Thursday, 30 September 2010


My spam box overfloweth.

I get spam comments on my blog daily: some want me to buy special medications, others are worried that I might be lonely, and offer me an escort service. Somebody else finds my blog posts very useful for their dissertation, and another regular enjoys my "themes". The most amusing was just after I'd changed my blog banner and colour scheme: they suggested I should consider changing my design occasionally.

It's annoying, because it means I have to moderate all comments, and sometimes my lovely real readers think their comment is being ignored. Not so, I assure you.

Spam on twitter goes without saying!

More recently I've been getting spam from online sellers. Mostly, I think, because they're unaware that just because I post on a forum, or maybe add their shop to my favourites, that does not mean I wish them to start sending me unsolicited offers. That is what newsletters are for - I blogged on Folksy about how to set them up here (part 1) and here (part 2).

Now *someone* has kindly signed up in my name to receive offers from certain websites. No, don't ask. But if you happen to know how to unsubscribe from services without having knowledge of the password, please get in touch.

And to end on a positive note - let's hear from Monty Python:

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

fun guys

...that I met in the woods

So many shapes...

So many colours...

this next one makes me think of Lothlorien...

and of course the "classic" fairy toadstool...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Freeganism anyone?

Well, maybe not strictly speaking freeganism as there were definitely no waste-bins involved - more of an attempt at foraging.

One of our regular walks takes us through an abandoned orchard. Kent, our county, is known as the Garden of England and used to be a major apple producer. Many of the orchards are now housing estates :-( but this one has a footpath running through it and appears to have been neglected for years.

The trees haven't been cared for for a long time, are moss-ridden and unpruned.

Yet still they continue to produce fruit, much of which lies underfoot.

It's quite odd to walk on a bed of apples. At first you try to avoid them, but it's not possible! It's almost like bathing in cider, the smell is very strong in places.

Nature in her wisdom has entwined brambles between the trees, so we were able to pick not just apples, but blackberries too!

I made three crumbles.

One for last night, and two for the freezer. This recipe is similar to mine, but I like to replace half the flour with porridge oats, it adds texture and flavour.

Monday, 27 September 2010

This is … Becky

from Sugar Plum Dreams. In Becky's shop you will find homemade bath and beauty items, made in small controlled batches with the freshest products we can offer. No chemical laden products here.

Lavender Seas Mud Mask

You will also find hand-beaded & handmade jewelry here, Becky has been designing jewelry since 1997, and is very addicted to beads!!

She is also going to start a line of hand-blended teas that will help soothe your body & soul from the inside! Will debut soon!!

Favourite colour?

Oh my gosh I guess you could say purple is my very favorite, but I truly love all colors especially the bright ones ! They most always make me happy!

Favourite smell?

I hope this doesn't sound weird but my daughter is my favorite smell, I just love to hold her and breathe in her scent. It calms me and reminds of the important things in life!!

Honey Almond Soap

Favourite place?

Toss up between the beach and mountains, they both have such healing properties. I love nature, the ocean makes all problems seem so small, it's so soothing to hear the ocean waves they just lull me to sleep and the beauty of the mountains especially when things are all bright kelly green! I also love the singing birds in the mountains.

I see the beauty God has put on this earth for us to enjoy, everywhere!! Am I talking too much? Do I love too many things?

Spirit tea

Nifty: I don't think it's possible to love tooooo much! Favourite sound?

My daughter's sweet voice!

Favourite way to spend your time?

Holding my daughter first ,second would be spending time with my husband cuddling together and spending time with my family, third would be creating new products or designing a piece of jewelry with a close second to enjoying a cup of hot tea on my back deck surrounded by my plants ( veggies and herbs), especially the teas I create specifically for my ailments!!

Favourite item in your shop of all time?

All of them? No really..... probably the Coconut Lime Foot Scrub!

But I do love them all, the Lavender Seas Mud Mask and Honey Almond Soap are two more of my very favorites.


Because it really does make my crusty feet like brand new!!! Also it smells DIVINE!! The other two have made my skin look and feel so radiant and feel so soft!! I know exactly what goes into them so that it makes it all the better...all natural no chemicals.

Favourite shop that isn’t yours?

Do I have to answer this one?? No really I can't say I have a favorite .... I love so many of them. There are so many talented people in this world with whom I never would have met without the internet!! I love so many shops and blogs!!

Sugared starfish

What has been the most useful lesson you’ve learnt so far that you’d like to pass on to our readers?

I haven't sold much online, but I have sold a ton of stuff in person in two retail shops my family used to own. Online is a whole new ballgame. MUCH harder to sell online especially with Jewelry, The bath products we make seem to be catching on a lot quicker than the jewelry did. I love them both. The most useful thing I have learned is PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE it takes a huge amount of work, and a huge amount of posting your urls, and a huge amount of supporting fellow sellers. I truly believe you get back what you send out. So I try very hard to help everyone as much as I can, and not just for the return, but because I just love to help people!


I got into making the natural bath & beauty products after seeing all the info on chemicals, and what they do to our bodies, I have a lot of health problems and I want to eliminate as much chemical junk that clogs up my body up as I can. Also I want to give my daughter a head start in life with using all natural products.
I once read teenagers put over 165 different chemicals on their skin a DAY !! Could this be why we are so burdened with so much cancer and illness these days.
Putting crap ON your skin is like putting it IN your body and it can do just as much damage if not more by applying it to our largest organ... the SKIN!! My husband also loves the natural products!!

Botanical flower sachet

On Zibbet I have combined two creations, the new bath & beauty line called Body & Soul Products, and my jewelry RWestDesigns Jewelry into one shop. I call it Sugar Plum Dreams because I want to be able to list anything I create, I have been known to dabble in hand~made note cards, hair bows, and who knows what else I'll try in the future!! So I didn't want to limit myself to just jewelry or just bath & body. I am in the process of re-doing all of my fine line jewelry photos. They need attention! Once I get this done I will list these on Zibbet in a Hand~Beaded Jewels section...stay tuned for that one!!

Linen and room spritzer

I have also started a blog about Zibbeters and the things they create. I just want to help do my part in spreading the word about Zibbet, and help all of its wonderful
sellers. Again sending it out there I get to know the Zibbeters better this way.

I also have a blog about raising my adopted daughter ( which actually needs some attention)

and one more blog about me and my life and jewelry creating!!

Thanks Becky - and once more, those all important links are listed below: (bath & body & jewelry)

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Going, going...gone!

We were sad when the local auction house went out of business, and it's taken us a long time to find another one. Today was our first auction - and we won one of the two lots we wanted.

It was listed as a sewing basket, 2 occasional tables and a jardinierre. I only wanted the sewing basket, but as the whole set ended up being under £30 ($45) including buyer's commission I'm happy!

The top drawer has little cubbyholes for cottons and scissors and what-have-you

and then the deep drawer is lined in felt and is roomy enough for the day's knitting and yarn and stuffing and wires and everything else to be hidden away.

I am confident I'll be tidy for at least the next couple of days!

We missed the excitement of the early part of the auction. There was a box of Indian paintings, estimated at £10. Turned out 2 bidders knew more than the auctioneer and the owner. One of the painters was apparently a big name - and the lot fetched a staggering £8000. I've looked in my loft though ;-(

Friday, 24 September 2010

I'm a winner!

Aren't giveaways great? Winning is even better of course - so I was very pleased to hear I'd won Team Bacon's giveaway!

What's that you say? You haven't heard of Team Bacon? I'm not a member, but this is what their charter says: "Team Bacon stands for having fun with creative like-minded individuals and supporting charitable endeavors through our collective obsession with bacon. Bacon brings together so many people from diverse walks of life. Some prefer pork; some prefer turkey, some prefer soy; but all can agree that in all its forms, bacon is wonderful. Bacon connects the masses in a communal love for a tastier life."

What's not to love? Mr Nifty knows the way to my heart inevitably involves bacon, so I consider myself a worthy winner!

So - what did I win?

My very own Sassy Sally Bacon, carved from the loins of awesomeness, fun and never-ending good times. (It must be true, it says so on her birth certificate)

I'd just like to point out to those people who think I'm slightly eccentric for knitting meerkats in costumes that I am VERY sane indeed compared to BaconMama!

Not only did my bacon come with a birth certificate, I also have a licence entitling me (compelling me!) to build a better world through laughter and bacon.

I also got a couple of sachets of bacon salt - a product I had not known existed but for which I shall now scour the UK supermarkets!

BaconMama asks "What do Bacon do?"

Well - Sassy Sally came on a day trip to Whitstable, Kent (one of my favourite places, and where we hope to live in a few years time)

We had a picnic on the beach (no bacon in the seemed wrong)

...posed for photos with Nifty and an inevitable meerkat hitchhiker...

...and considered diving into the sea (fortunately decided against it!)

then home again, where *somebody* discovered an opportunity for a photoshoot with the latest meerkats!

Thank you team Bacon!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Etsy treasuries - some thoughts on how to be chosen!

You know what an Etsy treasury is, right? According to admin: "Treasury is Etsy's ever-changing, member-curated shopping gallery. Create and share lists of items. Beautiful, diverse lists may be featured on Etsy's home page." If you're not sure about curating yet, there's help here from AdornmeJewelry on the Etteam blog.

Sounds easy? Making a Treasury that actually gets featured on the home page is a mystery to some of us though, so I thought I'd ask a few curators who've achieved that goal. Firstly - this is what Etsy says at the moment:
"If you'd like your list to be chosen for inclusion on Etsy's home page, here are a few tips:
Be diverse! No more than one item per shop.
Don't include your own items. Spread the love!
Make it beautiful."

Their rules change though - so check what they are saying when you make one.

Craftcult is a great way to see front page treasuries, just put in the name of a curator and up they pop!

'love, love, love.... shadows and light' by leapinggazelle

Thanks to Etsy and congrats to all. You are beautiful!

mens 9 - 9.5 womens...

Earrings. Hedgehog ...

Love Amour Burlap P...

Black and White But...

Buttons, Stoneware ...

Cocktail Dress with...

Tree of Life Charm ...

Armwarmers 33 Punk ...

Horsehair Sculpture...

Sterling Silver Dai...

Fly Fishing Pothold...

White dress with bl...

Black Chenille Wris...

Black dress-Legs on...

Black Evening Choke...

Amigurumi Kawaii Bl...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

I asked LeapingGazelle, who has curated six front pages, what she looked for when choosing items to feature:

"Great clear pictures are a must! I prefer clean lines with backgrounds that don't compete with the item. I try to include a good range of categories and prices. I also look for undiscovered shops with fewer sales to help give them some exposure.

I move my items around on my poster sketch a lot.... until I feel there's a flow, where your eye moves easily from one item to the next. It's hard to describe, but to me it's like music. It can feel harmonious or screechy and out of tune!

While I make treasuries based on themes, I've discovered that my most common thread is color and light, maybe it's because I'm a photographer, lol. Right now I'm happily obsessed with that golden afternoon light that you only see in autumn.

I love treasuries that evoke emotion... nostalgia, a wistful poignancy... and treasuries that bring together unexpected color combinations in a gorgeous way. I recently saw a beautiful treasury with soft lavenders and key lime.

For me, it's all about the collection. To see an already amazing item become so much more when grouped with a collection gives me a real kick. There are so many wonderful curators, I like creating treasuries but I also love looking at them.

Actually I would add one more thing: I see so many treasuries based on color and create so many myself. Buyers search by color too. I really feel it's important to use some of your tags for color. There's a great link for a wikipedia color page with links to all of the shades of the rainbow, and a fabulous post on the Etteam blog about tagging for Treasury exposure.

Thanks Lauren!

GlassriverJewelry has recently made her first appearance as a Front Page Curator:

'Peachy Keen' by GlassRiverJewelry

Gold and Opal cele...

Dress - Pale Peach ...

Simply Peachy Pearl...

Decorative flower p...

Yellow Garden Rose ...

Sunset Meadow - lam...

Goldfish Backpack

INTRO OFFER - 2 Hug...

Blooming Ring, Pe...

Pale Yellow Bowl / ...

Cocktail Dress with...

I Do - Large Freshw...

wake me up and call...

Beige Hydrangeas in...

Peach Pink Yellow P...

Skelton Key Gift Ta...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

GlassRiverJewelry said:

"When I make a treasury, I approach them several different ways. Sometimes I have recently made a piece of jewelry, and I like the color, so I look for things in that color. The day before I made the T that hit the FP, I made a pair of earrings that had peach and persimmon in them. I decided to look for peach items. I found a rose photograph that I loved, and built the T around that. I try to look for a wide variety of items and to avoid using more than 2 or 3 items in the same category.

Today I was trying to name one T when the title Fall In Line came to me and stuck in my head. I decided to try to make a T around that title. I am happy with how it turned out, but I think it got lost in the shuffle of the etsy site loading problems.

One that I made around the song "Black Magic Woman". That one took me hours to do, but I found a lot of fun new shops."

Thank you GlassRiverJewelry!

MyMothersGarden has had several front pages.

'AUTUMN CHOCOLATE' by Mymothersgarden

Formal - Brown Mod ...

Satin Finished Mamm...

Handled Soup and Ch...

Books to read alter...

Beaded Cuff Bracele...

Mustard and Cranber...

Mid Century Modern ...

Golden Pearls with ...

Hazelnut Clusters-B...

Chic cocktail Mini...

Ceramic Raku Fired ...

my ocean... dark se...

Handmade Journal or...

Fish Fridge Magnet ...

Earrings Ruby Red G...

Amy Butler Snack Ba...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Here are her tips:
"Include a lot of diverse items (vintage, supply, fashion, housewares,food etc.), make sure the treasury flows well visually, has some sort of movement and includes humans or animals in the collection. I usually find one item that I like, then build the collection around that inspiration piece, then I search for colors/items that complement the inspiration piece. I like to make it look interesting, not just a bunch of random pieces arranged by almost want to give it a feeling or mood/atmosphere of some sort. An interesting title always helps too. :)"

Thank you MyMothersGarden!

CardsandCraft included my meerkat in one of her front page treasuries!

CardsandCraft only started making treasuries in August, but has already had four front pages (that's four more than me!) She gave me some thoughts on treasuries in the form of questions:

"Should I include myself in a treasury? no, Etsy say not to but if you are making one that is just for fun, why not, it won't do you any harm and you might even sell the item in it."

(Nifty: the guidelines from admin say "You can create a list of items for any purpose and edit as often as you desire" I decided to include one of my trekkies recently, it was the only item in that treasury to sell.)

'Live long and prosper!' by niftyknits

I want to believe...what about you?

Star Trek Science O...

SZ 3XL Leonard Nimo...

3 matching groomsme...

Rocketship Reusable...

Cutest amigurumi al...

Danny Dunn and the ...

Galactica Lampwork ...

Small Painting Scro...

Brass Star, Hammere...

Dark Meteorite ring...

Orbital Beaded Earr...

Time and space poly...

Set of 3 Sandwich/S...

Shooting Star Perso...

I Want To Believe A...

2001- A Space Odyss...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

How do I decide on a theme for a treasury - read the Etsy marketing reports on the kind of things they might be looking for in any given month, see what other curators are doing, look at world events, things in the news, holidays, team challenges, completely random idea.

Do I have to follow the Etsy suggestions/what everyone else is doing - absolutely not, there are no rules on this and Etsy select whatever they see fit which included one on a very British theme that didn't fit into any suggested theme at all.

'A Nice Cup Of Tea' by CardsAndCraft

As us Brits are apparently obsessed with a nice hot cuppa and we can put the world to rights over one, or is that just on EastEnders, what better subject to feature some wonderful British talent in. I am sure I am not the first person to think of this and won't be the last but here is my take on it.

simple grey and whi...

Handmade Tea Cup Bu...

Full English Breakf...

Afternoon Tea - tea...

Ring featuring trad...

Amigurumi Kawaii Wh...

SALE - Red Spotty T...

I love tea mug, blu...

Meerkat afternoon t...

Tea for Two - Origi...

Tea Cosy in Denim B...

Slice of Victoria S...


I Heart Tea Mini To...

London Tea Pot

1920 Silver Spoon P...

Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

"Who do I make treasuries for? whoever you like, friends, teams, favourites, anything and anyone you like.

What shall I call my treasury? anything you like, quirky titles are good, anything with adjectives added in so it does just say red and green. Funny titles are good as are tongue in cheek but it isn't always easy to find something different to say. Just don't give a dull title.

Do the background in images matter? yes and no, no two images are likely to have the same background, so a good mix of dark and light and even different colours is fine. Like the main image only you can decide what looks good to you and arrange in your template accordingly.

Do treasuries with supplies and vintage in get on the FP? absolutely yes and as a supplies seller I make a point of always including several supplies items whether commercial or handmade in every one I make if it is appropriate to my theme. The same applies to vintage. Supplies and vintage sellers have outstanding photographs too and there is no frowning on them being on the FP at all. Equally you don't have to include if you don't want to.

Should I focus on the first three spots that appear on the treasury list? yes, again there are no rules on what to include there but make those three eye catching, say a little taster for what the viewer will see if they click on your treasury.

Should I include images with people in? absolutely yes, obviously you can't in every treasury as it depends on your theme and your finds but for some reason a person wearing that dress draws you in for example.

Should I tell people I am featuring them in my treasury? absolutely yes, people love to be told as the sooner you tell them the better after you start your treasury. Most people in it will comment on the treasury and many will send you nice convos by return. (Nifty adds: this is NOT considered spam, admin changed that rule some time ago)

Should I reciprocate with treasuries? it is entirely up to you but many people do, if you include them in a treasury, they'll include you in their next one. That's how I got on the FP as myself for the first time. Obviously reciprocation only works back for you if the those you include make Ts themselves and many don't. Great friendships have been formed this way, or at least I've got to know a few people a lot better this way.

Who else should I tell about my treasury? again up to you, use your own social networking methods e.g. FB, Twitter, your blog and post on any relevant team threads.

How do some Ts get thousands of views and stay on the first or second page for hours even days? often they are stunning, often it's down to timing or there simply being something about it that catches the viewer's eye. The longer it stays on the first page the more views it is likely to get however you can't make it stay there, getting people to view it in conjunction with Etsy's current algorithum that we are not party to is key!

Do I have to be in a team to get on the FP? absolutely not. Checkout out the FP vault in Craftcult to see that there are a lot more individuals including buyers only who get on the FP than you might think.

Are my own items suitable to be in treasuries? if other curators place you in treasuries then the chances are yes. Even if you sell something unusual like knitted meerkats (LOL thank you!) or have burnt out white background on your images you have a place. Even if your own images need work there is never anything to stop you making your own treasuries."

Thank you CardsandCraft.

Wow - this turned out to be a much longer post than I'd anticipated, but I hope these tips will help us all. Many thanks to my featured front page curators, and Good Luck everyone! I'd love to hear your tips in the comments!