Sunday, 5 November 2017

Silent Sunday

Linking up with:



Thursday, 2 November 2017

Getting my Craft On

Pre-children, I loved to craft. Looking back, I'm not sure I was that good at it but I enjoyed it. Any spare time that I had after work, I loved being able to sit down and play with fabrics and see what I could come up with.  

My first sewing machine was my MiL's old Toyota one. It was clumpy and quite basic and I was bloody terrified of using it so it sat on the floor of my office/workspace for a good six months or so before I even dared to open the box up and have a good look at it.  After I got over my initial nervousness, D gave me a new sewing machine for Christmas and I immediately loved it.  

After a while of messing about in my workspace and after doing a little research, I opened my little shops on Etsy and Folksy and managed to sell a few bits, 75 sales in total, which isn't too bad for a hobby. And then, I found out I was pregnant with E and slowly but surely the time and motivation to make dwindled and then, when she was born, it was just impossible for me to get anything done!

We have since moved so all of my fabrics, cottons and other materials and tools are packed away as I have nowhere to store them just yet.  The long term plan is that I will have my own workspace again but that's quite some time off and so, since then, the only time my sewing machine has been used is to adjust hems and mend clothes.  I have worked a little on some hexies that I've started putting together but to be honest, that's a long and time consuming project that I dip in and out of. I'm still not even sure what I'm going to do with it once it reaches a good size! 

Earlier in the year though, armed with chalk paints, I slowly started to work on some new things.  First of all, I painted some shelves that I picked up for the girls bedrooms, followed by a hippo head that I had hanging in our conservatory and a few other items I found along the way. 

Recently though, D and his family have opened a new shop which has given me the opportunity to pop a few bits in there.  The shop has only been opened a few weeks so its still very early days yet but I popped a towel rail in that I had picked up cheap on Shpock and painted green... it sold in less than a fortnight. That's given me a confidence boost and so I've started picking up a number of items to refurb and sell on.  I currently have a glass display cabinet, a side board, a corner cupboard and a table and chairs to work on!  (Are you following me on Instagram? I share some of what I'm up to over there!)

(excuse the clutter in the background, I'm working in my conservatory with lots around me!)

I'm not sure that this is something I'll ever be able to make a living from but its something I'm enjoying doing and if I have the chance to make a few pennies from it, I'll take it. 


Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Learning to relax

Last month, after several months of problems and pain with my jaw, I was finally diagnosed with TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder. As I said in that post, one of the big things the Doctor told me to do was to learn to relax and de-stress and to improve my quality of sleep.  

Relaxing and trying to keep myself stress free are two of the hardest things for me. For as long as I can remember, I have felt on edge and that I can't fully unwind. I'm a big worrier and have anxiety and depression which both play their part. I'm a big worrier and over analyse things.  Since the appointment though, I have been making the effort to do things that relax me in the hope it helps me to feel better.  

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Some of the things I've been doing, or trying to do, on a regular basis include:

Reading - I've always loved reading and getting immersed in a good book. 

Colouring - I love colouring! Whether its colouring books for grown ups or one of the kids books and its the one thing I try to sit down and do with the girls. If I'm feeling particularly stressed, I'll sit down with a colouring book in the evening too... with my good pens/pencils that I hide from the kids!

Pottering in the garden - admittedly, I've not been able to do anywhere near as much of this as I like recently with the weather being so poor. I've been really surprised this year at just how much I've enjoyed being out there, clearing the weeds, planting the seedlings that I've grown and watching them come to life. Now the dark nights are upon us and with the change in weather there's no need for it, but something I find incredibly relaxing is getting outside late in the evening, when its nice and quiet and the air is cool and watering the garden. 

Getting my craft on - I've been able to spend a good amount of time on this recently, which has been lovely and I'm hoping to share more soon!  It has been great being able to sit down and work at something, concentrating and forgetting whats going on around me.

Soaking in the bath -  filled with bubbles and using all the toiletries.

Listening to music -  D recently decided that we had to have an Alexa at home and I really wasn't sold on it... until we got it home, hooked it up and signed up for the music library. With 10,000 songs to hand, its been fab for just playing the odd song that I've not heard for ages.  

With two young children, I'm not sure I'll ever be stress free and I'm sure this will always be something I need to work at but, in a bid to find some new techniques to try, I asked a group of bloggers what they recommended:

Elizabeth - "... I do mindfulness meditation. Its a way of encouraging you to be aware of internal and external experience - thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, including breathing - that can quieten the mind and relieve tension. Focusing on and accepting these experiences can improve the flexibility and control of your attention and reduce distress and discomfort." 

Jess - "... ASMR! It's amaazing! I wrote a post about it...."

Kelly - "... I say no. So, if I'm feeling very overwhelmed I don't plan or book anything in, and I cancel some things if I think I will find it too stressful until I feel healed again. I also focus inwards on my family, lots more cuddles, reading, long dog walks, not rushing about and eventually I sort myself out. I think I've learnt over the years that this works for me, it doesn't mean it will work for everyone. I do feel rejuevenated afterwards though!"

Sophie "... I meditate! Took me a while to get into it but it completely changed my life!! It's really good for stopping your mind and helping me to sleep!"

Pete - "... I end up playing video games once my children have gone to bed. Possibly because it reminds me of being a teenager again when I had no responsibilities. I can just sit on my own little world for an hour or so before my wife and I watch TV before we go to sleep."

Nicola - "... I put on one of my favourite box sets. I like to zone out by immersing myself in the drama of Grey's Anatomy or Nurse Jackie. Quite often, I have a good cry too (I get VERY attached to the characters!) which alleviates a lot of my stress."

Alina - "... I do yoga, just from home on YouTube, it really helps me relax and is good exercise too."

Samantha - "... listen to music. Its an instant mood lifter for me. Most nights I like in bed with my earphones in listening to music for about half an hour before going to sleep. It really helps me to relax and unwind."

Emily - "... I go running. It's a great way to just forget about your troubles, relax and enjoy being out in nature."

Holly - "... Knitting! It was my saviour when I suffered with antenatal depression and anxiety - learning how to knit took all my concentration so I couldn't let my mind wander elsewhere.  I love the feeling of achievement when you finish something and you can be proud you've made it yourself. That said, you're more likely to find me with a glass of wine in hand than my knitting needles!"

I think you'll agree, there's some great suggestions here.  I know that exercise is a great stress buster, I just wish it was a habit I had got in to when I was younger! Still, its something I try to persevere with.  Knitting, I've never been any good at, I just can't get past those first few stitches, no matter how hard I try. I do, however, agree with Holly that the total concentration means you're locked into the moment. Meditation and mindfulness is something I've tried a number of times and I just don't think its for me, I end up feeling fidgety and agitated whenever I've tried it. 

How do you relax and de-stress? What suggestions would you add?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

10 Tips for selling on eBay

Back in 2001, guided by D, I set up my eBay account. I didn't have a clue what I was doing with it and he had to talk me through how to use it. Fast forward 16 years (SIXTEEN?!) and I'd like to think I'm now a dab hand at it with both buying and selling.  

These days you would be hard pushed to find anyone that didn't know what eBay was but you might not know how to make the best of it. Having spent a chunk of my time recently organising items to sell, I thought I'd share with you some of my tips for selling on eBay.  

1 -  Having a sort out?  You can sell pretty much anything on eBay, new items, particularly those still in the packaging, often do well. So do branded goods.  Over the years I've mostly sold and purchased clothes and shoes - you'd be surprised at what people will buy. Something I might think of as being old and possibly a bit faded has gone better than anticipated. 

2 - Before attempting to sell, try to build up your feedback. I cannot stress this enough!! People are likelier to buy from sellers with feedback than without. I know that I avoid anyone with feedback under 50 as I like to be able to see they have a good amount of feedback showing them as a trustworthy buyer or seller.   

3 - Take time to research the items you want to sell. Check listings to see the key words being used and the price similar items are going for.

4 - Confused by all of those abbreviations? Here's a quick run down:

BNWT - brand new without tags
NWT - new without tags
BNIB - brand new in box
NR - no reserve
VTG - vintage
VGC - very good condition
BIN - buy it now

5 - Help keep your costs down by taking of free listings.  You can list 20 items per month for free and pay 10% of the selling price. 

6 - I would always recommend using PayPal for payment. It saves the hassle of having to go to the bank to cash in cheques and is quick and simple to use.  It is, however, worth remembering that PayPal takes 3.4% plus 20p per transaction.  Letting a buyer collect from your home? Cash is probably a better option and will save on fees.

7 - Take the time to write a good description. Try to include the brand, condition, the specifications, model, size, dimensions, colour and anything else that is relevant.   When I first started selling, I sold some belts and learnt the hard way after receiving a number of questions asking for the length, how many button holes, the size of the buckle and so on. Ensure you are as honest as possible so that buyers know exactly what to expect.

8 - And on that note, make sure to take good, clear photos to include in the listing. Take close ups of anything detailed (eg a pattern) or imperfections.  

9 - Depending on what it is you are selling, start your price low to entice more buyers. Just remember this doesn't always work and the item might sell for a lower price than you hoped for.  If its a specialist item, its worth trying to go for a higher price, especially if the item is harder to get hold.  

10 - Finally, try to avoid auctions ending in the early hours. You want people to see the auction is ending soon and hopefully panic bid!  Try to end listings on a Sunday as that seems to be when eBay is at its busiest.  

Are there any tips you would add to my list?  Pop them in the comments below!

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