Happy New Year!

Another year draws to a close and as sure as night follows day, the first page of a new chapter that is the book of 2018 begins.

I hope all is well with you and I wish everyone the very best of love, health and happiness over the coming year.

Weddings featured very heavily in my order book last year, with more and more couple’s opting to have either a piñata wedding cake or ‘heads’ of the bride and groom as a real fun aspect of the wedding celebration. Many of these were filled with favours or treats for the guests instead of the traditional ‘cutting of the cake’; it was more the case of the ‘bashing of the piñata’!

Some couples are using them as ‘Anniversary pinata’s’- something I have talked about before. This is when guests write down comments or well wishes and post them into the piñata, (as opposed to writing in the wedding/guest book). Then on their first wedding anniversary (which happens to be paper!) the couple have a party (optional), bash open the piñata and read all the comments – rather a nice idea actually.

     

I have also posted many abroad last year, which is something I will do – but not before thoroughly checking out the shipping costs; which unfortunately for myself is really rather expensive.

I will be honest and say that I find the whole ordering of the head thing, rather bemusing! As you can tell from the pictures I post, I am no artist – I try my absolute best to capture a likeness or character of that person from photographs I am given but absolutely cannot guarantee an exact copy!

       

I love it when people send my photo’s of their special day that includes one (or two) of my creations; you have no idea how much it means to know that I have played some small but hopefully memorable part in this. Please do  continue to email them to me and I will only post them online with your express permission.

Despite having my busiest year to date, I have recently started a part time job and although I will continue making piñata’s, I obviously will not have the same amount of time available. Therefore, I do urge you to give me as much prior notice as possible, to ensure that I will be able to help – with an absolute minimum of four weeks. There are lots of things to factor in such as obtaining supplies, time to construct, drying time, painting and then the shipping time frame to consider. I do hope you understand, I really don’t like to rush and then end up with something below par as this does not reflect well on me and is a waste of everyone’s time.

That being said, I look forward to hearing from you in due course and hope we can work together towards making many more happy memories.

Karen x

     

Do, or do not, there is no try.

March has been and gone, what a month it was – hardly had to time to catch my breath! My youngest son’s 5th birthday, a fair few orders to deal with, lots of enquiries, the dog’s 1st birthday (we had to have a party and cake – for us, not the dog!) school projects to supervise and assist with and then Easter (decorated eggs, egg hunts, Easter coffee morning etc); not all necessarily in that order however?! In order to cope and get through, I have taken to chanting one of Yoda’s more insightful sayings (as per title) …….the hours fly by in our house!

Mentioning the school project, the topic was ‘Movies’ and this year had an added feature of making either a short animation or video to accompany it. As my eldest made a little cartoon last year and because this time he was making it together with his brother, they decided that it would be a video! The subject of choice was Star Wars with one of them concentrating on the ‘Dark Side’ and the other on the ‘Light Side’ with their written work and in homage to Dumb Drums epic sweded version of episode VII’s trailer, they decided to try and copy this – with as much detail as possible……

It soon became clear that this was going to be a massive undertaking and maybe a tad ambitious – but we all got stuck in and the whole family helped. They made the vast majority of the props, their younger brothers helped where they could, I helped with suggesting how they could do shots when they got stuck and we all had a role to play in the video! My eldest loved doing all the ‘filming and editing’ and directing everyone, whilst Joe threw himself into making and painting and loved to act the part of Finn – he also made a fab Darth Vader’s melted helmet from papier mache (trainee in waiting!) which he used for his model and Ike made a great BB8 attached to a remote control car!

We had such a brilliant time doing this and learnt a lot along the way (although it has to be said the project ended up being rather incidental to the whole video production) but they enjoyed themselves so much in the whole process that I kinda let that slide, as they more than made up for it with their enthusiasm and imagination!

I’m so very proud of all their hard work and would like to share some pics and the resulting video which we posted to YouTube or maybe a link to it, if I can figure it out!

 

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You ain’t nothing but a ………

Another doggy themed piñata for a presentation evening, which makes me kinda nervous, as I assume the room will be filled with breeders and dog lovers alike!

Hopefully they won’t be looking too closely at ‘my interpretation’ and will cut me a bit of slack with regards to artistic licence?

From a distance, I’m sure it will be fine.

Hope all goes well.

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Love is in the air

So here was a nice idea for some piñata usage!

We all worry, some more than others and it is quite an issue amongst a particular group of people – let’s call them students! It is quite a stressful period during their time at University and for one particularly insightful newly appointed ‘Health & Wellbeing’ intern; she had the inspired idea of having a piñata to act as a worry doll!

Brilliant! Everyone writes down all their worries/problems/concerns and posts them into the piñata and then enjoy smashing it to bits and therefore psychologically and physically ‘trash’ their problems into oblivion! Personally, I thought that was a fab idea however it transpired (after some student feedback) that it could be unhelpful to have a whole campus worth of student worries raining down on everyone – those students just think about things too much?

Therefore it was decided that we need to turn the idea on its head and spread the LOVE ❤️ – let’s post comments about things we love about ourselves instead and so everyone gets showered with positivity, love and glitter! I have got to hand it to you Sarah, inspired idea, you will go far!

 

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New Year, new start!

Hello!

I am still here and kicking (kind of) and after much deliberation (and procrastination it has to be said) I have decided to resurrect the blog and try again. Rather than attempting to write a post every month – which believe it or not was my original intention – I am going to use it more as an information notice board and therefore will not have to worry about getting ‘writers’ block or worry about my writing ability or (rather lack of) and just post now and again or whenever it is relevant.

Up to now I have relied heavily upon Facebook as my main means of communication, which is fine if you happen to be a Facebook user but obviously not much use if are not. Ironically, I am not a fan of fb and prefer twitter and Instagram although it will be immediately apparent to those who follow me, that I am not proficient in either and certainly do not consider myself to be any kind of social media elf!

To that end, I think it would be much more sensible to use the Crackerjack Crack section of the website, to do as the name suggests and fill you all in on any relevant ‘craic’ and flag up any issues, problems, or general information such as current lead times or use the opportunity to answer any of the FAQs that I get.

So, any questions – fire away and if I cannot for any reason reply by email, I will do my best to do so on here.

May the force be with you.

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Karen x

 

Summer Holidays…?

Well, so much for the “could well be July before my next update…” as we are now into August, I have well and truly fluffed that one!

So, what’s been going on at CJC HQ? To be honest it has all been a bit of a blur, when I last updated my blog my eldest was about to set off on Residential, which by the way was a big success – he had a fabulous time. Whilst he was away it was time to create our entry for the School PTA’s Scarecrow trail which was for the weekend of the happy campers return; the theme being ‘characters from the last 100 years’ our entry (shown below) seemed to go down well with passing traffic, although we did hear that some children had told their parents not to go through our village as “a Gruffalo lives there…”!

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Once that weekend of trailing got over, it was time to get sorted for his birthday party which involved copious amounts of cake (an alien hatching out of an egg this year) and a trip to Laser Quest with some school mates and then I had a serious backlog of pinatas to work through ranging from giant Beach Balls, to Olaf to a whole picnic as shown below…..!

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My youngest nephew also turned the grand ole age of 2 this month and his mum requested a Tractor Ted which she wanted to hang in their play room as he absolutely LOVES Tractor Ted – despite a few bumps and imperfections, it didn’t turn out too badly?

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In amongst the last few weeks of school stuff (Summer concerts, Leavers Assembly’s, sports day, parents evening etc etc) I felt I had hardly time to draw breath. The house resembled a war zone with a sprinkling of glitter, glue and tissue thrown in for good measure, I was still seeing ‘spots’ and the word ‘stressed’ just didn’t cover it! Needless to say, I was mightily relieved when school closed for the Summer; no more daily trips to drop off and collect, remembering everything they need each day of the week etc but more importantly a chance for me to take stock! So I have worked like a demon to get sorted: I have cooked, baked, washed, ironed, labelled, put away, cleaned out cupboards, fridge, freezer, weeded, strimmed, cut grass and hedges. Also attempted a Tinkerbell and made another Peppa piñata (see below) AND I have even made mincemeat, Christmas cakes and Christmas pudding, with sausage rolls prepared ready for the oven in the freezer! Now, I am not normally that organised or sad (depending on how you look at it) – I do like to be a little bit sorted before we reach the end of November, but last year was a complete and utter nightmare for me over the ‘festive period’ and I wish never to be in that situation again. A combination of being a bit blasé about Christmas and not preparing for that and Halloween (piñata wise) which threw me off guard. A few giant pumpkins for Halloween parties later and then we rolled straight into November with me not having a clue as to what to make for Christmas! The weather was rubbish, so they all took forever to dry and I ended up trying to make everything, which resulted in a bit of a mish mash of things that worked and things that didn’t work. Then throw in all the usual school stuff, homework, costumes, concerts, Christmas parties etc then a few weeks of a really nasty sickness bug, which wiped most of us out and I ended up with the most stressful Christmas EVER – not one Christmas card was wrote!

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This year, things will be very different – all part of the learning curve as they say. So since I have mentioned the ‘C’ word already, I have decided to stick to four possibly five designs, but make them available in different sizes, so for example the Christmas pudding will be returning but in two different sizes. The snowman is always popular, but this year I will be making him more streamlined and not as traditional looking and again in two different sizes…. You get the idea. I am in the middle of deciding how to decorate them, then I will post some pictures on Fb before putting them on the website – so if anyone fancies giving a festive piñata to a family for Christmas or even just buying one instead of crackers for example or to keep the little ones quiet once they get ‘bored’ – (usually by Boxing day in our house!) You can whip out your festive piñata and…. t’dah!

Ok, it really won’t be that long until next time, but until then bye for now!

Gone in the blink of an eye.

So where did the last four weeks go then? They were definitely there last time I looked, just around the corner and then, just as I emerge Meerkat like from my ‘work room’ aka spare bedroom, whoosh – we are into the middle of June! Oh well, I guess if I adopt the same attitude over the next few weeks the World Cup should pass me by entirely – so silver lining and all that!
I have been kept very quiet of late with general day to day stuff and some very diverse orders, ranging from Postman Pat, Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates (shown below) to Fireman Sam and pink teapots!

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I have got the bulk of these out of the way now and can now concentrate on an order which requires yet more teapots – although slightly more refined than 3 year old Penny’s favourite pink teapot below – cups & saucers and even some slices of cake! That should be a challenge, there may even be some pigs thrown into the mix – I know, random just doesn’t cover it sometimes!

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In other news, my eldest is about to set off on his school residential, which he is very excited about! It’s a bit further afield this time in the Peak District, but I am sure he will have a fantastic time. So next week I will have to go through the fairly exhaustive list of ‘required’ items which of course all have to be named (sigh) and make sure he is ready for the off. Then when he gets back it will be just a few days before his 9th birthday – now that really is scary, I will be booking driving lessons next!
So with that and the approaching end of the school year looming ever larger, I will have another fairly hectic few weeks and it could well be July before I get around to posting another update! I shall endeavour not to leave it so long however……..

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………I hope to share with you some flyers which are nearly ready to go to the printers and so hopefully help spread the word about CJC!
Stay tuned folks!

Hello dearie….

A cautionary tale.

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In the warm Spring sunshine a gentle breeze rippled through the garden and underneath the shelter of the large cherry tree, something stirred in amongst the shadows.

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The old hag quietly waits and gradually emerges……….

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Her patience is duly rewarded when she spies her quarry and quickly makes a move.

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She breaks the cover of darkness and glides silently, almost wraith like across the expanse before her.

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She approaches the young girl who has hair as black as ebony, lips as red as the rose and skin as white as the snow. “Hello dearie……..”

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She is ready (at last) to ensnare her prey. “Have a bite of my magic wishing apple and look into my eyes……..”

The rest, as they say, is history. x

It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen.

Well, I managed to get the sports car finished and just to clarify, it’s a Porsche 911 – although when the chap in question requested one for his 50th, I’m fairly sure this isn’t quite what he had in mind!

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So we have had some lovely warmer days of late (not going to mention the more ‘bracing’ ones) and what a difference they make esp for ones balloons! It really makes life so much easier, both generally speaking and in the world of piñata making. On ideal days I can get a shell made and ready to decorate in one day, but these days are few and far between. Now we are well into Spring where the days (although sporadic) can be mild and breezy – the layers of papier mache can dry in no time. Although if too breezy, the paper can wrinkle which can cause problems esp if you require a smooth finish and if it is very breezy, they have been known to fly off the line and onto a freshly clipped hawthorn hedge……

Summer days are the best as they are generally warm, sunny and still (she says hopefully) – but full sun or hot days are not ideal either, as this can cause the balloons to expand and explode – disaster! So as you can imagine Winter can cause all sorts of problems as I have to dry the piñata’s inside. It can be a beautiful cold, clear sunny day, but then bringing the piñata inside to finish off the drying process can then cause the balloon to suddenly expand in the temp difference and explode – I have lost many a snowman and Christmas pudding this way! So as soon as the days turn chilly, I dry them all inside and then we need to have a good rotation system as they then take at least a day to dry each layer (unless I can get the timing and heat right, then it has been known to get a sneaky two layers on in a day) and it is sometimes easy to forget how many layers each one has had – esp when you are adding more to the mix!

Bet you didn’t think mixing up some papier mache paste and slapping some newspaper strips over a balloon would become quite so technical! In truth, it isn’t. Making a piñata is a very simple process and lots of fun to do – children love to do this as it is so messy! It helps if you are a very patient person (which I am not) and have lots of imagination (which again I don’t have much of) but I do have access to the internet, books, magazines or whatever else there is lying around which I can copy to the best of my ability. All you need to start is some old newspapers, some flour and water mixed together until creamy, a balloon and perhaps a pot to stand the balloon in whilst you work on it. Cut the newspaper into strips, dip in the paste and cover the balloon in slightly overlapping layers – allow to dry. When completely dry repeat the process until you have a shell hard enough to hold it’s own shape, then simply pop the balloon and remove. When I first started teaching myself, I took inspiration from the brilliant Joanna Gosling and made some Easter eggs by following this method, decorating the dried ‘egg’ shape and then cutting it in half lengthways so I could fill it whatever I wanted, stuffed in some shredded tissue paper before tying them shut with some brightly coloured ribbon I had picked up in the market. Added a label and t’dah a really lovely handmade Easter gift which cost very little to make!

In other news, here is another shot of the bad fairy tale character, which has now departed to cause goodness knows what mayhem at a charity fundraiser event…….?

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Shall reveal all next time (the piñata that is!)

Karen x

Every bunny needs some bunny to love…..

I cannot believe how the days are flying by at the moment, it doesn’t seem two minutes since I was preparing for the Easter holidays and now here we are getting everything ready for the kids to go back to school! I hope a good Easter break was had by all? I know we were all ready for one in this house, with so much going on at school and at home (lambing etc) they were absolutely shattered – we are also still in the midst of ‘party season’! We had a special party to celebrate at the weekend, with my husband’s parents reaching a milestone 50th Wedding Anniversary. We had a beautiful meal at The Shepherds Inn, all the tables were decorated with gorgeous flower arrangements by my talented sister in law Abi and I managed to throw some icing over a cake for the occasion! Golden Congratulations once again to Alan and Jean on this achievement!

Number two child also reaches his 7th Birthday this week, so this involves taking cakes into school for his class to enjoy on the day itself and a party to sort! However, he has requested a swimming party this time – so that should be straightforward enough (?) although whether we have time to smash super red below remains to be seen…?

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As for the Decoupage Easter egg I started working on….. well, suffice to say it is in exactly the same state since my last post – I really should know better!  It would have been more realistic to say it would be finished by next Easter, so hopefully it will be?

However in other news the bad fairy tale character has been completed, any clues…..?

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My youngest also starts the school nursery this term, so for the first time in over 8 years I will have a few mornings a week with absolutely no children….. not sure how I feel about this as yet? It’s going to feel very weird and despite people assuming (as they do) that I will spend my “free” time wandering aimlessly about – wondering what I am going to do with myself; I can reassure you all that actually, I have plenty to do! In amongst it all however, the sports car is going straight to the top of the list, as a matter of priority!!

So that being said, I had better crack on….. #timeisticking

Karen x