Saturday, September 27, 2008

Door wide open, come on in!

Today has been the first day of the Perthshire Open Studios event. People have been dropping in throughout the day, all interested in what we do here, my sewing, the chickens and just country life in general. The eggs that I had for sale sold very quickly! Everyone was fairly local and enjoying the opportunity to see lots of artists at work and have a nosy in their studios and workrooms. Many commented on the fact that they didn't know of all this rich talent within the area and that it was a great chance for them to find places to bring visitors and friends, so fingers crossed they all come back!
I spent yesterday having a bit of a blitz in the workroom and tidying up the shop. I've got some lovely new vintage finds for sale now, I'll show you pictures later in the week. The pictures show our new candles that I'm trialing. Gorgous reusable pots made by Diana up at Glenshee pottery, filled with Elderflower and Wild Nettle candle. I have to say I'm really rather please as the scent is just delicious.
Off to have supper and then sit in front of the fire and do a bit of sewing.
Enjoy your Saturday evening.
L xx

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Frankly my dear, I'm in a bit of a tizz...

I must be mad, with only 7 or 8 weeks sewing time left, I have decided to go for it with the old Country Living Fair up here in Glasgow. I was waiting to see how things were with Dad before I committed to anything that big. *Amazingly* he is hanging on in there.
Never having done anything quite this big before I am now panicking slightly (Spring Fair is one thing, Christmas, I think, will be a whole different ball game up here). So I have bitten the bullet and aquired some help over the coming months, a sweet little elf (called Nicola) is coming to join the sweat shop.
Lets just hope no family dramas happen in the meantime.
Back to the sewing machine, covered notebooks are a calling!
L x

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Autumn Courses

At long last I got the Autumn courses organised last week, details sent out and the website updated, so places are now booking up. I enjoyed the courses that we did over the summer, and from the feedback we've had everyone enjoyed themselves and would like to return, so I have a list of requests for courses next year.
I'm really looking forward to the more craft orientated courses we're doing, needle felting and knitting, both being held in the cottage, sat around the dining room table with the woodburning stove going. I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day, good chat, good food and getting creative.
It's a busy week this week, I'm off to a charity fashion show tonight (a girl is allowed a night off every now and then!). It's for a charity that is very close to my heart, The Sandpiper Trust. The family who have set up the trust are very good family friends and own the estate where I was brought up. So I'm looking forward to hopefuly seeing a few familiar faces this evening and catching up with old friends.
It's madness in the studio just now, trying to get enough stock made for the Perthshire Open Studio event, although it's a bit of a stab in the dark as none of us know how many visitors to expect.......
And then there's all that stock to be made for Chirstmas......?
See you soon,
L x
P.S. Another photo of us on the beach on Sunday. x

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Beach Sunday

At last we've had a bit of time to ourselves at the weekend and a trip to the beach. I was starting to have withdrawl symtoms as I hadn't been to the beach since we were in Orkney at the beginning of the year. We packed up and took off this morning to St. Cyrus, a lovely beach on the east coast. The first time Little Miss Moss has seen the waves, she loved it!

I always enjoy discovering another part of our surrounding area, I think that's why I love living here so much, we are tucked away in the depths of East Perthshire, yet within an easy hours drive we can be on the fabulous east coast taking in such totally different scenery.

We also discovered a fabulous junk yard type Aladins cave, thanks to this lovely lady. We came home with a back seat full of goodies...!

Little things that make me smile, lots of honesty boxes at the road sides.

The fire is lit, as are all the candles, so I'm off to sew up 20 little mice.

Happy Sunday evening.

L x

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Photo shoot

Today I went along to a photo shoot for the Perthshire Open Studios event which is happening at the end of the month. Various press were hopefully going to be there so that the event is well publicised around the country. We were told to bring ourselves and a piece of our work with us, so Diana (from Glenshee Pottery) and I headed down to Perth with a bowl and cushion in the back of the car, wondering what on earth we were letting ourselves in for! It was fairly pain free (other than sore cheeks from smiling so much!) and a great chance to meet some of the other artists taking part and see their work. Heather Cumming was there with her wonderful scrap metal sculptures which I'm sure will capture the attention of the media.

If you can make it along to the Open Studios event it promises to be a fantastic opportunity to see some wonderful artists at work. It's on from 27th September until 5th October, the brochure detailing the routes and artists taking part can be downloaded from here.

Here's a picture of the cushion I took along, made a couple of months ago when thoughts of winter were starting to creep in......

Monday, September 15, 2008

Plum harvest

Even though it is a fairly grotty evening tonight, after walking the dogs I just had to go and pick all of the plums from our plum tree. The jewels dangling from the branches were calling to me, plum crumble, plum jam, and I've even found a recipe for plum sorbet with sloe gin, so we shall see how far they go.
You see this is the first year we have had any fruit on our trees so it is quite a momentous occassion. We have watched with envy as our neighbours have harvested plums and apples every year since we moved here! It makes me smile, in the particulars for our house the grassy meadow was described as a paddock/orchard, with a cherry, plum, pear and apple tree planted, all of which were fairly unhealthy looking specimens to say the least. So this years crop was a complete surprise, it just goes to show that even the plum tree at the bottom of the very boggy garden can bare fruit!
Plans are afoot now to plant a cooking apple, eating apple (our current tree is baring one fruit at the moment!) and a cherry. I think we shall purchase them all from here as there are some locally native species available.
Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post, it's great to get your feedback as it's all these little things that can help make a good business a great business.
L x

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A question....?

Today I met up with a friend to have a quick look round our local flower & sundries wholesaler. In general it was a fairly dissappointing trip but I got a couple of basic things that I was needing. Last year my friend made some really cute little ladybird magnets and was swithering whether to make them again this year and the conversation brought me back to something I've been thinking a lot about lately. For all of us who do the whole handmade small business thing, do customers expect to see our range simply growing, with the addition of new items every few months or do they expect to see a clean slate, everything new once or twice a year? Do we continue with the staples that always seem to fly out of the door (even if we are sick to the back teeth of making them??) or do we risk changing everything (fabrics, products, etc) for the sake of "keeping it fresh"?
The reason I ask is that when our little felt covered notebooks were featured in Country Living a couple of Christmases ago we got loads of sales, which was great. I still do covered notebooks but the style has changed and the original ones are no longer on our website. A customer who ordered the original notebooks has re-ordered a couple of times in the last few months. As well as buying the new notebooks, she asked if I could make some of the original felt ones. Now this isn't a problem as I still have the fabrics available but obviously don't have the product in stock so it does mean a special run of just a couple to please the customer. I do believe this is all part of the charm of being a small business that will happily oblige when possible, but at what stage to do you say "sorry I don't make them any more"?
So, a couple of interesting questions there that I'd be really interested to find out what others think, both from a customers point of view and as a small business owner? Answers on a postcard please....only joking, comments or e-mails would be great!
L x

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Nooks & Crannies

I was really excited last Thursday when I found the latest edition of Homes & Interiors Scotland in our local newagent. After a riffle through at the counter, I found our lovely little feature in Nooks & Crannies, they've got us right down to a tea, a lovely little write up.
Also featured this month is a little bit in the arts section about the Perthshire Open Studios event and also a fab article on my friend Pennys' super new home that her and her husband have built on the shores of Loch Tay. Penny has the most adorable shop in Aberfeldy, Homer, so it's no wonder her home looks so amazing.
So if you fancy a good read and can get a hold of this magazine ( it's probably only available in Scotland I would imagine??) it's all in the September/October edition.
A big thank you to Gillian for putting the article together for us.
L xx

Just had to show you this....

My two crazy sisters made me this cute little video of Milly as a thank you for her. My sister Nicola is holding Milly and talking, and my youngest sister Zoe (whom Milly was a birthday pressie for!) is doing the filming!

Points of note, check out my sisters groovy ears ;) she really is a crazy cat. "Betty" cleaning in the background is a referral to my mum, we all call her Big Betty ( her Sunday name is Elizabeth) but Big Betty has stuck, and she loves to clean. Unfortunately this gene hasn't been transfered down to me, so I hate it when she comes to visit as I know she has the white gloves on....!!


L xx

P.S. Remember to turn the sound up!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Glorious September

Today has been a beautiful day. While walking the dogs at the back of seven this morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The promise of a good dry Autumn day, with just a little nip in the air. I am being inspired by the hedgerows just now, rosehips, rowans, seed heads and the promise of brambles to be picked in a few weeks time. The thought of apple and bramble crumble makes my mouth water......

Some local handloomed linen was washed up today and dried on the line so I'm looking forward to using that some time soon. The sewing list is rather huge at the moment as stock is rediculously low, with Christmas just around the corner I'm starting to panic slightly.....

It's just started raining here so I'm off to sit by the fire and sew up hearts!
Some exciting news for tomorrow, but I'll keep you waiting ;)
L xx

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Gardening Course....

All was going well on Friday night, the baking was done, the note booklets were made and printed and the marque was still up from last weekend.

Then on Saturday morning we woke up to find this........... had been a bit windy during the night..............

Not ones to let anything like this stop us, the marquee was rebuilt, taped together in bits and weighed down with rather large logs!

I prayed for good weather while making the soup that morning and we were blessed!

So much was covered during the day, John kept everyone busy and all went home with lots of goodies. The day was most definitely a success, the sun shone, the food went down well and everyone learnt loads. I just need to twist Johns arm to do it again for me and also find someone to do a garden design course, so that's on the list for next year and I have someone in mind already.......

I'll leave you with more photos of the day, I'm now off to write up and print the leaflet with our next lot of courses, some kind of newsletter ( a new thing for us!) and information on the Perthshire Open Studios as I've got a big mail out to do this week. So much for a quite Sunday night in front of the fire, I shall be glued to the laptop instead, but still in front of the fire :)

Everyone enjoying afternoon tea

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Birthday this week

Can't believe it's Thursday tomorrow, where has the week gone? The Chicken Keeping course went fantastically well on Sunday (apart from the rain in the afternoon!). My nerves soon disappeared once we got going, a great bunch of folk that all got on great. So, more Chicken Keeping courses will be planned for the next year, probably Spring and Autumn, so do let me know if you're interested. Herbaceous Gardening course this weekend which is fully booked, so really looking forward to it.

As if Sunday hadn't been a busy enough day, we then tootled up to a friends to pick up a birthday pressie for my youngest sister Zoe. It's her 16th Birthday tomorrow and I had a big surprise planned for her. Things have been pretty tough for us as a family lately, my dad is in the final stages of cancer, so I thought it would be great to treat Zoe to something she has wanted for such a long time.

So, on Sunday night, this little lady came to stay with us ...........

I had the pleasure of looking after her on Sunday night and Monday, before I took her down the road to her new home, it was just delightful. She kept me company in the studio, climbing up my leg and falling asleep on my knee while I worked at the sewing machine :) And played with a piece of string and climbed up a customers leg too........!

She slept all the way down the road while we listened to KT Tunstall......and then a quick phone call to my other sister when I was just around the corner ensured that Zoe was in her bedroom, eyes closed and wondering what on earth was going on! I sneaked in and put little Milly on her knee, Zoe screamed and then burst into tears, as did my mum!!! It was such a sweet moment that I'll never forget.

She has settled in well, after one sleepless night for Zoe as she was kept awake by someone pawing at her hair all night wanting to play.....! Right now I think I may well be the best big sister in the world ;)

Life is never dull around here, great friends coming to visit tomorrow, little Inky Monster (my little boyfriend) is coming to entertain me tomorrow with his wee brother Ian. So the house has been polished, hoovered and floors mopped (doesn't happen very often!!!) and mass baking and cooking will be done tomorrow morning. Can't wait.

Shall report back tomorrow on all the frivolities!

L x