Thursday, 27 December 2012

No New Clothes Challenge - The End


So I've done it, I've actually gone a whole year without buying any new clothes. It wasn't difficult  it was quite liberating and it has probably changed my habits for ever. Looking at  cheap new clothes now seems a bit obscene and realising that I've far too many clothes anyway is a bit embarrassing.

Over the past year the times when I've felt I "needed" to buy something has been for smart nights out but I've come to realise that going shopping is actually the lazy option. Mainly I buy something new because it is easier than looking in my wardrobe. The other day when we were off a black tie event I was convinced I didn't have anything ..... ummmm yes I did. After going through my wardrobe I managed to find at least three things  that would do and ended up finding a dress belonging to my mum that I wore and was absolutely perfect for the occasion.

I suppose I have missed that lovely buzz of buying something new and sometimes you buy something that you wear and wear and wear but more often than not you don't realise it at the time. Little did I know the day I was made redundant and couldn't face going home just yet so went shopping and bought my blue silk dress from Planet in the sale that it would become my "default fall back I don't know what to wear attire". I love that dress and I've worn it so many times that it was worth every penny. But those purchases are few and far between. 

The only person who seems to have noticed  my lack of new clothes (and maybe been a bit scornful) is my friend Sarah who quite honestly admits she has a bit of a problem with shopping and couldn't go a month week day without buying something new. Maybe her scorn was justified though as the last time I saw her I was wearing a dress of hers that I seem to have borrowed and never quite given back to her ... oooops. She really notices what people wear and will tell me when the last time she saw me wear something and will remember when I bought it! But let's be honest she is unusual. Last week I went to a party and thought I couldn't wear this dress because I'd worn it with the same people not long ago, then I tried to remember what they were wearing .... no couldn't recall .... so decided that they wouldn't remember either and, if they did, they would be far too polite to say anything. I was right.

Which brings me onto another thought. Why do we buy new clothes? Is it to get that buying buzz, to impress others, to be fashionable or to not look scruffy? I think that I can cover all these things by just buying a couple of new things each year. I'm going to try not to be mesmerised by the price of clothes and perhaps spend a little bit more and go for quality rather than quantity.

I do need {yes need} a couple of pairs of jeans as when it warms up and I stop wearing leggings underneath my current jeans there will simply be a little too much flesh on show from the rips where they have worn out. I would like {not essential but would like} a couple more "not quite everyday but not quite going out" jumpers/cardigans/tunics as I'm getting a bit sick of wearing the same ones all the time. And that's it, I really don't feel the need for anything else.

I really hope I don't lapse back into my old ways

Friday, 21 December 2012

Carlotta's Chocolates

Have I mentioned before that I have the best customers ever? Well I don't care I shall mention it again. Look what arrived in the post for me from my favourite customer .... yes beautiful, delicious, decadent chocolates.

A Christmas present from the lovely Charlotte of Carlotta's Chocolates. Go "like" her on on the Facebook page and have a look at her new website and marvel at the combination of enticing chocolate and amazing photographs.

Carlotta's Chocolates look beautiful, taste even better and really are the most delicious thing ever. I can not recommend them highly enough and now it's easy to get them delivered straight to your door - just order some and I promise you will thank me when you do.

Charlotte makes these marvels in her chocolate kitchen in rural Angus, Scotland. To be honest I wasn't that sure where Brechin, Angus was (my mum, Scottish relations and sister who lived for a while in Aberdeenshire would be ashamed of me I know) but I do now because I looked on a map! 

I love the joys of the internet with me down way down south and Charlotte way up north that we have formed a friendship through her love of bunting and my love of chocolate.

Happy Christmas everyone and please help yourself to a virtual Carlotta's Chocolate from the box above .... they will have to be virtual in more ways than one as the box now looks like this. They were really really really yummy.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

And breathe ....

Whoooooo .... that is the sound of me exhaling air.

Personalised Initial Gift Tag

So I've been just a little bit busy! Actually I don't think I've ever worked as hard as I have done for the last couple of months. Working seven days a week from 7am to 1am has not been unusual and I've loved it .... mostly. 

The things I've not loved is that the house is a tip, all table manners have completely disappeared, I mislaid my patience weeks ago and my friends are all wondering if I will ever talk/see them again.

Things I've learnt over the last few weeks.

1. Some customers are lovely beyond belief and others are so annoying you'd like to tell them that you'd rather not fulfil their order and could they just go away. Wish people would realise that the nicer you are the more others will go out of their way to help you and the ruder you are the less you get ... simple.

2. People who can't read descriptions or fill in boxes or write the correct details are really annoying.

3. Dirt/mess/clutter in your house can be overlooked. I found walking around with eyes half closed is fine and as long as no-one apart from your family comes round it's OK.

4. A husband that can cook is a wonderful thing .... now if he can just get his timing sorted out so that we eat before 9 he would be amazing ♥

5. I could not have fulfilled my orders without the help of my husband, mother and children who have helped me when I really thought there was no way I could get everything done.

6. Asking for help is easier than I thought when you know you have absolutely no choice.

7. Royal Mail can't be relied upon to get first class mail to the intended recipient within 1-2 days at Christmas.

8. Having a few evenings out in the diary is essential. Book nights out but keep all days clear and do not commit to anything.

9. Not going to watch rugby on a Sunday is not OK and I've missed that more than anything else. 

10. Next year I should completely finish Christmas shopping in October. I have done all my Christmas shopping online this year with notonthehighstreet and John Lewis and although I had done a lot of it I still had a few people left - this is not a good idea and added to stress.

So now I can relax and reintegrate back into the family. I am beyond excited about a certain family flying in from Australia on Saturday and I can finally start to look forward to it. I CAN NOT WAIT FOR SATURDAY :-)

It is going to feel a bit weird not rushing, not mentally trying to work out how many extra orders I can do before the school run. I will miss seeing the lovely accounting totals each week but when I get that first lovely no alarm clock lie in (scheduled for Christmas Eve) even that will be fine as I drift off back to sleep instead of forcing myself to get up.

It's been great but exhausting, tiring, stressful and exhilarating and if I don't see another Personalised Initial Tag until the New Year I will be quite happy. I'm already thinking how I could improve it for next year ..... roll on 2013.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Teenage Kicks

We now have a teenager in the house as Oscar turned the big one three today. Scary stuff but happy to report he hasn't turned overnight into monosyllabic Kevin The Teenager .... phew.

Shhhhh don't tell him this but he's actually not that bad to have around the place. Okay so he doesn't always tidy his room and he has some very annoying habits like drinking milk straight from the bottle, physically restraining his brother, randomly walking around naked, not putting dirty clothes in the wash, using me as a taxi service and putting the phone down in mid conversation but on the whole he's actually quite lovely. I love his enthusiasm for his passions of scooters and rugby. I love his knack of convincing me I really do want eight of his friends over for a sleepover. I love his attempts to remember to be nice to me "Would you like a cup of tea?". I love his continued  belief that I care about his scooter or its parts. I love how he tells me in great detail about the exciting day he had at the skate park. I love how he always seems to be the one in the wrong place when a job needs doing but does it anyway. I love how he always does his homework (maybe not exactly with huge effort every time but he does do it.) I love his bashful half smile if anyone praises him. I love that he makes me laugh ... often. Happy Birthday Oscar and welcome to your teens.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Busy as a Christmas Elf

This week has been very busy, wonderful to see the orders pinging through but it has sometimes felt a little overwhelming. On Wednesday afternoon I had a bit of a confidence crisis thinking I couldn't keep up especially as I was due to go out for dinner with my Book Club and really wanted to go but felt I should stay at home and get on top of things. Luckily my lovely husband said he could help me the next day and so off I went safe in the knowledge that I had an extra pair of hands the next day. Of course, having a night out away from Daisyley was exactly what I needed and the next day I was rejuvenated and didn't need his help after all. There's a lesson there!

Despatch notes in a daunting pile
All printed and cut and ready to be checked and packaged.
Packaged and neatly lined up ready for weighing.
Postage labels affixed.

Finally in the post bag and ready to go to the post office.

My favourite postbag this week GREAT BRITAIN POST!

As always there are orders that come through that I would love to know the story behind. I'm convinced that the two tags from the same customer to different men was one to the husband and one to the lover. I was intrigued by the Auntie who was very liberal with her love and kisses to one child but not so with the other children. Does she love one more than the others why did only one get Lots of love AND kisses? Maybe the other children are just irritatingly awful? I do hope that they're not all in the same place for Christmas day though as it could scar them for life.

I'm also intrigued by the customers who order multiples of fifteen/twenty/thirty tags for one name - are these for their children and are they really getting THAT many presents each? Spoilt children or some other reason you would want so many tags???

And there are the lovely tags that are from Father Christmas or Santa ... you see I really am like a little elf working for Father Christmas!

Things I've also learnt this week - I'm actually quite organised when I put my mind to it; not everyone can count; not everyone can read simple instructions; not everyone follows simple instructions; not everyone can spell; some people have very odd ideas of grammar. It's always a tricky thing deciding whether you should double-check or change spellings/grammar. This week a customer was happy I asked whether it should really be Godmother Mike and I changed a your to you're {hope they didn't notice but I just couldn't send it out with the wrong your}.

All in all a fantastic week, far outreaching my wildest expectations of sales, and my family have been amazing given that I've not lifted a finger to help with any household chores and I've had meals and hot drinks made for me all week .... thank you. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Father Christmas Please Stop Here

Now then, have you been very good? No naughtiness all year? Then someone might just buy one of these for you to hang on your door come Christmas time. My Father Christmas Please Stop Here sign is already proving to be a hit with notonthehighstreet customers and although I thought everyone would want it in festive red or green it seems that I will be doing every colour available before the Christmas season is over {although I've not done an orange one ... yet}. 

I haven't decided whether my children will be having one of these hung outside their doors yet, still plenty of time to threaten that Father Christmas won't be coming unless they start behaving.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Happy Halloween everyone. Have to admit that this is not my favourite event of the year (too American for my taste) but I quite like seeing everyone dressed up in scary costumes. I find the whole banging of doors to get sweets a bit weird and I'm so glad I don't live in a street where there are trick or treaters and glad my boys are no longer of an age where I feel they are missing out if I don't take them ... thankfully. 

I remember the year we were in Australia for Halloween going trick or treating with their cousins and how shocked I was that the boys quickly cottoned on to how easy it was to get sweets from strangers ... umm it really is weird.

I wonder what the equivalent of Bah Humbug is for Halloween perhaps Boo Cauldron will do!

Monday, 29 October 2012

No New Clothes Challenge - Month 9

You would imagine that at this stage of the year, coming to the end of the challenge I might be starting to fantasise about going clothes shopping ... but I'm not. I still tentatively open clothes catalogues that come through the post with eyes half scrunched up hoping nothing catches my eye but thankfully nothing has this month. Another advantage of this whole not buying new clothes thing means I've become tidier because I quickly flick through the catalogues, breathe a sigh of relief that I don't yearn for anything and they go straight in the recycling. Before they'd probably sit around in piles for a couple of weeks whilst I made up my mind if I was going to buy anything.

I do have one slight problem in that my two pairs of jeans (worn pretty much every day for the past year) are showing signs of wear and tear but nothing that can't be mended to last another couple of months.

I suppose I am already mentally writing a very small list of things I might buy come the day I end the challenge (jeans, new longline jumper, going out trousers) but I'm pretty confident that there isn't going to be some huge splurge in fact a huge splurge feels more and more obscene and unnecessary as the year goes on. Gosh, I think this challenge has changed me ... !

Monday, 22 October 2012

Vintage Style Hire's "Bit of A Do"

On Thursday I was delighted to be invited to Vintage Style Hire's Bit of a Do in Kate's new barn. From the outside the barn looks like any other "industrial" style barn with a very business like door but as soon as you stepped in the door you could easily forget you were even in a barn (apart from the slight chill) and we were greeted by this gorgeous pushbike with WELCOME bunting. 

Gin & tonic was served in delicate teacups and elderflower cordial in jars with stripy straws.

Tea cup in hand we then got to wander round the barn and marvel at all the "rooms"

Wherever we looked there was something that caught the eye, whether it was a little artful collection, a sweetie corner or beautiful flowers from Violets & Velvet.

I heard a lot of people commenting that Kate has the knack of making it look as if it had all effortlessly come together.

Now this all looks casually thrown together in an informal way but look closer and you will see that every item has been placed in exactly that position for a reason. 

Then the guests started to play with the photo booth and it was discovered that if you give Kate's friends a couple of gins, some masks and a photo booth you can have them in fits of giggles for a very, very long time!

It was a wonderful evening and so lovely to see Kate's new barn full of all her unique props. We even got a goodie bag when we left. Thank you Kate and best of luck in your new space and I hope you get to share your vision with lots of lucky customers.

Monday, 15 October 2012

But it's not even December yet ....

I've just had my busiest week ever with notonthehightstreet all due to one innocent looking little email going out on Thursday. Since then I haven't done any childcare, cooking or socialising! It has been an interesting few days and has made me realise that although it is lovely to see the £££s rolling in I honestly couldn't cope with this all the time. I often look at other people's businesses (always a bad idea to try and compare yourself with others) and think I should expand and grow the business a bit but then when I do have an increased workload I realise that the level it is at the moment is just right. Am loving this little blip but will be glad when things are back to normal and I can schedule in some hoovering .... now who thought I would ever say that?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Cake Bunting aka fiddly little bits of paper

Occasionally Lucie from Wonderland Bakery asks me to make some cake bunting.  I'm always happy to do this for her and as I got these two ready this week I thought maybe I could sell it.  However it doesn't take long for me to remember why I don't sell cake bunting because after fiddling around with teeny tiny bits of paper I realise that cake bunting is not for me. Far too time consuming - lovely to do occasionally but I'll leave it to those who love miniature things.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Here Comes The Bride

A customer recently asked for a HERE♥COMES♥THE♥BRIDE in my wedding signage bunting. It looked so good I thought I'd take a photo of it.

Since uploading this photo to the product page I now get a request for this bunting a few times a week and a product that hardly made any sales is now doing rather well.

I know full well that my photography lets some of my products down and this was a case in point, the reason I didn't sell much was because the photography was rubbish and customers didn't know what they could use it for. I also know full well that without good photos you don't sell your product ... if only I had a professional photographer onhand at all times. I will just have to work my way through my listings improving improving improving. 
I still have so much to learn about the visual nature of selling a product and the need to show customers what they might like.

I'm also spending a lot of my spare (!) time updating the seo on my products. This is a tedious, difficult and time consuming job but I must get it done. I've told the boys that every time I nag them about their homework they must say seo to me, which they are doing and now I know how easy it is to ignore someone telling you to do something you know you should be doing.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

No New Clothes Challenge - Month 8

I'm so ashamed I nearly blew the whole No New Clothes Challenge for a long sleeved Orla Kiely top

WOMEN O.Kiely Graphic Long Sleeve T-Shirt B

I even went as far as ordering it, trying it on and wondering how I could hide this purchase. I came to my senses though and sent it back, which was a bit silly as it cost me the postage but no one likes a cheater and I'm just about the worst liar in the world so would never have kept up the pretence.

My conscious is clear and I probably wouldn't have worn it anyway as it looked much nicer on the hanger than it did on me!

Masculine Bunting

I was asked this week for masculine bunting and spent a little while trying to decide what pattern, what colour, what font other might be considered masculine.

These are the choices I came up with

The customer went for the middle one as it tied in with football team colours! My personal favourite is the R but then that is probably just because it's a new design and therefore my new favourite.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A change to my daily routine

 Because of this ...

I've had a change to my daily routine and instead of the boys walking down to me when they get off the bus at the end of the school day I now park my car near to their drop off and walk the short distance to the post office.

I walk past the old fire station,

then past the church and through the kissing gate

and amble down Stoney Lane (most definitely not suitable for crutches).

Then after the Post Office visit (and stopping to chat to friends walking back from primary school) I wander back again through the churchyard.

Pausing to think about the Rivers family who had a great deal of tragedy in their family life and also the family of Private E S Brown.

This last week I've glanced up to check on the progress at the Windmill which now has its sails back.

Then I sit in the car looking at the church and waiting for hopalong and his brother to get off the bus. 

Even when he's able to walk down the hill I think I might continue our change of habit as apart from a beautiful little walk down it also stops the boys creeping into the local sweet shop. Sales of sweets, crisps and drinks must be considerably down these last few weeks ;-)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Labyrinth ... a walk of contemplation

I can't really remember how it came about that my Mum wanted a Labyrinth in her garden but luckily for her one of her daughters happens to be married to a garden designer and Edward Norman was very happy to build his mother-in-law her very own Labyrinth.  

Marking out.

For those not sure what a labyrinth is this is the Wikipedia explanation

In colloquial English, labyrinth is generally synonymous with maze, but many contemporary scholars observe a distinction between the two: maze refers to a complex branching (multicursal) puzzle with choices of path and direction; while a single-path (unicursal) labyrinth has only a single, non-branching path, which leads to the center. A labyrinth in this sense has an unambiguous route to the center and back and is not designed to be difficult to navigate.[2]

Post concreted in.
After what seemed like a very short build time this was the end result - one very special Labyrinth.

The finished Labyrinth.

Some of the posts marking the way have an objet d'art in the glass container adding another little interest as you walk round.

The path is made of local shells which reminds us of the family beach hut and the posts are made of oak from the family farm, another lovely touch. The buxus in the middle will grow to form a hedge the same height as the wooden rectangular blocks.

A couple of weeks ago we had the "grand opening" and we all got to walk round the Labyrinth (although not all of us did so in quiet contemplation).

The official opening was performed by Jethro who, as able assistant on the build, took great pride in the labyrinth and did a great job cutting the bunting even though he declined to make a speech.

As we chatted and sipped a Slamsey's Fruit Gin cocktail and as the light started to fade the hidden surprise became evident as all the posts lit up with their solar powered lights.

It really is amazing .... perhaps Ed could build me a mini labyrinth in our garden?