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Lockdown – eek!

Shenzi The Cat and Tikki The Dog
Lockdown

So, we (in South Africa) are in Lockdown. For 21 days!

Just that word Lockdown is scary. If I think about it, I’ve always associated it with prisons and riots.  It definitely wasn’t a word I, (or anyone else I know) used in their everyday language. And it isn’t a positive word either!

We’ve all learnt a whole new language for this time – Lockdown, Social Distancing, Stay at Home, Flatten the Curve and we’ve learnt that although we might not like any of them, they will help to keep us all alive. Therefore, I’m now considering them as good, strong words.

I wanted to mark this crazy time with my thoughts (my Mum would have called it a missive and my Dad would have thought up a song for it) that will stay in the internet ether forever. These thoughts are not earth shattering or anything. I just want never to forget this time of quiet and compassion for our fellow humans plight (albeit socially distanced compassion of course!). 

On Day 3 of lockdown I started to write this. It’s now day 11 and I haven’t got much further.  Not because I’ve been busy, (well not any more than usual) but because I wanted to tell a positive tale so I needed some time to think. It will be lucky Day 13 by the time I publish it.

My husband has a countdown on the fridge with fridge magnets. So today is Covid Day 13 – he calls it Covid mainly because there were not enough letters to spell Lockdown. 😂

In South Africa, we are not even able to go for a walk, such is the Governments love and fear for its people. That urge to go out into the world and see what’s happening is like an itch. 

Lockdown home is your castle

For me, I work from home anyway, but its that contrary humanness (is that a real word?) that makes me want to do something I’ve been told I can’t do!  

That old saying about an Englishman’s home is his castle was never more true than now, for all of us!

Anyway, we cannot go out. This includes dogs. It does NOT include cats as they are allowed out and about to do whatever they want and yet ………

Lockdown Ed does whatever he wants

Ed does whatever he wants……because he can!

On day 8, I went to the shops to buy some basics.  It was eerie, scary and I didn’t enjoy the freedom of being out in the world one bit!  In fact, I couldn’t wait to get home and safety. Learnt another valuable lesson from Ed………

Ed takes time to smell the flowers in lockdown

Ed’s life lesson for us – make time to enjoy the flowers (in your own space).

Day’s 9 and 10 were spent having virtual coffee with friends and the family via Zoom, enjoying the rain because that felt like it was okay to do nothing much and ticking off a couple of jobs on my “Corona House List”.

At 7 p.m. each night we, and other people in our street and suburb go outside (keeping the requisite distance apart) and make a noise for all the people who are continuing to look after us. We can hear bugles, drums and pots and pans being hit, clapping and somebody playing the South African National Anthem. The collective noise has a lot of unidentifiable sounds too!

Thanks will never be enough for the rubbish collectors, the doctors and nurses, shopworkers, police, carers and so many other essential service workers.

Vuvuzela makes a noise for all the essential workers

Every night we go outside at 7 p.m. and make a noise for all the essential workers out there.

On a personal note, I have acquired a previously undiscovered talent for blowing a Vuvuzela – very satisfying! So I can make a lot of noise! The vuvuzela was left over form the World Cup in 2010 and was in the garage (tidying the garage is item number 6 on the “Corona House List”).

So, those are my thoughts on this time so far.

As for Shenzi and Tikki, they wish you all a Happy Lockdown and will be celebrating Easter as usual.

Shenzi and Tikki celebrate Easter in Lockdown
Shenzi and Tikki Celebrating Lockdown Easter

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Surrounded by Madness

Origami Cat and Origami Dog surrounded by stuff
Surrounded by Madness

As you know by now, Shenzi (the Origami Cat) and Tikki (the Origami Dog) sit on my desk.  All day, every day.  They have an odd assortment of things around them…….they say they are surrounded by madness! I have no idea what they mean!

Shenzi and Tikki are there for inspiration but the rest of the stuff – not so much!  The other things have accumulated on the desk because I just can’t throw them away, or, I think they might be useful or, they’re sentimental or, something! 

Origami Reduce Reuse Recycle

They remind me that as a business, we are trying to be as eco-friendly as possible. So now I don’t feel too bad that I’m surrounded by madness because I’m reusing “stuff”! But, they did chant that slogan, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle at me! With the caveat “Just Not Us!”. I’m still laughing at them……

Anyway…… As we learned in the last blog, Shenzi and Tikki do talk. I asked them what their thoughts are on being surrounded by madness.  They very politely told me that they no longer need me to talk for them, they’ll talk for themselves!  That told me! From now on, I hand over my blog to them. Hope you like their stories!

Hello Everyone! Move over Karen, yes, this is me, Shenzi! I’m very excited to talk to you. My mate Tikki and I will take turns to talk so you don’t get confused! I actually love the chaos on the desk, it makes me feel nice and comfy! Although, I have to say I’m a little worried by the Koala sitting on top of the cow in the first picture! It can’t be very comfy for him can it? We’re joined by other things from time to time and there are often little piles of torn up paper ready to recycle.

Origami Cat and Origami Dog

I have to say, it does worry me a bit when I see that! I have to check that Tikki is still on the desk when I see those little piles!

Karen says we may never be purrfect (OK, one cat pun per chat is allowed) at reducing, reusing and recycling but we can try our best and every bit helps.

I think we’re helping because did you know that the wrapping your Cat subscription Box comes in is recyclable? The tissue paper has already been recycled and can be re-used if you’re careful with it and the cardboard attached to the toys is also recyclable.

Of course, like every cat, I do like to play in a box so I guess that makes it recyclable and re-useable!

The tale end (sorry….lol) of this story is that I like being surrounded by madness because its comfortable and I need a few things around me to remind me that I could tidy up and reduce the stuff if I wanted, that I can find another use for the stuff and that if all else fails, I can recycle it!

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Shenzi & Tikki Talk Valentines

Shenzi & Tikki Tallk

Shenzi & Tikki Talk Valentines – do they?

I was having a catch up over a cup of coffee and a mince pie with a friend during the oh so long ago festive season.

Coffee and Mince Pie with Shenzi And Tikki

Just to give you a bit of context, the mince pie balanced on the kettle picture was an innovative way (I thought….) of heating up this Christmas favourite during load shedding. 

It only fell off into the gas flame once, which on balance (no pun intended) was pretty good ….. considering….

I can hear you laughing you know!

Anyway…….

She asked me what the Spoilingtons Origami Cat and Dog had to say about the next subscription box theme……

Bit odd you might think.   But actually, Shenzi the cat and Tikki the dog do have things to say. I found this out when I started making the little videos about them. They have their own characters and I think about what they would say and do. So yes, they do speak, well they do to me, and now to you too – who knew!

Shenzi and Tikki thought about doing something in January but decided that it’s not a month to be messed with. After all, it comes straight after Christmas and there’s such a lot to catch up on – plus it always feels like it has 145 days in it!

February it was then. 

The shortest month of the year with one of the most loved days of the year in it!  Yes, you guessed it; Valentines Day!  To celebrate love of all kinds they thought having Hearts Dog Bandana of the over the collar variety, Heart Tie-on Dog Bandanas, heart dog biscuits and Valentines Gift Boxes for Cats and Dogs was a brilliant idea!

Red Origami Heart
Origami Heart = Valentine’s Day!

Shenzi and Tikki love being loved so it made perfect sense to plan a Valentines subscription box and a special photograph for Valentine’s Day. They told me they don’t think of the day as being just for love, but for friendship and admiration too.

Whether you’re a fan of the celebration of this day or not, they wanted to share the love with you because they know you love your pets.  And that’s why Shenzi & Tikki Talk Valentines.

I say CHEERS to our pets who give us unconditional love all year round. 

Origami Cat & Dog with Red Origami Heart
Cats and Dogs love you unconditionally
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And Now for My Next Trick!

and now for my next trick origami cat and dog

And Now For My Next Trick – The continuing journey of a new business.

Blog number 2 (I promise I won’t remind you of the number again – until its maybe 100!).

Following on from the last blog (number 1) –  (OK, I promised not to remind you, I just couldn’t resist seeing if you were still reading this 😆), I thought I’d let you know some other things that went on during the set up of the business.

My dogs Stitch (a Border Collie rescue) and Pepper (a Labrador) both died in the last 2 years, they reached good old ages and I loved them with all my heart.  Our cat Shenzi went missing one day – she was a rescue and was Feral so we hoped she just went walkabout.

We do have a cat called Ed, who was a rescue and is just adorable.  You’ll have seen him feature on Instagram and the Facebook page.  He tends to think he’s my assistant and likes to watch me at my computer in the afternoons. I don’t pay him because he just sits (or lies down) and stares until I stroke him.

Ed being very busy

Anyway, I’ve missed my dogs and cat so much and that was definitely a factor in starting this online Pet Presents business.  So, I had no dogs to model but, yes, you guessed, my friends do! 

So I borrow them from time to time.  I bribe them with the Handmade Dog Biscuits (they don’t know that they’re healthy!)

Models are Sir Alex Ferguson, Elvis, Munki, Lilo and Luna – wearing their Christmas Bandanas

I am lucky to know people who are willing to help me with all sorts of things and I give them cups of tea (or wine) and dog biscuits (not really 😆 ………. Or do I …….???? (oh how I wish I knew how to put an evil laugh in here!) I could give them dog biscuits because I’ve done the taste test on them – dog’s like them better!)

I needed help with developing the brand and that came in the form of my daughters’ best friend who volunteered to fix up my messes!  Thanks Caleb!  He sorted out my labels for me as well as fixed up photo sizes and checked the look of the website. Have a look at some of his work here.

and now for my next trick labels
New Labelling for Handcrafted Health Dog Biscuits

In conjunction with the very talented Kathy from Life & Fork, the range of Handcrafted Dog Biscuits will be added to as we develop them and next year we’ll be developing kitty treats!  Watch this space!

I think the Origami Cat and Dog will feature on their adventures.  Just because I like them and have fun doing the videos.  Little things please little minds and all that!

Last, but definitely not least, my friend Margareta offered to test everything on the website to make sure it worked properly.  One of her suggestions had me scratching my head for an entire afternoon to find code to make it work.  I cannot thank her enough for this – testing the website that is, not scratching my head for an afternoon!

That’s it for and now for my next trick, otherwise known as Blog No. 2 (sorry for mentioning it again……)

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And we’re Live! Or is it Alive?

First Blog Ever!

From This to This?

Hi and welcome to anyone reading this!

It really is my first blog ever and I’m giving it a go!

So….., after much nail biting, scratching of heads, talking in high pitched voices (from excitement, you understand), Spoilingtons Pet Presents was launched/born/hit the earth hard…..you get the picture.

Brainstorming with my husband (Antony) was the only way to get a name for the company and he did me proud!  We wanted to have a name that stood for buying presents to spoil pets with – easy you say – but not so much!  Many (and I mean many) names were written down…with pen and paper (who does that anymore?) and scratched out before he shouted this one out.

Then it was on to late nights, very early mornings, sourcing and talking, photographing and describing, choosing materials and working towards this launch date!  The maddest (is that a real word?) time of my life!

A good friend of mine said just start small and you won’t be so overwhelmed so that’s what I did (best advice ever).

I had a clear idea what I wanted the company to stand for and that whatever I did, I had to try to have as little impact on the environment as possible – as the saying goes, if we all just do one thing, it will make a difference.

Eco Friendly packaging
100% cotton and water based paint

As many products as possible are sourced locally, made locally and are as organic/eco-friendly as possible. Thanks Sue for the trips to source fabric etc.!

I was sorely tested on being eco-friendly,/organic/starting small after a session of making Origami dogs and cats with a cousin visiting from Australia (thanks d’Arcy).  I really wanted a fun banner on the home page of the website and, in my infinite wisdom, thought origami was the way to go.  Hmmmm, after a few trial and errors, the Spoilingtons Origami Dog and Cat were born!  At least the unsuccessful one’s were recycled!

There was no harm to animals in the making of this product!

The day of the logo arrival was an exciting one as I tried to master the art of stenciling – make no mistake, it is an art but luckily I found a brilliant person to make a stencil and thankfully it came with full “how to” instructions.  Once again I was into recycling paper with all my attempts! Water based paint was used!

Anyway, that’s why I called my first blog post From This To This? I’m still not sure which way around it is but I hope to be heading to Zen!

I am lucky to have the love and support of my husband, my daughter (Ashleigh) and I have the best friends and family in the world – you all know who you are. I know I couldn’t have done this without their encouragement. Loads of love and thanks to you!