Tuesday, 31 March 2009

I put my hand in the woodpecker's hole...

the woodpecker said
"God bless my soul!
Take it out
Take it out
Remoooove it!"

So I took my hand from the woodpecker's hole...
the woodpecker said
"God bless my soul!
Put it back
Put it back
Replaaaaaace it!"

I've never seen a woodpecker's hole close-up before (well, being 5'1" is a bit of a drawback!) and this was amazing. You can see all the little beak marks!

The stump had some great bracket fungus on the trunk - that was initially why I went to investigate. Soooo glad I did! (Oh - and the little critter in the top hole (yes, there were TWO!) is a travel bug we'd just picked up from a geocache. I'm a woman, I can multitask!

Monday, 30 March 2009

My neighbours

I live in a VERY ordinary house. We like it, but it is *not* picturesque in any way.

Yet within yards, on our daily walks, we pass these historic beauties (Did you know you can enlarge the pictures by clicking on them?)

This terrace is literally at the end of our road. The houses carry a date plaque - 1870! We actually viewed one of them when we were looking for our current house, they are really cute but the rooms are tiny. There isn't a right angle to be seen, not a straight wall or corner - very sweet, but not too easy to fit furniture! Along the back of the entire row is a path, running through all the neighbour's gardens! Unusual nowadays, but it was originally the access for the coalman.

This is the nearby farm. The pond has the biggest bank of snowdrops I've ever seen, just passed, and they butcher their own meat and sell the best sasuages in the world. I love the arched porch.

Not the best local oast house, it's a bit too "done up" for me, but it is the nearest. We have a local kitchen fitter who specialises in round kitchens. Imagine.

Of course, if you're hankering after one of these lovelies but can't quite make the price, why not settle for a knitted version?

This last one is just gorgeous. Look at the angles! I can't decide if the beams and windows have "dropped" over the years, or if they were actually built like that. Soooo pretty.

I just need to sell a couple more meerkats....

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Let's meet...YaffaDreams!

Susan from YaffaDreams asked to feature me on her blog, so I thought it only polite to reciprocate! Yaffa Dreams means Beautiful Dreams, so I'm hoping to find some beautiful work.

Quickies for starters:

Cats or dogs? Miniature donkeys, but I don't have any.

Fruit or chocolate? Chocolate!!!!!!

Favourite meal? Toss up between cheese sandwich (yum) or a HUGE salad.

City break or weekend in the country? I live in the country ... so definitely country. City is too congested and loud.

Soaps or documentaries? commercials

Now we’ve got you warmed up…

What brought you to Etsy?
Out of work and I love to create. So I started to sell on Etsy.

Tell us about your shop (or shops)
My shop is called Yaffa Dreams. Yaffa is Hebrew for beautiful and my daughter's Hebrew name is Yaffa. So the shop name means Beautiful Dreams. My daughter also has a section in my shop called "Fantastical Awesomeness". We make very cool jewelry, bags, keychains, clothing, and the shop also has vintage items.

Do you sell anywhere else?
I sometimes do custom orders off of Etsy. This is mainly by word of mouth, from my blog, etc.

What’s the favourite item you’ve made so far? Too many favorites. I made a pendant out of a piece of blue glass and chain and glass beads that I just loved. I donated that item during the holidays. But I love the guitar pick items in my shop. And my hardware jewelry items. And my sugar skull items! And my new faves are the Carnelian pendants.

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt (about Etsy) so far?
Join teams! Fellow etsiers are the best!

How do you see your store developing? Growing. I am always trying something new.

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted? Browsing the forums ...

What’s your top marketing tip for today? Promote, promote, promote!

Sounds good to me! Thanks for that, Susan. Rumour has it there's a sale on right now...YaffaDreams

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Etsy Sales Fairy

Have you got one?

I bought my sales fairy from raisinlike.etsy.com in January, and for a while sales came thick and fast! Meerkats were being knitted and posted like there was no tomorrow!

Sales have died down a bit lately, so I thought maybe she wasn't happy with her position hanging in my hallway.

This is my "pride of place" display point, my steampunk necklace lives there when I'm not wearing it, hanging from a fabulous carved recycled root which was a present from my son. Can you see the face that's carved on the wood? In the family it's known as the "elk"...and that's another long story!

Anyway, I digress...

To cheer up the Sales Fairy I took her geocaching (you might have guessed!)

Here she is, sitting on the cache with the predictable meerkat. For those in the know, there are a couple of geocoins and travelbugs in the pic. It was a fabulous hiding place, a hinged hollowed out log in woodland!

Then the meerkat and fairy had a go at stalking...

Doubtless this will have you hotfooting it over to raisinlike.etsy.com for your own Sales Fairy LOL

Friday, 27 March 2009

YAY for pondlife!

I love my pond, every morning I pop outside to see how the tadpoles are getting on - quite often while still in my dressing gown, so it's a good thing we have high fences!

They've mostly hatched now, but are still in the safety of the spawn mass. There are some fallen leaves in the water, so many are clustering in the shallow warmer water on the leaf surfaces.

Last year, when they got braver and moved into the shallow water at the shelving edge of the pond, where the water is warmer, a lot of them were picked off by the blackbirds :-(

The water boatmen took a lot too -so I spent many a happy hour getting in nature's way, scooping ot water boatmen and chucking them over the fence! They soon came back though.

Big excitement this morning - saw the first newt in our pond! I love newts even more than tadpoles, so I won't mind the newt picking off a few for lunch.

In our previous garden I spent hours watching newts do their courtship dance - it's really cute. they bend their tails back parallel to their bodies and wiggle it about - very sexy, if you're a lady newt. They develop beautiful orange chests too.

And then it's egg laying time. Unlike frogs, newt eggs are laid individually. The mummy newt grasps a pond leaf in her back legs, lays an egg and carefully wraps each egg in a leaf - so sweet! I'm looking forward to newt taddies - they develop front legs first, the other way around from frog taddies.

I'll stop now - sorry, I got carried away. Every now and then I miss teaching so much I can't help myself from presenting a lesson!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

When did I stop being young?

I was browsing some necklaces in a charity shop this afternoon. One of the old ladies who help there noticed and told me "Young people wear those", with a very clear implication in her tone that they weren't for the likes of me!

How did that happen?

I'm not old..."just older" than I used to be.

I moved on to another charity shop (last of the big spenders, me)

I picked up a book. Again, the old lady was straight on the case. "It's like the Da Vinci code" she volunteered. "Have you read it?"

I admitted I'd got a bit confused in places. "Oh well," she said,"it's good to try to keep your brain active."

Only a year ago I was a full time teacher,, and now, all of a sudden old ladies are seeing me as kindred spirits!

I was thinking of abandoning my burgundy hair dye for something calmer, but this has convinced me to stay purple :-)

Warning - When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

By Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple

with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired

and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

and run my stick along the public railings

and make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

and pick the flowers in other people's gardens

and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

and eat three pounds of sausages at a go

or only bread and pickles for a week

and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

and pay our rent and not swear in the street

and set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Just in case you missed it...Bon Jovi's "just older"

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Let's meet...Susan Sheehan

I am somewhat in awe of anyone who makes lampwork beads, so let's meet Susan Sheehan

Quickies for starters:

Cats or dogs?
I’m a cat. I prefer solitude, and tend to walk off on dogs when they get needy. I stop listening and wander away. It’s not even a conscious effort. But once in a while I do crave attention and go cuddle up to a loved one. My poor husband… he's a dog.

Fruit or chocolate?
I’m afraid chocolate is put into my mouth every single day. I love all sorts, hot, melted, milk, white, dark, and spicy dark versions are my current favorite.

Favourite colour?
All shades of green. More often than not I’m wearing green and if one were to see my glass you would instantly know this by the number of bins that contain green glass rods.

Bath or shower?
I’m terribly lazy with this one. I would love a bath but refuse to wait for the tub to fill. So I stand in the shower a long time.

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

I came to Etsy looking for another online sales site. It took me about 6 months to figure out I needed to devote time and energy to my shop and it has really been a great place for me. I do sell from my site and at local bead shows, but Etsy has turned into my number one sales venue.

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

I love making floral beads. I’ve been making them for a few years now and I never seem to tire of making those little dots look like flower petals. There is something zen like about the process of placing, melting and playing with the heat to get them to look just so.

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

Be involved! The more I read, explore and work with my teams, the better my shop seems to do. I feel as if there is always a new strategy or effort to be discovered and made. Fortunately I love the scavenger hunt nature of online marketing, because it seems to be what works for me.

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

I would have joined at the very beginning. I love being part of a growing evolving site and wish I had participated from day one.

How do you see your store developing?

I always have a few steps planned for the future. Right now I plan to develop my jewelry a bit more and delve deeper into what styles and shapes work well for designers. What better way than to try to be one myself? While I don’t expect to create as fabulously as most of my customers, I do hope to inspire new designs ideas for them as well as fine tune my beads to be what everyone can’t live without.

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

I should be taking pictures. But it’s cold outside! You are much more fun.

What’s your top marketing tip for today?

I suggest one research successful sellers in an unfamiliar category. Write down what things make their shops a bit different from the rest. What are the shops features that excite you? Where else can you find them? What do they do that makes them shine?. Take the information and determine how it could work for you. I find thinking outside the box this way can really give you a feel for adapting marketing strategies and finding neat ideas that work.

Thanks for all that fantastic advice Susan! I've been sneaking a look into your shop profile, and discovered this special offer:

This March it's all about YOU! Pamper yourself a tiny bit this month. Each day I will offer an "All About You" deal. It could be anywhere in my shop. So treat yourself today, because this month it's all about you dear buyers.

*pssst* - Did you know that Susan Sheehan offers specials through her mailing list? Sign up here

Susan Sheehan

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

GeoCaching...part 4!


Yes I know, I'm sounding like a newly-quit exsmoker or a televangelist, aren't I? But it's SUCH FUN!

Today we found a biggie - a travelbug.

"What is a Groundspeak Travel Bug?
Simply put, a Groundspeak Travel Bug is a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online."

The particular bug we found was in the form of a china goose with the tracking tag attached. When I looked up its "mission" online, apparently it wants to travel around Saudi Arabia. I'm not entirely sure how I'm supposed to help it with its mission, as I'm in the UK and don't even have a passport, let alone plans of exotic travel!

The item sitting next to the goose is a geocoin, another trackable item. We left that behind though, as there was a note in the log to say its owner wants to retrieve it.

Quite restores your faith in human nature, doesn't it?

Here's your chance to play "spot the meerkat"...he's in the middle of a woodfull of wood anemones.

We met a very friendly goat en route!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Human nature?

Just a few days ago I recall writing in my blog that something "quite restored my faith in human nature"...silly of me!

We went to the New Forest at the weekend. It was Mothers Day in the UK, and our daughter lives down that way. The main carpark was closed still, being so early in the year, so everyone was trying to fit into the tiny offseason space.

A chap ahead of us had just taken the last space - well, in my opinion, he'd just taken the last two spaces! - so I got out of our tiny car and asked if he'd mind moving to one side or the other, to allow us to park legally.

"No" he replied.

I couldn't quite believe my ears, so I repeated my question, indicating our very small car. He proceeded to walk around his car, checking for the complete lack of space, and repeated that it was quite impossible.

He then added that he'd be about half an hour...presumably thinking we might like to wait!

MrNifty invented a not-quite-legal space and we went off walking, shaking our heads and wishing our new friend a Good Day.

Here we see my daughter and husband modelling their contrasting styles of walking shoes...

and of course the meerkat attempted to ride an unbroken New Forest pony or two...

*good grief I need to go to the hairdresser*

When we returned to the car park we discovered our new friend had indeed gone - and in his place were two other cars.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Let's meet...SantiamDesigns

Debbie of SantiamDesigns surprised me with her first answer ;-)

Quickies or starters: Either, as long as he 'gets 'er done!

Cats or dogs?

Dogs, and lots of 'em. I have three of my own {Kira, my German Shepherd, Winston, my AmStaff, and Dice, a border collie} and a foster pit bull pup, Penelope Pit Stop. Currently planning for GSD pup 'Mikey', who hasn't been conceived yet. I'm still shopping breeders, though I've narrowed it down to three. One in PA, one in CA, and one in WA.

Star Wars or Star Trek?

EWWWW. Neither. Unless it's the Star Trek Trouble with Tribbles episode! My first two husbands were huge sci fi fans, I corrected that mistake with #3.

You're forgiven - my very favourite episode is "trials and tribble-ations", a DS9 tribute to the original series tribbles. I love the bit when someone asks Worf why the Klingons don't look "right" and he says "We don't discuss it".

Fruit or chocolate? I love chocolate, but I eat a lot more fruit. Fruit.

Favourite colour? Green

Favourite meal?

Anything prepared by Gustav's in Clackamas, Oregon.

City break or weekend in the country?

Life in the country, with occasional breaks in Philly and Manhattan with my daughter and her partner. I LOVE NYC!

Soaps or documentaries?

Documentaries, always.

Bath or shower?

Shower. I want everything icky off of me and down the drain!

Usually I say "Now we’ve got you warmed up…" but I don't think there was any question of that!

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

I belong to jewelry and beading lists on yahoo, so that's where I first heard about Etsy. Before my Dr. 'disabled' me, I was working in a medical lab, and had 1 hour for lunch. There was a lovely bead store nearby that I couldn't seem to stay out of. I made things for friends, co-workers, clients, and strangers. {Compliment me on something I'm wearing, and I'm liable to give it to you!} Once I was retired, I had amassed a huge amount of beads, and lost an income. I did the math, and Santiam Designs was born. I also have a SD presence at Artfire, where nothing has sold. Yet!

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

My Sterling and Crazy Lace Agate Choker (above) I want to keep it. :-)

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

Hmmm. Don't sweat what admin is doing, or not doing. I see so much anger and frustration in the fora regarding admin and to me, it's wasted energy and not good for one's health. Or, maybe I'm just too old and settled to keep up! I cruise the forums for useful tips, opportunities to help a new shop, and general amusement. I frequently sit on my hands, though. ;-)

If you could start again, is there anything you’d do differently?
Yes, Santiam Designs would be Santiam *something else*. I was in a hurry to get started before we drowned in jewelry, so I didn't spend much longer than a nano second on the name. Silly, really.

How do you see your store developing?
I sew, have a full stained glass shop stored away, I do needlepoint, cross stitch, embroidery, have a full grow operation for producing african violets for show, a full Siamese Fighting Fish breeding set up, and love making crazy quilts with lots of embroidery and embellishments so maybe I'll dig this stuff out and open another store one day, when I can't ride my horses up the mountain anymore. While I might add an eclectic item to SD on occasion, it'll pretty much stay the same, just with new items. I want to get into metalsmithing, and DH has offered up his large shop. I just need to make time for classes. I make what I love, and want to wear, in hopes that someone else will covet the items. I don't do trendy, my brain just can't cope with keeping up with anyone else but me!

What have you been doing today that I’ve interrupted?
Not a darn thing. Sitting here, sipping my lovely cup of Senseo and swallowing my twice daily handful of medications. Six more pills to go! And apparently the dogs would like to eat something, they're all lined up sitting, staring at me, licking their lips. I do love them so!

What’s your top marketing tip for today?
Um, you're talkin' to someone that hasn't even installed google analytics. I don't advertise, though I do donate items for auctions and raffles, mostly at dog events. I try to list something new daily. I occasionally renew, and try to make an appearance in the fora a couple of times a day.
I'm so totally laid back these days that hustling just isn't part of my repertoire. I'd rather play with my horses and dogs!

Oh you sound so sorted! Thanks for this, the best piece of advice I'm going to try to take from your interview is "Don't sweat what admin is doing, or not doing."


Saturday, 21 March 2009

GeoCaching...part 3

So far we'd only found microcaches...our next hunt was for a cache with "swag" in it. We filled out pockets with random bits and pieces (you know, the sort of things you get in crackers and put in a drawer cos you can't bear to chuck it away!) and off we went.

Once more we were walking through countryside we know well and have walked many times without knowing about geocaches.

Kent is at its best right now, the new lambs are finding their feet - literally! The world seemed full of baaaaaaing, as new lambs and new mums struggled to find each other.

We grew quite attached to lamb27 who was quite sure he could get mum3 to suckle him - but she wasn't having it!

We found the cache - and it was stuffed full of goodies! Protocol dictates that you swap items of equal value, so we swapped a flower eraser for a footballing one, and signed the log.

Sadly the sun disappeared and we remembered that actually it's best to wear jackets in March :-( so we scurried home to sign the virtual log and look for our next cache!


Friday, 20 March 2009

Geocaching...part two!

We've done it! We've splashed out on a GPS

and have been out on our first few geocache hunts!

The first one was actually our regular "walk to town across the fields" route, we've passed the micro caches hidden along there no end of times - but of course never saw them.

Luckily, meerkats are burrowing animals so very good at peering in dark holes...

There were four micro caches to find, each gave part of the coordinates for the final bonus cache. We've just this minute been along to find the bonus, but the world and his dog was out and about so we've had to leave it for another day.

Our next adventure started from the local garden centre and involved walking between a church and its former site. I had no idea that churches could "move".

Here's the church

and here's the nearby cache which we found, and signed the logbook.

Our walk then took us up the hill to the former church site which is now quite remote, just the graveyard remains and a few memorial trees with fabulous views all around.

More to come! I can thoroughly recommend geocaching, I only wish it'd been around when our kids were small, it's a great way to give purpose to walking from a small person's point of view.