Etsy coupons

I have just discovered coupon codes on Etsy, what a great new tool.  For any of you out there who would like to get 10% off anything in my shop (including sale items, yes, an extra 10%), the code is SAVE10BOMT.  You just enter the code at checkout and Etsy does the rest for you.  Super!  Happy shopping…

(Please note that this code only works in my shop, not Etsy wide.)

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What really counts

The children are excited.

Girl, 7, is well behaved on the whole.  She is singing and dancing – a lot.  And laughing hysterically – a lot.

Boy, 4, well, he’s a child on the edge.  Teetering on the tightrope between ‘if I’m really helpful and lovely Santa will bring me lots of presents’ and ‘I want them now and I’m gonna smash things until he gets here’.

Toddler, almost 2, knows something is up and has caught the excitement in much the same way she caught the vomiting bug.  She can dance more enthusiastically, sing more loudly and smash more violently than her older siblings.  Makes sense, she was the only one who projectile vomited.  (She threw up on her own face too, but that’s another story.)

Man, 37, keeps grinning at his tasteless, overdone bright Christmas decorations in the manner of a man satisfied with this work.

I have been struggling to get excited, trying to squash the stress caused by clutter, chaos and a complete lack of readiness (damn that vomiting bug – it took 4 weeks out of my schedule).

Then this morning I heard that our village post mistress had died.  The village is in shock and mourning and our hearts are with the family she leaves behind, devastated and so sad at what should be a time of joy.

I guess it’s not important that I like the decorations or that the house is a mess.  What matters is that my wildly over-excited family are here, are well, are with me.  That we will celebrate together.

With prayers and love for Doreen’s family.  We will truly miss her.

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Pay attention

I didn’t.  I obviously wasn’t paying as much attention as I should.  And I completely altered the dimensions of the bag I was sewing with one wrong measurement at the last stage of construction.

Not a complete disaster, as the bag still looks amazing and I will be able to sell it.  Unfortunately, it was a custom order for a customer who provided her own fabric (she brought it home from her holiday in India) and she wanted a specific size.  Which I changed.  Thank goodness she brought plenty of fabric and I can remake her bag.

So frustrating though.  I thought I was getting ahead of myself and clearing all my orders well before Christmas, but I see a couple of late nights in the coming week.

Not all my sewing will be orders.  There are several gifts on my to make list, including phone cases, dolly carry cots with blankets and art totes.  Photos will be posted after the big day (just in case anyone who shouldn’t know about them is looking at my blog!).  Watch this space.

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Coincidence?

Coincidence?  I think not.  There is a direct correlation between work done and rewards received.

Inspiration and motivation

I’ve worked really hard the last couple of months, making stock, trying out new ideas, listing as much as possible (which isn’t as often as I’d like, but hey, with three children you have to take what you can get).  I have worked for too long at both ends of the day (past midnight and before 6am).  And now, I am seeing rewards.

Last month I met the sales target I set myself and this month I have exceeded it, almost doubled it, in fact.

Of course, it’s partly about making things that people want to buy; but if I don’t make ’em, I can’t sell ’em.

So, here I am, just about at the end of the Christmas shopping race, exhausted but very excited about my goals for next year.  Toddler is nearer to two years old than one and I have become very skilled at what I call ‘sneak sewing’.  Sneak sewing means your house is permanently messy (because you have everything ready to make the most of every spare minute) but the satisfaction of producing a finished item every day, that can’t be measured.

How lucky am I?  Not only do I love what I do, but I actually seem to be making money from it.

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Hurray for Etsy

I am doing the happy dance around my house because I made this elegant little bag last night*, finished the flower trim this morning**, listed it for sale on Etsy at lunchtime and sold it within half an hour.   Happy happy happy.

* when I should have been sleeping, in anticipation of Toddler deciding that 4am was a good time to get up

** as a result of getting up so ridiculously early, I had a little spare time!

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Essentials and optionals

Following Boy’s third bout of winter vomiting virus (he’s on the mend now and eating, just 24 hours illness this time), I have given myself a good talking to about what’s essential for a good Christmas and what’s just optional.  Here’s my list:

Essentials:

  1. A warm house with a seat for everyone
  2. Christmas decorations

    Have you seen this elf? Please call North Pole on 0845-SANTA.

  3. Happy children
  4. Enough food
  5. Some presents

Optional:

  1. A tidy house (not gonna happen here, in the battle between me and the rest of the family, I am losing!)
  2. Tasteful, beautifully arranged decorations (tasteful gets one vote in this house – me – whilst grotto gets the other four; we have grotto)
  3. Clean, well dressed, helpful children (the crumpled look is in, we occasionally score on the helpful front)
  4. Delicious and artistically presented home cooked gourmet Christmas food (I think we may achieve delicious, home cooked and Christmas – I’m hoping the alcohol I serve will blur the vision sufficiently for artistic pretensions not to matter!)
  5. Ribbon tied presents for all (yeah, they’ll be wrapped, quickly and at the last minute, probably without ribbon and many missing gift tags)

How are your preparations going?

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2009, the forgotten year

Last night I finally got around to putting together my photo yearbook for 2009.  Until 2009, I’ve done them on New Year’s Eve (not a huge New Year’s Eve fan, me) but the arrival of child number 3 seems to have affected everything, including my ability to collate the photographic evidence of our lives into an attractive book.

Being a big brother is very tiring.

Anyway, last night I spent some 3 hours going through all the photos from that year on the computer, uploading them to Snapfish and arranging them attractively in the photobook.  The smalls were still up when I started and they were touchingly moved by the photos of Toddler as a newborn baby.  Boy was suddenly very affectionate towards her and fetched all her favourite toys.  Toddler herself was entranced by the ‘baba’ on the screen and babbled at length from her prime position on my knee.  Sadly, I only understood the ‘baba’ bit – I’d love to know what she was saying.

As shoulder numbingly time consuming as it was, the journey back to 2009 was fun and heartwarming, more so than if I’d actually done it at the end of the year itself.  I can see a large chunk of today being lost in revisiting all the books pre-2009, cosied up with my family and a large mug of hot chocolate (with a Christmas upgrade of cream, of course!).

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Where was I?

It’s been too long since I last managed to blog.  It’s been a little fraught around here – let me fill you in.

After the children all had a rotten cold, noro virus arrived at our school.  We have spent the last 3 weeks having winter vomiting virus in turn.  My poor Boy had it twice; he was very poorly indeed for almost 2 weeks.

I think I've finished projectile vomiting now, mummy.

The virus is so nasty that more than 50 children are ill at home – this in a school that has 240 pupils.  More than 20% infected.  Part of the problem is that, despite requiring children to be kept at home for at least 24 hours following their last bout of sickness, many parents are sending them in as soon as they stop being sick.  Whilst I do understand that many parents need to get back to work as soon as possible, it’s not acceptable to use school as childcare for children who are still infectious – and with this virus you can be infectious for up to 3 days after the last bout of sickness.

Next week is the last week of term and all the classes will be having a party, complete with party food provided by parents.  Every child’s parent contributes something.  What a recipe for disaster and even more vomiting.

I don’t like my children to miss school but I have decided that, with just one week left and with the virus still circulating, they will not attend for the rest of this term.  If the school enforced the rule about staying home for 24 hours after sickness (which they don’t) or had arranged for a deep clean this weekend (which they haven’t) I might have sent them in.  As it is, they will be at home instead.

What would you do?  And suggestions for keeping them busy and calm during this exciting couple of weeks are very welcome!

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A New Way of Doing Things Around Here

Working from home is all very well in theory, but it has it’s downsides.  The problem for me is distraction.  (I also have issues with space to keep all my supplies and products neat and tidy, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Man works from home two or three days a week and he is also easily distracted.  He takes the bag of outgrown clothes and toys to the charity shop, he pops to the Post Office for me – his distraction is helpful to me and he always manages to keep up with his workload, so there’s no harm done.

I find it hard to switch off from my work.  I love what I do and I would design and sew whether I tried to sell the results or not.  Because everything is here and accessible at all hours of the day and night, I have become very undisciplined about my time.  Officially, I work when Toddler naps in the afternoon.  She usually sleeps for a good two hours, a reasonable time for me to sew.  Planning and designing I do in the evenings and odd times when all three children are occupied.

The time I use to work, though, has crept slowly up and up.  I enjoy it, so it’s easy to justify to myself that extra few minutes, half an hour, all afternoon…

In the meantime, the folded laundry remains on the kitchen table, the floor needs mopping, my daily declutter and tidy all get forgotten and before I know it, chaos has taken over and I need to find a whole day (at least) to put the house back together.

If I could live with untidy, it wouldn’t be a problem at all.  I would muddle along and fit work and housework in in a happy, random way.

I am not like that.

I like tidy, organised spaces, a place for everything, a sense of order.  (I think I have a weird personality mix of crafter and minimalist, a completely unworkable combination.)

I can’t carry on like this any more.  As from today, I will be organised and efficient and my house will be (mostly) tidy.  How will I achieve this?  I have identified two hours a day (Monday to Friday at least) that have, until now, been completely wasted.  Between getting up and taking the children to school, there are two  hours that I have previously spent (a) refusing to get up but not actually asleep, (b) helping Boy and Girl get ready for school or (c) checking emails and all the other internet stuff that sucks up your precious time.  From now on, my days will have structure and this valuable time will be reclaimed.

Here’s my rough timetable:

Before 9am: Housework!  Man will help the children, who are pretty independent anyway.

In the mornings: Admin (check emails, online shops, pack orders etc) for the first hour maximum, then Toddler has my undivided attention until lunch.

In the afternoons: Sewing time, while Toddler naps.  After she wakes up, we’ll sort dinner out together, then get Girl and Boy from school.

Between school pick up and dinner: All the little domestic odds and ends – checking school bags, getting everything ready for evening activities (piano on Monday, Brownies on Tuesday, Beavers on Wednesday, swimming on Thursday) and finishing off dinner.

After all those evening activities: The children and Man will put away all the toys (some training may be involved in my New Way of Running Things Around Here) and then he will bath them all while I sneak in an hour or so of planning, designing and sewing.

And after the children have all gone to bed, it will be time for a little glass of red with Man.

Today started off well, with lots of laundry sorted and folded before school.  Now I just need to work on resisting those inappropriate fabric tendencies.

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My lovely new shop

This weekend, I opened a new shop on Etsy.  I’ve called it Shabby Chic Holidays and I hope I’ve opened just in time for the Christmas rush.

Handmade Christmas napkin holders

The first thing I listed is this set of four festive napkin holders in a jolly holly and bauble cotton print, with a red gingham lining.  (Gingham is a bit of a weakness of mine, especially red and especially at Christmas.)

I have all sorts of lovely ideas floating around in my head and now I just need to find some time to put them all into production.  I will share lots of them here, so feel free to comment and leave me constructive feedback lots of compliments.

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