Selling jewellery online!

The last time I updated this blog it was to tell you about a new hobby I had discovered: jewellery making. That was back in January and so here I am two months later to give you a fantastic update.

I had literally just started with the past-time when I wrote before, and now I am a self employed jewellery-maker and supplier of beading ‘things’.

I have to say that immediately I started to create body adornments I was in absolute heaven. I think it is fair to say I have never enjoyed a hobby so much! And to be perfectly honest, the last few years I have struggled to find something worthy to fill my time, at a time when my health dictated I take some down time so it was needed.

It has been a learning curve. When I got into jewellery making I never realised there was so much to learn. It really is an industry in and of itself, even now a few months later I think I have still only touched the surface.

To date I have created earrings (the dangly kind), necklaces and bracelets. Bracelets seem to be my go-to choice when making a new piece of jewellery. I just enjoy them to much. They are relatively easy to make and quick too. Until recently I had been sticking with tiger tail wire, but I have started to wire wrap now too, which is an art in itself.

Very quickly I began to get orders in from friends and colleagues, which gave me a boost – especially so early on in my hobby. So I set up a facebook page and the likes started to come in thick and fast! You can view my page here: https://www.facebook.com/jewellerydesignsbyclaire

While this has been happening I have been working as a volunteer for a national charity in order to get me back to a point where I can return to work. I had also been applying for “real” jobs, and have been lucky enough to bag a very good job which starts in a few weeks. In the meantime I have finished my volunteering after 11 months of service and gone full time with my beading business.

Its proving a full time job in itself. This is because I have also ventured out into offering beading supplies. A lot of my time is taken up with liasing with suppliers to get fantastic findings and other things together for other jewellery makers to use but I am enjoying it so much!

I have set up an account on folksy.com which houses my online shop at the moment. You can view it here: https://beta.folksy.com/shops/vintagedreamsbyclaire. Please do visit it and spread the word as I havent had any sales through there yet and would really like it to take off.

I am also in the process of setting up a website so you can order direct from me but may end up going to ebay and amazon too, if I need to.

Here is a selection of my jewellery:

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Do you do any jewellery making? Or other hobbies? Leave a comment and tell me about it?

Please like my facebook page and visit my online shop 🙂

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Jewellery Making…

jewellery-making-workshops-totnes-1-wFor years now I have had friends making jewellery from scratch and in the early days it was not something that ever appealed to me. I am not a huge wearer of jewellery – or I never used to be at any rate – and my creative urges would lend more to the written word and a bit of graphic design. For the last few years, however, I have been playing the idea through with my mind. It is something that I may one day have a go at but not pressing in my mind at the moment. Then a couple of weeks ago I went to visit a friend and mentioned my vague interest to her. She promptly got her box of beads out and gave me a tutorial. I was instantly hooked.

I immediately went into town to locate beads and wire and was shocked to realise nowhere sold jewellery making equipment! I found lots of shops that facilitated a number of different crafting ventures – sewing, knitting, card-making, scrapbooking for example – but no beading. I went home a bit deflated and giving in to the idea that I would have to order from the internet and wait for supplies to arrive. I’m not the most patient of people!

jewellery box

In the meantime I started to look up tutorials online, and I got some books from the library. As I sat up reading them one night, and talking about my excitement of getting started, my boyfriend said, “you’re really getting into this idea, aren’t you?” And it’s true; it’s been a while since anything has truly captured my attention but this actual has – and I hadn’t even started yet!

Before my beads arrived, I went and purchased a crafting tool box (which wasn’t cheap) and so at least I had a home. I ordered various bits from all over the place (Ebay, Amazon and various other small businesses) and the bits came in drips and drabs. It was so exciting to see my box building up.

I eventually tried to make a bracelet. I went with the easy way firstly and made a simple elasticated beaded bracelet (actually, I made three) and I loved them. I found it easy to put together. I loved the creativity of having created something myself. Once I got some more beads in I made a slightly more complex bracelet using a chain and clasp. I was surprised how easily I picked up those skills. The bracelet is going to remain one of my favourites as its little glass matt beads with semi-precious starfish, and it is so dinky. I had to play around with the length and the tension but the final result was lovely.

I am thinking that I may well try to sell some pieces once I have a bit more experience with them. I am restricted in the work I can do due to my health, so having something I can do while relaxing is ideal. I am also considering other crafting ideas for money making… what creative ventures do you have to bring in a bit of pocket money?

The Fat Burn Revolution by Julia Buckley [Review]

I have known Julia for many years. She is a blogger friend I met many moons ago when I was aspiring to be a journalist. I have been in awe of her writing skills for the best part of ten years, so when I heard she was writing a book about my favourite subject – exercise, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

I wasn’t disappointed. The Fat Burn Revolution by Julia Buckley is a fantastic resource for anyone who is wanting to reduce inches the healthy way. I personally cannot follow it due to health complications, which means I can’t do exertive exercise (probably my biggest sacrifice in recent years) but there was a time when I would have taken the book and given it my absolute everything – and there is nothing to stop you doing just that. Take a look at this Youtube video of Julia introducing the book, as she can do it much better than me.

Authors of books are usually passionate about their projects and Julia is no different. Over the last few years I have seen Julia dive into her personal training with gutso and steadfast determination to help others achieve their goals. She has been running her own fitness blog for some time and the posts and comments speak for themselves about her success rate. This is a trainer who not only knows her field well but knows how to communicate her message thanks to her journalism background. Two pivotal factors in achieving the goals this book sets out to achieve.

If you are looking for a quick fix, or an easy way to get slimmer, this isn’t the book for you. If, however, you are committed to long term health, willing to put in the hard work and stick with the programme, then I highly recommend you go buy it. Whatever your fitness levels are, this book can help you. There is a 12 week programme that works around you and pushes your levels of fitness. The great thing about this programme is that it is adaptive, so you won’t ever feel like its too easy for you – no matter what your current fitness level. And the good thing is, you are going to come out the other end with a much improved fitness level and hopefully less fat inches.

As someone for whom exercise was never a natural activity, Julia has the benefit of personal experience. Although she has never been excessively overweight, she talks in the book about her own experience of fluctuations and hating PE lessons as a kid! She also offers nutritional advice, weight loss, maintenance, challenges and lots of other things you would expect to see in a healthy weight loss book.

I like it – a lot. It is very well researched, it is also very well written and presented and it is jammed packed with great advice that will not only serve the short term, but can be taken onboard for a lifetime of health benefits.

The Fat Burn Revolution: Boost your metabolism and burn fat fast by Julia Buckley is available from all good book stores and can be purchased from places like Amazon online (click the link). It is published by Bloomsbury Sport and is currently available in paperback and e-book.

I really hope this is a book that does well, it deserves to.

See more information about Julia Buckley at www.juliabuckley.co.uk and see her fat burn group on Facebook

Charity shopping

When did charity shopping become so expensive?

Call me old fashioned but to me the idea of charity shopping is that one person clears out their accumulated belongings, someone gets a bargain dirt cheap and the charity receives a profit to help its cause – win win win, no?

I may sound tight-fisted but anyone who knows me will tell you that is the last thing I am. Or I may sound like a misanthrope against doing good for the vulnerable, but that isnt true either. I am all for charity – I have been a volunteer admin for the last six months at a national charity – but why do not charity retailers realise that if they priced their items more reasonably they would raise their profit, and their annual turnover?! We are in a period of austerity after all; a time where everyone has to tighten their belts, not least the people using charity shops.

Take clothes shopping. I have seen clothes in charity shops from Primark priced the same and higher than is possible to buy them brand new! I saw a coat yesterday that was once furry but now completely matted marked up at £8 I saw another coat that was £30. You can buy them for less on the high street. I’ve seen books being sold dog-eared for £3 when you can buy them online for less.

I have discovered a charity shop (Barnados) that sells everything for 99p! No matter what it is, it goes for that price. I like this concept – I think other charities could learn from it. I must spend a fortune in that place, far more than I ever have in any other charity shop and that is because I feel like I am getting a bargain – the whole idea behind buying from a charity shop.

I donate my belongings to charity on a regular basis. I do this rather than going to the effort of selling on eBay. I always donate to Barnados, not because I especially want to support the work they do over other charities (though I do), but because I know that when they sell my stuff on they will be doing it reasonably.

What do you think? Do you think its good business sense for charities to price up second-hand items as high as they can get away with, or would it be better to have a low pricing policy? Are you a buyer of charity items? Is something priced low more likely to tempt you than something more expensive? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Betrousse Beauty Box

A few weeks ago I ordered a beauty box from the French company Betrousse for the purposes of reviewing on my blog. I have now tried all of the products and feel ready to write a good account of my thoughts on them.

J.A.S.O.N. Normalizing Shampoo

When I first saw this product I thought it looked like something cheap; as if I’d popped down the £1 shop and came away with a bargain. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As it has none of the chemicals that normally cause shampoo to yield to bubbles, I thought it would be very difficult to create a lather. It is for this reason that I put off using the product for a couple of weeks. I shouldnt have though, because it did create a good soapy exterior. I had to add a bit more water to my head than I normally would but lathering was definitely not an issue. When I washed it off the hair felt squeaky clean. I added my normal conditioner and left it to soak for a few minutes. After towel-drying I could feel the cleanness even better and it wasnt as knotty as it usually is when I combed it through. After drying it was also softer and more managable than it usually is. I will be sat when this bottle runs out!

This Mango and Safflower Body Moisteriser is probably my favourite product in the box. A Fair Trade product that smells lovely and has a rich, thick texture. I really suffer from dry skin and need a product that absorbs really well into the skin and lasts until my next bath. I am pleased to report it definitely does that. It’s actually a really nice experience rubbing it into the skin; it relieves the dryness and makes my skin feel young and supple again – and at my age that is no mean feat!

This is a face scrub. Anyone who reads my blog will know I love my face scrubs. They leave me feeling so fresh and clear. I have to say this is my least favourite product in the box. Not because it isnt any good, it is. But its very soft and gentle. If that is what you love in a face scrub you’ll love this product, but for me the rougher the better. I really need it to strip the pores and I feel like if you cant feel it then its not getting in deep – but there is no evidence to support this idea. I think this product would suit teenage skins the best, probably boys.

I’m not normally a huge fan of lip glosses. They feel sticky and dont stay on for very long. But I am not really one for lipstick either. For the most part my lips stay nude. I am always trying to improve my appearance though so I am keen to find a lip product I can stick with. This product is very glittery and glistening on the lips. It is quite sticky though and needs to be reapplied now and again. Its quite a big tube though so that isnt really a real problem if you like to keep your lips covered.

This picture shows the option of having an oil or a toner. Which you get is entirely random and the product that arrived on my doorstep was the relaxing massage oil. I was very lucky to have my lovely boyfriend rub this into my back so I can offer a review of its effects. I am not someone who relaxes easily. Meditation does nothing for me and I have had insomnia for as long as I remember. Moreover, I have ME/CFS which was bought on by anxiety and stress – so I wasnt exactly hopeful for a bit of oil to do its job of relaxing me. However, I should have felt more positively because this product is utterly amazing! My boyfriend would claim its his magic hands of course but I am pretty sure there is some cocted ingredients that left me so relaxed I could barely move and had me closer to a natural sleep than I have been in years. If you suffer from stress I cannot recommend this product enough!!!

PS. Don’t forget about the competition I am running to win signed copies of a children’s series!!!

The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles & COMPETITION!!!!!!!

the-tygrine-catThe Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles is an exciting fantasy story about a cat seeking his destiny, which pre-teens upwards will instantly become absorbed in. The book description explains:

Lost and alone, Mati seeks acceptance from a community of street cats at Cressida Lock. But Mati is no ordinary cat…and the mysterious assassin on his trail knows it. Mati looks different, with his golden eyes, large ears and russet coat. He also acts differently – he anticipates danger with bristling whiskers; hears voices from the feline spirit realm that he cannot understand. To defeat his enemies, Mati must unlock the secret of his true identity. In doing so, he must learn to harness an ancient feline power – a power so deadly that it threatens to destroy not only his friends but every cat on earth…

I first came across The Tygrine Cat when Iserles was recommended to me by a friend. I wasnt sure what to expect at first because young adult fantasy novels are not usually my ‘go-to’ literary genre. However, as you have seen from my previous reviews, I am always open to new reading experiences.

The first thing I notice in The Tygrine Cat is the beautiful prose. For a first novel, Iserles expressed a great talent for writing. Not only because the writing flows artfully, but also because it is completely accessible to people at all reading levels. I would imagine everyone from the age of 10 years upwards would benefit from this story. Not only is it the story of a cat, but also of the self, identity, friendships and life journeys. If I were still a young girl (sadly I am not!) I can imagine that this novel would be one that could instill a love of reading in me. Moreover, in my late thirties it is one that excites me still.

Iserles has a shockingly accurate insight into the life of a feline. This is perhaps the one thing that stands out the most. I often found myself wondering how you develop such imagination that it can lead you so deep into a character of another species – to the point that its hard to imagine anything other than a cat wrote this story. Clearly Iserles has a deeply ingrained love of felines and has spent a lot of time in their company.

Right from the beginning of this novel I was hooked. Every chapter is intriguing, full of wonder and rich with prose that completely disables your ability to put the book down! As the book progresses foreboding seeps in with the knowledge that the book is getting closer to conclusion; although you fall in love with Mati and the others, and want good things for him, a selfish part wants the story to go on forever.

I cannot be the only reader to think this way either, as Inbali Iserles went on to fulfil wishes for the young and older alike with The Bloodstone Bird, and then a sequel to The Tygrine Cat – The Tygrine Cat: On the Run.

Her website is accessible at www.inbaliiserles.com and you can purchase her books here on Amazon.

Not only this but Inbali Iserles has generously offered two signed books to give away in a competition. In order to be in with a chance of winning these books please do the following:

– Like this post

– Leave a comment stating the name of the main character in The Tygrine Cat.

And please ‘Like’ Inbali Iserles’ Facebook page here. I really recommend it!

*The competition will close on 12/07/2013 at midnight GMT. The winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. Open to UK residents only.

Take the Heat – Aussie (style)

There’s more to life than hair, but its a good place to start!

ImageThis is a Aussie hair care slogan and it’s so true. As I have mentioned in previous posts, over the last few months I have taken to straightening my hair. This is because its so dry that it doesnt sit straight (and it is wavy too) – not sure why my lightbulb told me to straighten it because this is just making the problem worse in the long run!

I was using serum to protect it before and afterwards, until I had a conversation with my hairdresser. She told me not to use it before straightening unless it has heat defense in it because its just oil and will fry the hair. So the very thing I thought was protecting my hair was probably destroying it. Ironically, I had been using the Frizezze product but changed to a Tony and Guy one, and it was only the previous product that had heat defense.

When I mentioned this issue – needing to find a good heat defense product – to friends on Facebook, one friend recommended the Aussie Take the Heat product. I’ve used the Aussie shampoo and conditioners and I certainly have no issues with those, so I thought I would give Take the Heat a go.

Take the Heat is a leave-in spray designed “for heat-damaged hair”, so this was perfect. Not only was my hair damaged from straightening, I also dry it on the top heat and dye it regularly too (though recently I have stopped drying it unless I need it dry immediately). The product goes on to say:

Our styling formula, with Australian Jojoba seed oil, is a protective spray that helps protect your hair against the styling heat while smoothing it when using a straightening tool.”

The way I use it is this: after washing and conditioning my hair and getting excess water off with a towel, I will turn my head upside down and spray it liberally, concentrating on the ends. I probably use more than is recommended but better safe than sorry! I’ll then dry it if I am going out, or leave it to dry if I am not, and then straighten.

The first thing I notice once it is dry is that it gives me more volume than I would otherwise be blessed with. And my hair feels silky. And looks silky too. These benefits are more than enough to justify the £4.99 price tag. 

When it comes to styling my hair with straighteners I have noticed that it takes more work than usual to get my hair looking sleek. It does what it says on the bottle – helps to smooth the hair – but the heat seems to take longer to penetrate the hair follicles. This is what we want, ultimately, of course – the product to protect the hair from heat damage, and so this can only be a good thing.

I’ve been using this product a few weeks now and I have noticed a slight improvement in the quality of my hair, so its definitely worth using – and is a product I will be sticking with from here on in. 

Have you tried it? What did you think?

P.s. Keep your eye on my blog for an up and coming competition to win two signed copies of works by the prominent children’s author, Inbali Iserles.