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Keeping It Positive…………….Mostly!

Howdo Crafty Cats and welcome to 2021! We have been assured by the powers that be, that this year will be epic, it will be different, it will be the year that everything goes back to normal and we can resume the life we were living back in 2019.

But what does all that really mean?

This year, on the 30th of January, we will be celebrating our first anniversary of having the keys to The Crafty Cottage. (I can assure you that there will definitely be bubbly and possibly the odd chocolate or twelve!)

It’s been a rough road to get here – just as this year has been for all of us. As our first full year comes to a close, it makes me wonder whether we should actually be acknowledging this as an official milestone, after all, we have been in Lockdown for at least 7 of the 12 months. The doors have been locked and contact with other human beings has been minimal. We haven’t had the browsers, the potterers, the ‘I just popped in on a whim’ customers we were hoping to attract.

The workshops we painstakingly planned were cancelled, the kid’s holiday activities lay gathering dust (metaphorically – the Cottage is a clean zone!) and the new coffee machine we got to entice the customers to sit and have a natter is still gleaming, just waiting.

I realise this all sounds doom and gloom but here’s the flip side.

In being closed, we have had to think out of the box and by offering our ‘Click and Collect’ and local delivery service, we have been able to add a personal touch to buying. We have had the opportunity to see your freshly painted front doors, we have been able to re-discover how gorgeous the area we live in is by delivering on our bikes (doubling up as essential exercise – 2 birds and all that!), we have been able to build up customer confidence in us by arriving on time, with a smile and armed with answers to any and all questions and queries. You’ve got to know us and we’ve had the chance to get to know you.

When we first opened back in 2020, it was such a rush to get everything ready. I remember still being at the shop, sometimes until midnight, painting, renovating and preparing for the grand opening.

These last few months have really given us the time to get set up just the way we wanted it to be originally, we have added quirky features, we have become stockists of some of the U.K’s most amazing products and we have become the ‘go-to’ place for anyone looking for something unique or one-off.

You’ve heard the old saying ‘friends are the family you choose’? Well, our artist collective has truly stepped up to become the extended family we never knew we needed! Every single one of our super talented artisans has been nothing short of amazing, from sharing our posts, recommending us (and each other), to bringing their own personal style and enthusiasm to the shop.

I myself have been ploughing on with my upholstery course and even though Covid has forced more than a few restrictions onto the learning sector, I can tell you that I am still loving every minute of it and learning more than I ever dreamed I could.

As a family unit, we have never been stronger. By being at home more, Mr Crafty and I have been able to reconnect with the kids, we now have family film nights, we play games and go for walks. We have even had the older kittens doing the odd paint delivery when it’s been a busy day! They now also do a few more chores around the house to earn a bit of pocket money, which is great as we have been able to teach them the value of having life skills and the satisfaction of earning their own money.

Oh, and did I also tell you?  On my birthday in September, Mr Crafty planned the most perfect surprise – he hired one of St Anne’s gorgeous Beach Hut’s (my most favourite place in the world), got down on one knee and proposed!! Obviously, I said yes – not only is he blooming fabulous, but he also does all the ironing! He’s a keeper!!

In the run-up to Christmas, we won second place in the Lytham St Anne’s window competition. A massive achievement as the competition was fierce! Not only were we awarded that coveted certificate but we were able to donate the £50 prize to our designated charity, The Cat’s Protection League – so proud!

We have also credited on the Sustainable Fylde website – so exciting to have our message heard and shared!

So yes, things have been hard, and yes, we have missed the ease of 2019, but would I go back?

I’m not going to lie, I can’t wait for the Lockdown to be lifted, I can’t wait to be able to invite people to sit down for a coffee and a natter and I certainly am looking forward to getting to run those long-awaited workshops and to even attend a few myself. I’m looking forward to being able to pop out for a cheeky gin at last orders and to go out for a meal where our own kitchen will stay spotless. BUT!! I don’t ever want to go back to the days when I was so busy my family barely recognised me, I certainly don’t want to go back to the times when I was so stressed I couldn’t function properly.

I think (for me at least) there have been lessons learnt this year, good times, bad times, great times and the rest, but if we can survive these testing times and come out the other end smiling, then I definitely think that a few glasses of bubbly and a toast to our one year anniversary are well earned – and I’d love it if you would also raise a glass not just to us, but to you, for keeping calm, keeping going and keeping smiling!

That’s it for now, keep safe everyone,

Love Cat xx

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Getting Back To Real Life…….

So, September the third at around 7.30am there is a knock on our bedroom door. I’m disoriented, there may or may not be a small amount of drool on my chin (there was….I can’t lie!) and I’m pretty sure my alarm isn’t due to go off for at least another hour or so. I turn to Mr Crafty who is snoring away quite sweetly and give him a little (big) poke in the ribs. “Oh, you’re awake,” I say in a demure and innocent voice. “Did you hear that?” I ask him. He, like me, has a hairdo that can only be described as the ‘before’ in a make-over challenge, slightly tussled with that ‘dragged through a bush backwards’ charm. He says “Hear what?” before turning over and starting to rumble again. I’m obviously going mad.

7.43am, another knock, this time harder with an air of impatience. “Muuuuuuuum!!!” I hear from the hallway. “I need dinner money, my bus pass has expired and I have no idea where my blazer is!” Followed by a stomping down the stairs. And then it hits me. It’s the first day back at school! Now, I ‘m not the best person in the morning – my usual regime consists of a bit of grunting before my first coffee, a bit more grunting during said coffee and finally, a grunt of acceptance that the day has begun after my coffee. On this day however, I flew out of bed like a helium balloon from under a magicians cloak!

Now don’t get me wrong, the summer holidays have been great – we had a lovely holiday down in Longleat Centre Parcs,  we had days out bowling, eating ice-creams and going on bike rides. We visited relatives and friends, we even had a marvellous family party where I am proud to say all the kids were absolute gems (we weren’t sure they were ours at one point they were so good. Confirmation only came after checking the name tags sewn into their undies!! (Just Kidding!)) BUT!!! And here’s the thing. For 39 out of the 52 weeks in the year my name is Lou. For the other 13 weeks it’s ‘Muuuuuuuum!!!’

I love being a mum, I want to make that very clear – time with the kids is quality and limited and sometimes it’s REALLY HARD! In our house, we have two 13year olds and an 11year old. The two older ones have already mastered that teenage snark, the eyeroll that can be heard all over the house and the inability to walk without the whole house shaking. The younger one has just started high school this term so he has all that upheaval to deal, being separated from friends of old, making new ones, getting used to travelling on the bus alone and carving his own space into the high school without annoying his brother. They all are dealing with challenges, changes and hormones and so are we. We’ve never had three highschool aged children before, so we are adjusting as much as they are.

So on September the third at around 7.50am, when dinner money had been dispensed, blazers found, bus tickets renewed and the stomping had moved on to the nearest bus stop, I climbed back into bed. But today was day one of my 39 weeks of being me. I had big plans. I was looking forward to getting back into the workshop, I was excited to start on new projects, and most of all, I was happy to be just ‘Lou’ again for a while. At 8.00am the alarm went off. As I was about to roll out of bed again, I felt an arm snake around my waist and the covers were pulled up, engulfing me in a pocket of warm. I settled back down and snuggled right in. Work wasn’t going anywhere, it would still be waiting for me when I got back to the workshop. I might as well enjoy this last lie-in before heading back to the coalface!

Keep Crafty Folks,

Love Cat xx

P.s After my morning of pure laziness, I did go back to work! Check out what’s new at the Crafty Cottage by clicking the link to browse our Facebook for more details!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me? Public Speaking……??

I am a relatively shy kind of human being. I have a close network of friends, a dream night in involves me, Mr Crafty and a good film on the tv while the kittens snooze peacefully upstairs. On a rare night out with friends, I will often switch to soft drinks while no-one is looking so as to avoid the three-day hangover I can’t cope with since turning thirty-something! (Even the mere thought of that spinny room feeling, a mouth like a dogs bum and a head that feels like it’s been repeatedly jumped on by a kangaroo is making me crave a coffee right now!!) I will even volunteer to act as designated driver to places and events – that way I can choose when to go home. I am what the Oxford dictionary describes as an ‘Introvert’.

This is me!

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not boring – according to people who meet me I am very easy going, I’ve been told I’m funny (in the head say’s Mr C!) and I like to think I’m quite brave – I have eaten raw octopus (gross), abseiled down a waterfall (amazing) and have pretty much conquered my fear of the ocean (so long as I can still touch the floor that is). As a quick side note about the ocean thing, I was on a girlie holiday with a bestie over in Benidorm when in her infinite wisdom she decided I needed to experience the giant banana dingy thing. You know the one; it’s attached to a speedboat and jumps as high as a killer whale pouncing on an unsuspecting seal. Anyway, my fear of being in the sea was so great she had to literally hold my hand as I inched closer to what I could only see as certain death! As we got within spitting distance of the boat, I felt something. Under my foot. A bloody fish! Of all the people in the world, this fish had decided to try and end it all under MY foot!! I screamed so hard that the lifeguard started to move people in an orderly fashion off the beach, thinking I’d lost a leg in a horrific shark attack. It was to my shame that I had to shout over that I’d only trod on a fish and all limbs were not only intact, but blazing red – not sunburn, but sheer embarrassment! The fish in question just gave me a filthy look before swimming away absolutely fine. I’m not sure I’ve ever recovered from that, but I digress.

I think I have alluded to my other job on a previous blog – I actually work as a professional vocalist, which in theory should make me more outgoing and less self-conscious but I liken my alter-ego to putting on a beautiful and warm coat. Perfect for those cold snaps and storms but as soon as you get near the fire, you want to take it off. I can be whatever I choose on stage because I have the warmth and protection of my character, but when I get home I’m just me – and that’s cool. Like Beyonce has Sasha Fierce and Paul O Grady has Lily Savage!

So I recently joined a fabulous and welcoming networking group which has done wonders for my confidence – I talk all about the Crafty Cottage and what we all do here and they do the same about their respective businesses, we drink coffee, have lunch, and then one of these lovely business people will get up and talk for 15 minutes about themselves – not a business pitch, but an insight into their worlds. (I love these because I happen to be a nosy/curious type of girl). I have always sat back and watched these lovely business people and thought “I’m so glad it’s not me doing that 15-minute talk”, until – you guessed it – I was asked to share all about my career in singing. At which point I thought “Oh Cr*p!”

I spent a good couple of weeks writing and re-writing, starting from my mini-concerts that were held in my bedroom for my brother and parents on a ticket sale basis, to singing on ships, to theatre performances, to struggles with anxiety and eventually conquering my own negative mind and being happy with what I have to offer. I really dug deep and I finally had a talk I was ready to deliver.

I started talking, I could hear the tremor in my voice and I panicked. I can’t do this! It’s not like singing, I am literally laying myself bare to these strangers! I took a breath and started speaking again, this time with more conviction and a smile. They were laughing, not because I was bad, but because what I’d written was funny. There were tears, not from me crying in failure but from those tough business people in the room, they felt empathy towards me, and finally, the whole room got to its feet – not because they were all leaving or getting up to use the facilities but because they wanted to show how appreciated my openness was. Then I cried! But I was in a room of friends, not strangers by then and I realised that even though my presentation may not have been perfect, my willingness to share my story is one of the things that makes me brave.

I may not scale mountains or jump into volcanos, but every day that I can laugh in the face of fear, every time I can kick my anxiety in the nuts and take the next scary step I know that I am not only setting my best example to everyone else, but I can pat myself on the back, put on my Wonderwoman pants and cape and hold my head up high!

I have just completed a course called ‘Confidence To Camera’ where I have shot a 30-second clip of myself talking about Made With Love By The Crafty Cat and what we do here at the Crafty cottage. It was really fun, it was very sweaty but I hope to share it with you all soon. Just one step closer to Extrovert status!

Who knows, maybe one day I will share my singing story with you guys too.

Keep crafty folks!

Love Cat xx

 

 

Public speaking image courtesy of https://www.kameronhurley.com

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Panic At The Craft Fair

Charlotte Bennardo

This weekend was our first Craft Fair of the year.

I am usually a pretty laid back kind of girl, not a lot phases me and I tend to have a whole ‘go with the flow’ vibe about me. Mr Crafty has often said that if I were any more laid back I’d be asleep! BUT! (And it’s a big one!) As soon as an event comes along where I am showcasing the treasures we make at the Crafty Cottage I literally turn into CRAFTZILLA!

The process is rather slow, in fact, unless you have the unfortunate pleasure of living with me you may not even see it until it’s too late and my head has turned 360 degrees and is about to explode.

It starts with me (very innocently) remarking to Mr Crafty that there is a lovely looking event on at such and such and I am thinking of displaying there. He very cautiously remarks back with a casual “uh huh”, all the while silently searching for short breaks away for himself and the kittens for the month run up to the aforementioned event.

Now, the rational part of my brain tells me “Cat, you have more than enough loveliness to exhibit at this event – you’re all set. Sit back, relax, get a good nights sleep – you got this girl!” But the other part, the Craftzilla part,  has other ideas. At first, Craftzilla is just a mere whisper at the back of my mind reminding me that we sold this piece of furniture at the last event and that lamp, and those little knick-knacks and so on and so forth, so maybe just make a couple of extra chatchkis to keep the table full. Not too many though, we still have plenty of gorgeousness left from last time.

A couple of weeks pass and Craftzilla moves up a gear. I start to worry that Craftzilla may have a point – maybe seventeen lamps, fifty-four tealight holders,  eighty-seven birdhouses and a hundred and twelve tea-cup candles just won’t be enough! The next thing we know, not only is the workshop stacked to the brim with items, the garage is packed to capacity with the ‘To Do’ bits, the dining table is literally buckling under the weight of embellishments, PVA glue and ‘posh papers’ and Mr Crafty and the kits haven’t seen me emerge from under the paint sheets for over a week and when I do, they start to think that a hobo has moved in in my place!

Move forward to the night before the Craft Fair. I have spent the last month working every waking hour living on nothing but coffee and ambition, the rational part of my brain says “Right. Enough now. You need to sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day and you need to be up early for healthy breakfast and to organise the van. Go rest now – you deserve it!”

Craftzilla has other ideas! It’s 4 am and I am running around the house looking for tags, looking for tape measures, looking for superglue – looking for my sanity! By 5 am I’m so exhausted I climb into bed like a ninja cat so as not to wake Mr Crafty who is dreaming sweetly about something or other, every now and then letting a little snortle escape. I lie there, jealous that he is so relaxed and warm and comfortable while I’m counting the minutes for the alarm going off at 6. Which it inevitably does just as I start to drift off into a deep and dreamless slumber.

Up I get, as quietly as I came to bed and pack everything into the van like a Lego master and get on the road, completely forgetting the healthy breakfast that I’d been promised by rational brain.

Arriving at the venue is always exciting – there is a general air of expectation for the day, the determination that the day will be productive and most importantly, lucrative.

I look for my spot and remember that the table is only 6ft long and I have brought enough stuff to stock a 4-floor department store. So I start bringing in all the things I have spent the last month working so hard on, box after box, bag after bag and now begins the part of arranging everything in a pleasing manner. By now, it’s been about a week since I managed a full nights sleep so after a triple espresso with a double espresso chaser I get to work. The stall looks fabulous as the doors open and people begin to sweep in.

While it sounds like I go completely bonkers before the fairs, I genuinely love meeting all the people who have given up their days to visit us, I love talking to folks about how amazing the Crafty Cottage is, how we work so hard to bring the beauty and quality they get to see on the day, I get to meet other stall holders that may or may not have their own ‘Craftzillas’ lurking inside them somewhere and admire all the hard work they too have put into their crafts.

Often, I have Granny Crafty helping out on the stalls so it is a great opportunity to spend a bit of time with her, nattering over amazing corner units, coffee and bacon butties, so even if we don’t make enough to put that deposit on the yacht Mr Crafty has been eyeing up on the t’interweb, the best part of each fair is the sense of fun and community we small business owners feel.

After a long day of laughing, show and tell and selling, we very tiredly get packed up and get the stuff back into the van and head back on the road. I get home and Mr Crafty is there cooking a roast dinner and has a cheeky gin already poured and waiting for me on the side. He breathes a sigh of relief as I jump out of the shower all refreshed, with rational brain firmly back in the driving seat. We sit down at the now clear dining table and I regale him with stories of the day, funny little anecdotes and general chit chat. As he gets up to clear the table I look at him from beneath my eyelashes and say in a soft voice “Babe, there is a lovely looking event on at such and such next weekend………..”

Keep Crafty Folks,

Love Cat xx

(Crazy lady pic courtesy of Charlotte Bennardo)

 

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It all started with that one grey hair…….

Recently I found my first grey hair. It was quite long so it had obviously made itself comfortable on my head, possibly made friends with it’s neighbouring blonde counterparts – who knows, maybe even put down a substantial deposit on that spot on my scalp it had chosen to reside. I had just washed my face (toned and moisturised – a girl has to keep up with her skincare regime!!) and was about to brush my teeth when there it was. Right at the front. Bold as brass! I pulled it out at the roots, comparing it a garden weed and gave it a hard look. It was just one hair, but it felt like the end of my youth and the start of something new.

So now I thought about all the things I was too old for and the things I wouldn’t be able to achieve – after all, I’d found a grey hair, I wasn’t a kid any more! I was far too old for those modern radio stations – I would have to retune to one of those ‘easy listening’ ones. I was far too old for concerts – do you realise how much damage is done to your hearing at one of those things?? I would have to start to dress my age and wear flat shoes and start drinking a ‘medicinal’ sherry after dinner to aid my digestion. I was far too old to stay out partying until daybreak – Bed after the ten o clock news was probably to be my new routine, most likely wearing my brand new brushed cotton nightie. The thoughts of everything I couldn’t do and wouldn’t do were keeping me up at night – I felt remorse for decisions I couldn’t change, actions I had and hadn’t taken and most of all, would I still feel like me while I was changing into a more mature woman?

While I’m still coming to terms with the whole ‘getting older’ thing, I must admit that even though I am more mature in years, I can’t say that I am in the head! I decided that now was the time to take some big leaps in my life so I am now trying to learn a new skill every month (this month is box card making – super fun!), I am looking at ways to make the Crafty Cat empire more well known online and by word of mouth and I have even started networking with other lovely business people like me, trying to get their messages out there. It has been an uphill slog but I have called this my NEW YEARS REVOLUTION! It’s not a resolution as those get broken and forgotten – this is my own independent revolution to get to know the more vintage me. I will definitely find more grey hairs, there will be more lines on my face and bits of me may well start sagging at some point, but I guess that as long as I am ok with that, things can only be ok!

On a side note, I have recently been ice-skating for the first time and I loved it. Didn’t even need to use one of those push along things like the kids and once we had finished, we had a slush puppy each and mine had a cheeky voddy in it. Can’t do that when you’re still a whippersnapper! Also, my very great friend recently had her birthday/engagement party. We played musical statues – which I am the master at! – and musical bumps! I woke up the next day covered in bruises, my back ached and my hips felt like they were attached to someone else but I still managed to beat every kid in the room. Not bad for an old bird!!

That’s it for this week, try something new and let me know all about it.

Love Cat xx

P.S Check out our Facebook page for more info on our upcoming events and other fun stuff!!

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Taking A Big Leap……..

Howdo Crafters, Cat here!


Welcome to my new blog, it’s not something I have ever really tried before so I guess we will learn together.

So first a bit about me. I live in the beautiful town of Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire, England with my amazing partner Mr Crafty, my beautiful daughter and my two step-sons the three of which I refer to constantly as ‘The Kittens’. We are the sort of family that likes to be doing things all of the time – riding bikes, swimming, going to the cinema etc, your average everyday stuff. I myself also love to sing and can often be heard chirping around the Crafty Cottage! We also have a cat – Felix, a black tom with a white fleck under his chin, making him look like he has split food down his chest.

My journey started off like many before me – I was a single mum struggling to make ends meet but wanting a nice home to bring up my little girl. I bought pretty much all our furniture from charity shops, second hand or found bits on the side of the road, took them home and fixed them up, cleaned them up and gave them a completely new look that would fit into our home. I then started to do bits for friends and then friends of friends, then my life completely changed for the better when I met Mr Crafty!

He saw the quality and potential in my work and encouraged me to think bigger and bigger until here we are! (That was a very long story cut short but you get my jist!!)

To start a new chapter in life is a very daunting proposition but I am blessed to have the support of my fabulous family and friends helping me along in what I call ‘My Adventures In Furniture!’ I really hope that through these blogs we can also become friends and I will share with you both my highs and lows, tips and ideas and maybe even have a few giggles together.

You can follow me on Facebook too by clicking on the link!

I think we’ll call it a day for now, I will talk to you all again soon. In the meantime, keep crafty folks!

Love Cat xx