Category Archives: shop talk

julzcraftstore.com – a quick update…

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blackshopcardFor those of you who seem to be checking this blog out on a regular basis, to see when the new website will be live – I can only apologise!

Well, I did say it would take some time to get THE STORE up and running!  And its certainly taking a lot of time!  I never realised it was going to be so complicated, and as I am not a ‘techie’, its been a slow learning curve.

I just thought I could follow the instructions and then it would take some time to enter the 100+ listings for the stock I have in my living room!  However – its not quite that easy, and it turns out that I have been spoilt by the large selling sites that I have been using up to now.

Ebay and Etsy have a very comprehensive system for costing reasonably accurate postal rates – or shipping costs – as others call them, and I thought I could do better than them!

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It turns out to be a very complicated matter, because there are 4 shipping zones to cover, all of which have different tariffs for weight and size, and even if I put in the weight and dimensions of each item, it still wouldn’t give me an accurate price per parcel!  I have done a lot of research on this, even spoken to Royal Mail themselves – and nowhere in their repertoire is there any help for websites to set up their pricing system.  The Business Section, which will happily link in with ebay to offer you cheaper postage – had never heard of a ‘plug-in’ for small businesses, and were utterly unhelpful!

When I contacted various other UK businesses and asked them how they had sorted out the problem, most of them said, they didn’t know, because they had employed a specialist to do their website – I’D NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED DOING THAT!

Having bought from various sites over the years, it seemed the best compromise would be to set flat rates for each shipping zone for the moment, and I even had trouble working out how to do that!  There are some +ve’s and -ve’s about using flat rates, and it would certainly put some of you off if I charged you parcel rate for an item that can be posted in letter form – so – head’s up for my readers – if you contact me before you put in your order for a small, flat item – like a badge or small signs etc – I will agree to refund you the extra postage that the system will charge – because I can’t find a way to be able to offer TWO FLAT RATES at the moment, and nor can the ‘Happiness Engineers’ at WordPress!

iuI aim to post WORLDWIDE, on the same basis, until I can come up with a better solution!

That said – there are a few more things I need to iron out before julzcraftstore.com – julz craft supplies – THE STORE – will go live – but it shouldn’t take too long now – cross fingers!

I hope some of you will come and visit when it does!

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I SELL WORLDWIDE + 20,100 hits – thanks!

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Whilst I have had my head down & fully immersed in setting up my new retail website – see previous post – the counter on this blog has been whirring round – and not only reached 20,000 – but added on another hundred viewings in the last week – thanks to you all – there must be something I’m doing right for once!

On the other hand – I’ve realised that I was being too coy in newz from julz and didn’t explain why I wanted you to fill out the form properly!  I also didn’t think about how to ask the questions on the form!

Part of the reason I’m investing in this new website, is to be able to

SELL WORLDWIDE

more directly to my customers.  Already, through etsy and ebay I would estimate that at least a third of my customers come from the US, and I also get quite a lot of people from Europe, Australia, and places I’d never have expected would have found me – and who must have seen this blog.

I also know, from the recent efforts I’ve made to send people who have originally bought via ebay, to my etsy shop, that you don’t like being redirected like that!

So – I am inviting all readers, from whatever part of the world, to fill in the slightly revamped form, so I can see where you come from, and whether you might consider buying craft supplies and/or gifts from me!  So far, I’ve only had responses from people in the UK!

And to thank you for giving me a bit of information, I will be sending all those who fill in the form a coupon for  10% off your first order on the new site – which is why I am asking for your email address.

Of course, if you aren’t in the slightest bit interested – don’t fill in the form – smile.  But if you are just a bit curious to see what I’m up to – it won’t take long – and you’ll be the first people I tell – when I’ve managed to work my way thro’ the shipping costings, and how to send emails confirming orders etc – that’s why its taking me so long – as well as copying my listings over from etsy, and adding in new stock etc etc……..

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So –  to the slightly altered form…….you can write a much or as little as you like – the spaces will expand if you need them to.

 

Many thanks to you if you have filled this in

 

I will send you the 10% off coupon as soon as I open the new STORE.

 

Newz from Julz

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NB:  There is a form at the end of this post – please fill it in for a 10% discount!  For what? Well just read the blog!

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A Frosty Morning in January

Well, I don’t know about you, but it feels like this has been a very unusual winter in West Wales.  The weather has been all over the place, and there is more to come – smile – there is always more to come!  However, there are signs that spring is on the way.  Snow drops are starting to appear, and daffodil shoots seem to be pushing up all over the place.

I have a large garden here – part of the reason I moved was so that I could raise chickens, and here are a couple of them!

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a couple of my 6 month old buff sussex chickens

The first batch of Buff Sussex started off in my incubator at the end of July, and are nearly 6 months old now, and hopefully will start laying soon. I ‘m just praying that the foxes don’t come around!

There is a lot of work to be done in the garden, and I have been pruning some of the overgrown trees and bushes this week, and planning where to put the veg patch and what plants I want to grow.  It will all take some time!  So it seems will the changes I want to make to the cottage!

There is one more important change that I am making….

….. and I’d like your help!

As many of you will know, part of the reason I blog is to let you know about the small business I run  –

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I sell a mix of craft supplies and gift items, which you can find here on etsy – and here on ebay.

I have thought about setting up my own website for a long time.  Whilst selling on the above outlets has worked fine for over 10 years – its getting more and more restricting.

The last straw, was when ebay recently changed their rules, and no longer allow any outside links on the listings – so – I was forced to take down any links to this blog – even the tutorials that go with some of the listings!  They don’t want to give buyers a chance to contact sellers direct, as they might lose some of their revenue.  However, since I am a business seller, my full details have to be shown on every listing!  Makes no sense at all, and I even told them that – but its the new corporate era for ebay, and they really don’t care about what I say!  They have changed so much since I first started selling with them – it was much more fun!

Anyway – whilst I will still keep the sites with ebay & etsy – I have taken the plunge and bought a business site with WordPress. 

I have been spending ages since Christmas working out how to use it and adding much of my stock – and have still got some major decisions to make about how I want it to look!

Originally, I’d thought I could just add a page or two to this blog – but it turned out that all the complicated stuff – like a shopping cart and taking payments etc wouldn’t work with this blog’s format.  You might have noticed that I tried working out whether I could sell direct from this blog a while back – and it didn’t exactly work well! (The lantern I was selling there has just been sold on etsy, and it went to Phoenix, USA!)

blackshopcardSo its a separate site, with a slightly different logo.  This is my first attempt at a business card for it – but I think it needs a bit more work – just as well I only got 100 of these cards printed!

As you can see, I’ve called it THE STORE.  This was to make sure it doesn’t get mixed up with the SHOP on etsy.

THE STORE ISN’T OPEN YET.  

If you try clicking on the link above, you should just get a page saying that the website is “under construction” – but feel free to have a look – there’s a nice picture with the message!  If by any chance, you do get to the site itself, please let me know, as something will have gone wrong!

In the meantime – would you be kind enough to take a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire?  It would be nice to know how many of you would be interested in using THE STORE.

Anyone who fills in the form below, will be sent a 10% OFF COUPON to use when the site becomes public – in the next few weeks- hopefully!

I look forward to hearing from you – thanks!

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The Twelve Days of Christmas – Last Part – 7 Swans a-Swimming + all the rest!

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12DaysChristmasBIRDS-1Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century  

By Christine Henrichs – originally published in Backyard Poultry Magazine (2013)

This is part of a series  based on the popular Carol – that starts – ‘On the First Day of Christmas. my True Love sent to me – a Partridge in a Pear Tree.’

I have been running this series over the Christmas Holidays – starting with  Part 1.  You can find the full text of the Carol HERE.

Officially the 12th Day of Christmas is the 5th of January – or as Wikipedia says The Twelve Days of Christmas, also known as Twelvetide, is a festive Christian season celebrating the Nativity of Jesus Christ. In most Western ecclesiastical traditions, “Christmas Day” is considered the “First Day of Christmas” and the Twelve Days are 25 December – 5 January, inclusive.

However many communities actually celebrate Christmas on the 6th of January, Epiphany, instead of the 25th December.  

This series, based on the article in the American Poultry Magazine,  has attempted to link all the Gifts in the Carol with either poultry or a species of birds, and up to the 7th Day, it sort of works.  

When it comes to 8 Maids a-Milking , 9 Ladies Dancing, 10 Lords a-Leaping, 11 Pipers Piping and 12 Drummers Drumming, I’m not sure you can stretch the analogy that far!  People have tried to find various links, including  Hugh D. McKellar, a Canadian hymnologist, who published an article, in 1979 – “How to Decode the Twelve Days of Christmas”.  He suggested that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” lyrics were intended as a catechism song to help young Catholics learn their faith, at a time when practising Catholicism was criminalised in England (1558 until 1829).  This hypothesis has now been found to be incorrect!  So who knows?

So, I’m going to stop at:

Seven Swans A-Swimming

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…seven swans-a-swimming.”

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Seven Swans a-Swimming – well a pair of adults and their 5 cygnets. Swans mate for life.

Swans are one of the most charismatic birds. Their graceful flight and peaceful beauty as they glide across the water have inspired humans to find spiritual meaning in them. Iron Age Britons, eighth century BC and later, considered them supernatural. Mute swans are the traditional birds of folklore. Although migratory, they became semi-domesticated in Britain by the 10th century.

Richard the Lionhearted is often credited with bringing swans to England on his return from the Crusades in the 12th century, but some documentation shows swans being kept as far back as 966, during the reign of King Edgar.

It was in the 12th century that the Crown claimed ownership of all swans. In the 15th century, swan ownership was shared with the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Companies. That continues today, with an annual ceremony called Swan Upping, in which cygnets, baby swans, are captured, weighed, checked for health problems, banded and released.

So, the 12 Days of Christmas meaning behind Seven Swans-A-Swimming would have had royal as well as spiritual connotations.

In the 17th century, Mute Swans were semi-domesticated in England. In the Netherlands, they were farmed, for their down, their meat and as ornamental birds, according to Sylvia Bruce Wilmore, in her book, Swans of the World.  In the Netherlands, those practices continued until after World War II.  Because all swans in England belong officially to the Royal Family, swans given as gifts would have been marked on the upper part of their bills. Their markings identified the person who had responsibility for them and thus could benefit from them. Marks date back to 1370.

Today in the U.S., migratory waterfowl are protected by state and federal laws. Permits are required to keep wild birds legally. If you are in any doubt about birds you are considering acquiring, check with the state department of fish and game, parks and wildlife or natural resources.

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Mute swan (Cygnus olor) spreading its wings. photo by Adrian Pingstone

Mute swans are controversial residents along the East Coast, where they have displaced local Trumpeter swans. Mute swans have been acquired as decorative waterfowl for parks and estates, but easily escape and become feral. They are now regarded as unwanted invaders, trashing the fragile wetland habitat in which they live and chasing out native birds. To avoid those problems, the state of New Hampshire requires by law that Mute swans be pinioned, an operation done on young cygnets to remove the distal joint of the wing, making flight impossible. They retain their mythic grip on people, touching the hearts of those who glimpse them gliding across a misty lake. This dichotomy confounds wetlands managers who want at least to control Mute Swans, if not eliminate them entirely.

“They are a beautiful form of biological pollution,” said Jonathan McKnight, associate director for habitat conservation at Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources. Others disagree, citing Mute Swans’ circumpolar migratory route, and claim that they have a historic presence in North America.

Current wildlife control professionals hunt them to reduce the population, which has been successful. Tundra and Trumpeter Swans are unquestionably native birds to North America. They remain protected. (I have added the paragraph below, as well as all the pictures of Swans)

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3 Trumpeter Swans flying

Trumpeter swan, Black-billed species (Cygnus cygnus buccinator) of swan, named for its far-carrying, low-pitched call. About 6 ft (1.8 m) long, with a 10-ft (3-m) wingspan, it is the largest swan, though it weighs less than the mute swan. Once threatened with extinction (fewer than 100 were counted in the U.S. in 1935), it has made a strong comeback; though still listed as vulnerable, its population in western Canada and the northwestern U.S. now exceeds 5,000.

 

I haven’t found any evidence that swans were ever raised commercially in North America. They are wild birds, the largest flying bird, and formidable aggressors willing to protect their nests. Swans-A-Swimming remain a lovely image, but one not practical for domestic production.

I hope you have enjoyed this series and maybe even learnt something useful! Please do leave a comment and let me know what you think!

 

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The Twelve Days of Christmas: Part 7 – 6 Geese A-Laying

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12DaysChristmasBIRDS-1Exploring the 12 Days of Christmas History and Life in the 18th Century  

By Christine Henrichs – originally published in Backyard Poultry Magazine (2013)

This is part of a series I have been running over the Christmas Holidays – see Part 1

Six Geese A-Laying

Geese certainly were part of English and French life in the 16th century and long before. Geese have been hunted and tamed and domesticated since the early days of settled agricultural life. West of England Geese, also known as Old English geese, may well be the breed that came over with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower. They were an important American regional breed, particularly in New England.

Goose is the traditional festive bird for the holiday feast. When raising geese for meat, it’s important to note that geese do not thrive in the intense husbandry conditions of modern agriculture, so they are not as plentiful as they were in the 18th century when every farm had some. Most American cooks have never roasted one, so recipes have disappeared. Prominent chef Nigella Lawson is a champion of goose. Because they are waterfowl, they have a layer of fat under the skin. When you roast goose, it naturally bastes itself. The fat is flavorful and can be used to toast vegetables and other meats. Food critic Bonny Wolf calls goose fat “the creme de la creme of fat.”

The two main types of domestic geese are those descended from the European Grey Lag Goose and those from the Asian Swan Goose. The European line gives us the domestic Embdens, Toulouse and all their American descendants, such as Pilgrim Geese. The Asian line gives us the African and China breeds, with their distinctive knobs.

Wild geese have lived closely with humans for centuries. Even as little as a century ago, they were maintained as semi-wild livestock in England. Villagers let their geese forage and live on the River Cam. The geese spent the spring and summer on the village green, then migrated to the river for the winter.

In February, the owners would call their geese, which responded to their voices and returned home to nest and rear their young. Those offspring were a significant contribution to the villagers’ income. Those Geese A-Laying were valued not only for the eggs themselves, but for the additional birds into which the eggs would hatch.

Despite centuries of domestication, geese remain seasonal egg layers. (In fact, it seems that most Geese aren’t actually laying this early.) Some modern breeds such as the China goose have been selected for laying, bringing their production of eggs up to 70 or more annually. Some breeds of ducks have become more productive egg layers with selective breeding over time.

The eggs are reputed to be superior for baking. The albumen is thicker than that of chicken eggs, making it unsuitable for whipping into meringue. The higher fat content of the yolk makes them desirable for baking. The good news about having Geese A-Laying would be that the goslings would soon follow. Geese are excellent parents and protectively raise their young.

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geese with goslings

The Gift of 6 Geese a Laying would have been quite valuable! This is a picture I found of two Canada Geese looking after 40 goslings on the Thames in Reading .

Grahame Madge of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: ‘Canada geese are well known for forming creches.  You tend to get them in areas where you have quite a large number of nesting geese in a small area. The broods get mixed up and you get a few adults looking after a large number of goslings.’
Canada geese were introduced here in the 17th century.
Like swans, they are monogamous and will only seek out a new mate if their partner dies.

Although so-called geese ‘creches’ – where the offspring of different parents get mixed up – are fairly common, experts say this is one of the largest and most understaffed they have seen.

10% OFF EVERTHING in my Etsy Shop

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My “12 days of Christmas Sale” has started in my ETSY SHOP

As I explained in my last post, its actually 10 days and goes on until 3 January.

All my listings have been reduced by 10% for this period, and there is no need to add any secret code to get the discount – you will see the usual price and the sale price on the listing – so just buy anything you want NOW!  If you want to just browse, do ‘favourite’ any items you are interested in, so you can find them easily when you have made your decision.

Below is a small selection of the listings – there are over 100 of them – so you might well find something you didn’t know I sold! click here for my Etsy Shop.

I am aware that many of you are not registered with Etsy, but you can have a look without registering, and can buy as a visitor if you don’t want to give them all your information!  The sale does not apply to any listings I have on ebay, and in any case, I think all of them have just expired, and will be renewed after 3 January, or not at all!

Apologies to anyone looking for the Mawata Silk Hankies, they have been the most popular item ever since I got back to selling – I have run out of stock – and couldn’t find anymore on my suppliers list either.  I hope to re-stock as soon as possible.

I’m just listening to Radio 4 as I write this and it turns out that I am not the only person doing a little series on the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CAROL!  They are doing the 12 tweets of Christmas – also on birds!  If you want to listen to them, I’m sure they will be on the Radio iPlayer page of the BBC website.

I will, I hope, finally get round to writing the next episode of the series tomorrow – on the Three French Hens! If you want to see The Partridge in a Pear Tree post, click here!