The Importance of Taking A Proper Break

It’s not very often that I manage to ‘switch off’ completely. As a wife and mum to a large family, running our busy household doesn’t offer many opportunities to take time out. Even though the children are all that little bit older now, and most are grown and have left to begin lives of their own, the need to be there for them is no less than it was when they were small and all living at home. If anything, they actually require more time and attention- as now, instead of just a few words here and there throughout the course of a day, it’s long phone conversations, long messages, or day long visits!
Which, it has to be said (so as not to cause any offence) is NOT a problem!! 😉

When I then also added running a small business into the mix thirteen years ago, I thought it was just a case of sitting and doing a bit of sewing a couple of times a week, and an hour every so often updating my website… How wrong was I on that one?! 😮

Although in the beginning that was the case, the demands of running a business successfully mean that now every moment of every day not already taken up in brain work of some sort, is now taken up with thoughts related to my little shop- what do I need to update this week on the website… what posts should I put on social media today… what subject should I write about for my next blog post… I must remember to order more fabric for that new idea, and order more for that item which is nearly out of stock… I need to spend some time interacting with my social media to get noticed properly on there… I need to get that UKCA paperwork up to date…
The list is endless, and I only have a very small set up!!

I do try to plan ahead- when I get the time to. Thinking ahead to events coming up, to those numerous ‘National day of the…’ days, or just looking at what I have that’s new that week and making a kind of plan does help a bit. But, like I said that takes time, and in the shorter term it takes longer than taking each day one at a time- so is it actually any easier in the long run? Depending on what else is happening in our lives at the time sometimes having a plan written out ahead is a big help, but sometimes it isn’t- especially when life likes to change whatever it is that you’d had planned ahead! :/

Unusually for me, by the end of March this year I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by it all. Keeping the household going while being there in whatever capacity for whoever needed it at the time… the endless pile of washing… the endless list of messages and phone calls to keep up with… the emotional roller coaster of being a mum to young adults in so many different stages of their young independent lives… all while attempting to keep my little business going at a time when, thanks to the ever rising costs of living, the entire world seemed to have suddenly stopped spending money on anything that wasn’t an absolute necessity…
It had been a very long winter and I was tired and drained.

So when the inevitable question arose of when and how long we were going to go to the caravan for over the Easter holidays, I was so tired I said that I couldn’t actually be bothered to go! My thoughts just went immediately to the washing, the shopping, the packing and the ‘what if an order comes in the day before we go’… I actually thought it would be easier to sit at home and carry on as normal- despite the fact that we bought the caravan for the very purpose of taking a break from ‘normal’ sometimes!

Fortunately, (as it turned out!) no one else agreed with me on this, and thanks to a combination of Mike’s working, Games Boy’s deciding on when he was going to be staying with us, and Little Blondie’s GCSE exam revision we worked out a schedule of the first Wednesday of the school holidays to Easter Day which fell in the middle, with the next weekend thrown in as extra 🙂

Taking an extra day out for the washing and packing felt very wrong, but necessary if we were going to leave early on the Wednesday- to make the most of the day and give ourselves a whole extra day down there. Wrong, that was, until I woke up on the Tuesday and felt like a load had already been taken off my shoulders.

Usually, even when we’re away at the caravan I still keep up with my Social Media accounts- posting most days and keeping my notifications cleared. But this time for once- as I’ve seen many others doing recently, I popped a post not only onto my website, but onto Instagram and Facebook too to say I was taking a little break (without actually saying we were going away!), which freed me up to ignore them both, or pop a post on only if I felt I really wanted to. With no expectation from anybody to keep my little business in the limelight for a few days, and with the explanation given to all my fellow little business buddies as to why I wasn’t responding to any tags and shares they may include me in, I was able to shed that side of things from my brain for a while.

I have no idea how I actually even managed to do it- I must have been desperate! I’ve tried before… said I’m going to ignore things for a while… I even tried writing and scheduling my posts ahead for while we were away last summer… but I’ve never actually truly switched off and ignored it all.

Curly had commented only the day before- in response to me saying how much I really needed the break, and how much I was looking forward to just doing nothing for a few days- that I must be really stressed out and tired if I could actually acknowledge my need to take time out! 😮

By the time we were midway through the Tuesday, with me able to just concentrate on my family, the washing, the ironing and the packing, I was beginning to agree with her that maybe I was. There were still a million and one things going through my mind that I should, or could be doing as well- but even just popping the holiday mode onto everything ‘business’ had already taken a lot of it away.

Packing for a UK holiday in mid-April is never easy, however long or short a time you’re away for, so with my brain basically in sleep mode, I ended up packing way too much- to cover all eventualities in the weather… just as well we only travel an hour away from home, and in our own car so things can just be stuffed in wherever they fit!! Most other packing is relatively straight forward and consists of gathering up the same bits every time we go- it’s just as well I could pack in my sleep these days, as I think on that day I almost was!
I even packed three extra books along with the one I was halfway through reading, simply because I was too tired to think about which one I wanted to read next! 😀

The next morning dawned fairly bright and sunny, though I was still feeling way too stressed out and tired to really appreciate the change in the weather! Everything went to plan and with everyone up, breakfasted and finished packing their last essential bits we loaded up the car and set off. Mike being the driver in our family, I put the music CD on and sat back as usual to let the pop songs drift past me, whilst half listening to the banter going on between Games Boy and his two sisters in the back.

And then something unusual happened. Driving between fields of sheep on the moorland roads, I felt like something physically lifted from me. Suddenly I felt calmer; more relaxed, and definitely less stressed out than I had been for many months- years even! My stomach unknotted… my brain started to notice anew and really appreciate the early spring beauty, visible in all the trees and hedgerows… I felt free, and I felt ‘well’… ❤

Of course there were still things to check up on during our few days away- a quick message to both the older girls when we arrived at the caravan, to let them know we were safely there. Keeping an eye on messages just to make sure there was nothing actually important from either them, or anyone else, but without dwelling on any others that appeared on the screen of my phone. Checking my emails at the beginning and end of the day just in case of anything important cropping up, or potential customer queries that could turn into sales if replied to in brief, but which would be lost forever if left…

But as our break continued, and the sea views and salty air worked their magic, I found that it actually became easier to ignore everything else, which completely surprised me as I’d expected the opposite to be the case! I didn’t even end up going onto Instagram or Facebook simply to browse as I’d intended to- I just didn’t feel the need, which was a very refreshing feeling! Nor did I spend time on my tablet games- my crochet, on the other hand grew by several rows… and my puzzle book pages were filled…
And which book did I choose to read next? It turns out the real question should have been about which order to read them in- as I was on the last one by the time we came back home!! 😮

I have never, and maybe never will again, experienced such a refreshing break. I’ve always loved being down at the caravan, just yards away from a beautiful beach and being able to get away from ‘normal’ for a little while- and it usually does a perfectly adequate job of recharging our batteries, and dosing us up with enough vitamin Sea to keep us going until our next break. But this time was completely different. Perhaps being the first proper, restrictions-free break since the pandemic helped… or maybe I really was just so run down that I needed the time away more than even I realised.

Whatever the reason, two things are sure. Firstly, that this year’s Easter holiday will always have a special place in my heart, and that I’ll always be thankful for, and remember the complete time off that it gave me… And secondly that, although it doesn’t need to happen often- I will most definitely be taking more proper breaks away from everything again ❤

Finding Motivation during the Quiet Times

We’re into the second week of April, and I haven’t had any orders yet for my doll’s clothes this month. In fact I haven’t had any orders come in for over two weeks now, nor had much interest in the way of visits to my website or even people popping my items into ‘baskets’ which they don’t then check out… To say things are slow would be a complete understatement.

Added to this, our glorious spring weather- which made a very welcome appearance a couple of weeks ago after a miserable, wet and mild winter- has since given up and, although we had beautiful bright sunshine all week a couple of weeks ago, the temperature has plummeted back to winter depths- more so than it did over most of the actual winter!
Today, even the sun has given up pretending and we’re back to the dull, damp, windy and cold weather that we’ve had way too much of this year already… and I’m sitting here trying to get motivated into doing something with my day, but I’m just feeling cold and fed up. 😦

It’s not like I haven’t got anything to do. With all the changes in safety regulations over the last couple of years, all of my CE paperwork- carefully typed up and printed out when each of my items was introduced onto my website, now needs updating. Although the basic information is the same, and the UKCA testing is almost identical- indeed, for my items nothing has changed, the new forms need filling in with the new technical details, policy numbers etc., and the new updated certificates printed out to prove I can use each of my materials.

It’s a tedious, slow, drawn out process but fairly straight forward and I’m about halfway through it all now. It’s something that I can just keep working away at, one item at a time- but right now I’m struggling to get motivated into even achieving that much in my day, even though it’s extremely satisfying having a nice pile of printed out paperwork at the end of a hard morning spent on the computer!

Social media is another area I could easily get lost in for days at a time- regular posting, sharing and interaction on there is supposed to help boost my pages,  which in turn should show up to Google as me having an interesting and active website. But I’m even struggling there at the moment.

Instagram is great for interaction- there seems to be a lovely community of supportive little businesses and I have many ‘insta-buddies’ who I know can be relied on to like, comment on and share my posts– all helping to build up my followers, which all helps my page to be seen. Turning all those likes and shares into orders would be even better though… so I’m finding that more often than not I can’t really be bothered to spend the time on there that I should… :/

Facebook, on the other hand I just don’t seem to be able to get on with at all at the moment. No one much seems to even see my posts, let alone like or comment on them. Okay that’s not all down to them, or me- a lot of people are saying the same thing at the moment. But it doesn’t stop it from being really disheartening when I’ve spent the time to post something on the page most days- updates about my latest new additions to the website, or sale news- nothing different from any other year, or unusual for that kind of page!

Sharing my posts to other pages does help a bit- there are a number of ‘crafty handmade selling’ pages that suit my doll’s clothes… but increasingly even that isn’t having as much effect on my posts as it did a year or so ago- just for doing the exact same thing. Unless potential customers see them, they’re not going to know what my latest offers or seasonal offerings are, and they’re not then going to go over to visit my website and buy anything. So is it really worth all the time and effort?! A few months ago I’d have said yes without any doubt, but right now…

Then there’s this blog. As I’ve said before, Google and the other search engines are supposed to like a website with an active blog. It certainly does seem to be the case that when the blog is getting more interaction, views to my website go up to- so there must actually be some truth in it! I’ve been trying to keep it active- with no unreasonable and unachievable goals, just aiming to publish a post at least once a month, and to a certain degree it’s been working. The likes count has gone up, my blog followers are also increasing and while that’s been the case my website has also seen more visitors- though customers rather than browsers would be even better!

But then suddenly, after a couple of months with multiple likes every day, even my blog went quiet. I’d published a post while traffic to it was busy, and it seemed like that switched the readers off… my ‘likes’ count went overnight from an average of about eight a day to just one in a week!! It really didn’t help to get my motivation going again for my poor little business! 😦

So just how am I supposed to get motivated again? What do I need to change for people to suddenly fall in love with my doll’s clothes once more? Or would they still love what I have to offer, but they’re just not being directed the right way when they sit in front of their computer to browse, or start scrolling through Google on their phones? In which case- what on earth am I supposed to do about that?!

How am I supposed to get the excitement back for Little Dolly Clothes Shop, when at the moment just thinking about my poor business just leaves me feeling sad and deflated…

For a start, I think the change of season may help. Winter is always long and hard- whether we spend it knee deep in snow, or whether we spend it wondering whether or not to build an ark! The freezing rain may have come back just at the moment, but in another couple of weeks or so it should at least be slightly warmer, even if still wet- we rarely have temperatures of minus degrees once we get near to May!

The lighter evenings too, are already starting to have an effect- four o’clock in the afternoon no longer feels like the middle of the night, and at the moment it’s still a pleasant surprise to notice that the end of the working/ school day has crept up and occurred before anyone was longing for it… the downside being that Mike often ends up working later than he did during the winter because suddenly six o’clock just doesn’t feel like time to call things a day…!

And maybe the biggest thing that can help is simply- time.

Maybe I just need to sit back and relax a bit and accept that just at the moment things are bad for everyone in business- small businesses like mine are struggling with sales, but so too are the big names out there. Years of the country’s economy being poor, along with Brexit, along with the pandemic, along with countries that are now in crisis… Is it any wonder no one is in the mood to buy ‘frivolities’ like doll’s clothes right now?

It’s all too easy to play the comparisons game- how are sales going compared to this time last year? How many blog post ‘likes’ am I getting compared with this time last year? How much interaction is my Instagram page getting, compared to this time last year? How is my business faring compared with other, similar little businesses? And so on, and so forth…

But life moves on and is constantly changing- surely that’s one thing that we’ve all learned over the last two years! So in the same way that it would be unfair to judge one of our children against another at the exact same age/ stage of life/ in the same school subject, it’s unfair (especially in this ever-changing climate) to judge one month/ one year/ one season against another in business. Even though, when things are desperate it’s all we have to cling on to!

I’ve always held on to the belief that everything happens for a reason and that everything eventually works out just as it was always supposed to, that God works in his mysterious way for the greater good and that by following what I believe I’m being told to do, or guided towards- everything will work out 🙂

As if to prove this point- since starting to write this post before the weekend, my blog post ‘likes’ have gone crazy again… and after a week of nothing I’m back to averaging eight post likes a day over the last four days…
A Facebook group for members of the website host site that I use also then suddenly showed up to me out of nowhere last week… and conveniently they were just beginning a series of talks and video demonstrations on Keywords and SEO- in other words, exploring ways to get Google and the other search engines finding and loving your website…

If ever I needed proof that although things are slow right now, they will get better- that I need to relax a bit and not spend every waking moment stressing about what I need to change to make my previously successful little business become popular again… or if I at least needed something to give me the motivation to persevere with my website in that more relaxed way, and not to just sink into the doldrums and give up… I think this was it! ❤

Focus On… Seasonal Specials – Easter

There are just two weeks to go until Easter; the shops are full of Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns, and suddenly there seem to be a lot of adverts from supermarkets- selling Easter in the fun and exuberant way that they usually only reserve for Christmas. Two years of being unable to meet family for Easter Day gatherings, together with the lifting of the last of the Covid restrictions seems to be coming out in an outpouring of enthusiasm for celebrating it bigger than ever before this year! 😀

I have no complaints- being a Christian means that Easter is an incredibly important part of my life, and having a large family means that we have enjoyed many a full-on family Easter Day in years gone by! We have always bought our children Easter Eggs- we’re no new-thinking ‘Easter Eggs are bad for you’ kind of people, but we did always restrict the chocolate gifts to only a couple each and supplemented their goodies with books. 🙂

It made complete sense to me then, when a few years ago I was sitting at the computer taking my dolly Christmas dresses off my website and it suddenly occurred to me that I should make an Easter dress too. Easter, though very popular- probably due to the amount of chocolate easily available at the time, doesn’t tend to attract the same level of forward planning, or gift buying throughout the year leading up to it. Indeed, it’s only relatively recently that there has been much in the way of people actively looking for non-chocolate alternatives as gifts.

With this in mind, I decided to only make one little dress to begin with rather than introduce a whole ‘collection’ as I have for Christmas. I also wasn’t really sure about whether or not it should be obviously Easter themed, or whether it should be something that could be worn year round, as this would be far more appealing to people buying- especially given that the Easter season is very short lived!

In the end the decision was made for me- the fabric shops at the time were full of ‘spring’ fabrics- pastels, bunnies, flowers and lambs and so it was easy to find one that stood out as different from any of my other dresses. The bright lemon yellow colour appealed to me on the dull winter’s day that I spent browsing, and when I looked closely at the cute little design the decision was made. Though they’re not be surrounded by Easter eggs or crosses, the little cartoon chicks are playing among spring flowers, and some of them are watering the flowers with little watering cans- just as young children like to do. Definitely a bit of a spring vibe going on there!

Style too, was another choice- Easter, coming as it does at the beginning of the spring and summer season lends itself to a summer style of dress, however the selling of it needs to happen very soon after Christmas- while we’re still in the depths of winter! However, with longevity of use in mind the summer style was the obvious choice- and this little dress has now become the bright spot on my website during the long dark days following Christmas! 🙂

It was only about a year later that I felt I needed to offer a bit more choice to my customers, if nothing else the little dress is one of my more expensive items- not by choice, but by the cost of the cute fabric! So I decided to make another outfit to compliment my little Easter dress.

This one, I thought should also be summer in style, and again make use of a fabric design that could be both ‘Easter’ and summer. I knew I needed to look at some of the slightly cheaper fabric options, but I also wanted to make an outfit rather than a dress- which naturally uses up more fabric, so I could have easily fallen into the trap of making something that would end up costing more than the original dress if I wasn’t careful!

Making an angel top set seemed the sensible option- these little sets look super cute (even if I do say so myself!), but as the little pants use up so little fabric it’s not much different from making a dress. Using the same fabric as the top also keeps costs down, so was definitely a viable choice for what I was trying to achieve- once I’d found a suitable fabric!

In the end it was fairly easy to find something suitable- but not until after Easter that year. The bunny design I found is very sweet, and again sums up spring rather than Easter itself. On a very subtle pink-ish ivory coloured background, the rabbits on the fabric are playing hide and seek in flower pots- while little birds fly around them, and bird houses and spring flowers are scattered all around. It’s both cute and summery, and Easter themed at the same time- so just perfect. For various reasons it then took another three years for me to finally get around to making up and introducing this little outfit to my website, but these days both this- my Easter Bunnies Angel Top & Pants Set, and my Easter Chicks Dress can be found on there from late January until sometime in April! ❤

When Normal Just Doesn’t Feel ‘Normal’ Anymore

Two years ago yesterday, the whole of the UK was waking up to a different world. Just a few hours earlier, at eight o’clock in the evening of the 23rd March 2020, the country had been put into Lockdown- effective from midnight that night. We had joined the many other countries of the world who were already living under the ‘new normal’ conditions of not being allowed out of the house except in extreme and strict circumstances.

Staying in became the new going out, and phrases little heard of before then suddenly became part of our everyday speech- ‘Zoom call’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘the virus’ and ‘social distancing’ to name just a few. Working from home became normal and we all quickly adjusted to a way of life that had rules and regulations which changed regularly, and made even those of us who had previously been self-confessed ‘news haters’ begin to keep an eye on the latest updates in the country, and the world.

But then, and seemingly just as abruptly, towards the end of last month most restrictions were lifted- and apparently we’re now into the ‘living with Covid’ stage of the pandemic… Suddenly, what seemed at the time to be a very long two years has gone by in a flash and we’re all left thinking ‘Already? Are we really ready to return to the normal world? What if…’ :/

And what does it mean by ‘most’ restrictions anyway?! I still haven’t found out the answer to that one- aside from within hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and care homes etc., I think it basically just means ‘no restrictions needed- unless the venue/ shop/ bus or taxi driver ask you to wear a mask/ social distance/ use hand sanitiser…!!

After all the ‘what if’ questions have finished, the next instinct is to breathe a big sigh of relief that life is finally going back to normal… back to how things used to be before the pandemic, and that we’re all going to pick up where we left off and carry on as if nothing ever happened… 🙂

Except that it’s not that easy, and that’s not how it works.

Normal just no longer feels… normal!

Ever since social distancing became a thing, and we were all told to keep two meters apart from anyone we didn’t live with, seeing any two people in close proximity just looks wrong. Somewhere along the way, we’ve been conditioned to link people standing within a couple of feet of each other with rule breaking! Just when did all the years of people mixing normally get wiped from our brains?! We can’t be the only ones who, when watching repeats of pre-pandemic recorded quiz and game shows, wince when the contestants and host shake hands or hug when the introductions are made?

But up until this time two years ago, that was perfectly acceptable- and anything less would have been seen as being rude. According to the new ‘no restrictions’ policy, we’re now allowed to greet people in this way once again… but everyone seems to be very reluctant to go back to those ways, preferring to hold off ‘just in case’ or maybe it’s just because it isn’t how we do things anymore… 😦

I’ve often wondered if hand shaking will ever become a ‘thing’ again, or whether the last of the basic manners have gone forever- the rest having been lost over the last century or so as life has moved towards a more relaxed society. Will we ever again greet someone at the door, or someone we’re being introduced to with a warm shake of the hands? Or will elbow nudging, or fist bumps, or simply standing aside just become the acceptable greeting?

All the procedures put in place at the beginning of the pandemic- bizarre and ‘restrictive’ as they seemed at the time, have become so much a part of our lives that they now (as always intended) make us feel safe, and the removal and absence of them makes us nervous.

Two weeks ago it was the Owner’s Welcome Back weekend at the holiday park where our caravan is sited. Over the last couple of years we obviously hadn’t been inside the main buildings on the park, especially into the clubhouse very much- even when it was permitted to be open, it just didn’t feel ‘right’ as the usual run of entertainment was different, and with various restrictions at various times still in place indoors, it was easier to avoid it.

However, whenever we did venture in there, and once the ‘one way systems’ into and out of buildings procedure had been scrapped- access the main room meant having to walk through the main holiday reception area, as was always the case previously. Hand gel was provided at the door, and you were greeted by the staff (who feel more like old friends to us these days), through a Perspex screen- which they ducked behind as soon as anyone entered the building, should they be caught out off guard!

Two weeks ago however, on opening night we walked into the reception on our way through to the clubroom. We were greeted by the staff handing out complimentary drinks- and, although they stopped short of handshakes and hugs, they actually handed us the drinks- as in into our hands!! What had, until two years ago been a normal acceptable gesture, suddenly felt very wrong… there was no indicating where the drinks were on the table, no stepping back in case we got too close to them, no brief smiles and nods and hoping we’d hurry up and get inside the main room and out of their space. 🙂

The reception desk too, no longer sported its Perspex screen, and the smiling security guard who we’ve known forever was standing leaning on the desk and chatting to all who walked by. Instead of feeling reassuring though, as it really should have done, it somehow felt scary and insecure.
Later, when thinking back over the evening, it made me really sad to realise that my own instinct these days was to grab a drink and run, with a brief ‘hi’ to the staff on the way through to try to find a seat stuck in the far corner of the venue away from everyone- instead of taking the time to chat to people and then find a table at the front and centre of the entertainment, as was always our wont in years gone by…

But it’s not only life in general that feels wrong these days; I’m finding it with my little business too. Online stores were one of the few businesses that remained largely unchanged by the pandemic- already set up to deal with the public remotely there was no need to be closed down for the duration of lockdown, indeed it was actually time for the smaller online shops to shine through! With just a few tweaks- for example writing the date that I had last handled the dolly clothes inside my parcels, (to allow quarantining time should the receiver wish), Little Dolly Clothes Shop was able to continue running as normal. 🙂

Being a bit of a niche business, I didn’t receive a sudden rush of orders like many of the other little handmade businesses I know of- but I did have a steady trickle of order coming into my inbox. Grandparents banned from seeing little grandchildren during the lockdowns turned to the online shops to find extra gifts for their little people, to fill the gap that would usually be filled with hugs and teatime treats. Although not overwhelmed with business, I was kept busy enough to always have some sewing on the go- which in turn fitted nicely around having to share the dining table with Little Blondie’s online schooling!

But now suddenly, talk on the Social Media pages of small businesses I follow has turned to discussing a return to craft fairs and markets. Many of the businesses have in the past made a great deal of their sales by selling direct to the public during the summer months- relying more heavily on the likes of Etsy or websites during the winter, or through lockdowns!

I’ve only ever sold direct two or three times a year, at our own village fayres and that of our neighbouring village- and only then for the last couple of years before the pandemic hit. Although apprehensive at first, I did really enjoy it- Curly and Little Blondie helped out on the stall and it was a long and tiring day, but surprisingly satisfying. 🙂

Last year when restrictions were less during the summer and our village held its first public event since March 2020, it was almost tempting to join in… but then I still wasn’t feeling comfortable enough to be around people other than family… how would I have handled the idea of people touching my doll’s clothes to look at them and not necessarily buy- would I have to put those items aside to quarantine, or was it okay for the next person to come along and handle the self-same item… would I have to provide hand sanitiser, and what if it got onto the doll’s clothes- would it ruin them so they couldn’t then be sold… There were just too many questions and uncertainties, so I didn’t bother to get further than vaguely wondering!

But this year, sitting indoors watching as a beautiful spring emerges from the dark and rainy winter just gone, the temptation is back. Our neighbouring village has already been advertising for craft stalls for their fete in June, and Mike (on the events committee) has mentioned our own village fete in August… On a glorious and warm day like today, visions of sitting under my pretty pink gazebo on a sunny day with my girls, and chatting to our friends and neighbours while (hopefully) selling some of my doll’s clothes to interested passers-by fill my head easily. And then reality and the doubts about how to handle things kick in once again… and now I just don’t know whether to take part or not… :/

And the same happens as we contemplate our next visit down to the caravan- one moment the excitement of evenings spent together in the clubroom after a day on the beach or relaxing on the decking is so real it feels like I’m actually there in my head… but then in the next moment I realise that the days of carefree holidaying, without having to worry who you’re sitting close to in the venue are over- at least for now.

Which leaves me wondering… will normal ever begin to feel ‘normal’ once again?

Focus On… Blankets

It’s the last day of February, and although spring is now just around the corner, winter is still well and truly making itself known outside! We may have had an officially ‘mild’ winter this year compared to some years, but today is cold and dark, with rain pouring down- and other than a brief lull over the weekend, this follows weeks of back to back winter storms- including Eunice which, with its ‘Red’ weather warning forced hundreds of schools around the country to close for safety, Little Blondie’s included, caused trains to be cancelled, major attractions to shut for the day- and caused damage and destruction around the whole of the UK!

Definitely still the sort of weather for staying indoors then, snuggled up nice and cosy in a blanket- whether you’re a human, or a doll… 🙂

My fleece dolly blankets mainly come in one size- designed and sized to fit into most doll’s cots and prams. A simple hemmed design, the blankets are cosy enough to either use on their own, or paired up with one of my bedding sets for extra warmth.

Suitable for use by children of all ages; on their own the little blankets are perfect as first dolly bedding- even a tiny little dolly lover will be able to ‘tuck’ a teddy, dolly or softie up in one, even if you can no longer see the toy in question! And being made from a lovely soft fleece fabric means that they can easily be used to snuggle dolly cosily into a doll’s car seat or buggy, and don’t take up much space- ideal for when dolly has to start coming out on every trip or holiday you take, along with their pushchair of course! 😀

In a range of colours designed to be bright and colourful for sole use, but with enough variety to complement any of my bedding sets, or any of today’s doll’s prams and pushchairs, they will also appeal to older children who are more particular with their wants! You can find the options currently available on my website HERE 🙂

Although perfectly sized to wrap around a first size dolly or small softie, I recently realised (thanks to the new addition of two little grandsons) that there was a gap in Little Dolly Clothes Shop‘s range- that I needed a bigger sized blanket to wrap larger dolls in for cuddling. I did originally offer one- many years ago, but for some reason this size had got forgotten along the way when updating and renewing fabric stock!

In the run up to Christmas, I reconsidered this as being an option I should offer. To be more appealing to children, (and the adults who buy them) I decided to offer them as part of a set, rather than just a larger blanket- which could get confusing for customers if they didn’t read the whole item description including sizes! As my little blankets are one of my most popular items, I obviously didn’t want to do anything to jeopardise that!

So, on finding a pretty fleece fabric that I could buy in two colour options, I introduced my first year-round gift set of Cuddle Blanket and Nappy – in Pink and Blue! Just big enough to wrap a larger doll such as Baby Annabell up in, whilst not being so big that a My First sized version would be swamped in it, my new cuddle blankets are already proving popular and I almost wish I’d remembered to add them in sooner!

And of course, whether cuddle sized or pram sized- a blanket is not just for winter! Dolls- like babies, always need snuggling up for a cuddle, and a little blanket is never too hot for use on it’s own in a dolly cot or pram during the summer months… if the winter weather ever gives us a break! 😀