big ideas from a little garden

tales and stories of how we make the most of our garden and our terraced house.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Lotions, potions, salves and unguents.

Well, hello blog readers. It's be a while (again) but here I am posing about happier times, here at the tinyholding.
Things have changed a bit here. We are now the proud founders of  Merionwen, Naturally Nourishing. My very own skincare, bath and body business.
I'm still adding courses and qualifications to my chosen career to give it oomph and clout. not to mention the fact that I seem to be an education addict. I wonder ifthere is such a thing? I do love learning.
I have now secured, over the last four years. A HND in phytotherapy, a higher diploma in massage therapy, a higher diploma in aromatherapy, diplomas in advanced anatomy & physyology,  hot stone massage, and cosmetology (natural skincare).
Next stop, a HND in Clinical nutrition, followed by a year to complete a BSc in phytotherapy, then *drum roll* an MSc in phytotherapy. this could keep me busy for a wee while.
All the same while I wait for term to start for the HND (and for student funding to come through) I have my eye on one or two other courses. Advanced reflexology, holistic beauty therapy, biochemistry and botany among them. I do wonder if I will ever be happy with my education and sit back and think "that's enough, I know enough now" I seriously doubt it though. My Ma always did call me "the eternal student". Frankly, I quite like that title, along with "Queen of Bubbles" as a friend had labelled me :)
All this goes hand in hand one way or another. I sort of have a two pronged business. There is the skincare products which the website primary deals with, but there are also the therapies. I want to add more and more to them and one day I would like to have premises. For now I am happy being mobile and taking my therapists paws to the client.
The kitchen often looks like a cosmetics lab has exploded in there but it always smells good. I've not yet made anything that smells bad but there is always time. I have found that scent is subjective, for example, one body butter I have made has ginger in it. It's a nice small but not my favourite. However, this seems to sell much more than the more traditional rose scent. People simply love it. It does have a rather exotic scent.
The whole business started off as a bit of a dream and in true style DD made me put my money where my mouth is. Lets us not forget the conversation several years ago that set the whole ball rolling.

Me, "I would love to gain a real qualification in herbalism"
DD, "well, do it then!"
Me, "Oh, I don't know?!?!"
DD, "Why not"
Me, "......"
And thus I did so!

This time,
Me, "I really could do with something I can do from home to make a difference to the income!"
DD, "such as?"
Me, "Haha, well, I would love to make my own skincare stuff"
DD, "Well, do it then...Crowdfund the start up"
Me, "....."

You see the pattern? He is very good at getting to the heart of the matter in a few short sentences. He leaves no room for self doubt and has been my biggest support to date. Seconded by my Mum!

So, industry is where we are at here at the tinyholding. We are making our income by being self supporting. DD's software business is still the main bread winner but the world is our oyster with Merionwen.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Industry at the Tinyholding.

I'm shocked to see that the last Tinyholding post was last September.
Well, just to play catch up, Happy Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to Teenbeast. 
One of the reasons I have been so distracted has been the birth of my long awaited new enterprise, Merionwen. I have expanded my repertoire over the last few months with a course in advanced aromatherapy, receiving a distinction, thank you very much! And taking in a course in holistic cosmetology.
It has long been a desire of mine to form my own skincare range. A plethora of sweetly scented salves and unguents to sooth, moisturise and buff the body beautiful. So I have taken a leap of faith and gone for it.
Initially we will be looking to fund the outlay with a crowd funding pitch of modest proportions. Stamped for trade scales don't come cheep! Nor might I add, do Safety Assessments. The red tape is flying and I am sure one day I will choke  on the stuff, but once the initial hurdle is leapt over I will be running for home.
There will be a range of goodies for sale that will then be categorised into a few sections, to tantalise the senses and stir the customers with longing (I hope).
So far, I am loosely formulating around three sub headings. There will be a "vintage" line, that will embrace all things lavender and lace inspired. Taking in country roses and floral jasmine. Secondly, there will be a country cottage range. This will encompass all things country cottagey, from cakes and bakes inspired goodies to cottage gardens. Then finally (so far), there will be the musks and spices of exoticism, flavours of ylang ylang and black pepper, for those with a richer more eastern taste.
DD has provided me with a very hand note book to keep by  my bed, where ideas can be scribbled down as they pop into my head in the darker hours. My burgeoning obsession is doing nothing for the insomnia! But, at least I am laying in bed in a half sleep, steeped in dreams of luscious potions and evocative scents.
So far in there I have scribbled down ideas for a fours seasons limited range and seasonal exclusives. I'm loving the idea of flakes of food grade gold being interspersed with exotic spices over the Christmas period.
However, it's proving to be a lot of work that is keeping me away from the potions lab (the kitchen). The website is in progress and the logo is being worked on. Branding is forming and  product placement is being studied. This is beside all the acronyms floating around in my poor addled mind.  USPs, TM, SA CP/HP and SEO to name but a few.
Talking of USPs one of the things I am planning to make a forerunner of my business is a totally natural and organic claim. Of course this will add to the paper work I shall have to acquire, but I feel it is worth it. I would never want to go into something that did not completely reflect my ethics.
So, readers, watch this space to see how things progress and please be open to sampling my wares.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sleep Tight Daddy.....

My wonderful Dad and beautiful sister.
One of the reasons I have had an absence from the family home was that my Dad had fallen ill. He had battled illness for so much of his life.
He was born with a blocked portal vein feeding his liver and over time his liver deteriorated because of this. He was prone to internal bleeding and ascites.
This led to increasing poor health.
Around 2-3 years ago he was put forward as a possible candidate for a liver transplant. However, this was not to be. If he could not feed the liver with a healthy portal vein then the operation would never be a success. We were informed that by controlling his condition and the associated symptoms then there was no way they could predict the length of his life. There were just so many ifs and buts.
He spent many years going back and forth to Llandough Hospital in South Wales having his stomach drained. He had built up a rapport with his nurses and doctors. The repeated appointments had become routine for him. Being followed up by a regular endoscopy or colonoscopy. Invasive procedures that had just become a day to day way of life.
In June my youngest sister, Steph got married. Dad was in attendance as the proud Father. Steph was radiant and beautiful. My Dad could not have been more happy and proud of her. I have no doubt many of the family were shocked at how poorly he looked. Even though he was clearly a very sick man we did not know just how little time he had left.
On the Thursday after the wedding he was admitted to hospital for a routine drain. This time, however he would not come home. The fluid in this stomach had become infected in recent months. This in itself had complicated matters.
Over the coming weeks he was to become more poorly until eventually he passed away.

I am sure in the future I will feel able to post more about happy memories and joyful times. But for now I cannot.

All that remains to be said is that My Dad was loved. I miss him everyday.

Books books and more books.

It seems an age since I last posted here.
Here, at the tinyholding we have had a roller-coaster of a few months.
I, myself, have been away, staying with my parent(s).
There comes a time in a child's life when you have to be the adult. Your parents have given their adulthood to raising you and the rest of the family and it is time to return the favour.
It will rarely be a happy occasion that brings this about but it will inevitability happen. Hence a prolonged absence from the tinyholding for myself.
However, more about that later.
Back to life on the ranch.
The house still is still in dire need of expanding walls. Where on earth do we accumulate all this "stuff"?
Have the Mummy and Daddy books been up to no good under cover of darkness? Austen and Shakespear springing forth volumes of Charlie and Lola? Or do they split, amoeba like, in the dead of night? Perhaps they spit out wee little volumes if fed after dark in a gremliesque manner? What ever is happening we do seem to be climbing some sort of literary mountain, unfortunately I don't mean this in a metaphoric sense. We could build a whole new house with the many paperbacks that I hoard.
I know I should be whittling down the library but I just can't part with the written word.
Somewhere, someone had an idea! They then expanded the idea into a dream. They wrote it down, slaving over each word and sentence. It was edited, published bound and illustrated. How on earth am I to put that aside and dispose of other peoples work?
I love books, can you tell?
I have ever encouraged the barefoot babes to follow in my footsteps. But of course no two people are the same. Hence a whole new collection of genres and authors.
I have recently parted with so many children's books that they have simply outgrown.
Board books, touchy feely books, musical books, books with just pictures, books with silly stories, books with simple rhymes, books with clever rhythms and melodic tomes.  Everyone loved and read over and over. If my children take one magical memory from their smaller years I hope it is the melodic tone of their mother reading to them until the drifted off to sleep. Many of the books have found a new home. However, I couldn't part with "snuggle down ducklings".
I have also retained all the hardback beauties that we have sighed over together. Children's classics such as Milly Molly Mandy, Little Alfie, Flower Fairies, Brambly Hedge, Winnie The Pooh and Peter Rabbit.

Then we have the mountain of practical theory books I require. Herbalism, massage, aromatherapy, botany, reflexology, not to mention physiology and anatomy. There are many to help one dispose of pesky insomnia. Wonderful bedtime reading.

Who can resist a craft book? Cross stitch, patchwork, quilting, sewing, painting, spinning, dying, cooking, gardening, all of them requiring a good book to show you the way.

I have come to the conclusions that I will never be able to part with these friends. So the next project? Bookshelves......I wonder if I should buy a book about building them?

While I ponder this conundrum. Spend five minutes looking at this bookish extravaganza !

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Phyto Success...

I would like to share my success with you all.
I am now a proud and happy phytotherapist. I even have certificates to prove it.
Quoted from the e-mail sent from the collage,
"Congratulations on completing the final examination for your Master Herbalist Level 5 NCFE Diploma course.
On behalf of the College we have reviewed your performance throughout your course and in line with NCFE regulations, your overall result for the course has been awarded a "DISTINCTION".
It is worth noting that this is the highest achievement you can achieve for this course. Well done on this excellent achievement, your effort throughout the course has been of a very high standard and we wish you all the success for the future."

I'm rather pleased.

Onwards and upwards. I am now a quarter of the way through the Massage diploma.

Poor Maggie RIP

Seems the bloody fox has had his fill again.
Here at the Tinyholding we never did get Maggie to go voluntarily into the eglu at night.
I had warned her that if she didn'g go to bed then the fopx would pay her a visit.....
Late one night last week I was laying in bed (not able to sleep) When I heard and cacophony in the garden.
DD had shut the birds up for the night but had not been able to find Maggie. He had been out there for quite some time with his furrowed brow and his torch. Hwe was justa as determined as he had been all the other nights he had hunted for her. This night, however, she was nowhere to be seen. We feared she had already been taken during the day but couldn't find any evidence.
Eventually we had to call it a night. We just couldn't find her. we were hoping that if she had not been taken she would go to be high up in privit and be fine.
Alas this was not so. DD and I jumped out of bed and DD went out to try to reach her before the fox took her. He was unlucky.

Poor Maggie, you were such a character. We will never forget you!

I *heart* Laugharne.

I was recently booked for a series of tours of Laugharne castle as Lady Dorothy Perrot. she is the 16th century wife of courtier Sir John Perrot. (Rumoured to be both the illegitimate son of Henry IIIV and a pirate to boot). Lady Parrot's parentage is rather grand also as she is the daughter of the Earl of Essex and Lettice Knolleys (one time favourite of Elizabeth I until she married Dudley...ooooh, the scandal!)
Playing such a noble character deserved a fine dress. so the Red Velvet came out to play. But what do you know? Dorothy has not been eating lettuce! It doesn't fit. Not even a little bit! God damn it! Poor old Dorothy had to slum it for the day in some particularly fine blue wool and lace. however, all it not lost as the blue is clearly ahead of it's time by around 20 years. Dorothy is clearly a trend setter.
I have another five bookings and Lady D and I am determined she is either going to be back in her red or have a new posh frock. being that it is always sunny and warm in Laugharne I am thinking I may have to make a new lighter silk dress. (To avoid roasting).
Perhaps a deep forest green with golden underskirt? And fine black french hood to boot?
It's been a long time since I felt so inspired to sew.
I need to get my hand back in for a rather special dress for next year (oooh, teasers!)

Laugharne this year was as sunny, relaxed and beautiful as ever. I simply love Dylan Thomas land. However, before we start hearkening to children's Christmases in Wales, lets be clear. Although DT had a rather fine boat house to live and write in Laugharne is the home of the Perrots! First and foremost!
"Who does that Thomas boy think he is? Shakespear?"  Can't you just here Lady D's ghost in her outrage?

It is a magnificent castle full of character, scandal, stories and people who love it. I really is a pleasure to work there.

Ceri from the History Chefs
We were lucky enough to be teamed up with The History Chefs.
They are a branch of the celtic learners network and truly lovely and inspiring people. Ceri and Colette, put on a spectacular show and gave delicious tasters of their Tudor goodies. Yummy!
With such cooks in residence, perhaps that is why Lady d is having trouble squeezing into her gowns.....

The highlight of the weekend was meeting Geoff, an ex school head and an expert on the Perrots. After quizzing me about my characters life I was awarded the gold star! Bloody glad I did my research!

All in all it was lovely weekend. For that I have to thank Tara, Shelia, Ceri, Colette and of course my lovely and every helpful DD x

I can't wait for the next one.