Magazine interview

BIENVENUE A TOUS LES NOUVEAUX LECTEURS FRANCAIS.

I have been lucky again, as I was recently interviewed by a french magazine, called Coudre c’est facile (it means Sewing is easy). My feature is 2 whole pages in the May/June 2014 edition of Coudre c’est facile magazine (page 40 and 41). I have been asked about how to get a feature in magazines so I will share how it happened to me (for all my press features up to today: book and magazines).

coudre c'est facile magazineI don’t contact journalists, they do contact me. They usually find me via one of my shops: via my etsy shop for the feauture in Quick & Crafty magazine, via my folksy shop for the book Handmade Gifts, and via my dawanda shop for Coudre c’est facile magazine. So for those of you who are making and selling handmade items, my advice is to sell via etsy/folksy/dawanda as that is where journalists go and look for items or sellers/bloggers to feature in their magazines. It is really worth having those shops. Even if I don’t sell much via them (most of my sales are direct sales – meaning most buyers buy from me directly rather than via those shops), I will always keep those shops.

french press featureYou don’t get paid for magazine features like this. But it is a good exposure for you as a blogger or for your shop/brand. In terms of revenue, I don’t get much sales from them as these magazines are for people who already sew (so I am assuming, that if they like something I make they would rather sew it themselves instead of buying it from me). But still, it is wonderful to be in a magazine and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

lova in french magazineFor this feature, the journalist sent me a serie of questions to be answered by email and also requested pictures. She then wrote the feature about me, so the text is by her and the photos are by me. I am really happy with what she wrote as she managed to beautifully  convey what I wrote in my answers. The magazine is french so it is sold in all french speaking countries (including Canada) but you can also find it in the international section of your magazine/bookshops such as Borders etc if you don’t live in a french speaking country.

handmade with joy in the pressThis feature prompted me to revamp my blog, it is not finished yet but I’ve made a good start. It’s a bit time consuming as I do it all by myself but it is not complicated (wordpress makes it easy for anyone to update or change the look of their blogs). I much prefer it to the old design. What do you think? Do you like it? I still need to add some pages at the top menu (press features, blog links, etc) and I need to update the about me page and the FAQ page. I also want to add a special page for french readers.

I know I said that I will do a giveaway when this magazine is out, I haven’t forgotten about it so will organise that for my next post.

 

 

Garden photos

Some pictures of the garden this spring.

Mid march:

We had a mild winter so the bottlebrush plant stayed green all winter long (it lost all its leaves last winter), I hope it is going to flower this summer.

bottlebrush plant

The unknown plum tree is the 1st fruit tree to flower in my garden. The olive tree also stayed green and healthy all winter long.

plum and olive trees

This week in april:

In the side yard:

One of the peony trees have 6 lovely flowers.

peony tree

The dwarf lilac is starting to flower.

dwarf lilac

3 Honeyberry plants, they have finished flowering and I can see small green fruits now (they turn blue/purple and are ready to eat in june, they taste like blueberry with honey).

honeyberry

A corner of the side yard with the pink magnolia tree (underplanted with swiss chards), I still have lots of deadheading and weeding to do!

magnolia tree

Front garden:

The lovely blossom of the japanese cherry tree. This tree is bang in the middle of my potager and really needs to be moved.

japanese cherry tree

Back garden:

This is the corner with the red flesh apple tree which is just starting to flower. I’ve planted a few things around it last year and want to make a border out of that area up to the rose arch as it is just mainly gravel at this time. I have no design nor plant combination in mind yet so will wait for inspiration to come.

garden corner

The japanese acer on the patio looks lovely already.

japanese acer

This is the small raised bed in the area where the peach tree/kiwi/raspberry plants are. I’ve planted some wallflower there with tulips (just poking out) and a new (to me) perennial geranium plant that I’ve grown from seed, I can’t wait to see it flower in summer. What look like odd things on top of the soil are egg shells and oat straw (the bits left over after I’ve made an oat straw infusion drink for me).

small raised bed

The cherry tree with all its lovely blossoms.

cherry tree

And finally a corner of the gravel area in the backgarden.

back garden gravel area

That’s it for now. I’ve just received my copy of Coudre c’est facile (a fab french sewing magazine) where there is 2 pages about me so stay tuned as I will blog about that next time.

Russian doll makeup bag winners

Thank you so much to those who participated in the russian doll pouch giveaway.

The winners are: Ana M, yeahitsthaat, and Sarah.

I’ve sent each of you an email, so please reply with your address so that I can post your prize.

I’ve been interviewed by a french magazine recently, so will do another giveaway once that magazine is out. In the meantime, I am busy sowing seeds and planting in the garden. The back garden is full of tulips this year so I dared cut some for the house.

tulips muscari

This week I am:

* reading Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year by Susun Weed

* finally working on the side yard mini orchard, so far I have planted 3 fruit trees there and have 4 more to plant

* doing some research about natural pain relief,  I would like to try cramp bark and skullcap in tincture form. Do you have any experience with those? any other that you can recommend?

Russian doll makeup bag giveaway

I’m very excited this week as the ad i bought on Nataliecreates blog is now live. It’s been up for 2 days now and there are lots of viewers but only a few clicks, which apparently is normal as the number of click is usually less than 1% of the number of views (according to Passionfruitads). Still, it is an experiment and at only $10 for a month, it is worth trying. I actually had not planned to buy an ad at all but I love Natalie’s blog and when she started offerings ads, I jumped on the chance. I figured that her readers are my target customers so I went for it without any hesitation.

passionfruitad

I used the picture on the back of my new business cards for the banner ad, and made it smaller by using this free imageoptimizer as the banner size had to be 250×125. The picture/banner looks ok on a tablet but does not look sharp enough when viewed on a laptop or desktop, so I think for next time I will need to either use a picture that is already small so it does not lose its sharp quality, or better still I should create a proper banner with my business name on it.

Another thing that I did this week is to test the usability of my blog via Peek. I first read about it on Whileshenaps blog: Peek offers a free 5 minutes video of someone using your site and giving their feedback about it. So I submitted my blog and was impressed by the service, it was very quick and did I say it’s free. Click on the picture below if you would like to view my Peek video (once there you will need to click on the green play button for the video to start):

peek madebylova blog

What do you think? Do you agree with the feedback? I think that she was right in some ways, I need to put a sub heading under my blog title, so that people know what this blog is about straight away (something like: this is a blog about gardening, sewing and running a handmade business), and I also need to put a picture of me on the About Me Page. So those are my tasks for april: improving this blog by making it clearer and less confusing.

Now let’s talk about the giveaway. I recently partnered with one of my favourite bloggers to offer a giveaway on her blog, but the whole thing has been postponed so I decided to do the giveaway on my blog instead. I am offering 3 russian doll pouches, one per winner so I will select 3 winners randomly. All you have to do is check out my main shop and tell me – by leaving a comment here – what is your favourite item in the shop. The giveaway is open till April 3rd midnight (GMT time). It is open to anyone anywhere in the world. This is the picture of the pouch, it can be used as a pencil case but most of my customers use it as a makeup bag. I am offering this particular design as it is the most viewed item in my main shop. The giveaway is for the pouch only, the makeup products in the pictures are not included.

russian doll pencil case

Good luck, and if you would like to partner with me for a mutual giveaway on your blog and mine, please do contact me as I am looking for mutually beneficial blogging partnerships (just leave a comment and I will email you back).

To add a COMMENT (enter the giveaway), please click on “Comment” at the bottom of the post.

 

 

 

 

Fruit trees for a small garden

I love fruit trees. Most of them are easy to grow and give you fruits that taste so much better than those you can buy in the supermaket. Having a small garden does not stop me from wanting to plant more, and I am now looking to buy an asian or japanese plum tree, maybe a Plum Beauty:

Beauty plum fruit treePhoto of Plum Beauty from Saundersallotment

Do any of you grow asian/japanese plum trees? Do they do well in a small garden?

One of my favourite trees in the back garden is the peach tree, I got it from Aldi and am very happy about it except that it gets the leaf curl disease every year. I have restrained myself from treating it but this year I decided to spray it with a bordeaux mixture. You can see it below last year in june, with no much leaves as I had to get rid of the diseased ones. I hope I will get lots of fruits from it this year.

peach tree with leaf curl disease june 2013

I’m currently reading Adventures in Consciousness by Jane Roberts and love this Sumari poem of hers which reminds me of all my fruit trees:

Song of the pear tree

The pear tree grows from the sweet pits of your feelings,

Sunken in the secret ground of your being

It grows in the silence of atoms and evening.

It grows in the knowledge of your unknowing

And blossoms in the clear air of your morning.

The pear tree stands dazzling and glowing,

The fruit of your love made living.

A gift of the seasons from the orchard of feeling,

The atom’s love multiplied.

Each leaf sings your praises.

The air is your breath through which each leaf dances

As your love climbs the steps of your spine

And blossoms in syllables and images,

So your love flows, invisible, outside the window,

And rushes up hollow paths of air.

Your love charms the trees into growing

And carves living plants out of unknowing.

The pear tree and all trees grow from the trance of your love.

silk peony flower

The garden is starting to show some flowers. The plum tree (unknown variety from Homebase that was supposed to be an apricot tree) is the first to start blossoming this week. And then there are purple crocuses, pink and purple anemones, hellebores and some orange calendula. The peony trees are also starting to leaf up, I can’t wait to see their blooms but in the meantime I have silk peonies in my living room.

Shop news:

Handmadewithjoy on bigartel is back to offering paypal payments as I was not happy with some aspects of the direct checkout by Stripe (mainly that the checkout says “shipping will apply” even though I offer free shipping, I thought that this may have put some buyers off). The free worldwide shipping will stop at the end of february so hurry up if you would like to buy something with free shipping. I am working on a flat rate shipping that will take effect from March.

I’ve bought an ad on Natalie Creates blog. I’m so excited by this as it is my very 1st ad, the ad runs for a month from march 25th, and it is for my etsy shop.

This is the new gift box for necklaces and earrings/necklaces sets in the shop. I quite like it but I am still looking for a matching box just for the earrings.

gift box melody note necklace earrings

Do you know any supplier for jewellery gift boxes that you can recommend?

New Sleeve Cover for MacBook Air in russian doll fabric

After some requests for custom made Sleeve Cover for MacBook Air, I though I would offer it in my shop. It is now listed in all my shops,  for both the MacBook Air 11.6″ and 13.3″. It can be made in any fabric you want (russian doll, liberty, kaffe fassett etc). You can see pictures of fabrics available in my flickr photo gallery (in the 4 folders called FABRICS FOR CUSTOM ORDERS).

You can still get free worldwide shipping in my main shop.

Or you can buy it here if you would like to pay in dollars.

cover sleeve macbook air russian doll fabric

cover sleeve for macbook air matryoshka fabric

Other shop news: I have decided to offer direct checkout in my bigcartel shop. For buyers, this means that you will be able to pay with any direct debit card or credit card. If however you prefer to pay by paypal, then you need to contact me with the details of the item you want to buy and I will email you a paypal invoice which you can then pay.

This week I will be:

* sewing a batch of new large cosmetic toiletry bags

* reviewing my business and production plan

* making time to bake biscuits and muffins

Aldi fruit trees 2014 rootstock

As you may know, Aldi is selling some fruit trees this week. I have bought some from them in the past (peach, cherry, apple, pear, plums) and have been happy about their quality. I have also bought other trees from other suppliers, some costing 10 times more than the Aldi ones. In my experience, the Aldi fruit trees are as good as the more expensive ones, so I went and bought 2 more Aldi trees this week (czar and opal plums). The labels on my trees say that they will grow up to 3 metres. I’ve temporarily planted them in a 55cm pot until my garden buddy is able to come to help me plant them in the ground.

aldi fruit trees

I know that a lot of people with small gardens or allotments want to know what rootstock are used on the Aldi trees, so I contacted them and this is their answer (unedited):

Apples, – These will be budded onto a “M26” rootstock, which will fruit earlier.

Cherry, – These are budded on to “Colt” rootstock which has uniformed growth pattern, it is semi vigorous and will not grow too large.

Pear, – These are budded on to a “Quince A” rootstock which is a virus free example.. Williams Pear – Pyrus Communis

Plums, – Will be budded onto a “St Julian A” root stock or a “Myrobolane” root stock these are virus free and semi vigorous growing.

I will grow my trees as standard and will prune them if they get to big. While looking for ideas on how to fit more trees in a small garden, I stumbled upon the picture below (the fruit trees used in the picture are from Lidl, so I am sure that you can also get the same results with Aldi trees). I would love to do this somewhere in my front garden.

criss cross cordon fruit treesPhoto via www.pinterest.com/pin/134545107591887908

In my own garden, I finished weeding the front garden and have planted lots of tulip bulbs there. There is still lots of tidying up to do in the side yard and back garden, and I am going to start sowing seeds indoor this week-end.

On the sewing side, I finally sewed a cover for my sewing business diary/planner. It’s an A4 size and I used a fabric called Giverny Wildflowers (by Kate Spain/Moda) for the outside, and the lining is made with a paisley fabric (by Wendy Bentley/Timeless Treasures). If you fancy sewing one for yourself, there is a very good tutorial on Lara Cameron Design Blog.

handmade sewing diary planner cover sewing diary planner cover

By the way, thank you so much to those who have ordered from my new shop. You can still get free delivery this month. I’ve set up the shop to have prices in pounds but I am now wondering if I should change them to dollars as a good majority of my customers are international. Also, payment is processed by paypal but I wonder if I should sign up to direct checkout which only accepts debit and credit cards. For those who have a bigcartel shop, do you have any advices for me regarding those 2 issues? For my etsy shop, direct checkout and paypal are offered and I have noticed that most buyers use the direct checkout.

I’m also in the process of re-working my packaging, and have ordered some new business cards from Overnightprints. I’ve used Vistaprint and Moo before, but found out that Overnightprints offer better prices, I paid £32.16 (VAT and shipping included) for 500 double side cards. I am very happy with the quality of the cards.

business cards handmadewithjoy business card

This week, I have enjoyed:

* watching Sean’s allotment garden 2013 movie on youtube

* reading Creating Money by Sanaya Roman

*doing a meditation on magnetizing business for self employed people by Orin / Sanaya Roman