Sunday, 30 August 2009

Back at School

I can hardly believe the kids are back at school today. When they started their summer holidays at the end of June. the 9 weeks stretched ahead of us and I viewed it with a mixture of dread and anticipation.

Routine has gone out the window with them both sleeping regularly until after 8. The drudgery of the school lunchbox was no more. I didn't need to have uniforms ready every morning.

We seemed to do loads this holiday too, even though the weather has been really disapointing. We had our 2 weeks in Cornwall, a few days in Scotland, our day trip to Malahide, we've been to the cinema, snow tubing, been walking on the north coast, had sleepovers, been to the beach and played with friends.

Back to the school run, all the after school activities and nose to the grindstone for Alex, who has to sit her Common Entrance Exam in November.

All good things come to an end I suppose. But I'm sorry it's over.

Featured Seller

Today I am featuring fellow UK seller on Etsy, BigBlueBed

What is your name/business name?
My name is Alix, and I am Bigbluebed

What is your craft?
Mostly sewing - I make brooches, and purses - lots of accessories. I also knit. And I make Dorset buttons which are kind of sewn..well I use a needle and thread.

How long have you been crafting for?
I have been making Dorset buttons for about 2 years. I have been sewing and knitting since a child.

What is your most favourite thing about your craft?
I love the act of creating : having the materials and making something out of them.

And your least favourite?
I do not like when the child demands your attention and you are torn between the two.

Where do you get your inspiration?
Probably form the materials itself. For instance if it is fabric I like to hold it and look at it and an idea will pop in my head. Or I will be walking to work and I think of something and try and work out how I will make it.

Where do you sell your work?
On Etsy and Folksy

Thanks for Alix for answering my questions and I hope you'll check out her shop.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Friday Roundup

This week I woke to 3 sales on Monday morning, which was lovely! I finished my last custom order and I posted my first item to Israel. I decided this week to try and stock up my shop as much as possible as I am going to be extremely busy with the day job over the next few weeks and I doubt if I'll get as much done. I now have over 110 items in stock and have just bought some new pearls in more autumn colours.

This week I listed a few new memory wire bracelets.

This one in Olive and Gold is made from olive glass beads with antiqued gold spacers.

This Amber one is a bit bigger than I usually make. It has 6 coils but it reminds me of tribal bracelets and seems to work well with the extra coil.

I've still been making the pearl Bubbles bracelets though I'm trying to make a few with 2 or more colours now. This Black Cherry Bracelet is a mix of black and dark red pearls.

And finally I used dark purple and bubblegum pink together in this Candy Bubbles Bracelet

I'd really appreciate some feedback on the mixed colours in the Bubbles bracelets and if you have any ideas for autumn/fall mixes I'd love to hear them!

Also, I'm offering free wordlwide shipping this weekend in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Piano Teacher

I have just finished my latest book club book recommended by my friend Diane - The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee.

The book is set in 2 time periods, wartime and post war Hong Hong and is a compelling mix of love, war and betrayal. Claire, the piano teacher of the title, is newly arrived in Hong Hong in 1952 with her husband Martin and gets involved with the ex pat community, some of whom survived the wartime occupation by the Japanese. She meets Will, who has had a love affair with an intriging Eurasian woman Trudy, before and during the occupation. As the book evolves, Claire finds out more about Will's background and the tragic events which took place during the occupation.

I found the book exceptionally easy reading but the subject is moving and traumatic at times.

Definitely worth a read.

More Earrings

So anyone who reads this blog will know about my passion for earrings and I've been shopping again! This time I've discovered an amazing newish Etsy seller Mel from Chameleonite

I had a hard job deciding which earrings to buy but finally settled on these beauties

I was torn between the ones I finally bought and these Red Glass Bellflower Earrings ones, which I absolutely love.

Then there is these Vintage Lemon Lily Earrings which are so delicately lovely as well.

I realize I have a bit of an obsession with earrings but so far, I've been delighted with all my buys and I'd recommend checking out Mel's shop for anyone who loves pretty earrings.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I've been wondering why I've been getting no comments on my latest posts (sob!) Thought you'd all left me or something!
However I don't know what I'd done, but I'd got myself involved with a new commenting system which didn't send me email notifications of comments.

All is sorted out now though so I will be able to moderate comments again.

Thanks to all those who have commented over the past week or so.

Have you ever been to County Antrim?

In the second installment of my Northern Ireland virtual tour, I'm going to cover Co. Antrim where I live.

The first thing is everyone already knows a little about this county without realising is because everyone has heard of the World Heritage site, the Giants Causeway.

The question is, was it volcanic activity that caused it or was it the giant Finn McCool?

The coastal scenery adjacent to the causeway is some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring that you are likely to find anywhere. Majestic cliffs, inaccessible bays, long stretches of beach and ruined castles - this stretch of the coast has it all.

White Park Bay

Dunluce Castle

I'd also recommend Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge to those with a good head for heights.

If you are needing somewhere to stay or just to have a bite to eat, I'd recommend The Bushmills Inn which is a stones throw from both the oldest Irish Whiskey Distillery and Royal Portrush Golf Club

Of course, Ireland is also called the Emerald Isle for a reason - it is lush and green because of the rain, so don't forget to pack a raincoat!

Monday, 24 August 2009

I've been buying!

I've been eyeing up ClareBears shop on Etsy for a while now and eventually decided to buy Alex this gorgeous Pink Teddy Keyring, to hang her house key on.

It's beautifully made and was shipped really quickly. Definitely something to keep in mind as a stocking filler this year!

To read a bit more about Clares shop, read my interview with her here

Friday, 21 August 2009

Friday Roundup

My week started off nicely when I received my Moo cards. Someone had put a link in the Etsy forums that Moo was having a promotion where you got 50 Moo cards free. I've been meaning to get myself some for ages, so made use of this opportunity and I'm really pleased with them!

I've been working on some variations of the Pearl Bracelets this week and decided to try some mixed with Swarovski crystals. This Champagne Crystal Bubble Bracelet has 8mm crystals nestled amongst the pearls, which gives it a real bridal look.

I made these Champagne Crystal Earrings to match. I do make earrings, they just don't sell very often online!

And I made this Ocean Pearl Memory Wire Bracelet.

I've been struggling this week with taking photos. It's been so dark, wet and dismal here that I've having to rethink my pic taking. I usually take them outside but am planning on reading up on the Storques article on making a lightbox, as I dread the winter and trying to take pics in the half light.

So watch this space!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Sapphire Wish List

I'm turning 40 in September so I've decided to compile a wish list of Sapphire (my birthstone) items in the hope that my family take a look on here!

These Vintage Light Sapphire Glass Earrings from Sassy Cheeky Chic caught my eye.

How gorgeous is this Asymmetric One Shoulder Blouse from yystudio?

And finally, I'd love this Sapphire and Silver Pendant from AliBaliJewellery

Monday, 17 August 2009


What does friendship mean to you? Do you have to see someone regularly to be a good friend or you can still be good friends even when you don't see them regularly?

I moved from Scotland back to Northern Ireland a couple of years ago after 12 years living in Troon in Scotland. We moved so we and the kids could be close to family but it was a huge wrench leaving the very good friends that we had made there.

I took the kids back to Scotland for a couple of days this weekend and I was reminded that my friends will always be my friends even though I don't see them as often as I'd like. It was as if we'd never moved away and I just want to say to the girls - thanks for being there for me when I need you.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday Roundup

Well the early part of the week was spent recovering from the maddness of being in the Storque Weekend Deals article. I had a total of 22 sales from Friday to Monday morning, loads of shop and item hearts and 2 custom orders. Who says being featured doesn't help sales?

This week I needed to have a bit of a break from all that handwrapping of pearls so I decided to do something with the chain I'd bought a while ago.

The first thing I made was this Pink and Purple Long Necklace I bought the beads when I was in Cornwall and love the vibrancy of them.

I also made this Black, Pewter and Silver Cluster Necklace, which I'm really pleased with.

And finally, of course I couldn't resist another Bubbles bracelet, this one is Pewter and Silver

So all in all a successful and busy week. Looking forward to a break this weekend in Scotland. Oh and I'm offering Free Shipping throughout my Etsy shop this weekend, so if you want a bargain, check it out!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Have you ever been to Northern Ireland?

Last week when I was in Belfast I was stopped by 2 Australian ladies, who were asking for directions. It suddenly hit me that people are now actually coming to Northern Ireland as tourists.

Up until a few short years ago, Belfast was synonymous with The Troubles and the only direction people were going was out.

Thankfully with the Peace Process Northen Ireland is becoming a popular place to visit, especially with those who want to trace their roots.

So I thought I'd do a short series on my homeland and act as unofficial tour guide!

It may surprise some that even though it is part of the island of Ireland, it is part of the United Kingdom. (Long story!) It has a population of 1.6 million and is made up of 6 counties. The best way to remember the 6 counties is Fat Lad - Fermanagh, Antrim, Tyrone, Londonderry, Armagh and Down.

I'm going to start my tour in the capitol - Belfast.
Belfast has changed beyond all recognition from I was a child. Then there was little investment and no tourism. The only hotel was The Europa that had the dubious record of being the most bombed hotel in Europe.

The only high street shops I remember are C&A and Marks and Spencer. but with millions of pounds having been poured into the city in the past decade, it is now buzzing and there is an almost palpable sense of excitment and expectation.

Without a doubt the best way to see the city is to hop on an open top bus I did this with some Scottish friends and it's a brilliant way to get to see the sights.

Did you know for example, that The Titanic was built in Belfast and there is the Titanic Quarter where the ship was built and which is being totally regenerated.

Then there's Stormont where the Northern Ireland Assembly sits and a few years ago you could have bumped into The Chuckle Brothers, Ian Paisley and Martin McGuiness - political foes that made an uneasy truce.

Or how about stopping at Crumlin Road Goal that has now become a tourist attraction and is open to the public.

Of course, no visit to Belfast would be complete without a visit to the murals that are part and parcel of Belfast. This artwork on the gable ends of terrace rows tell as much of the history of Northern Ireland since the 1960's as any historical textbook.

And finally, though I could add much more, I'd say have a look at Queens University

City Hall and Belfast Wheel

Belfast Castle overlooking the lough

and of course finish off your day having a meal at one of the many restaurants that the city has to offer. And onto a pub or a club if you so desire!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


On Sunday we took Alex, Jamie and 6 of her friends Snowtubing for her birthday.

According to Wikipedia:-
"Tubing (also known as inner tubing or even toobing) is a recreational activity of riding an inner tube, either on water, snow, or through the air. The tubes, themselves, are also known as "donuts" or "biscuits" due to their shape.

or to quote my friend Julie it can also be known as "pulling your ring up a hill"

Now as Northern Ireland doesn't as a rule have snow in August, we went to Craigavon Dry Ski Slope

We had gone with friends at Easter and had Jamie's party there in May. I was a bit surprised that Alex wanted her party there too and at 11, she is getting too cool for many things. However they had an absolute ball and I'd recommend that anyone who is looking for something a bit different, a bit active (that ring gets hard to pull after an hour) and great fun, check it out!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Mondays Featured Seller

Before I introduce my featured seller today I want to say a huge thanks to the wonderful Lorrie from IllusioCreative on Etsy who has made my new blog banner and one for my shop on Etsy. I'm totally useless with things like that so I really appreciate it!

Onto todays seller and it is the lovely Jeanette from MissMaisy. She is a stalwart on the Etsy UK chat thread and is always great fun and full of praise and advice. Onto the interview -

What is your name/business name?
My name is Jeanette House but I go by my nickname, Maisy :)
My web-business is called 'maisy chain', which I started in 2006 but I have spin-off online shops too - 'little jewels by miss maisy' being the main one.

What is your craft?
I design and make jewellery, and am also resurrecting my love of art: sketching, painting and collage :)

How long have you been crafting for?
I've been creative in one form or another since childhood. I was always painting, drawing and writing. I collected shells and stones and would spend hours arranging them in intricate patterns! For New Year 2006, I treated myself to a one-day basic necklace stringing course - was instantly hooked - and since then, I've taught myself other techniques by reading and researching, trial and error [lots of trial and even more error!].

What is your favourite thing about your craft?
I have fibro/M.E. so even though sometimes the days can be long and my physical activity limited, I can still sit and play with beads and stones. It's my therapy; I get so absorbed with my making that it's great to finally look up and find that I've passed the time doing something constructive and have something pretty to show for it :)

What is your least favourite thing?
Having too many ideas and not having the energy to do them all at once, or the discipline to park them and just focus on one at a time!!

Where do you sell your work?
My attention is chiefly on Etsy:
[my novelty jewellery, and I have some gift items to list soon]
- maisychain [my contemporary jewellery]
- LittleNovelties [my jewellery and craft supplies]
- House of Flowers [my mini art and papercrafts - not quite ready to open yet!].
I also have a website: maisychain, and more shops on dawanda, coriandr, and folksy that I need to get stocked up so I can really start promoting them...

Where do you get your inspiration?
I was raised in the tropics and that has definitely influenced the way I am drawn to colour and texture. Often when I see a particular stone, I immediately see how it would look best in combination with another and my designs just evolve from there... I'm the same with beads and fabric - I suppose most of my designs are based on colour matching and manipulation.

Anything else you would like to tell us?
2009 is supposed to be the year I learn to knit but I haven't even started yet! I can see that one possibly being rolled-over to my 2010 resolutions... *rolls eyes* Hopeless!

Thanks Maisy for taking the time to answer my questions and I hope everyone will check out Maisys shops.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

What goes around...

...comes around.

An old saying but one I actually believe to be true.

A few days ago I had had a few sales on Etsy and I wanted to do something nice (hateful word but true) for sellers that hadn't had so many sales. So I started a thread in the Promotions forum that I wanted to buy something from sellers with less than 5 sales. Surprisingly there weren't that many responses but I found 2 items that I really liked.

The first was these Recycled Grey Button Hair Clips from fellow UK seller KnittedKitten

They are really cute and perfect for keeping my hair out of my eyes when I'm working.

The second purchase was from BoutiqueDeBandeaux. She makes gorgeous headbands and hair accessories and I thought Alex would love this headband

and I was right!

After I made the purchases I was lucky enough to get featured in the Weekend Deals article and have made 22 sales since Friday. Good karma? I like to think so.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Weekend Deals on Etsy!

For the first time ever, I got selected by admin to feature in a Storque article -
Weekend Deals

I had simply spotted a thread in the Promotions forum by MaryMary asking for any jewellery shops having deals this weekend (I'm offering 10% off throughout my shop). I got a convo from her on Thursday night to say that this Fizzy Bubbles Bracelet was the one chosen to highlight my shop.

As well as being featured in the Storque article I'm in this Gift Guide

So far I've had 4 sales today so it's definitely been brilliant for me!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Happy Birthday Alex!

I can hardly believe that my gorgeous daughter Alex turns 11 today. It seems like a flash since we arrived home with a baby and didn't have much of a clue what to do with her!

She was chatting and able to put a video on by 18 months - she watched The Jungle Book about 300 times and is still a massive tv and film fan. She loves animals, is a talented artist and does Irish Dancing. She is also the most stubborn child who is a complete chocoholic. Her favourite food "apart from chocolate" is French Toast with Maple syrup and she is Miley Cyrus number 1 fan!

So happy birthday Birdie, I love you and I am enjoying watching you growing up.

Weekly Round Up

I ususally do my weekly round up on a Friday but I have something else planned for tomorrow, so I'm a day early!

I had ordered yet more Czech glass pearls and have been busy making more Bubbles bracelets in a variety of colours.

This one is a stunning deep red and thanks to the UK Street Team for their help with the name. After many changes of mind I opted for Cranberry Bracelet

For this Lemon Bubble bracelet I used lemon, yellow and creamy pearls that compliment each other.

I've finished my big custom order and it's given me an idea for a new range in my shops, so watch this space!

With the kids off school I'm finding it pretty hard to get much done really. I have had to complete the custom order so have found myself working later into the evening so I can do things with Alex and Jamie during the day. Has anyone else noticed that the nights are starting to get shorter? I notice the light starting to change around 8 o'clock, when it's pretty impossible to match colours exactly. Hateful thought that autumn is on it's way with the shorter days!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by The Lost Earring so here goes!

Here are the rules -

1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random and/or revealing things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your post entry is up on your site.

1. I was the Northern Ireland champion at the 400m when I was a girl

2. My ears were the worst case of 'bat ears' the surgeon had ever seen and he rushed me to the top of the waiting list to pin them back

3. My nick name at school was Crazy Legs

4. I play the piano and have achieved my Grade 5

5. I am allergic to Penicillin

6. I have a phobia about mice.

I have tagged -
Jo's Jewels
Miss Maisys Chatter
The Pineapple Tart

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


I have spent a very busy family orientated weekend that I am still recovering from!

Having lived in England, then Scotland for 15 years, the main factor in our deciscion to move back to Northen Ireland was to see more of family - so Sunday was one of those occasions I would always have missed out on.

I am one of 5 children and each of my parents come from big families. So when my Mum decided to have a family get together on Sunday she meant big numbers! So I spent a rather lovely but exhausting afternoon with 7 aunts and uncles, 3 cousins and one of their hubbies, 2 third cousins, my parents, my 3 sisters and their hubbies and a total of 12 children under 11 - Alex 10, Maud 9, Rowan 9, Rex 8, Kathryn 8, Jamie 8, Gina 7, Florence 7, James 7, Beatrice 6, Charlie 3 and Leo 2.

I have got to say when I see Alex and Jamie with their cousins I remember why it was we moved home.

And then I either have a glass of wine or I reach for the paracetamol :D

Monday, 3 August 2009

Etsy Front Page!

Thanks to the lovely Lorrie from Illusio I made the Front Page on Etsy this morning.

My Gold Wraparound Bracelet is in the middle on the bottom row of this stunning treasury.

Happy Anniversary to Lorrie and thanks for including my bracelet in the treasury.