Saturday, 22 October 2016

#TreatYourself - special offers that caught my eye

I am excited to be bringing you October's roundup of special offers and discount codes because I think there are some particularly good ones amongst them!

I am starting with a favourite shop of mine which is the chocolatiers Thorntons. Not only do they already have a lot of their Christmas chocolates on sale, but until the 30th of October many are also priced at 5 boxes for £20. That's just £4 a box so, if you have somewhere raid-proof to stash them, now could be a good time to stock up for the festive season. Use the checkout code FVTW to take advantage of the offer. We loved the Pudding Collection that Dave got for his birthday, or there are Chocolate Marzipans and Marzipan Fruits, or how about The Snowman Advent Calendars?

There's an extra day to take up Sue Roche's free greetings card offer - this expires on the 31st of October. Sue Roche is a talented illustrator based in Rochford and I love her whimsical fairytale and animal designs. The S card I have pictured here features Alice In Wonderland characters. Sue Roche currently has a Buy One Get One Free promotion on all her cards (except Christmas cards) which is perfect for those of us whose family members insist on having birthdays in December and January. Anyone else struggle to find birthday cards amongst all the Xmas glitz?! Navigate to the card you like, then click the 'Free Card Choice' dropdown on its page to choose a second card before Adding To Cart. (This might sound complicated here, but it is pretty straightforward when in the online shop.)

You can probably get all your Christmas shopping done in one extended clicking session at Not On The High Street which has hundreds of wonderful and unusual items available in their Christmas shop and all across the website. Ideas range from Advent calendars to home decorations to edibles to gifts. (Did you see Dave's gorgeous olive wood chopping board?) I love the laid out dining tables shimmering with Christmassy silvers and golds. It's almost making me want to start playing our Christmas mix tape already! There's an extra incentive to visit this website before the end of October. Not On The High Street are offering 15% off orders over £50 and you just need to enter the seasonally appropriate code HOHOHO at checkout.

Cotswolds based clothing designers Weird Fish also have a 15% discount offer running at the moment for their new Autumn season clothing, but I can't find the offer end date anywhere so maybe don't leave it too long before clicking through on this one! The checkout code is WFNNEQ94. There are plenty of new coats, hats and jumpers in their Autumn Arrivals section so if you've been caught out by the recent cooling temperatures too, now is the time to update your wardrobe! Weird Fish have free UK delivery and returns and it's always worthwhile keeping an eye on their sale section too. Right now there's big reductions on lightweight clothing for winter holidays in the sun or stashing ready for next summer.

My sister reminded me about my fifth suggestion for you this month and it's not a temporary offer but an ongoing cashback reward scheme with a difference. KidStart rewards shoppers with cashback of up to about 5% on online purchases, however instead of the money returning eventually to the spender, it is diverted to your child's savings bank account enabling you to save for their future by shopping! What's even better is that family members (such as aunts like me!) can also link in their KidStart accounts so in this case I have set up my cashback rewards to go to my niece. I like the variety of participating shopping sites - there's over 1500 - which, coincidentally, include my favourites such as Etsy, Thorntons and Not On The High Street!

That's it for TreatYourself this month. I'll search out another five money savers for November 22nd and, in the meantime, here a Happy Halloween and a safe Bonfire Night!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Christmas Carol cards now in stock and enter my Xmas Cards Giveaway!

Little Women christmas card - SOLD!
I was amazed to realise that a whole week has already gone by since I posted about celebrating two sales from my Etsy shop. Doesn't time fly when you're not paying attention! In that time I have also now sold the first of my handmade greetings cards - thank you Paula! - and have received the parcel of yarns with which to make up a custom order of crocheted flowers I mentioned. It's going to be a busy week getting them all made up!

Today I made ten new Christmas cards from a 1950s edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love a good ghost story for Christmas and this has to be the best. It felt great to be giving an old, worn book a new lease of life too, especially the few gorgeous John Leech illustrations I salvaged.
A Christmas Carol greeting card 
All the Christmas Carol cards I have made so far are now listed for your perusal along with others featuring part-pages from vintage Wuthering Heights, Little Women and The Yellow Wallpaper editions. I hope you like them! They are mostly £2.50 each, but if you just can't decide which ones you want to buy, I have also created a '5 for £10' listing. That's 20% off the single card price which, if I may say so, is an absolute bargain! Just be sure to use the Notes To Seller box to let me know the five cards you want.

And I you want a couple of my handmade cards, but don't want to pay for them then you are definitely reading the right blog post! I am currently running a giveaway over on Literary Flits and thought I would extend it over here too. The prize is the winner's choice of two cards from my shop.

2x Literary Greetings Cards giveaway

The Giveaway is open worldwide and previous giveaway winners are welcome to enter. Entries must be submitted through the Gleam widget by midnight (UK time) on the 19th October and I will randomly pick a winner on the 20th. If the winner does not respond to my email within 7 days, they will forfeit the prize and, yes, I will be checking that entrants did complete whatever task they said they did.

Good luck!


Thursday, 13 October 2016

Top Five Etsy Finds - Socks - #DifferenceMakesUs

Motivational socks by SparksClothingShop 
I'm excited to be posting this month's Top Five Etsy Finds as part of the Etsy campaign Difference Makes Us. The idea is to focus on a simple and relatively mundane item that we all own, but in wildly differing fashions to create our own unique style. Etsy has created a special Difference Makes Us page on their website highlighting the fantastic variations available from artisans worldwide and, of course, this is something I love to do each month with my themed Top Five Etsy Finds blog posts! September's post explored Wall Clock designs, August looked at some incredible Sofas and Chairs and for October I have been hunting down fabulous Socks.

Yes, Socks! It turns out that Etsy crafters have thought up as much variety in this clothing staple as in everything else they turn their minds to and, with autumn days starting to feel distinctly chilly, it's the just the time for each of us to find our own perfect pair!

The first socks that caught my eye were the inspirational pair pictured at the top of this post. They are made by Verity and Deborah, a mother and daughter team who run SparksClothingShop from Taunton in Somerset. For me, 'You Are Capable Of Amazing Things' completely sums up the Etsy ethos and I think these socks would be ideal to wear at any time when I need a confidence boost.

These socks are for sale at £15 a pair with free standard UK shipping.

Hand Knit Wool Socks by FirTreeKnitwear 
Next up is a distinctly Nordic pair of socks because I love my Scandinavian TV dramas and these just look so cosy. They are handknitted too. I love the snowflake and reindeer design which just screams Christmas - did you know there's only just over 70 more sleeps to go?! Hand Knit Wool Socks are expertly knitted to order by Egle at FirTreeKnitwear in London. She was taught to knit in Lithuania by her grandmother at just six years old and is happy to be carrying on her family's traditional skill.

These socks are for sale at £29 a pair plus shipping.

Creepy Dolls Ankle Socks at DanceMacabre 
Before Christmas however we have Halloween and I couldn't resist appeasing my macabre side by including this pair of Creepy Dolls Ankle Socks. Aren't those eyes spooky? The socks are printed by hand by Paul and Leona at DanceMacabre in Guisborough, North Yorkshire. We stayed nearby on our Great UK Caravan Tour last summer and the North York Moors is a beautiful part of the country. DanceMacabre say their hand printing process means that each pair is subtly different and the 100% polyester fabric keeps its bold tones so your eerie dolls won't fade in the wash.

These socks are for sale at £7.99 a pair plus shipping.

Hobbit Feet Socks by MakeGeekCraft 
I can never resist a good literary connection so knew as soon as I saw these novelty socks that they had to be part of my Top Five blog post. I read The Hobbit by Tolkien years ago and loved the book though I've not yet worked up the reading stamina to attempt the whole Lord Of The Rings trilogy. These Hairy Toes Hobbit Feet Socks are hand knitted from merino-nylon blend wool by Hannah Marshall at MakeGeekCraft in Poole, Dorset. I can think of a few fantasy fiction fans I know who would be thrilled to find a pair under their tree on Christmas morning. Cosplay anyone?

These socks are for sale at £26.50 a pair plus shipping.

Lace Embellished Knee Socks by MaudsHosiery 
I'm going all girly for my final socks choice because I love these pretty Lace Embellished Knee Socks by MaudsHosiery in Bedford. They have a wonderful vintage steampunk vibe to them and are so elegant. I'm not sure I would be able to walk about in quite such high heels, but it's a great look with that net skirt. Check through this shop's other listings to see truly fabulous shoes, especially the unicorn heels! Maud says the Knee Socks are highly customisable, but I think the default of black sock with pale peach lace would suit me fine. I just need to find myself the right vintage dress ...

These socks are for sale at £7 a pair plus shipping.

So, if you were thinking of getting me socks for Christmas, then any of these pairs would be ideal! And why not let me know what your perfect pair of socks would be too? Comment the link below so we can all see.

All links in this post are affiliate links so, should you click through and make a purchase, I would receive a small percentage. That would be nice! Thank you.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

#ebayforcharity nominations - I choose Freegle!

I received an email from Eastbourne's Freegle group this morning which reminded me that I really must update my Freegle account to show Torbay! It also alerted me to a fun eBay charity promotion that I was immediately keen to support.

Melissa, a Freegle volunteer, wrote the following:
"Freegle is in the running to win a competition being run by eBay to find their members' favourite charity.

You don't have to make a donation or buy or sell, you just have to click on a button and make Freegle a favourite charity in eBay and Freegle could win as much as £7000. Money that would help Freegle with its running costs. Remember Freegle is free to use, but not to run. Freegle survives on donations and opportunities like this.

If you have an eBay account all you need to do is sign in and go to this address:-

Then just click on the "Save as favourite" button on the right hand side of the screen. There's loads of nice comments about Freegle there as well! There is a leader board at the following address where you can see how Freegle is doing.

Please vote - even if we don't win, every vote will help raise Freegle's public profile. Five people who nominate a favourite charity will also be picked at random to win £250 each.

If you use Twitter or Facebook you can also help by posting:-
 Support Freegle with #ebayforcharity @eBay4CharityUK. Make Freegle your favourite charity on eBay

Melissa, Freegle Volunteer"

If you're not already aware of Freegle, it is effectively a recycling noticeboard website where people post about items they no longer require and are looking to give away, or about items they would like to acquire. Everything is free and we used Freegle to get shot of lots of stuff when we sold our Polegate home. It's amazing what people will eagerly come and collect!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

I'm celebrating two Etsy sales this week!

Book sleeves - SOLD!
I love creating items for my Etsy shop and it's even more fun when other people love my stuff too - especially when they buy! This is why I am absolutely delighted to have sold three items this week. It's so encouraging and a great confidence boost.

My first sale was for two hand woven book sleeves which are now travelling all the way to South Carolina, USA. Then, yesterday evening, I got another magic 'Etsy Order Confirmation' email and a crocheted raindrop beanie hat will soon be on its way to Sutton!

Beanie hat - SOLD! 
I am also awaiting a yarn shipment for a custom order from a customer who last month bought 10 little crocheted flowers and would like me to make up another eighty-five for her! How wonderful is that?

I am sure you are all now thinking how you can join in this exciting trend? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway! It's as simple as clicking through This Link Here to my shop, adding items you love to your virtual basket and completing the checkout process. Shipping is just £1.50 per order within the UK (£2.25 within Europe, £3 to the Rest of the World)(except cushions) regardless of how many items you buy.

And to tempt you further, here's a few of my favourite items for sale right now ...

Friday, 7 October 2016

Why we've switched our electricity and gas to Ecotricity - it's easy!

Are you as disgusted with Theresa May's government as I am right now? First they ignore public opinion and sign us up to build that Hinkley nuclear power station, then yesterday I learn that they have completely disregarded our democratic process and are forcing fracking onto Lancashire. Paris Climate Change treaty anyone? Perhaps it was naive of me to think that the Tories would be swayed by public opinion and outrage, so I am glad I am using cold, hard cash to make my point too. I know they listen to that!

A green lifestyle has become increasingly important to Dave and I so, when we bought our new home, I researched the various energy supply options open to us. There's a good comparison table on which I found useful. We were excited to see how much renewable energy is created in Devon - fields of solar panels and the hydroelectric turbines at Totnes - and I wanted to be a part of this, albeit in a small way. Hinkley and fracking are definitely Not In My Name.

I eventually settled on Ecotricity as being the best supplier for us because they promise entirely green electricity and frack-free gas, they have a low rate of customer complaints, and their tariffs are both simple and reasonably priced. There's even an extra dual-fuel discount for taking both electricity and gas. Plus we're not tied into a long-term contract so, if we ever do decide to switch again, this should be straightforward. I like Ecotricity's ethos and how profits are used to invent and refine new sustainable ways to create energy. Their new 'seamills' technology was invented by a Devonian engineer!

My first contact at Ecotricity was with Mark on the Welcome Team who answered all my questions promptly and mostly accurately. Our home's previous owner had been with a different company so it would take a while to change over - Mark said three weeks, it turned out to be a month - but they could start the process before we took possession to speed things along. Our gas supply switched over promptly on the 2nd of August, a week after we had moved in. Our online account was set up so we could easily enter meter readings, keep track of our usage and, of course, pay our bill! The electricity switch was more long-winded and we're not exactly sure why. The supply itself did also switch over at the start of August, but our online account wasn't available until two months later and I chased up communication several times to find out what was (or wasn't!) going on. The problem, I think, was getting the old supplier to send their closing meter reading over and it was a purely administrative issue. Our power came from Ecotricity and they knew it would all work through in time, however we had no way of knowing this from the vague message displayed in our online account so I did get worried for a while. Once we got a reassuring email response from Emily on the Home Team, the process and delay made more sense. It's probably obvious for people dealing with this every day, but for me as a real newbie it would have been nice to be given more information up front.

Whinge over!

The great news is that everything is sorted out now and we've had our first bills! Erm, Yay! We are very pleased with how low they are compared to our previous energy outlay for our old Sussex home. We're now looking at about £1 a day for our electricity and half that for our gas. Economical energy usage is something we've honed during our caravan-dwelling years, but we're not madly stingy about it and I had switched for ethical rather than financial reasons. It's great to actually be saving money too though. I like the warm glow that comes from doing the right thing - sadly that's not something we can feed back in to the National Grid! Ecotricity also encourage homeowner power generation such as fitting solar panels and small wind turbines where possible. I'm still toying with the idea of getting a reverse-wired exercise bike to pump out power. Apparently Tour De France cyclists can generate up to 400W per hour. We're off to France again soon so I'll look out for one!

I hope discussing our experience of switching to green energy will encourage readers to consider their own choices. We are very pleased with Ecotricity which is why I am happy to recommend them to everyone. If I have convinced you to also make the switch, there is an extra sweetener too. Think of it as your reward for reading this far! Please make sure to quote my personal code RAFE-I2W6Y by phone, email or via the Ecotricity website and we will then both receive a £50 Ecotopia voucher when your sign-up is confirmed. Thank you!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Delighted with more fab giveaway prizes!

I'm not intending to make you all jealous, well not very jealous anyway(!), but today's post will be me talking about three more fabulous giveaway prizes I have received recently. You might already have read posts about a wooden 'home' jigsaw and some superb coffee that I won? Now I have got a satisfying pile of books and a stash of cookies! I enter lots of giveaways mostly on Twitter and sometimes on Facebook because it's just really good fun! Feel welcome to follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook if you're a giveaways fan too. We can point each other towards cool prizes.

I actually won the five books pictured above late last year, but we were away travelling at the time so it's taken them a while to catch up with me. The prize was for signing up to Penguin's Think Smarter emails which are a great resource for discovering their nonfiction books. The emails include interesting articles as well as links to new publications. I'll no doubt be reviewing all five over on Literary Flits in due course so you can look forward to a burst of educational reading suggestions!

The thought of all that learning is making me hungry though so it's great that Maryland sent me a selection box of their cookies as part of a #WinItWednesday promotion on Twitter. I love WinItWednesdays - and FreebieFridays! We've eaten most of the cookies already because they did arrive several days ago and I particularly liked the new Soft Baked type which are just like the large chewy cookies from supermarkets except a bit smaller. They're about half the size and there were eight in the pack. The standard crunchy cookies with chocolate and hazelnuts were very tasty too and Dave enjoys dunking them into his coffee. I prefer to crunch!

Today's post brought with it a Facebook giveaway prize which was hosted by a new crafting and mindfulness magazine, Project Calm. Their giveaway prize was a large format adult colouring book called Colour New York. The book consists of twenty incredibly detailed line drawings of famous New York scenes all of which were drawn by talented artist Emma Kelly. If that name rings a bell it's because she designed the badminton 50p coin for the 2012 Olympics. I've got my colouring pens at the ready and am looking forward to beginning my interpretations of the scenes. I can't decide whether to try and be as realistic with my colours as I can or whether to go psychedelic!

I am developing a compulsive habit of watching out for the postal staff! They usually get to our building about lunchtime and it's disappointing when there's nothing for me! I'm still awaiting two more books, a couple of DVDs, and a stationery set which is coming all the way from America. Fun times!