Welcome to the blog for Ali's Craft Studio by Alison Lloyd. I am a crafter of peelable stained glass designs & handpainted keyrings and I look forward to sharing with you my news direct from Kent (the Garden of England)

Make sure you visit the shop at www.studiocrafts.net to purchase your own handmade decorations to bring fun and colour into every corner of your home

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Observations & Feline Entertainment...

During this hot weather, everything and everyone seems to be suffering - we really just are not happy in this country during extreme weather (hot or cold!).  It is truly a national pastime to talk about the weather in the UK and have a good old moan!

Therefore, to keep with the trend, here is just a small selection of the things that this weather has brought to my attention at Chez Ali's Craft Studio:
  1. My paint becomes thick and gloopy in the heat which makes it very difficult to create nice clean outlines on my work - it now lives in the fridge to try to keep it cool. 
    A very interesting sight for any unsuspecting person looking inside!  Mind you as hubby is at work, who would be looking in my fridge anyway?!  Hmm.... Anyway, I digress...
  2. Fur coats (especially black ones) and that bright, yellow, hot thing in the sky are not a good mix!  Just ask the cats, Blinky and Misty!  And they don't mind telling you frequently throughout the day (usually with a nibble and bite on your leg or elbow which will be repeated until you pay attention!)
  3. There aren't enough places in the house and garden to put bowls of water for said cats.  I am rapidly running out of containers and spend so long going round filling them all up that I am considering just flooding the ground floor to save time!
  4. Doors and windows being open do not make it feel noticeably cooler inside the house - it just means there are more flies coming inside.  Electric fans also just blow warm air around but do cause some entertainment as Blinky finds it really funny if the air blows up his bum!
  5. Cats can (and do) suffer from hayfever!
  6. Football teams and tennis players I am rooting for play much better when I am not looking at the TV screen!!  (honestly, I swear this is the truth!)
  7. The vole population in Kent may soon be at serious risk courtesy of Blinky - the stealth hunter!
  8. No food sounds appetising in this heat when I have to make it myself...
  9. Drinking more does not necessarily make you feel any cooler, it just makes you want to pee more!
  10. Finally, the lack of cool air in my craft room makes me look for any excuse to stop sitting at my desk with sweat running down my back battling with gloopy paint!!  Even doing the washing and emptying the dishwasher are preferable...
Yesterday, my internal moaning and muttering about being hot was relieved by Misty, our female cat who was also in my craft room trying to stay as cool as possible.  The scenario was played out in three stages:

Stage 1. Hot - Solution:  stay on the window but keep as low as possible - some breeze was coming under the curtain

Stage 2. Hotter - Solution: move away from the window as breeze has now died down (perhaps try putting head in cup if necessary!) 
She woke up when her whole face ended up in the cup!
3. Too Hot - Solution : stretch out on cooler desk (with cool air fan underneath) and push everything in her way to one side!! 
She obviously thinks that my craft work doesn't need such a big area!

Today, both cats were trying to stay cool - thank God for wood floors!  As I said, fur coats and hot weather....
In the foreground stretched out is Blinky, in the background sitting demurely is Misty and one of the many bowls of water dotted around...

Keep cool and happy crafting everyone...

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Heatwave, sporting Brit humour and a solution to our misery....

OMG its sooooo hot at the moment isn't it?!   On Saturday I thought we were going to melt under our little plastic gazebo at the village fair we had a stall at!  

Just to give you an idea, the two of us drank our way through 3 cups of tea each, a full flask of orange squash, an ice lolly and two cans of diet Coke without one visit the toilet!  (I guess you can say we were sweating quite a bit!!)

Yes, I know - it is Summer and we would all be complaining if it was raining and cold but come on!  There was no wind and everything felt like such an effort - it was like trying to walk through treacle just to get from one end of the stall to the other!   There were lots of lovely visitors who were out in force to support their village day and enjoy the beautiful weather, however it was so uncomfortably hot they all gravitated to the refreshment and bar areas which managed to locate themselves in shady spots and they really didn't want to move too far from there (can't blame them really!)

I had to have a slightly sadistic chuckle at the poor kiddies in their foil fancy dress costumes who were slowly cooking before our eyes!  They certainly had more in common with an oven-ready turkey than the wonderful Jubilee icons their represented (it was the 25th anniversary of the fair).  The winners were a couple of adorable children dressed as the 20 pence piece (one was the front and one was the back!)  

Rather them than me, I say!  We were too busy being the sweaty grumps behind our stall trying to lean into any breath of wind which happened to venture our way!

Imagine our absolute joy when on the way home we heard "Tomorrow is going to be the hottest day of the year so far with temperatures pushing into the 30s in the South East..."  Hurrah!!  A nice stall in a glass-roofed section of Hempstead Valley shopping centre awaited us!

We kept calm with two magical words which became a mantra - Air... Conditioning...   We packed our additional lightweight jackets as we both dreaded being cold on our stall.  Oh what a wonderfully cool day lay ahead of us....

Hmm, one slight problem - the dreamed about 'Air Conditioning' had to battle the blazing sun coming through the greenhouse centre roof and there was only ever going to be one winner - and believe me, it wasn't the Air-Con!   Again, references were made to turkeys and the kinship of feeling their suffering in fan ovens up and down the country at Christmas!!

"Still, at least we will be busy at the great little shopping centre with lots of visitors who we haven't met before and that will take our mind off the heat...", we thought.   All started well, the morning was steady and we met some lovely people, made some sales and distributed lots of literature.  Then, 2pm arrived and the place was like a ghost town - everyone had left to watch the crucial England-Germany grudge match in the World Cup!  I had a master plan, however!  A small handheld TV meant that hubby and I could watch the action from our stall (what a great plan that was!!)

We were both so disappointed that our team was knocked out of a major competition yet again in controversial circumstances (why does it always happen to us?)  But at the end of the day England were outplayed and Germany deserved to win.  However, I was very sad during the drive home to see how all the lovely St George flags which were flying from 99% of vehicles we passed on the way there in the morning were suddenly all gone!   Well done to the one driver who continued to fly the flag!!  Sir/Madam, I applaud you!

What a fickle lot we are - I support England and whilst I was bitterly disappointed by the outcome this weekend, it doesn't stop me continue to support them - however bad I feel, I know that they feel much, much worse!   At least we can enjoy the rest of the tournament now (Although a sweepstake at hubby's work means that we are cheering on Spain from now on!)

I've always loved Spain, ahem.....  Come on Spain...

All the jokes are flying around "What is the difference between a teabag and the England football team?... A teabag stays in the cup longer!"  "Did you hear that David Blaine is devastated that his record of doing nothing in a box for 42 days has been broken.... by Wayne Rooney!" , oh, they're all out there....

The house down the road from us has been keeping us amused with their own messages pasted to the bottom of the England flag flying in the window following each game - after the terrible 0-0 showing against Algeria, for example, the simple analysis was four words 'Oh Dear, Oh Dear'

It now reads 'At least the flag was free with The Sun'  Don't you just love the English sense of gallows humour!!

But, don't be disheartened, help is at hand ifyou need some cheering up yourself or know someone else who does, I have the perfect pick-me-up - nip on over to www.studiocrafts.net and brighten your life with a colourful window cling - I promise that they will give a brilliant performance and won't leave you pondering "What if..."!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Football, Tennis & Sunny Days!

If you hate sport, this month must be a nightmare come true!!  What with the World Cup, Wimbledon, US Open Golf and Cricket ODIs too!  OK, so I can definitely live without cricket but the rest I enjoy watching. 

If you think tennis is boring, what about the amazing record-breaking tennis match between Isner and Mahut - at the time of writing this, they are just about to go back onto the court for the third day (10 hours playing so far) at 59 games each in the fifth and final set!  The mental and physical stamina required to play at the top of your ability for that long (in this heat too) is incredible - neither of them deserves to lose!

Fortunately, I don't mind sport at all and am loving this World Cup, despite the fact that as an England fan, there have been far too many squeaky-bum moments for my liking!

Grudge matches happen all the time and it really shouldn't have come as any surprise that our next match is against our old football-foes, Germany!   Sadly, as this game takes place at 3pm on Sunday, hubby and I won't be able to watch it live as we will be manning our stall at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre in Gillingham, Kent until 4pm then of course there is the packing up to be done before we can get home.   I'm guessing that it is going to be pretty deserted from 3pm onwards but hopefully lots of people will be suitably disinterested in football and will come out to do there shopping when there are likely to be no queues!

The big question is, do we record the match and try to avoid hearing any scores and watch it when we get home or try to listen to as much as possible on the way home?

This hot weather is still creating the sweaty-knee syndrome (see last post!) which is not nice and unfortunately one of our cats is suffering badly so a trip to the vets is in order tomorrow morning to try to make her more comfortable before preparing ourselves for what is likely to be a very hot day on Saturday outside in our gazebo at the wonderful Nutley Village Day.  Still, I guess I would be complaining if it was cold and raining!

I have been creating new designs frantically each week to give as much variety and choice to my ever-increasing number of loyal customers (thank you to you all!) and the Diddy Designs series has increased to 11 different designs!  

One of my new favourites has to be the Diddy Dolphin

Diddy Dolphin - £2.00

and of the standard size designs, I am loving the Pretty Kitty and Campervan

Pretty Kitty - £6.99                    Campervan - £5.99

But they are just my personal favourites, why not check out all the designs and get your own favourite designs at www.studiocrafts.net

And if you are in the area this weekend, please do come along and see us either at Nutley or Gillingham - perhaps you are not interested in the football match on Sunday which makes it a perfect time to shop!

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot....


Friday, 4 June 2010

Happy Days and Sweaty Knees!

So, is Summer really here? 

OK, so a little extreme but we can all dream, can't we!!

The last week has been gorgeous on the weather front and its getting hot, hot, hot!   Great news for our upcoming outdoor fairs but not so good for hubby who is sweltering in his taxi.  Sadly, whilst the older Hackney black cabs are built like tanks they don't have little luxuries like A/C - just extremely hot engines, great for increasing the ambient temperature to that of a large oven!  (Mmm, sweaty knees anyone?!)   I know the weather is getting better as he now has that classic tell-tale 'brown right arm' from hanging it out of the driver's window!  It was great when we used to travel to the US - left hand drive vehicles meant he could try to even it up!

Even the cats have found it too hot to stay out for long - the normally absent-whilever-the-door-remains-open, Blinky has been taking to our his bed in the afternoon for a siesta (hmm, maybe I should buy him a little sombrero to wear...).  Misty, of course, doesn't venture very far at all but her black fur heats up very quickly and she comes in for a roll on the wooden floors.

I have to admit that I have been suffering too from SKS (sweaty knees syndrome) and am extremely grateful for the large electric fan which resides under my desk!

This has been an extremely busy week - we were at the three-day Cuckoo Spring Fayre last weekend and I had a lot of orders to complete as well as stock to replace before this weekend - and, thanks to a Bank Holiday Monday working at the show, one less day than normal to do it all in!  Cue early starts and late finishes but I did it!!   Around 90 designs completed in just over 3 days!! (and each has to dry overnight between stage 1 and stage 2 of the process!)  I am pleased but knackered!!

I have also added a new section to my website today - Customer Testimonials. We receive such fantastic feedback from customers and it is great to be able to share these with everyone. To view the comments/add your own, please go to www.studiocrafts.net/testimonials/

Sunny days always seem to put everyone in a better mood - isn't it nice to see smiling faces instead of gruff expressions peeking out from under a brolly.  Still, I guess it won't be long before the hosepipe bans and general moaning about being too hot will start....

Working Animals & Heavy Horse Show photos courtesy of Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

So, before everyone gets sick of the Summer, we are going to make the most of our weekend under our trusty gazebo at The Working Animals & Heavy Horses Show at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in Singleton, nr Chichester this coming Saturday and Sunday.   Open each day from 10.30am until 5pm, it is a fantastic venue and the show has lots of great animals and events to entertain all ages along with the stalls for you to pick up some fabulous gifts.  The weather forecast is for two beautiful days with a very small risk of brief showers (which could come as a bit of a welcome relief if it is really hot!).
If you can, come down with the family and enjoy a great day in the good ol' British Summertime!  Knotted hankies are optional....