Thursday, 30 April 2009

Litter louts part 2

Way back when I blogged about a litter-picking walk.

We've often taken a small plastic bag out walking since, but yesterday we did another marathon litter pick.

One bin bag and one largish shopping bag later - we had to admit we couldn't carry any more. In fact, a mile from home I gave up and sat with the rubbish while husband went to fetch the car.

Why do people do it? In one field we found what had presumably been a party, cans and bottles everywhere. the revellers had even left 2 full bottles behind, but there was rather too much mud to put them in my fridge.

This last "altered" bottle - hmmm, is it something to do with illicit substances?

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Soul town

Easter Saturday was a rare treat - MrNifty and I met up with all 3 of our kids in Brighton. We had lunch at Giraffe and then went to a SoulTown gig where son#2 was playing. This is me & OH in back, son#1 and gf in front, blonde random person just snuck into pic by accident. The backdrop was great, and had lights shining through the "windows" once the house lights were down.

son#2 is the sax player on the left. The band all wear black and red, but I think the red shades might have been one step too far? The singer in the red dress has fantastic hair, I love it!

son#2 plays keyboards as well

but playing both at the same time is just showing off ;-)

finally - my beautiful daughter, who took the photos (but not this one!)

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Let's meet...AMIdesigns

Alison from is a fellow UK seller, hailing from Northern Ireland. Let's get to know the girl behind the counter...

Cats or dogs?


Fruit or chocolate?

chocolate of course!

Favourite colour?


Favourite meal?

my hubbies prawns in garlic butter

City break or weekend in the country?

city break

Soaps or documentaries?


Bath or shower?

shower. I never ever have a bath

What brought you to Etsy? Tell us about your shop ... do you sell anywhere else?

When I started making jewellery I stumbled across the crafts forum and read a lot about Etsy. Eventually I decided to give it a go. I make beaded jewellery and online I sell mostly bracelets, though that's not what I started off trying to sell. I mostly sell memory wire bracelets or chunky cluster bracelet. My other online shop is on Folksy -

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?

I love the Caviar bracelet, which is the first cluster bracelet I made with silvery grey glass pearls

OH, those are Nifty's favourite too, although I prefer the chocolatey one...or maybe the teal...or maybe the champagne...

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt so far?

To make a success of it, it takes loads of time, effort and promotion

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?

I'd tell myself not to get down when the sales didn't come immediately. It wasn't really until the summer and being on here for 7 or 8 months that I started selling consistantly

How do you see your store developing?

Probably more bracelets and more designs.

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?

Updating my blog!

What’s your top marketing tip for today?

Treat each buyer as well as you can. Answer convo's promptly, use attractve packaging and I offer a small discount for repeat buyers, which seems to encourage people to come back again

Thanks Alison! To find out more, go to

and of couse she's @AMIdesigns on Niftyknits new favourite, twitter!

Monday, 27 April 2009

...and all that Jazz

Are you going to be anywhere near Barnes (UK) on Thursday night?

Nigel, the guitarist, is my nephew and a fantastic guitarist - you'll have a great evening! The venue has been a pub since 1684 but I suspect they've refurbished.

I can be bribed with chocolate for stories of Nigel's hair-raising childhood...

Sunday, 26 April 2009

OLd McNifty went to the farm, E I E I O...

My local farm SILCOCKS had its open day yesterday.

The stars of the show were of course the animals, and these tiny piglets grabbed everyone's hearts. They're four days old!

Only one was brave enough to venture out of the trailer - and then he discovered that the ramp was too big a leap to get home.

The farmer told us each piglet likes to return to the same teat - they certainly weren't gentle! It brought tears to my eyes....

The older piglets were busy playing football or what does that remind me of? The little stuffed pig in this picture is a geocache travel bug whose mission is to visit farms. Now her task is done, we can move her on to another geocache.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Natural bondage

Bet my title got you wondering, didn't it?

I love the way Mother Nature just carries on, regardless of what life throws at her.

The silver birch has been thoroughly tangled up by honeysuckle, but if anything is more beautiful with her corkscrew patterned trunk.

This tree looks quite dead, it's riddled with woodworm and you can see right through the hole in the trunk. Yet when you get closer (you might need to click on the picture to enlarge it) you can see there is new growth.
Mother Nature, the eternal optimist.

Finally - another couple of pics of the bluebell carpets in the nearby woods.
So, so beautiful.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Let's meet...Beth!

Today's "Let's meet..." victim is Beth. Let's get started straight away with some quickies ;-)

Cats or dogs?
Well I used to be a complete dog person, but Simon (my fiancĂ©) isn’t that fond of hounds so as a result I would say now I’m more of a cat person. We have a cat called Oscar.

Fruit or chocolate?
Love both, but Chocolate.

Favourite colour?
Purple or Teal

Favourite meal?
My mum makes this ace pasta with bacon, mushroom soup and sweetcorn, topped with cheese and crushed up crisps! Yum! Hehe

LOL My family has a favourite pasta dish with Campbells Condensed mushroom soup and a tin of tuna!

City break or weekend in the country?
Again difficult to choose, mmm I’d say city break, not so weather dependant!

Soaps or documentaries?

Bath or shower?
Shower, hardly ever have time to relax in the bath

Now we’ve got you warmed up…

What brought you to Folksy?
Well I finished uni last June and went to New Designers where I saw these funky little rulers being handed out. I didn’t get one myself but when I got home I checked it out and joined up when I’d built up my stock.

Tell us about your shop (or shops) Do you sell anywhere else?
My shop sells jewellery and accessories, from twisted wire, to chunky felt and enamel and even the odd feather! I’m inspired by lots of stuff and sometimes have a real urge to try something new, so there are quite a few themes running through my shops.
I have my Folksy shop , a shop on Etsy, which is still quite new, and I also have some of my work in a gallery in Silsden in Yorkshire
I’m planning on contacting some more galleries soon. I’ve had no luck getting on to craft fairs this year so need to look at other ways of selling my work!

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?
Funnily enough it’s an item that isn’t in any of my shops. Simply because I just can’t seen to get a good photo of it! It’s a funky necklace with lots of chains beads and enamel.
I like my buttons brooches as well though

I think we can all identify with the difficulties of gettng decent photos, but yours look great Beth!.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about Folksy) so far?
Promote, promote, promote! Enough said! Hehe... Oh wait... and be patient!

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?
Perhaps be slightly more organised!
How do you see your store developing?
I’m in the process of designing some DIY kits for my button brooches, so watch this space!
Also going to be seeing a lot more weddingy type stuff, fascinators, garters, hair pins etc. My sister-in-law is opening a bridal wear shop in Congleton (where we live) so I’m working on a range for that.

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?
Absolutely nothing, Sundays are my lazy days until I have to go to work later

What’s your top marketing tip for today? Pimp as much as you can! ;)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Graffiti - I love it!

It's St George's Day today, patron saint of England, so it seems right to blog about our glorious countryside. At the beginning of my walk I came an unexpected find on a barn wall in a Kent orchard.

Mine's a pint! I rather like graffiti when it's more than just a scrawled tag.

The orchard itself is just starting to come into blossom, I love the way the flowers are deep pink as buds, and soften to a pale pink as they open.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

What's it Worth to You?

(Copied from Etsy Success email, 14/04/09)

Imagine if you will, a complete stranger asks you to create an item
(something you currently sell in your shop). That's not all, they want
you to photograph, list and promote this item as well.

Whew! "Is that all?", you ask.

No, they have one more request: package that item, print a shipping label and drop it off at the post office. Now imagine they want you to do all this for the price you currently have this item listed for in your Etsy shop.

Would you do it happily? Would you grumble? Would you deny this task altogether? Reality check: It's up to you to determine the value of your time and efforts. Make sure you are taking a step back from your work and your pricing and looking at it from all angles.

WOW. Food for thought? I'm going to be taking a long hard look at my pricing over the next few weeks. Am I undervaluing my skill and time? Are you?

Don't let's go mad though. Just because I *want* something I loved making to be *worth* squillions, doesn't mean there is a buyer out there who agrees. To keep my feet on the ground I shall go back and read the wonderful JillHannah's pricing advice, and then start making swimsuits for fishies.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Let's meet...Foreverfoxed!

I'd already guessed that Jackie just might be a dog lover - look at the names of her shops and blog:

Am I right? Cats or dogs?

Dogs, of course!

This first photo relates to niftyknits' childhood. My sister wanted a doggie-on-wheels, but couldn't explain which type of dog and was quite adamant it had to be the right type. Eventually she spotted one in the street and shouted to all and sundry: "That one Mummy! I want that doggy, but with wheels on!"

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Live long and prosper. Need I say more?

Fruit or chocolate?

Fruit in the morning and chocolate in the evening.

Favourite colour?


Favourite meal?


Soaps or documentaries?

Eastenders AND documentaries.

Bath or shower?


Now we’ve got you warmed up…

What brought you to Folksy? Tell us about your shop. Do you sell anywhere else?

I have my own website selling my dog inspired greeting cards but discovered Etsy last year. I saw various mentions of Folksy in the Etsy forums and finally took the plunge and joined in December 08. I've found it a very friendly place.

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far?

Ooo, it's usually the last card that I've made so it's the Flying Fox Terriers card, inspired by the Beswick ducks that used to grace our living room wall.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about online selling) so far?

You just have to keep plugging away. Promote, promote, promote!

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?

No, everything seems to be going to plan so far. Yes, I have a masterplan...

How do you see your store developing?

I need to find more time to actually make more cards. Ideally, I'd like to include more terrier breeds and create more occasion cards.

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?

Reminding myself how to knit.

Humph. Niftyknits just might start making cards then...;-)

What’s your top marketing tip for today?

Use! It saves valuable time in bookmarking your stuff.

Thanks Jackie! Here are those all-important links once more...

Monday, 20 April 2009

Blooming marvelous!

It's bluebell time in the woodlands of Kent, south east England.

They've just started to come to bloom, a few days and they'll be past their best. Right now though, they're in their glory, blue carpets everywhere.

No bluebells in my garden, but my pond plants have started to flower

and the very first of the aquilegias is out - isn't it stunning?

Their folk-name is Granny's bonnet, you can see why.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Jason and the Argonauts.

When I taught Years 4 & 5 (yes, both at the same time...but let's not get into that) one of my topics was "Ancient Greeks", so when I found an old video of Jason and Argonauts it seemed like a fun place to start.

There are always pitfalls lurking for the unwary teacher however, and one caught me out first time round.

This is a fleece, right?
(This one and others available from

But no, not to our modern town-raised kids. This is a fleece ...

(available from

and my pupils couldn't understand why there were no similar jackets in the story.