Monday, 26 November 2018

After the fair, and a blooming good clear out

Well hello and how the devil are you?
My fair at Crafts in the Pen last weekend went ever so’s always great to meet and chat with customers, other creatives, and interested visitors. I had some great conversations, met some really interesting and interested people, and was lucky enough to have lots of visits from friends and family.

Two absolute nutters  travelled all the way from Wiltshire to cheer me on...four hours in the car to see me. An 8 hour round trip! Oh my heart, one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me! And utterly, wonderfully bizarre to see them stood before me, and not on my phone screen. Incredible!! Best of all, I got to go out with them at night and chat, in person, like we usually do on IG dms...honestly, so good! Such a treat! I definitely owe them a round trip to Wiltshire sometime in the new year. I flipping love you Amanda and Helen 🥰

Anyhoo, after unloading my car on the Sunday, I decided it would be a great (!?!?) idea to have a good workroom tidy up before putting all my stock and stall paraphernalia away. 

I finally managed to sit back at my desk on Saturday 🙈 only 5 days of sorting, and clearing! Lots gone to the tip, to charity, to a local community craft group...and yeah, there are always those odd bits left that are hard to find a home for but!!! I have space in my room! 

I got rid of a desk, and have given myself the gift of space both physical and head space. I’d been feeling really claustrophobic surrounded by so much Stuff, weighed down by materials I’d accumulated over the years, and felt I had to keep and not waste. Giving them away to a group I know will make great use of them, has given me a double dose of the warm fuzzies - knowing I no longer have to think about them waiting in my cupboards and drawers to be used, and knowing other people will have fun using them and creating their own projects with them.
All of that has meant that I’ve had my head down for a week, to ensure I didn’t get distracted and not finish what I’d started.

But I’m back, and my website has been given the festive touch, and my Christmas shop is now open. There are new cards and products to be added, once I’ve done the photo shoot for them this soon as they’re ready to hit the site, I’ll give all you email subscribers the heads up before letting everyone else know.

There will be a release of a limited run of hand painted tree ornaments...decorated on both sides, that I’d love to think would be kept and brought out every year. They’re made of wood, as usual...I do love to work on wood, the texture is a lovely surface to paint and draw on. The photos show my design sketches, and colour sampling as well as a bit work in progress...and my trusty dip pens, which I always turn to for the really fine details.

Right, well, enough yammering for now, I’ll beggar off and leave you to it, and keep an eye out this next week, for the release of the new pieces.
Cheerio for now

Monday, 15 October 2018

Getting into the wedding game

I have been itching to get in to designing for weddings for a very long time, but could never decide on what exactly to design. Wedding stationery, gifts for the wedding party, decor for the venue, cards for the happy many options!

My decision was made for me, through a stroke of luck, when an Instagram friend contacted me to see if I would design some wedding stationery for her wedding...heck yes, said I!

The brief was to create Save the Date cards, in a chalkboard style, and after a quick chat about the format, we settled on the idea of postcards.

I had intended on waiting a couple of weeks before getting stuck in to the initial design ideas, but enthusiasm got the better of me, and I ended up sat on the sofa the next night, sketching out ideas on my iPad.

The initial request came through on the 25th August, and the final design and wording was agreed on the 1st September...seriously fast!

Honestly, it was so much fun, the whole process...coming up with the initial ideas; teaching myself how to create a chalkboard look; hand lettering the text; chatting with Charlie throughout all the stages and feeding off her excitement, and, finally, pulling all the elements together.

Getting to meet Charlie when she came to collect the cards, was such a treat...we've known each other on Instagram for years, and she is just as lovely in real life as she is in her little squares online.

Speaking of which, seeing this a couple of days later on Charlie's feed, had me grinning from ear to ear!

I enjoyed the whole chalkboard theme so much, that I also designed a wedding card. Now, I realise I could do with variations on this, but I'm going to trial this one for now...or at least I will when I get it photographed and listed in my shop, haha!

If you would like to talk me about having some bespoke event/occasion stationery designed for you, do please get in touch! You can message me on Instagram, I'm @ditsybird, or via my contact page on my website here.

Cheerio for now

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Bringing things to fruition

Hello there,

For a long time now, I've had the desire to see how my designs would look etched into wood. Back in March this year, I was contacted on Facebook by Dawn of local company MD Laser Works, who were fairly new, and had seen my work on my page, loved it, and were reaching out to let me know they existed, should I ever have the urge to try laser etching.

Fast forward a few months, and we've had a few meet ups, lots of laughs and chats, meeting Larry the laser, and oh my goodness, my dreams have become reality!

Initially, I had put off contacting them, because I know just how detailed my designs can be, and didn't think that they would translate fully through laser etching. How wrong I was! The things that Larry can do!

Granted, there have been a few design tweaks along the way, aswell as a fairly steep learning curve for me, as this is the first time I've sent my designs to anyone for them to be produced, other than as cards.

Once I was educated in the ways of Larry, and realised just how detailed he can go, my mind exploded with the possibilities. A number of samples were ordered, amended, and remade, and I have some striking products heading my way in the very near future..including a Christmas decoration which I am delighted with. Honestly, I'm so happy with how everything has turned out, I could burst!

First up though - and very fitting I believe, it being at the core of who I am - is the most beautiful, etched wooden brooch, with the word Create at it's centre.

Imagine my utter delight, when I realised that my designs could have cut out areas, even on something as small as this. The translation from sketched design to final product has far exceeded my expectations...this small wooden brooch fully embodies my delicate, lace like signature style, whilst being wonderfully sturdy.

I hope you love it as much as I do!

I have placed a small order of these, and have listed the brooch in my shop for preorder until Friday 12th October, at a special price of £8 including delivery within the UK. If you want in on the first batch of these, you can order yours here.

For all of you who love a look at my creative process, I've added photos below of a few of the stages between initial sketch and the realisation of my little but happy dream.

Until next time,

my original sketch on scrappy paper with my thoughts doodled down the side

the first sample

wearing my brooch with a smile!

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Getting organised...does the perfect planner exist?

I've been feeling really disorganised of late*...lists everywhere, but nowhere to be found; ideas and thoughts jotted down in notebooks, but I can't remember which one; tips saved within IG, but not collated anywhere useful; free courses signed up for, but not organised enough to follow through with them.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

I was using a bullet journal last year, to great effect, but less so at the beginning of this year. I decided to upgrade to a binder system (Filofax) as I thought that having a calendar, and sections for all the other bumpf, would makes things more easy to access. Nope...I find the rings get in the way of jotting notes down, so I end up having to remove the sheets to write things in. Grrr. And I'm hopeless with predesignated areas for to dos/This Week/goals etc, and especially with those diary inserts with times marked on throughout the day.

I've never been one to follow a pattern, colour in someone else's design, or stick to a template if I can design my own ;)

As a temporary measure, I've made myself a few of my Sprigs design notebooks (in the shop if you fancy one yourself), and am using them to make a start on being organised.

  • I have one for my Ditsy Bird thoughts/plans/projects - the biggies that need noting down and adding to as I go along. I've added an index to it, so it's easy to quickly access the page I'm after.
  • One to be used as a DB bullet journal, complete with key and index. 
  • One for home - thoughts/plans/projects - in the same way as the DB version

For my daily diary, I'm persevering with my Filofax, but am working on designing my own planner pages, taking inspiration from a variety of sources, to tailor the layout to suit me and my particular foibles.
I've got a few ideas so far

  • A weekly spread over two pages, to be used in a bullet journal way
  • A place to list weekly goals for wellbeing, to help me keep track of water consumption; vitamin taking; exercise; meditation (not yet started but really wanting to very soon)...a habit tracker, as they say it takes a month or two to turn a behaviour into a habit. So by tracking them, I can keep on top of them, to get me closer to the habit stage, and not having to consciously monitor them all the time.
  • I want to include a check-in area for have I felt this week, can I pinpoint the reasons? can I repeat them/remedy them for future weeks? how am I progressing towards my goals? did I work on the One Thing or did I get distracted? What have I learned from the week? What am I grateful for...specifics, not just 'I have a lovely home' type comments. What mindset do I need to encourage...or what mantra will help me through the week to come?

I'll start by drafting up some pages and layouts, and then trial them for a week to see how they fit. I can then tweak them until I find something that fits me and my mindset...knowing I can always change again in the future. After all, I'll be printing my own, so there won't be any wastage to worry about.

I'll share my progress on here in case anyone else is in the same boat, or just interested in seeing how my ideas pan out.

How do you keep organised...keep all those balls in the air? make sure birthday cards and gifts get sent on time? avoid missing hair appointments? get the ideas out of your head and into some form of easily accessible order? Do you have any tips or advice, or a fave planner person you refer to for ideas? Do please share in the comments or drop me a line on IG.

until next time!

*having done a bit of reading on this, I'm pretty sure it's down to hormones - I'm on medication that stops my ovaries, and has effectively put me into menopause whilst on it. I was very relieved to read that it isn't just me trying to get through my days with a frequently foggy head! :)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

maintaining the clarity

So I was talking about my lightbulb moment in the my last post, and how I believe that simplifying life is key to a calmer mind. For me, at least.

I was thinking about this and how I often have these moments of clarity, but then they get swept up in the maelstrom of my mind.

Why is it, that in an instant I can see so vividly what needs to be done, and how to do it, and in the next moment it's gone, blurred in amongst all the other head chatter.

It feels like I'm in the sea, head under water, vision blurry with so much to see and none of it distinct. Then, just for a moment, my head pops above the surface, and I can clearly see the shore and the horizon. I know where I am, and where I need to be, and I am sure I can get there.
Then there's a wave, a change in current, and I'm back under...trying to make sense of the smudge of blues and greens in front of my eyes...trying to focus on what needs my attention.

This makes me think I need a buoyancy aid of some kind. But I'm not sure what form that will take as yet.

I do find the writing things down helps. Once it's down on paper, it's out of my head, and there's one less thought in the whirlpool that exists in there.

Do you journal? I do, sporadically. It's more of a brain download, that's how I refer to it. No doodling or pretty tapes and coloured pens. Just pen to paper and let it spew out.
Emotional vomit is how I once heard it termed. Pretty damn accurate!
And I only ever journal when I've something to try and sort out, or something bad has happened and I need to offload, without the requirement of a full conversation about it.

I always feel relieved after a journalling session - it's hugely cathartic - and I ALWAYS write way more than I think I will, and never stick to the topic I had in mind. Ha ha!

Tangents upon tangents....out it flows.

My mind quietens, shoulders release their tension, my jaw slackens and I am no longer gritting my teeth. I feel peace.

This is especially useful if I've been struggling with sleep - I usually fall asleep okay, but then either have mad, bonkers dreams that are hyper vivid, and living a whole other life in my sleep. Or, I wake up numerous times in the night - I have to get out of bed to reset (cue five trips to the loo), before climbing back in and falling back to sleep.

Talking things through with a friend is supremely helpful, especially of you're both having similar issues. This shared problem solving is much more positive and productive, than simply moaning to a friend who either doesn't have the problem, or can't relate to it.
There's too much (inherited Catholic..which I'm not!) guilt associated with that kind of sharing for me, as there's rarely any progress made...just noise coming out of my mouth...and there's been far too much of that over the past couple of years, so I try to find another solution where possible.
[Though sometimes only a good old chuntering sesh with a friend will do, whilst out stomping, or over a brew or a G and T]

Now where was I? See, this happens all the time, I have a very clear idea/thought in my head, and am working my way through it, when *poof* off it floats, like a spider web on the breeze, and I simply can't get a firm grasp on it again. Infuriating!
Thankfully, because I'm actually sat typing all of this out, I can retrace my thoughts, and get back to where I was.

Following on from the talking with a friend point, accountability is a great tool!

Either find a friend or colleague who has the same issue, and agree that you'll both check in with each other, to make sure you are keeping with the program. Each declares (or in text, message, email) what they intend to do/achieve/change to the other, and by doing that they are making themselves accountable. It's no longer a fanciful thought in your head, but an 'out in the world' promise to yourself, and someone knows about it. And they'll be talking with you to see how you're getting on, and vice versa, and there to share ideas, what has and hasn't worked for them, relevant articles they've read, lightbulb moments. You can each monitor one another's progress and help each other to stay true to your chosen paths, with regular checkins and updates. You also have someone to talk to when things go awry...a sounding board.

Another way of doing this, if you haven't got a friend in the same boat, is to find someone who has been there and found their way through it, who will be happy to be your sounding board. A mentor of sorts.

The thing I miss most about working in my old accounting office, is having my colleague across the room to bounce things off. We'd chat through issues, remind one another how to do certain formulae on our spreadsheets, boost one another when one was having a particularly tough day, and talk through the best way to handle a problem. Priceless.

Consciously telling myself to take a moment, just stop, take stock, think things through one at a time, and then go forward in a methodical way, is a great exercise. Breaking things down into their component parts, makes it much simpler to see what needs to be done, and in what order.

This does have the disadvantage of needing to be done alone, by me...but with the help of a pad, pen and the ever faithful list, it can still work. I have to make sure I keep referring to the list/notes, to stay on track.

Another thing I've learned, and been increasingly aware of in recent months is not to force things. If an issue is proving particularly stubborn, leave it be for a while. Walk away and let your mind process everything you're thinking or feeling about it, and often the answer will come naturally, organically, instinctively.

I'd been thinking about blogging, brainstorming subjects, ideas etc, and putting it off for ages, because I couldn't think of a topic that didn't feel forced or trite.

This morning I started to compose an Instagram post, which naturally became the previous, Simplify, post.

Instead of over thinking, and forcing content into my head, I gave myself the space to generate an idea...a post on something that felt relevant and real, and something I wanted to talk about. Not because: it was on trend; it was relevant to my business; or because it linked into a recent product design; but simply because it is supremely pertinent to me right now, and part of why I am struggling to keep up a consistent presence on social media.

I also recognised that the post was growing in my head as I typed, and so headed over to my blog to make the most of it.

Planning and scheduling are all well and good, but if the posts don't come instinctively, then there's no joy in it for me. This is something I have processed organically; by stepping away from courses and articles about why/when/where to post/share/blog; taking a step back from all the instruction that's out there; and giving myself the time to absorb it all.
A little like how we're told, that at night, our brains process the information we've gathered during the day, and form and cement our memories.

"One of the key components of information processing is attention. Information slams into our brains all the time - way too much information for us to process. The information enters our brains through our senses, and then, we either discard the information or we pay attention to it."

A sure fire way for me to get clarity, and let the ideas and plans flow, is to get in the bath! As soon as I'm immersed under the bubbles, my brain clears, and out they pour. I have learned to take a pad and pen in to the bathroom, as I've climbed out of too many deliciously scented, warm baths, just to make sure I write a thought down!

Is there an activity that you do that you know stimulates clear thinking? Can you harness it and use it to your advantage? I ran a bath on Saturday lunchtime, because I knew I needed some quiet thinking time. It worked! I got out, mind focused, and got straight on with tackling the gate.

Getting out for a walk works in the same way for me. It doesn't have to be a huge long hike, a simple stroll to the post office to post orders will do, or a walk through the fields and the village. Just getting away from all the stimulation around me in the house works wonders...a clear field of vision and a clear mind. No pile of ironing, no open bill, no half finished painting, and no emails demanding attention.

I always take my phone, and dependent on my mood I either do a full stomp to get my heart racing and my limbs pumping, or I take it a little steadier and make time to snap images as the moments grab me.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! I know I'll be pondering it for a few days yet, and probably even longer still. We're heading away for a week on Sunday, and I'm going to take the opportunity to work through some of this head fog, and find my way (or ways) to tackle it.

Do please note that these are my own personal thoughts on things, I'm not saying you should try these ideas...I simply wanted to start the conversation, to find out how differently we all deal with similar issues. It's so good to talk!

Cheerio for now,

Monday, 17 July 2017

simplifying for a calmer life

Good morning, happy brand spanking new week!

I've been thinking a lot about how to get more motivated and organised.
I spent some time over the weekend, surrounded by diaries, notebooks, bullet journals...planning and plotting, to try and instil some clarity and routine into life.
Then this morning I saw a post on Instagram with a word on the image, and I knew THAT was what I needed most right now.

{ S I M P L I F Y }

When doing anything (and I mean anything...planning, buying, cooking, sorting, cleaning, gardening, entertaining, holiday packing, present wrapping, and working) I will be keeping this one word in my head.

I'm going to be using the Summer holidays as a test period for working towards making life more simple - 

  • I'll stop trying to tackle dozens of things at once; 
  • concentrate on one task at a time giving it my full attention; 
  • I'll be clearing out the brain and the house clutter (the house sort out will most definitely help with the brain sort out...2 birds 1 stone & all that); 
  • keep my spaces clear and clean, especially my desk tops...walking into My Room on a morning, and seeing crap all over the place is hugely demotivating, and, quite frankly, pretty depressing.
    I already have two golden and very simple rules that have become firm habits, and which make my life calmer - I always make my bed in the morning, and I aim to always leave the kitchen clean and tidy before going to bed a night.
    Both of these are pretty magical. I get up in a morning and come down to a tranquil scene in the kitchen, all ready for me to start the morning routine. At the end of the day, I get to go up to bed to a welcoming room that soothes my eyes and mind, helping me wind down for sleep.
    It makes absolute sense to extend what I already know to work into other areas of my life and home;
  • make sure I have at least a rough schedule for how the week will pan out - this can be flexible and tasks/appointments can be moved around, so long as they get done by the end of the week, or I know to carry them forward to the next...bullet journal tricks!

I know that over time, there will be others to add to the list, but I'll wait until they pop into my head like lightbulb moments, rather than dredging my mind for ideas that are really just fillers for this list/post.

Without realising, I'd already taken this idea on board this weekend.

I've got a few big jobs that need tackling, all sat at the back of my mind, chuntering away whilst they await their turn.

One of these was tarting up the front garden - the gate and posts, and the black metalwork on them were in need of their annual face lift, as were the two metre box covers. 
Instead of putting them off, or doing a bit, getting distracted, and having the gate stuck in the garage for a month, obstructing the path to the door, waiting for me to get around to finishing it...I just got on with it. 
On Saturday, I took the gate off it's hinges, carried it around to the garage, cleaned it, dried it, and painted the wood and metal work on one side. 
On Sunday, I got up, turned the gate over and painted that side, then went outside and did the gate posts and latch, then cleaned and painted the metre cupboards. 
By late evening, everything was dry and Paul carried the gate back round and put it in place. 

Done. Simple. I did one job and I did it well and completed it. Lesson learned.

Now to continue the challenge!

Are you good at focusing on one task, and doing it well? 

Or are you a flitter like me, flitting from one job to the next, leaving everything half done...with no satisfaction of a job well done, and a house and garage filled with unfinished tasks, piles all over the place and in need of moving/sorting/giving to charity?

I confess though, that I find it MUCH easier to employ this one at a time rule, when there's a big project involved. 
In fact, I can get positively excited at the thought of a big project such as a big garage clear out. I wonder why I can't apply the same anticipation and diligence to lesser tasks? 
Is it due to degrees of job satisfaction? Not enough to really get my teeth into? The bigger jobs feeling more meaningful?
That's a daft way of thinking, as it's usually the little jobs that are the everyday stones in the shoe of life, and getting a couple of those out of the way could make an enormous difference to daily life. 
For example, I recently tidied a couple of shelves in our pull out larder - game changer when cooking, as I know where all the sauces, condiments etc are, and I know they're all in date! 
Hmm, yet more proof of the value of this here lesson.

SIDE NOTE: Interestingly, the art I love best to create, is the most simple* - the minute I overwork a piece, I can feel jars, and doesn't give me the same feeling of peace when I look at it.
Yet more evidence that simplicity is key for me.
(*still with lots of detail and intricacy, but 'just enough')

Right, let's do this!

Do let me know your top tips for simplifying and focusing on the task in hand...all will be welcomed with open, eager arms :)

Cheerio for now

Monday, 10 July 2017

July downloadable desktop calendar

Soooo late, but here it is...using one of my #100daysofditsydoodles

Simply click on the image to go to the download!

***update - I realised I hadn't adjusted the days! Now done and link amended to the updated downloadable version***