Catch up

It has been yet another week of solid activity around here.

I spent most of the week in a mad flurry of food shopping before the long weekend, sorting sponsorship forms for Chloe's sponsored bounce (99 bouncy castle bounces in a minute), cooking a couple of extra meals for the days when I'm completely zonked over the long weekend and unsuccessfully dodging big fat rain and hailstones.

Saturday didn't see any time for relaxing either. Robert had planned to take us to The Outlet in Banbridge for a bit of retail therapy (I must look absolutely dire if he's offering to take me clothes shopping). Banbridge is about an hour away by car and of course every parent knows that means ten minutes of "mummy, look at the cows/sheep/horses" followed by 50 minutes of "mommy, are we there yet/there yet/there yet".

We had a pretty good morning all in all and managed to pick up a few bargains and I nabbed two gorgeous pairs of trousers from Olson for £10 each reduced from £85 thank you very much:)
I got my long craved for Starbucks.

It's strange that one thing that really isn't that great, I mean lets be honest here, Starbucks isn't exactly something to write home about there is a lot of much better coffee to be found, but even so the only thing I've missed about working in Belfast is a venti latte with 3 extra shots and a cinnamon whirl drizzled with lemon frosting. I'm telling you, I forgot just how big those cups really are.

We eventually drove home around 1pm and stopped at a cafe to pick up some lunch because Robert wanted to treat me by not having me cook lunch (I think he might be cheating on me), arrived home and had just settled down to eat when the phone rings and it's my mum checking we're home. I told her we were and would call round as soon as we finished eating.

Ten minutes later the phone rings again and Chloe answers it. She listens to my mum for a few minutes before hanging up and announcing that my dad is on his way to our house with our new sofas and to have the old ones in the driveway and ready to go to the dump. And then she added "You just can't get a minutes peace around here", which just goes to show how much running around we've done this week.

So I have my new sofas, I can finally start decorating the living room and I'm sitting here now waiting on a handful of people turning up to collect a few things I've popped on freecycle to make a bit of space.

But at least I did manage to find some time to make three badges for the Folksy Badge Competition with a chance to win a year's free listings.

Which reminds me, I just can't believe that my tiny little baby girl who was born less than a minute ago will be finishing P1 in four weeks. Where has this last year gone?

The hardly the weather for it giveaway

UPDATE - I've picked a name from the hat that is and it picked ........... comment no: 9.

Which is Blue Box Studio with:

Home made 'lemonade' - juice 3 lemons, add some of the zest as well. I'm a meany so for extra zing I also add the pulp from the lemon squeezer (without pips!). Add an equal amount of water. Chill till needed. Then I use about 1" in a tumbler, topped with a decent fizzy lemonade from the supermarket but soda water, tonic or still water works just as well, add ice ... and chill.

Off to make some more now!

Congratulations, I'll drop you a line now for your address and post your new tea cosy asap:)

Thanks to everyone for entering, and don't feel down about not winning this time, there will be plenty more to come.

Well it isn't really.

Still I'll plow on all the same.

Waaaay back before Christmas I received a commission order for a tea cosy and the only instructions were that it had to be red and white and .....

it had to look like a teapot.

Not round and appliqued or in the shape of anything else, just that it had to look like a teapot.

Of course I was happy to oblige, and I quite liked it so I made another for myself in yellow and I still quite liked it so I made another the same as the original commission ..... for one of you.

It's made to fit a standard four cup British teapot, but it also comfortably covers those new fangled tall cylinder pots which hold six cups.

Now I'm well aware that this is hardly the weather to be worrying about your tea getting cold, but stay with me for a second because by my reckoning it's really just keeping the heat in and something that is capable of keeping the heat in should also do a fair job of keeping the cold in. I can't be the only one who thinks this would look pretty cool with a nice cold jug of lemonade or even iced tea hidden underneath. Can I?

And all you have to do to enter is run to the end of the garden and back, all the while patting yourself on your head with one hand while rubbing your belly with the other and saying the alphabet backwards.

But because nobody in their right mind (not even me, and I'm a few dolly mixtures short of a quarter) would bother with that lot in this heat, I'll settle for a little comment telling me your favourite bevvy on a hot day:)

Cause I'm nice like that and I'm also very easily pleased.

I'll pick a name from a hat on Friday night and do the needful thereafter:)

Quick edit because I always forget to pop this in somewhere. The giveaway is open to everyone worldwide:)


I have a bit of a love/hate thing going as far as lists are concerned.

I enjoy writing lists and I love that they do make me feel more organised and I love that when I use them properly I am actually more organised. I love that a food shopping lists means I won't come home with a trolley full of crisps and chocolate (try shopping at lunchtime when you haven't even had breakfast yet and see what happens).

I hate that I usually end up losing them before completing even the first task and that when I clear out a handbag I tend to find them all again scribbled on the back of envelopes, receipts and on the inside of a mars bar wrapper when I happened to have a sharpie handy.

So I'm hoping that some pretty ones will make me more likely to use them....

and because they're roughly the same size as a twenty pound note they'll fit in my purse and hopefully I'll be less likely to lose them.

Anyway, if you're anything like me and fancy a handful of pretty lists for yourself, feel free to click on the photo above and grab a copy for yourself. It should print on plain A4 paper and each list is 15cm x 8cm or if you'd rather you can download the pdf here.

Lazy Sunday Mornings

It isn't often that I get a Sunday morning to myself, and my afternoon had already been hijacked because we were off to Duffy's Circus later, but on Sunday I woke early, made a pot of coffee (I'm finally working my way up to real coffee instead of instant) and settled down for a morning of reading, or perhaps more accurately, page flicking.

I can't imagine a world without books, old and new, filled with real pages. Books have a smell and a feel that I just couldn't be without. I love blogs too, don't be worrying but those handheld digital readers which come preloaded with the classics make me very sad.

Sunday morning was spent flicking through these two books.

I've been through Beeton's Book of Household Management from cover to cover, time and time again, but it's still a favourite of mine.

It isn't really a cookery book, it's more of a guide book and was probably a necessity for new housewifes in it's day, giving advice on how to buy, cook, hire staff (yes please), stain removal, the raising of children and just about everything else you could think of. If you remember a program which was on tv years ago called "The Great British Picnic", this is the book they followed to get it right. The picnic was intended to feed 40 and if I had wrote the book it would have included about four loaves of sandwichs, bowlfuls of chicken wings and enough cake and fizzy drinks to top everyone off, but Mrs Beeton's list includes 14 full roasts of meat, 4 pies, 6 lobsters 18 lettuce and 6 baskets of salad......inhale...... stewed fruit, 4 dozen biscuits, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 11 puddings and cakes, 13 loaves of bread and 6lb of butter, not forgeting the champagne, wine, juice and 1/2lb of tea along with cups and saucers, with coffee apparently being too much faff for a picnic.

And believe it or not, people are fatter today!

But it's still a brilliant book to flick through and I have tried many of the recipes. I always have a giggle at the inscription. Clearly Jack had no problems in giving his wife hints:) Even with the mouthful above it does have some great information, most of which is based on frugal living and it also includes a fully seasonal bill of fare to feed anything from 6 to 80 people for each month of the year.

The book was first published as 24 monthly installments starting in 1858 and then as a bound book in 1861. This is a facsimile reprinted in 1968.

I do love new books too and one that has had my attention for a while is The Rowan Story Book of Little Knits. It's a couple of years old now, but Rowan's knits and patterns are very classic styles and don't date with the passing of a year the way some patterns do.

The first portion of the book is written as a story book with the patterns for each piece at the back.

And I've already bookmarked a few things to make for Chloe.

Now I just need a few more lazy Sunday mornings to make a start.


Yes I've taken part in another swap.

Who doesn't love a good swap, especially for materials. I'm sure we all have bundles of things we've bought and then weren't entirely sure what to do with, plus it's always lovely to get a wee surprise in the post isn't it?

The ribbon and bead swap was organised by the very lovely Card Making Princess and my swap partner was Hannah of Lonely Hearts.

As usual I forgot to take a photo of the beads I sent....sorry, but they were nice beads, I promise they were.

Or I thought so until I received my parcel and then the voice in my head screamed "OMG, you've sent a pile of crap"!

Luckily though Hannah thought something similar when she opened her parcel, so we're good and both love what we received:)

I received a lovely parcel, wrapped in red tissue and I was so eager that I started to take photos straight away, but lets just leave it that I can't photograph anything on red to save myself.

Hannah sent me a gorgeous little box stuffed with Pandora beads and very clever thing that she is, she even included a Pandora bracelet (assuming that I wouldn't have one, which I didn't, see I told you she was clever) to wear them on. And I will wear them, contrary to my mum's opinion not all jewellery in this house is up for grabs. Do you hear that mum!!! It's mine!!!

This is were you'll notice the subtle change signifying that a small child had entered the room and the remainder of the photos were taken the next morning:

I also received a lovely pack of little purple glass beads, pale pink beads and these gorgeous little flower beads. There's a name for them I think, but it escapes me at the minute.

Wee bit later the next morning:

I also received a pack of cute little blue and pink wire wrapped beads. I'm ham fisted and can't wrap wire for a pension so these will be saved for something lovely.

And finally a pack of big wooden and, you'll have to excuse my ignorance here, I think glass beads, they're amber in colour and beautiful but I genuinely don't know enough about beads to hazard a guess at what they're made of.

But they're perfect and on their own have saved me yet another headache.

I currently have this bag in my shop. Do you see the beads at the end of ties for closing the bag? Yep. They're reclaimed, as are a lot of the little finishing bits I use in my bags, but it does mean that I had a grand total of two beads. I like the slightly worn older look of the beads, but it can be difficult to find wooden beads which are older but undamaged. I've been planning on refinishing some newer beads, but the first few attempts were a bit pants and I haven't found the time to really try again.

The problem is that I bought the fabric in two colourways, the one above, and this...

in cooler, more springlike colours and a friend wants a bag the same as the one above for a birthday present, only in this fabric instead. Which is fine and great even, I just didn't have the beads to finish it and Saturday was to be a day trawling shops and anywhere else I could think off to find two large older but otherwise undamaged wooden beads.

Instead Saturday became a day about drinking coffee, a little baking and much relaxing:)

Thank you Hannah!

Car Bootiin'

I'm about a week late with this post because we went to the car boot sale on Sunday, but I'm hoping you'll forgive me for my tardiness. I've had the mother of all headaches again this week and it seems they're down to high blood pressure. I've always had high blood pressure and it's never caused me any real trouble, but it seems now just for funnsies and to add a little interest to my day it's going to give me headaches which make the usual day to day things a little more difficult, things like walking, blinking and seeing further than the end of my nose.

So all good stuff really and my prescription is to relax and take it easy. Don't worry, I'll wait til you're finished laughing......

You done? Moving on....

Last week I dragged my family we went to our first car boot sale of the year. I know I've said before that I love charity and second hand shops and that I love freecycle, but if it's even possible I love car boot sales even more. I always find just exactly the thing I've been looking for, the thing my life would never be complete without at car boots.

Of course, I always find things I really don't need at all too.

No clue why I bought, but, and this is where I tell you about yet another flaw in the way my brain works, I can't pass up a big book. The bigger the better, I can't get enough of those huge coffee table books and I've yet to be able to leave one sitting for somebody else.

The flaw in the way my brain works is that while I'm all about the bargain and getting something I need and saving a bit of money and I'm always good at remembering that it's only a bargain if I actually need it, that goes out the window with books. I paid £1 for this book...

Yep, that's an RRP of £29.99, by my brain's calculation I'm now up £28.99. See how that works? Even when I don't have any need for a book, so long as it qualifies as a book my brain writes off the expense so that I'm no longer £1 out of pocket but I'm a full £28.99 better off. Don't argue with it, I've tried and my book shelves will tell you, it doesn't work.

But it does have some great info, and I do really want to have a crack at screen printing and yes, I am fully aware that my brain has taken over and is now justifying the purchase of the book to you because you all know that I could have found the very same information online for free, but as I said before, don't argue with it.

And I found these little beauties hidden under a table, wrapped in bin liners where nobody else had dared to look...

I have a real thing for copper in kitchens. I already have my copper kitchen aid, which I'm still convinced was possibly for display purposes only and the shop shouldn't have sold it to me because I've never been able to find another one, anywhere.

There are four of them and I still need to clean them up with bicarb to get the lacquer off because I do plan to cook with them. Nothing cooks like a good old copper pot and these are pretty heavy. When I found them and asked the price the lady wanted £3 for each one. I figured two would be plenty for me and knew that if she set the other two out on the table instead of hiding them that they would sell quickly too, but she wanted to start packing up to go home and gave me all four for £6. Bargain:)

Which means that after the whole trip I'm still up £22.99 and you can't get better than that really now can you?

Not Proper

Did you ever have a friend or family member who worked as a seamstress in a factory setting?

Well I did. My two aunts both worked for Ben Sherman sewing shirts for years and if you do know someone who worked in a similar place then you might already be familiar with a little 'right of passage' of sorts that they believe makes a person a "proper seamstress".

Both of my aunts are proper seamstresses, I am not!

I'm not because the little 'right of passage' they speak of is when a person sews straight through their own finger. Not on purpose mind, but even so.....

This is a bog standard, run of the mill, everyday, regular presser foot.

I figure that you either have to be drunk in charge of a sewing machine or incredibly distracted, like sewing up bullet holes at the front line distracted, to not realise you had managed to pop your finger in the path of the needle when using this foot. I mean, no matter what direction you approach it from there will be a big obvious hunk of metal in the way.

9 times out of 10 I use that presser foot, but yesterday I was sewing in zips. Sewing zips requires the use of a zip foot...

A ha, see that now, endless ways of winding up with a needle through your finger. And it has to go through your finger to count by the way. No little nicks or grazes will cut the mustard, it has to go. Through. Your. Finger, nail and all.

Well I was a bit distracted .....

And I wasn't paying as much attention as I probably should have been .....

And I'd just changed the needle and that boyo was sharp .....

And I'd been sewing for an hour or so, had my rhythm and wasn't exactly taking my time .....

And I got my finger in the way .....

And I'm still not a proper seamstress ......

Though my fingers do appear to be made of Kevlar!

Folksy Friday

Having spent a few days locked in an old married couple style argument with our wood lathe, I finally have to admit that I'm not very good at it. I could earn a pretty decent living making hamster bedding, but that's about the height of it I'm afraid.

I could sit here and grumble into my coffee cup at how other people seem to be able to throw hunks of wood into what is basically the biggest and scariest pencil sharpener in the world ever and produce beautiful things, but instead I thought I could just sit back, enjoy my coffee and admire the beauty.

Turned Wood Art Bowl - Lynwood Designs in Wood

Beech Hollow Form - From the Tree

Dip Pen in Kou Wood - Artisan Curiosities

Lily Bowl - Eastfield Woodturning

Ripples - Treecycle

Wedding Goblets - Bodrighy

Now if you could all just pop out to the pet shop this weekend and pick up a hamster or two, I'll be eternally grateful. Great, ta, thanks:)

Even though it is now Saturday and not Friday, I had connection problems yesterday, everything was playing silly buggers and nothing would work so I sent the pc to bed early without 240.

Every year

I schlep up to Scrabo Tower in May. I carry the bag which contains my world world and wrangle a small child while Robert gets engrossed in something no doubt very interesting off in the distance while I curse him and every year I take exactly the same photos.

I never tire of the views from that tower.

And every year we're both dragged around the forest by our little monkey.

Getting Featured

I'm by no means an expert on having items chosen to be featured on Folksy. Nor am I privy to the rhymes and reasons behind the all powerful admin choice. However, having been a featured seller and having had seven items chosen to be featured to date I'd say I've been pretty luck in this regard.
But does it all come down to luck?

There was a time when I would have said that being chosen is mostly down to pure luck, but having spend a bit of time thinking about it and also dabbling with the theories I'd now have to say that whilst yes, quite a lot of it is down to plain old fashioned luck there's nothing to say that you can't make a fair amount of your very own luck!
I'll start by saying that the following are merely little tips. Things that I've found to work simply from my own point of view. That's not to say that everyone, or anyone for that matter will experience any level of success but the way I see it, if you haven't been featured and would love to be, sure where's the harm in trying.

The first thing is obvious and it has been repeated again and again. Good photos and descriptions help a great deal. Now when I say good photos try to keep in mind that all of my featured items were chosen based on the very photos you see here. Yes, they're clear, they all give clear representations of colour and shape and show some of the detail, but let's face it, none of my photos are knicker wettingly beautiful are they!

So the most important thing is that the photos are clear, the easiest way to do this is to take photos in natural light, but
not direct sunlight, I'm not a fan of lightbox shots, mostly because I think a lit of people confuse a photo taken in a lightbox with the perfect photo. Thye often aren't and still need some level of post processing which is often overlooked because too many people think that the lightbox is king.

If your camera has a macro setting, use it! If it doesn't, take the photo from just enough distance that your camera can properly focus on the item and then use photo editing software to crop in on the detail you want to show off. Simple.

They claim that a photo is worth a thousand words. But the photo above doesn't tell you whether that scarf is six feet long or six inches, which makes it pretty much useless as a full method of description. Photos aren't an excuse for slacking on a description. Say admin search for "spring brooch" and your brooch and mine come up. Say I've clearly stated that mine is 7cm x 7cm and you haven't bothered, or worse still you've set a pound coin beside the brooch, who do you think will be picked?

The point is, don't give anyone, whether it be admin or a customer the opportunity to skip on past you because you haven't answered all their questions in your listing.

Just based on what I've noticed in the last few months, asking outright or complaining about not being chosen doesn't seem to help. You'll only receive the standard "loads of lovely things", "hard to chose", "wait your turn" responses. Instead spend your time constructively, tweaking the little details or retake a photo for the hell of it.

This is just an observation on my part, but considering that Folksy are very clear on the subject of using your profile to link out to your other shops in the terms of use, I can't imagine that going ahead and doing this anyway will put you firmly on the "oh we must send loads of our traffic to that shop" list. Just a thought, do with it what you will.
Try and think like admin. I've paid attention and was getting pretty good at guessing what the upcoming themes would be. Of course I'm as screwed as everyone else now that we have a new admin who isn't Anne, but I'll be paying attention again and trying to get inside their head too:)

Again here the point is that once you can pretty much figure out what the themes might be, then you can tag, or even rename entirely, accordingly. I'm not saying that you should keyword spam, don't be that guy, nobody likes that guy and that guy will probably end up being reported. However try and think about upcoming times in the calender and not just holidays but other times of the year that everyone pretty much agrees are well known for something or other.

For instance, the April Showers feature was so obviously on the way (I very nearly used it for my Folksy Friday the previous week) that we may as well have had advance notice. Now I looked at my shop, as I often do and I tried looking at it from all different angles. Nothing was going to fit an April Showers theme, but I checked anyway and had a quick search for some keywords and very little was coming up, but I knew it was too obvious a feature to be passed by and so I changed the description of my Sun Blush Cobweb Scarf to state that it is perfect for Spring weather, see what I did there.

I took a shot, simple as that and because there weren't many items coming up under related searches, bingo bango I'm sitting pretty with another featured item under my belt.

If one of your items isn't chosen, but you think that it should have been or at the very least it fit the theme, then make the most of it. Draw attention to the featured items wherever you chose to promote yourself and follow up with something of your own.
You can even go against the grain entirely.

Say for talk sake there happens to be an iphone cozy in the featured items and you have a blackberry cozy (because we all know more people would be on time and remember birthdays if they'd just bought a grown up phone in the first place) then point that out too because if someone is shopping to make sure the kiddie winks' iphones are all snuggly and warm, why not treat themselves at the same time:)

Lastly, and this isn't a piece of advice on how to get featured, so much as what to do if you don't get featured. Don't sweat it. While I do spend some time working on becoming featured rather than just leaving it up to chance, that's not to say that being featured has a great deal of effect. Even thought I have often had sales while I have an item up there in the bright lights, I've yet to sell a featured item while it's being featured. It's always something completely different. And not everything that I've had featured has sold either. For instance that little Autumn Brooch is pinned to my handbag.

So to sum up, there are things that you can which may increase your chances of being featured, but even if you aren't there are even more ways to make the small selection of featured products still work for you too.

Above all, don't get down about, don't get obsessed about it and have fun.