I’m just back from a little trip in Brittany (France). The reason was to attend a family reunion. Every 2 years, families from my dad’s side who live all over France meet up for a 4 day long week-end. It is a nice time for all of us to catch up with each other and spend a bit of time together. Not everyone can come as it is impossible to agree on a date when everyone is availabe. This time, there were about 50 of us. We usually rent a whole gite (self catering accomodation) and this time we rented the Maison Familiale Rural de Rumengol.

20150509_160354This is the building where the bedrooms were. Each room is for 2 persons. I love that wooden facade.

20150509_160240The view from the bedrooms.

20150509_160325One of the dining rooms is in that lower building.


dining roomThere were lots of people I haven’t seen in ages. I took this picture just before we went for a walk in the nearby forest.

20150509_160552We also went to the nearby beach in Saint Nic (a shortwhile drive from the Maison familiale).


20150509_17111520150509_182606It was so lovely to see everyone after a long time and I really enjoy those kind of areas in France (the countryside, beach towns and little villages). I hope to go back soon.

PS: I just found out that my 14 years cousin Irina has a blog (in french with a bit of english) since she was 11. You can read it here:

I’ll be back soon with lots of pictures of the garden.


Handmade phone case giveaway winner & cookbooks organisation

Congratulations to Hanta Ralay, you have won a handmade case for your Iphone 5. I have sent you an email requesting your address so will post your prize once I have your address. I don’t have a malagasy fabric, so will make it with another fabric that has a malagasy style to it.

There was only one participant so I will keep the remaining 2 cases for another giveaway in the future.

On the home front, I have been itching to do some organising. I have lots of books and they are all over the place. I started with my cookbooks, I like to browse them on the sofa so it made sense to have them all near the sofa. I have a Leksvik coffee table from Ikea which is perfect for the job. It was originally in a plain dark wood colour so I painted it pearly purple. My partner added some castor so that the table is easy to move around when needed.

ikea leksvik coffe tableThese are close ups of the books if you are curious:

cookbooks 1They are loosely organised by genre.

cookbooks 2I left one slot for snacks.

cookbooks 3I also have my vitamins and herbal supplemetns in the red box, and below that are my diaries, notebooks and gardening catalogues.

cookbooks 4Next, I want to tackle my gardening books but I don’t know where to put them yet!

Win a custom made russian doll case for your phone

Hi everyone! I took some time off blogging as the recent months have been quite hectic for me. I spent most of december in France, to attend my sister’s funeral and to spend some time with my family. I didn’t close my shops while I was away, so then spend most of january catching up on december’s orders. Thank you so much to those of you who have been very patient with your orders.

Today, I have 3 custom made russian doll cases to give away, one per winner. You can use it as a phone case or a purse or a business cards holder/case. I made the one in the picture to fit a Samsung phone. The one you will win, will be custom made for your phone, so you need to let me know the name/model of your phone. If you don’t like the russian doll fabric, you can ask me to make it in a different/surprise fabric.

handmadewithjoy phone caseTo win one of those cases, please visit my etsy shop and let me know (in a comment here) what you think I should make and sell that is not already in my shop. Don’t forget to put in the comment the name/model of your phone in case you win, and wether you want your case made with the russian doll fabric in the picture or a different/surprise fabric. The giveaway is open to anyone worldwide, the 1st person to leave a comment will automatically win, and I will draw 2 winners among all the other participants on March 11th (the giveaway is open till March 10th 2015 12pm GMT time).

If you’d rather buy one for you or for someone else as a gift, you can find it in my shop here:

Good luck!

My sister Andrianina

My sister Andrianina recently graduated to the spirit world. She was highly educated with several master’s degrees and several post-graduate degrees (mathematics and statistics were her favourite studies), and she was also a spiritual person with a belief/interest in the spirit world so I think that she would approve of the term “graduating to the spirit world”. I miss her physical human side, but I also know that her spirit lives on and that she is in a wonderful place now. andrianina2andrianina5andrianina6andrianina8This quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D. sums perfectly what my sister Andrianina and I believe in:  “Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.”

Small business talk: bigcartel shop review

If you regularly read my blog, you know that I opened a bigcartel shop in January 2014. Bigcartel has 4 pricing plans depending on how many items you want to have in your shop.

bicartel pricing plansI was on the Diamond plan which allows you to have up to 100 items for sale in your shop and costs $19.99 per month, payable by paypal. This monthly payment is the only fee you pay as they don’t charge any final value sale’s fee.

I was very excited when I opened this shop, as I liked the shop design (you have a choice of different templates to chose from in order to customise your shop), but best of all I thought that I would save money as I would only have to pay a monthly fee and not pay an final value sale’s fee. It seemed like a great idea at the time.

10 months down the line, I have decided today to downgrade my shop to the Gold pricing plan which is completely FREE but only allows you to have up to 5 items in your shop. I could have completely closed down the shop but why not keep it with its 5 items in it, it is free after all.

I have come to the conclusion that bigcartel does not work for me. I don’t do much marketing or advertising for my shop, so the only traffic that I get is via my blog, a bit from google and a bit from the bigcartel directory. You can see this in my shop dashboard below (screenshot taken before I downgraded):

Their dashboard is really great as you can clearly see what items get the most click on, what customers are searching to buy, and how do they find youbigcartel shop dashboard.

In 10 months, I only got 3 sales from the shop for a total of about £60 (or $96). Yes, you read that right, it is pathetic, given that I have paid about $200 in shop fee. I often redirected new customers and repeat buyers to the bigcartel shop (with a promise of a free delivery or a discount code) but no they still went ahead and bought either via my etsy shop or directly from me. So that is why I have given up on bigcartel.

These are the 5 remaining items in my bigcartel shop. They were the most viewed items in the shop.

handamadewithjoy shop bigcartel

This is just my experience with bigcartel. I know some sellers who get lots of sale from their bigcartel shop, so I am not discouraging anyone to give it a try. Do you have a bigcartel shop? If yes, what is your experience with it?

Spice storage in a small kitchen

I like to cook and bake and therefore like to have lots of different ingredients ready to be used. But my kitchen is small, I don’t have a proper pantry (only a pink ikea bookcase cupboard that I use as a pantry), so my kitchen does look cluttered.

pink ikea bookcase pantryMy spices were not efficiently organised. First they were in plastic containers, I put 2 of those containers on the ikea varde shelving (only the spices I used often), and the rest inside my pantry:

ikea kitchen shelfThen I added 2 more little shelves (ikea forhoja) underneath the varde shelving so was able to put some of them there. That was a better solution, but still, I could only put like half of them there and they were cluttered:

ikea varde kitchen shelvingSo I looked for a better solution and found this 4 tier spice rack on amazon, I just love it, the quality is great, the price is very affordable and it only took a couple of minutes to install (you don’t even need a power tool to install this). My spices are now organised by alphabetical name and they are easy to access. We put ours on the back door of an upper cabinet. The only little problem is that I should have bought the 5 tier one as I have so many spices I need an extra tier.

spice storage for small kitchenI don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago. This spurred me to spend more time decluttering my kitchen this week. Do you have a small kitchen? How do you organise it so that it looks nice and not cluttered?