enough to throw me off my game. I quizzed myself as to what I’d ingested lately and then the horrible thought came to me. A quick bit of research on t’internet and Wikipaedia comes up with a list of ingredients. Southern Comfort is unfortunately for me a blend of whisky, lemon, orange, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, cherries and honey. Rat, rats and double rats. Oh well, at least I can still drink white wine……….for the time being.

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