Tuesday 31 January 2012

New Lines.

   I need them. But I just can't come up with anything! My envelope rings are my biggest hit, but I can't come up with anything similar, completely different, or in between. Seeg says I'm trying too hard and that I will come up with something if I let myself, but instead I'm obsessing. And I begrudgingly admit that's he's completely right. I've been through this before, but I've not had anywhere near as much on my plate at those points. I've neglected my writing - it's very difficult to keep a trilogy going - and I'm trying  hard to turn back to it. It's what I want to make a career out of, but I keep focusing on my shops and rubbish like that so I don't give myself the chance to do what really counts.
   I'm completely swamped by everything going on at the moment, but I've realised that I also have a lazy approach to just everything, no matter how much I want it. Sometimes I think I'm all talk. I still have to read through the rest of my first book, I have about 10 chapters to go, and then I can contact agents. I can't do that on an evening or weekend, though, because the house is too busy and my brain isn't in gear, so my only opportunity is to do it in the early afternoon Monday to Thursday - and I keep forgetting. My own fault, of course, I know.
   I'll be so happy once it's done, it's really weighing me down. The longer you put off doing something you have to do to progress with something, the harder it is to start. I finished my first book at the end of March last year. I've wasted 9 months doing nothing. And the worst part is that if I had stuck with it it would only have taken me about 23 days to do the lot. One chapter a day. 5 weeks, with 3 days off a week, taking only about an hour and a half a day to do it, it would have been done by now. Seriously. I tell you all now, if there is something that you know you have to do be it now or next month, do it now. When next month rolls around you'll wish you'd have already done it.

   Buuut I can't concentrate exclusively on my writing because my jewellery shop keeps muscling in demanding attention. And I can't come up with anything. Then my new shop which will soon be put in vacation mode until I am actually ready to open it is demanding attention on top of that. Then whenever I sit down to work I can't help putting the television on, which distracts me from writing. It's fine if I'm crafting something or the other, but when I sit down with my boyfriend playing on his laptop to my immediate right, and the TV on to my immediate left, my brain can't really get a word in edge-ways. And it's hard not to turn the TV on!
   Ultimately, I have dedication issues. I procrastinate. I'm happy to put something down and say I'll continue it tomorrow - but I did that with some of my paintings and I've not touched them since. I suppose on one hand, having simple arts that don't take long to start and finish is beneficial for me. But it can be boring, too.
   I think what I need is to find some space - god only knows where - to call my own. And if not space, then some time. I want to get a desk in my room at some stage so I have somewhere to better write and craft, where Seeg isn't to my immediate right, and I'm not inclined to put the TV on because it won't be right next to me. Instead, there will be a set of shelves dedicated to housing the wonderful handmade and vintage items I accumulate through Etsy and Storenvy which serve nothing more than a decorational purpose. My lovely fox painting by Constantly Constance will have a wonderful place to hang, alongside the others I will buy, when she gets around to them! As will an adorable fawn from Wonder Forest, which I cannot wait to finally purchase. It'll be my pride and joy, that shelf. Y'know, along with my writing :D

   I suppose I do just need to sit down, write out everything I want to do, prioritise it and draw up some sort of schedule which will enable me to indeed do all of it. I might even get more done than I am now. Another problem I face, however, is easy distractions, and excuses. The weather has been sooo bad here for the past week, which has really stood in the way of tutorials I wanted to photograph. In the end, it got to Wednesday (I planned them the Friday before and was going to wait for Monday to do them, but typically the clear sky has been shrouded in cloud since that day) and I just decided to do them in what light I had. Worst comes to worst I could always redo them. Fortunately, they worked out, but there's one I'm doing soon that I'm convince will fail immediately, with or without good lighting! But, I will try anyway, since I've bought the ingredients specially.

   Anyway, I'll stop complaining and going on now. With any luck, things will plan out well enough. I just hope I do actually make that list...

Monday 30 January 2012

Etsy Favourite Feature

Okay so I think I'm almost back on track after Christmas. My printables and tutorials are
still a bit behind, but I am working on a handful for Valentine's day, so you can expect
a surge of crafty bits on and after February 1st! I'm quite pleased with myself.
And so I welcome the next Etsy Favourtie Feature! Wonderful pieces taken from
my list of favourites on Etsy, featured plainly and simply for you all. And the
 best part is that you never know what I'll include next time! I never do until
I'm looking through the list!

Sunday 29 January 2012

Being a Carer - an Interview

   Hey guys! Just a quick note to let you all know that I was lucky enough to be able to
share my story of being a carer on Erin's Little Secrets! Angela, too, shares her story of caring
for her daughter who suffers Cerebral Palsy, and the goal of her series of interview with
people in similar positions is to show what it's  like from the carer's point of view. So hopefully
you can all get a better insight into my life - and others - through her interviews.

   Now go and read!

And, yes, I'm still working on trying to put together those Valentine crafts and printables for you all. I have the first three lined up, almost completely, and I'm working on a fourth tomorrow that I just know is going to go horribly wrong. I just prefer the real thing over felt.

Peace out!

Friday 27 January 2012

Starting to Feel a Little Downtrodden

   Afternoon all. It's time for some feeling-sharing.

   My shop is doing well. I've been getting like a sale a week on average, and this month alone I had more views and favourites than the entire time my shop was open last year (5 months). So I should be happy, right? Then why am I feeling so down-trodden.
   I'm also feeling bad about my new shop. Something's come up to make me doubt it before I've really gotten it anywhere, but it was my own fault. I opened too soon, before it was ready, and now it resembles another Etsy shop - a wonderful one, one of my favourites - but I feel guilty for it. See, it's completely unfinished. I've got so much more in mind for it than paper and envelopes, I'm planning to take it much further, and the prospect excites me - and given what's recently come up, I'm even more eager to make the shop my own.
   But at the same time, I also feel like I've let people down, including myself. See, I listed lots of things in this new shop, all because I wanted to sell three Valentine cards. Anyone knows that you won't sell things on Etsy if you only have 3 products, so I went ahead and listed what will frankly be limited pieces, now, all so I might stand a better chance. So I rushed into it.
   On one hand, I'd take the listings down, but I've invested a lot of money into this new shop already with ink pads and washi tape and whatnot, and given that listing isn't free either, I've little choice but to leave it all there.

   But I do have a plan. I want to brand this new shop. My first isn't really branded. It's just me. It's just jewellery I've made that has popped into my mind. But this new stationery shop is something branching out of my childhood. I always used to stamp paper for writing letters or notes, and I'd always have some if someone needed to write some notes down - and if I didn't, I'd make some! But I want to take this further.
   I've been working on some little characters to stand at the head of my shop, and they're so sweet so far. I've done three, I have one I've been trying over and over again but still can't quite get right, and I have more in mind but have yet to start. Two of those that are complete I already had custom stamps made of, and they arrived yesterday - they look amazing, and so cute! I've done a few paintings featuring them that I want to sell prints of (though typically, as I went to scan the first in yesterday I have found that the bloody scanner won't turn on!), and I have other things in mind for them too - when I have about six characters, I'll probably start to remove other stamps, bar a few that I'm personally fond of, and really start branding my shop - but with money tight at the moment, especially with a few things going on here, that might not be for a while :(

   I'm also hesitant to release these little critters until I have a few more too. The two I have as stamps so far are truly great, but two alone is just not enough. So, I'm going to try to hold back until I deem it all ready - exactly the opposite of what I've done so far.

   The fact that the shop isn't completely ready is another reason why I've not publicly posted anything on my blog. All there is is a mini Etsy. I wanted to wait until I had really built my shop up more before forcefully showing anything, but I couldn't wait to list things. I really want these cards to sell, but I have the aching feeling now that they just won't budge. They've been up for like three days and are the most viewed things in my shop, but I suppose the new negative feelings are making me lose hope before I've really started.
   I won't be listing anything new until I get some more stamps (unless something sells, then I'll renew it for the time being), but I finally have my new inks, so other colours are available of most things. And when I'm satisfied with my shop, I'll start posting pictures on here of my best products every now and then. But for now, I'm going to have to make do with my stationery.

   And as for my jewellery, like I said, I'm doing well, but I still feel bad about it. It may be because I'm taking on a lot right now, and I'm not altogether all right at the moment myself, either. Lucky's not doing well. She had the stroke, and a few days ago it seemed like she was recovering well, but today she's leaning to one side while walking. Again, though, she's still fighting to live life normally, and she still seems happy, if tired. So I'm quite stressed about that, and Seeg's parents are coming down in about 3 weeks to see us and want us to come back with them for a few days. So I'm stressed about seeing them, having to go out (we're seeing Billy Connelly with them), and about the fact that they want us to go back with them. I'm torn in half. On one hand, I want Seeg to go, but on the other hand, I refuse to leave Lucky here, and we can't bring her for a number of reasons, and Seeg won't go without me. I admire his positivity, though. He thinks Lucky's getting better, and says that she will. Or, maybe I'm just being negative when I say she's not right, she's getting worse, and she won't get better. But even if we don't go with them, I'm also stressing about the fact that they will keep asking us while they're here, putting pressure on us to say yes. I've only ever left the UK once, since going to Wales doesn't really count as going abroad.
   So yes, I'm a little stressed out with general life at the moment, too. I need to create things to keep my mind in line and keep myself calm, but some of this stuff is getting a little too much.

   Sorry to dump on you all, but it helps to get it all out. I hope everyone else is better off than I am.

Peace out ladies!

Thoughts on Comedy

 First of all, let me state that I am not complaing or saying that anything should
be different. Generally, you can tell by the actors involved in the films and programs
whether it's going to be dodgey or not. And so I can easily avoid them. I am merely making
observations in this post. So keep your pants on.

   Call me old fashioned, but I really don't enjoy crude jokes revolving around sex. Sexist jokes are funny, depending on their source. When my boyfriend says I am a woman and I should live in the kitchen and make him sandwiches, I know he's joking, or at least partly, so I can laugh. Just the same as when people suggest Google is female because it starts trying to suggest things before you've even finished typing - though this is even more funny because I know for a fact it's true. I've only noticed that I do that because of that joke. I'd never have realised before.
   But films like the Hangover or Due Date when sex is put so bluntly, I just hate it. I'm not prude, I'm not religious in any way, shape or form, in fact I wasn't even brought up to think that jokes like that are bad. My dad used to try to tell them but I always told him off afterwards. I just personally don't like them. And I've only noticed it more lately that for some reason that sort of comedy is becoming acceptable. Half of the films that come out these days that would have been an 18 a few years ago are 15s or even 12s, and I can't understand it!

   Now, there are actors like Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Zach Galifianakis, and you know that the film is going to be a bit rough around the edges if they're in it, more so for some actors than others. So it's easy to avoid those movies. And I do. I watched Due Date, and yes some parts were funny but others were just too much. I also tried to watch the beginning of the Hangover but that was worse so I didn't get very far in. So I am giving them a try. I watched Step Brothers, and somehow that didn't gross me out as much, and Talladega Nights is actually a movie that sits on the fence, but one I can still enjoy. So I'm not saying every film these people do is going to be crude, and when I do give them a chance, I can brace myself for what might be coming - Elf was a pleasant surprise. And Seth Rogan is...one I can't place. His films aren't as bad as most, but they're still a little much at times, but at the same time, I know if he's just voice acting, it'll be perfectly safe (Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs Aliens - even Paul wasn't too bad, despite Kristen Wiig almost being on the list of cruder actors).

   I'm not bashing people who watch these either. They're just not my kind of comedy, and I understand that these films appeal to people who aren't me.

   What I'm saying is that comedy has really changed. I have the full Fawlty Towers, Dad's Army, and Blackadder boxsets, and I'm going to get Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'em soon enough. Clean, situational or unfortunate comedies that, while sex exists, is n ever touched on in such blunt detail. Jonesy can hear a church choir sing and declare that he thinks he's dying, and I will be on the floor laughing (I was still chuckling when I went to bed). Just the same as Sherlock Holmes can have a hammer fight with a large frenchman and I'll be giggling to high heavens. It doesn't have to revolve around sex to be funny.
   But the saddest part is that comedy like that barely exists anymore. And I know times change, and some things become more acceptable and others become less (like some songs in Dad's Army might upset some people), but it can still make people laugh, and give older audiences something safe to watch that they haven't seen a hundred times already.
    And I hate to think what our kids will be growing up with in ten, twenty years' time. Where did Playbus go?! Do they even film Sesame Street anymore? What do kids even watch these days?

   I'm sorry if I sound a little old, it's just a thought I had that I fancied voicing. Get used to it ;P

   Still on the look-out for guest posters to bring some tutorials over here, too! [Epic rounding up skills, eh?]

Tuesday 24 January 2012

New Valentine Piece

Yeees, I'm still waiting on those vials. It's a pain because I can't relist my two best sellers,
both of which have great ties with Valentine's day! I'm so upset about it, but I guess
the bottles take as long as they take to get here. I bought a second lot in case the first got lost
in the post, but there could be other kinds of delays instead. Who knows?

But, I've got my adhesive, and so I give you a special Valentine's Exclusive ring!

 This ring, along with my Lace Locket, are exclusives and won't be available again this year
after the 29th February. So snatch them up while they're available!

Also, I'm still working on those Valentine's Day tutorials. I have a few ideas, but I can't get
them done until the sun decides to show itself. I wish I'd done it on Sunday :( Nevermind!
Maybe tomorrow will have more luck.

Monday 23 January 2012

Etsy Favourite Feature

I'm really loving going through my favourites and sharing them like this :D Such fun!
I also like that items that are added to my favourites on Etsy are given a chance to
shine out. Granted, not every piece, but my favourites of my favourites do!
Enjoy, check out the shops, and find yourself or someone else something nice!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Little Lucky Loo and New Shop

First of all, the important part. Lucky went to the vets today and I was prepared for the worst.

   Yes, she's not been herself since her operation. While she came out of it much better and happier than Sugar did, rest her soul, she's not been completely all right. She's been eating and climbing and doing everything a healthy Lucky does, but she was lying down at the bottom of her cage the other day and I just knew something wasn't right. So I opened the cage door, called her over - and she could barely walk. At first we thought she'd fallen a few feet from the top shelf of her cage, but when it became clear that moving around - or trying to - didn't hurt her, I started to think it was something else.
   Well, we kept an eye on her over the next two or three days, and I began to fear the worst. She's been unable to hold her food, walk properly, get to sleep easily (she used to sleep so heavily you could literally open the cage noisily, put your hand in the cage, lift the entire hammock while she was sleeping in it, press her to the top of the cage and she wouldn't wake at all. It was worrying at some points, we had to shake her for about twenty seconds before she opened her eyes), or lift her head properly. So she went into the vets today.
   Last night I spent the day, believing it was her last, making her treats and cuddling with her. I got her out while watching Dad's Army and she fell asleep next to me beneath the blanket - she has never slept outside of her cage. Never. So this only furthered my suspicions. I made the most of it, and I managed to sneak away just before it was time for her to go back in the cage and Seeg and I to go to bed, and I got a few pictures of her with her head resting on my pillow, all bundled up in a blanket. It was so cute.
    BUT, to the point. She went to the vets today with Seeg and my dad, and she didn't seem much better that morning. She's a little more careful with her movements - more calculating - so she doesn't fall on her side anywhere near as much, but every now and then she gets excited and slips. But still, she went to the vets, I stayed at home crying, convinced that I wouldn't see her alive again. I sat in the living room with my mum, telling her stories about the silly little munchkin, and how sometimes she'd get so ridiculously brave that she would stand up on her back legs on the top shelf, reach up with her front feet and grab the bars above her (like, the roof of the cage) and lift her entire body up and climb - upside down - along the top of the cage, inside it. But, she could never quite get her back feet onto the bars, so she was climbing along with just her front feet, as if she were using monkey bars, her back feet always so close to grabbing the bars, but she just never managed it. She turned around on it once, a complete 180 degree turn. She twisted one paw around to grab the bar from the other side, and WOOSH around she spun, facing the other direction. It was hilarious. And she never injured herself doing it either.

   But I digress. She went to the vets and they had a look. Before she left, Seeg and I agreed that she had the determination and will power, but not the energy, to run around. She'd give it hell trying to run across the bed and the bottom of her cage, but she'd fall every now and then, eventhough each step was clearly calculated (animals are not stupid). But despite that, without the energy, I just didn't think she had much longer. Seeg also observed that her eyes were still bright as ever, though, still full of life.
   But I still feared the worst.
   So I sat at home, crying, talking to mum about her, Sugar, and the dogs we've lost as well, and then almost an hour later the front door opened. I ran out, I saw Seeg carrying her little carry cage - and her nose was sticking out. I ran over, and she was just sat there looking at me and sniffing the air. I was so happy to see her again, I was 95% sure I wouldn't.

   The vet said herself in fact that she was full of life and definitely hadn't lost the will to live, and that there was a very good chance that it was either a blood clot, which could pass on its own, or she could have had a stroke. I thought that rather than having hurt her legs, she'd hurt her head, or it was something neurological, and when Seeg said the word "stroke" I was surprised, but it made a lot of sense. She's told us to keep an eye on it, and if she's struggling to eat, we should consider changing her food from dry which she can hold in her little hands, to soft which she could eat from a plate without having to pick it up. So we're trying to find things that would be appropriate for her to eat. She's also said to give her more time and company, so we're going to get her out every night now even if she only sleeps between us while Seeg plays some games and I read a book. I never pay much attention to much else when she's out anyway, she always gets my attention.

   But the possibility of a stroke is a strong one, which makes sense, and now I have some idea of what could be wrong, I can take more appropriate action. Her quality of life has not dipped, she's still spoilt, she still sleeps, she still gets cuddles - she just gets more of them now.

   And now, on a different note, Dandelion Grenade is up and running! And, if you buy something from there or my jewellery shop, Peaches and Pebbles, you'll help to buy Lucky some softer food! Because I am quite skint at the moment. And, if you've purchased from P&P before, the discount code for returning customers is applyable to both shops. Keep your eye on DG, I've got new products to go up soon, and probably better pictures, too!

Friday 20 January 2012


   Well, I've developed a little bit of OCD. And I think I know why.
   They say the longer you're out of work, the harder it is to get back in. The same goes with socialising and leaving the house. Looking after my mum, I don't get out much. My boyfriend and I are quite antisocial people in person. We don't go out, we are perfectly happy to stay indoors and play some games, watch TV (totally addicted to How I Met Your Mother right now, got season 1 and 2, it's replaced the entire 1-8 Scrubs season boxset) or make stuff...well I make stuff, he doesn't, but the point is we're happy to stay in. When we do go out it's that much more fun.
   But, of course, there is a problem with it. I've always had a small OCD, like if I bump one side of my toe, I have to bump the other side, and do it again to the other foot on the same toe. And if I bumpt it too hard on one side I have to bump the rest again so that they all match up. Yes, I'm quite strange.
   But it's gotten a lot worse. My main problem now is peeing. I go to the toilet about 6 times before dinner, and I'm talking in a 4 minute time period. And I might get up and go again once during, too. I don't need to use the toilet, I just need to make sure I don't need to while I'm eating. Eventhough I know if I relaxed and stopped thinking about it, I wouldn't anyway. I do the same before bed, but, fortunately I'm not as bad then.
   And on top of that, I've created a new habit of frowning while watching TV or using the PC. I'll frown hard several times, then raise my eyebrows high, and do it again. I must look like a lunatic, but I can't stop it.

   They say the first step to defeating a problem is admitting that you have one. I can admit that it's OCD, in fact I'm eager to, because I don't like the idea that I might be mad :P and that does make it easier to try to stop it, but it's crazt just how hard it is to stop something that is obsessive and compulsive. I have to fight to do it. I twist my hands a lot too, and roll my shoulders, in the same manner that I bump my toes. I need both sides to be even, but I'm not sure what possesses me to actually start it in the first place. I don't know how long that one's been going on, but whenever I'm holding hands with seeg and I start doing it, he tries to stop me...or jokingly starts doing it too so then I have to do it more to even out what he's doing! His joking makes it easier to take, though.
   It does upset me, when I have to go to the toilet so many times. I hate myself when I do it but it's so hard to stop. I keep thinking "just once more, then I'll stop," but then I go again and think the same thing.

   In fact the entire time I've been writing this I've been raising and lowering my eyebrows, and rolling my shoulders.

   Anyone else suffer from this sort of thing? Or have any tips other than "fight it"? I think I can tackle it  myself, I just wonder if anyone has any info that could help.

Thursday 19 January 2012

It's all going upside down!

   I'm having a terribly hectic time at the moment. Well, I say hectic, what I really mean is hectic to me. I suppose for some people it would be the equivalent of an average or slightly bad day. First I get contacted by someone who wanted an alteration to an already existing necklace. I said I could do it, so she purchased it, but asked for two in the note to seller. Fortunately I had a spare jar but it meant I had to deactivate one of my best selling listings. Then she only pays for one of them, so I had to wait a few days for her to pay the invoice I sent. Then I get contacted by someone else about a similar piece and alter that too, which was fine, I don't mind altering pieces at all (I'm not complaining about the people, not at all, I'm just stating the problems I'm having on my end). But the problem with that is that one of the parts of the necklace is taking longer than usual to dry, so obviously I can't send it out until it's dry. So now I'm out of vials, though I ordered more two and a half weeks ago and they're still not here (I sold my vials faster than I expected to!). Then I tried to make a ring for a friend last night, only to find that my adhesive has dried up, and before I got a chance to alter any listings to say there might be a wait time on the rings, I sold one. So I had to contact them to say it might be a day or two before I can ship out.

   I'm also trying to work on some valentine cards for my new shop. It seems almost impossible to find small and decent number stamps, and then I finally found some, but when they arrived they were extremely half-arsed. So I've had to search again (found some, from this country fortunately!) and pay a little more than I wanted to. I was so pleased when they arrived too, but now I have to wait a little longer :(

   I know all of this hardly seems like the end of the world, but I don't get many sales so I wanted to get them all shipped out ASAP to keep my customers happy, but it hasn't been as easy as it usually is, and I'm so excited about opening my new shop but I can't do that yet, either.
   I supposed I'm just a little disappointed at the moment with the way things are mapping out - not with my sales, though, god no, I'm so grateful for each one I get! I'm doing quite well at the moment!

   But I'll be happy when I get some more jars, number stamps and glue.

   Otherwise things are fine. My new shop should hopefully be open in a few days (I'm sure I've just jinxed it), and I'm trying to come up with some valentine stuff for the blog from the 1st of February, but I'm drawing up a bit of a blank. I'm also juggling so many things right now that I'm still not quite back on my schedule. It would be nice to have some guest bloggers to come over and offer some tutorials to help me along but I'm not sure how to find people to do it! Nevermind, I'll find a way! :D

   I also got my PC fixed. It's a terribly story. For about three months, whenever I opened World of Warcraft, my frames would drop from 50 to 3. It started off fine, It would be between 40 to 60 for most of the time, then drop to about 3 for five minutes, then go back to normal. Sometimes it would happen 5 times a day, others it wouldn't happen at all. I thought it was a problem on Blizzard's end so I contacted them many times about it, but they couldn't give me any real help.
   It ended up getting worse so I lowered my graphics, which meant while it behaved it would be at 60, and when it was misbehaving it would be 7, which was more bearable. But still Blizzard could offer me no help.
   Then I installed Spore, and found the same problem there, so evidently it was my computer. But the problem was, by the end of it, a week or so ago, it would behave at 60 for about 4 minutes, and it would run at 7 for about 25 minutes or more before returning to 60 for another 4 minutes.
   Well, I spoke to a few people, some said it was the graphics card, others said it could be other hardware or software. So I decided to take it to a PC shop. I would have done it sooner, but I didn't have the money to spend on it. I had about £120 in my account when I did take it in...only to walk back out with it two minutes later, still with £120 in my account. See, my PC is a small bodied one. They took one look and said they couldn't help. Didn't even open it up to look.
   So my dad suggested we try a new graphics card. We went out and got one for about £50 - not too much, not too little - and took it home.
   It was a NVIDIA GeForce GT 520. It had a big fan. And, as I said, my PC is small. So it wouldn't fit into it. So the next day I took it back and exchanged the card for a smaller one of the same value. Took it home, got it in, and while the problem was gone, a new one had developed where I couldn't turn the camera in the game, which I do a lot.
   So the next morning I took it out from the PC myself and put it away, deciding to get a refund this Friday and to try some other options, if we could think of any.
   Well, my dad cleaned the dust from the fan that night. We've only had the PC for just over a year so we didn't expect it to have built up much, so we didn't think that that would have affected it.

   The pc worked perfectly the next day. Never underestimate the power of a good clean.

   I hope everyone else is ok, I have little to report on at the moment! :P as you might be able to tell.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Createability Interview: Tarren Pearson of Tarren

This is the first in the line of createability interviews, following Rachael's interview, who
suffers from Sjogren's Syndrome. This time around we have a lovely young woman
named Tarren, who suffers from Fibromyalgia, but still finds the energy to create, and
look after two young boys. Have a look in her shop and see if you can find something
to help her along.

1. Tells us about how your illness. What do you suffer from, how long for, and how has that affected your social life? Were doctors able to diagnose you straight away, or did it take some time?
When I was 21 I was pregnant with my first child and it was a very hard pregnancy. Since then, I have been ill repeatedly. Three years ago I contracted mononucleosis, a pretty common virus. My immune system seems to be not the greatest, and it hit me very hard. Took 6+ months to recover from mono alone, and after that I noticed my energy being low all of the time, I was very fatigued and started having flu like symptoms with no fever. Lots of muscle and joint pain. Eventually, two years later, they deduced that I have fibromyalgia, which is more a set of symptoms than a defineable disease. They don't know what causes it, but it is believed to be associated with nerves and pain receptors becoming overactive or misfiring. It is also related to your fascia, which is a system in your body that carries circulation throughout everywhere in your body, it carries toxins out and oxygen and immune responses in. My doctor thinks that the mononucleosis virus can trigger the nerve damage that can cause this disorder. I have nerve pain and extreme fatigue that can be made worse by stress. I also have digestive disorders, common with fibromyalgia because there is a huge circut of nerves in your intestines and they are very sensitive. Having two children and becoming ill like this has drastically changed my life.

2. How about your crafting? Did you start crafting because of your illness, or were you crafting before?
I've always been an innately artistic person.

3. How has Etsy affected your life? Is it the route to taking your art further, or is it more of a life line to keep yourself busy and make some extra money?

Actually, I only got involved with Etsy because my great grandmother, then 93, had me promise her on her deathbed that I would try and sell some of my work. Talk about putting pressure on someone! Though I opened shop a couple of years ago, I never put anything into it until September or so of 2011.

4. While I am familiar with the Spoon Theory, how has your illness affected how those close to you view you? Do they think that because you might not look ill that you're fine? Are you able to explain to them how the illness affects you?
It is very hard. My family doesn't understand that I have a limited supply of energy. They also are of the mind that a doctor should be able to test me, find out what's wrong, and fix me. There is no test for a syndrome like fibromyalgia. People who suffer from this disorder look fine, usually. My family knows something is wrong because of how my personality has changed so much and I am no longer able to participate in a lot of activities I used to enjoy. They feel frustrated, and helpless, like me, that no one can help. I am lucky my family helps me when I am hospitalized and I have lots of great friends who help me with my children. Overall though, there is no way for someone who has not experienced this personally to truly understand how it feels and can affect. Many doctors do not understand this condition fully, either, and some refuse to believe in it. So it's rough in that respect.

5. Some people wouldn't give up their illness if they could because it's made them who they are. Others would trade it for a normal or easier life in a heartbeat - what about you?
I would never wish this condition on anyone. I would pretty much do anything to ave my normal life back. I took a lot for granted, and am grateful for the things I am still able to do.

6. Why did you take up your craft? What inspired you to begin, and then to start selling? Do you make to sell, or sell to make?
I have always been into art. Jewelry is kind of something that fell into my lap. I have an eye for design, I appreciate lovely aesthetics and the act of creation.

7. Tell us something interesting about you.
I didn't gt my name until I was over 10 days old. My mom was very indecisive.

8. What is your strangest habit?
I eat an avocado every day, usually.

9. What are you obsessed with at the moment? A craft form? A material? A certain food? A colour?
Unicorns have always been my number one obsession.

10. If you could have one special ability, what would it be? Would it be a superpower? Would it simply be a skill that has eluded you since you first discovered that someone else could do it?
Supermom. I have two boys, it's the hardest job ever. If my house could stay clean and my children pleasant I'd be happy forever.

You can learn more about Tarren from her Tumblr, and get up to date on her wonderful
jewellery shop if you like her facebook page!

Monday 16 January 2012

Etsy Favourite Feature

I've been neglecting you all, and I apologise. Like I said before, since Christmas, my
head's been all over the place, with that, Seeg's birthday, my birthday, trying to set up a new
Etsy shop and all the things in between. Lucky's also not doing too well either.
So, this is my first step at attempting to get everything back on track after the Christmas
slump! I've always found that between Christmas and my birthday, I often don't know
what day or date it is, which, of course, plays havoc with a blogging schedule!

So enjoy the first Etsy Favourite Feature of the year! I've added lots of new stuff to my
favourites lately, which means more lists! :D I also have some new interviews set up,
and some new ideas, so keep watching, and check out these amazing shops!

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Getting Back On Track

   I won't mention the Header. Except then. I'm trying to get back on track with everything now. I've always found that between December the 26th and January the 9th, I've lost track of days and dates. I, of course, never went to school over Christmas and new year, which meant that I didn't have to write the date five times every day, or think about getting up early. And then the calendar would change and my brain always tells me that the 1st of January is, of course, a Monday. I'm still trying to tell myself that this isn't always the case but I never listen! It usually takes me until January 9th, because then it's my birthday, and I'm made quite suddenly aware of the day and date.
   My birthday was great, by the way. Seeg got me the Harry Potter boxset and my parents got me the Dad's Army boxset, so now I have plenty to watch while I make stuff (old comedy really is the best!). I already had Blackadder and Fawlty Towers - next on my list is Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em :D
   Seeg also got me the dinosaur stuffed toy I wanted, that I found while looking for things for my 2 year old nephew. It's going to be a nightmare over years to come, whatever we find for him, one of us is going to want it! He got me another World of Warcraft book too - I love the game, I'm quite content to sit down and play it for hours, but I will admit that I enjoy the books a lot more.

   The shopping trip went all right too. Not as well as I had hoped, but the things I couldn't find that I needed, I was able to find elsewhere, or find a better substitute. Although I am really disappointed with Hobby Craft's limited and minimal range of stamps, so I think I'll just have to use Etsy and some online craft shops for new stamps. But yes! It went well enough that, when a couple of things I've ordered have turned up, I'll be able to open my new shop! It's called Dandelion Grenade, and it's quite empty at the moment. Once it's up and running I'll let you all know, but I will also mention that most discount codes that work with Peaches and Pebbles will also apply to Dandelion Grenade, including the code given to returning customers. So if you buy a piece of my jewellery, you could use your discount code on some stationery instead!
   I've always loved stationery, but a few sellers on Etsy have made me rediscover my love for it, as well as a meeting with an old friend. So I decided to try it out for myself. No, my products are not amazing, and neither are they that original, but I've created a few cute little characters whom I've copyrighted to feature on my stationery, so at least I can say I did that by myself. But we'll have to see how it goes.

   I've also decided to change the way I do interviews. I've joined the Createability Team on Etsy - while I, myself, am not disabled *touch wood* I am a carer, which makes me eligible to join. I've decided, following the interview with Rachael Paden of Sjo Compassion that I posted a few weeks ago, to post one interview a month with someone from within the team so we can see what it's like to live with it, and also a little about the disabilities ourselves, and also a few with carers, like me, who suffer just as much, emotionally if not physically. So they'll come by once a month and will be identifiable as being tagged "createability".
   I also want to try to interview some people on Etsy with interesting shops - not people with nice or successful shops, but rather interesting ones. I've seen people on there selling wigs, selling fairy wings, even bows and arrows, and, frankly, I'd like to know more! So, provided that they're interested, hopefully I'll manage to find enough of those to post one a month as well. They'll be tagged...with...something that I'm sure I can figure out later, I don't know, I'm tired and my brain is shutting down.

   So, yes, I'm trying to get myself back on track. I've put work into contacting a few people for interviews and Etsy favourite features, and I'm trying very hard to make some tutorials and printables, but that's not going too well. My mind is focused at the moment on my shop - both current and new - so I seem to have little room for much else. I've not even written any of my book yet because my head is so boggled! :( I plan to, though...ohhh I do.

...That header is annoying me. I think I'll have to dig into my savings to buy a new one because it just makes me sad to look at it.

Friday 6 January 2012

I Must Apologise

Since the new year, I've been slacking. I put the blog on hold over Christmas and I
have yet to pull myself back to it. I had every intention of creating new printables/downloads
for this week, and while I got somewhere with them, I didn't complete anything. But I think
I know why. Christmas took up a lot of my time and mental space, and then Seeg's birthday
came along three days later. My own birthday is on Monday, so my mind has been all
in an excited jumble. Which has led to neglect over here.

   I think, by the time my birthday has passed, I'll be free to concentrate on my blog and crafts again. Valentine's day isn't too far off, however, and I'm trying to come up with some products for that, and it's proving to be very difficult. And then, not only that, but I decided to think about opening another store - as if I didn't have enough on my plate already! I'm juggling too much, but I can't stop myself. I'm hoping that once all the celebrations have passed, my mind will settle back down, and I'll be able to get back on track.
   So for now, instead of a printable, I give you a photograph. I took it last year when there had been a double frost - it was one of the best things I've ever seen. I'm sure it's not enough, and I won't make a habit of falling back on old content, but there's little else I can think to do at the moment.

   Also, as you may have noticed, the name has now changed, almost officially, to A Blackbird's Epiphany. It'll be official once I buy the domain name, and then some time around then, hopefully I'll also be able to buy a new header, in between making a purchase from Wonder Forest. You can still use the current URL even once it's changed to a new domain; it should still link you back here, so there won't be any confusion.

   Sorry once again.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

New Image

Kind of. I'm applying the new name and a new design to follow it. I want to have
a layout made for me but I don't have the money for that just yet, so I'm afraid I have
to make do with my own resources, and a new URL will follow, hopefully next month.
Don't worry though, if you use peachesandpebblesweekly.blogspot.com even after it's
changed it'll still redirect you here! Let me know what you think ♥
I'm having real trouble with my header, so that may be redesigned several thousand
times. In the end I think I'll just have someone else do it, and I know just the person! I
just need to collect up a little bit of money first, but since my birthday isn't too far
off, hopefully I'll be able to scrounge together some cash for it.
Y'know, after I've been shopping ♥

Also, I have a new item available in my shop specially for valentine's day! Check it out!

More soon to follow once I finally get some more supplies. So keep your
eyes peeled, and throw some not-so-subtle hints towards your partner!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Interview: Rachael Paden of Sjo Compassion

Today I have something a little different. This Etsy seller creates wonderful pieces
of jewellery and sells them at great prices - but it doesn't all go into her pocket.
She suffers from Sjogren's Syndrome, and donates her profits to Sjogren's
Syndrome Foundation and Compassion International. She is a very interesting and no
doubt wonderful person for what she does. It is definitely worth having a look in her shop
and with every purchase, you help someone, somewhere! She's even provided you lovely
people with a 25% discount in her shop until the end of January! Just use the code
BLOG25 to apply it at the checkout! ♥

1. When did you first start making jewellery, and why did you decide to start selling it?
My daughter Jessica and I began making jewelry together when she was about 12 years old. We did it for fun, and for gift giving. Jessica started selling jewelry when she was in college and continued after she became a teacher. She opened her Etsy shop (A Simple Kind of Fancy) back in the summer. I guess you could say she inspired me to give it a try.
I retired from teaching at the end of the 2009 school year. My Sjogren’s symptoms kept getting worse, and I finally had to give up the job I loved. Even though I knew I could no longer work outside the home, I wanted to do something that was of value. I decided to give jewelry design a try with an Etsy shop. I wanted to use it as an opportunity to give back. I named my Etsy shop Sjo Compassion. The name came from “Sjo” (pronounced “show”) from Sjogren’s, my disease, and Compassion from my favorite children’s charity, Compassion International.

2. You don't have to have made a hundred sales to be successful. Do you consider yourself successful?
Yes. I opened my shop in September. At first I did well selling to my friends and family members. In November I became too sick to make jewelry or promote my shop. So for two months I have been nonproductive. Unfortunately I missed out on the holiday opportunities. I plan on getting back on track by January 9. With Sjogren’s I have to be very careful not to get stressed because that makes my symptoms worse. I believe I tried to do too much in the beginning and that contributed to a flare-up of my disease. Even so I am very happy with what I have been able to do. Sjo Compassion raised $268.00 (US dollars) for the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation in 2011. I also was able to contribute $268.00 to Compassion International. As long as I am financially able to use my personal funds to buy supplies, I plan to continue to donate all my Sjo Compassion income to charity.

3. Have you always had a passion for crafting?
Yes. As a small child I loved crafting. My mother taught me to sew when I was in elementary school. I later took up needle work. When my children were little I smocked many of their clothes. I even did French hand sewing for a while. Once I returned to teaching I had to give up sewing. It was too time consuming.

4. What is your favourite piece that you've made, and why?
I made a pair of simple heart earrings out of clay that I love so much. I finally took them off my Etsy site because I didn’t want them to sell. I now wear the earrings almost every day.

5. When were you diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, and while I am familiar with the Spoon Theory, how much does it affect your crafting?
I found out in 2007, but the doctor that diagnosed me said I probably had had it for ten to fifteen years. I knew there was something wrong with me, and I kept going to doctors for help. My doctors didn’t know about Sjogren’s Syndrome. I could have been helped earlier and perhaps been able to continue teaching. It’s really sad that there are so many people like me who have to wait so long before finding the right diagnoses.

Crafting is actually easy and relaxing to me. It’s the business side of my Etsy shop that stresses me. Also I had a few special orders that I stressed over way too much. I have decided for at least now not to do any special order jobs. I have to put my health first. If I am too sick to craft, then I’m not helping anyone.

6. You also donate 50% of your proceeds to the Sjogren Foundation - what does the foundation do?
The foundation funds Sjogren’s research. It also supplies Sjogren’s Support Groups with educational materials. The Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation educates doctors as well as patients through their publications and conferences. They have a website (www.sjogrens.org) that helps patients and their families deal with Sjogren’s. Before I ship an item that is purchased from my Etsy shop, I enclose a brochure from the foundation explaining Sjogren’s Syndrome. The foundation supplies these brochures free of charge. My shop’s slogan is “It’s great to create, educate, and donate.” The foundation equips me with the materials I need to educate others about Sjogren’s Syndrome.

7. How supportive have your family and friends been through your illness, and with your decision to leave work and give up teaching? How about with your Etsy shop? Do they help you run it in any way?
At first it was very difficult for my family and friends to deal with my illness because I didn’t look sick. When I complained about being tired they would push me to do more. I can’t tell you how any times I would get the advice from family, friends, and even my doctors to exercise more and to eat a healthier diet and I would feel better. However, once I received my Sjogren’s diagnoses that all changed. My family and friends have been very helpful. I have to admit I have a lot fewer friends now than I did several years ago. Friends tend to fall away when the energy level isn’t there. The friends I do have are supportive and a real help to me. The decision to leave my job wasn’t a problem. I had worked enough years to get retirement, so I do receive a small retirement check each month. My husband has a good job and our two children are both grown and no longer need financial help from us. My husband and I are able to live comfortably without that extra income. I no longer have desires for a bigger house, newer car, fancy clothes. I’m very content to live simply.
My daughter helped me set up my Etsy shop. I couldn’t have done it without her experience. My husband has been great about it all. He never complains about the messes I make or the amount of money I spend on supplies. My friends and family have promoted my shop on their facebook pages which has been very helpful.

8. Tell us something interesting about yourself.
When I was 27 years old my husband and I survived an airplane crash in Alaska. The plane completely burned after we were able to kick a window out and crawl to safety. I walked away with only a whiplash, but I believe the physical and emotional stress of the accident might have been the trigger to my developing Sjogren’s.

9. What are you most addicted to at the moment? A song? A movie? A flavour? Idea?
Since I retired I have been very interested in learning as much as I can about theology. I spend many hours most days listening to lectures on the computer. At this moment I am studying reformed theology. It’s so much more fun to learn when there are no deadlines to meet, papers to write, or tests. I can listen to lectures while I make jewelry which is an added bonus!

10. What is your top new year's resolution, if you have any?
I don’t make resolutions anymore. I rarely ever kept them anyway. If I did make one, it would be to raise more money for the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation through my Etsy shop.

Check out her shop on Etsy, SjoCompassion, and help someone help others.
Visit www.sjogrens.org to find out more about the disease and how purchasing from this store
is helping other people with the disease - whether they know they have it or not.

Monday 2 January 2012

By Jove, I Think She's Got It!

   Well, I think I've got it. I've spent the night mulling it over, and I think I've finally got the name for the new blog. I'm not sure disclosing it is a good idea because I am prone to changing my mind, but either way I can't afford the domain name until next month, if I'm able to get one at all. I'm a little unclear with how to set it all up. I know where I want to get it from, but the whole process of applying it to blogspot is a bit foggy. I have no idea if I'll be okay to just buy a £3/yr domain name and have blogspot still host the blog, or if I'll have to buy hosting from somewhere else too, in which case I think I'll just leave the entire thing and stick to the free URL from blogger. Who knows. If anyone has any experience on the matter I'd appreciate some pointers.
   Otherwise, yes, I think I've got it. I'll mull it over for the next few days and see how it tastes. Once I'm content with it, I'll create a new header and make an announcement. You'll have like a month to adjust to it before I apply a domain name, but blogspot tells me that apparently, if I don't change this current .blogspot.com URL, then if anyone types that in they'll be redirected to the new URL instead. So I hope that that works. But as I said, if anyone has any experience and can just explain the process in as simple a way as possible, I'd appreciate it.

   In other news, it's my birthday on the 9th! I will be 21. I'm having a sale in my Etsy shop from that date until the 23rd at 11pm (GMT) - I'm using Etsy On Sale to host it, so if you enter my shop at any point between those two dates, the prices themselves will have dropped by - you guessed it - 21%. No need for coupon codes or anything, and at the end of the sale, the prices will revert back to normal, so do check it out!
    I will admit, though, that while I am still young, I'm starting to find that still living with my parents is getting to me. On one hand, I'm needed, as I care for my mum while my dad works full time, but I see all these other blogs of 26 year olds who are already married, I hear of my cousin who is only a year older than me moving out too, and my two best friends are attending Uni. I just look at myself and wonder what happened. I'm at home, unemployed, out of education, and I'm beginning to feel like my life is wasting away. I'm almost using my mum as an excuse not to even look for a job.
   But, in light of all of this, and the massive epiphany I had on the 1st of this year, I'm turning my act around. No, I'm not looking for a job, no, I'm not looking for a place (I have so little money it's not even worth browsing, I literally wouldn't be able to afford a week in a campsite). What I'm doing instead, because I want, more than anything, for my career in writing to take off, is to finally put some work into it. For months I've sat around saying "oh I only have to read twelve more chapters until I've completely finished my first book of my trilogy! Then I can contact agents!", but nothing has ever come of it! I have said it on Twitter alone about three or four times, I've spammed Tumblr and Facebook with it, I've even mentioned it here a few times, but I never actually acted on it. And the worst part is that I've been putting it off for about six months. If I had just gotten on with it the moment I thought of it I'd have finished already, and have already started spamming agents. But I haven't.
   So, on the evening of the 1st of January, I finally got my act together. I read through two chapters, which is no easy thing when I need absolute silence to do it and it generally takes an hour and a 15 minutes per chapter, and my boyfriend is sat next to me playing a game he wants to talk to me about. But, despite all of that, I did it. And it's not a bad book - it's not a great book, don't get me wrong, it won't reach a best seller list, even if it is written better than Richard A Knaak, but, with any luck, the story will pull someone in and they'll want to help me out.

   I also am very aware that I've never mentioned any real details about my book. I'm very paranoid about people stealing ideas, it's the most important creative thing I do, and I'd die if someone took my trilogy's name, or the full name of my main character, my plot or anything. So I keep it hush-hush. Very hush-hush. The only people I've told are my boyfriend and my best friends, and even then they only get snippits - my boyfriend because I want him to read it, and my friends because I see them very infrequently. I've not spoken about any details online either except that it involves Magic and Dragons - and I only mention that because it's vague and if people aren't interested in Magic or Dragons, they won't want to hear more anyway.
   But I am proud of it. And once I finish - and I mean really finish - the first book, you'll all be the first to know. I'll keep you all updated on my search for an agent, and then, if I'm lucky enough to get that far, my search for a publisher. I even have a competition in mind for if my book ever gets published! So yes, be prepared for some ramblings!

   I've also decided that I want to try doing some watercolour paintings. I have some nice ideas, so I'm going to give them a try and see if they work. If they do, I will even think about opening a new Etsy shop and sell the originals, and prints, too. But that might be getting waaayyy ahead of myself considering I've not used them for a couple of years. Saying that, though, my dad can help me. My dad is truly amazing with watercolour paints. I've got some great pictures I've added to the bottom of the post that he did some years ago, and he has a deviantart page. They're not all perfect, in fact he'd tell you they're all rubbish, but most of them are pretty good.

   I have little else to update with, really. New year's day came and went, I made no resolutions, but I did finally get to work. I'd managed to write two entire chapters for my second book before Januray even hit, which is a great start, as in January I return to me 2-pages-a-day Monday to Friday, 10-pages-a-week, 40-to-46-pages-a-month routine. The upside is, I did this through my last book and it's completely achievable. I only ask myself to write ten pages a week, I give myself the option of having my weekends off too, but I never do. I love writing. I love it. I'm so happy while I'm doing it, and since it's fantasy, I can do whatever I want with it without having to keep certain cultural laws in mind. I can let myself free in my own world. It's amazing. But, like I said, I never take my weekends off. When I pick up my pen I write on average 2 to 5 pages a day, Monday to Sunday. Some days I'll write nothing, others I'll write loads, and if I wrote more than 10 pages in one week, I'll carry the extra ones over to the next week. As long as at the end of the month I have the set number I needed, I'm fine! I had one month where my requirement was 46 pages, and I ended up writing 79. That was pretty much half of the next month's requirement already met!

   I'll stop rambling on now. Peace out guys, and take care!

Please do not use these paintings without my express permission. They do not belong to you, and while they were based on photographs, that does not mean that they belong to the original photographers either.