Graze snacks summertime range review

I am participating in the Graze Summertime challenge and have been sent their new summertime range to try and wanted to share my review with you. To be honest, this is not the 1st time that I am trying Graze snacks as I used to subscribe and have them delivered at work when I used to work in an office. I like them a lot, as they are convenient and handy. It was really great to always have some healthy snack at work.

graze snacksI really like that each pack now displays either the calory or protein content. I try to eat more protein (as I don’t eat much meat) but never know if I am eating enough protein everyday, so it is useful to know how much extra protein I get when eating one the Graze snacks.

Each individual pack is enough for one serving (although, sometimes I feel greedy and eat 2 packs!) and some are more fullfilling that others. For example, the flapjack is very satisfying as a snack when I am really hungry but other packs like the summertime punch are lighter and are good for nibbling on in between meals.

There is quite a large choice to chose from (over 100) and at the moment you can get your 1st box at half price:

The Graze snacks are great for instant gratification. But, I also buy other seeds, nuts and dried fruits in bulk, which I use for cooking and baking. I organise them in glass jars on an ikea shelf (yes, I know that nuts are better stored in the fridge but I have no space left in the fridge and I eat them up quickly).

nuts dry fruits kombuchaDisclaimer: I received the Graze snacks in the picture for free but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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?

Review of Seams to me book by Anna Maria Horner

I love Anna Maria Horner, her fabrics, her blog, her creativity and was very excited to hear that she wrote a new sewing book. Now, other fabric designers before her already published some very nice books so I had very high expectations for Anna Maria’s one (you know, wondering if she was going to offer some fresh new projects, and if I will learn something new from the book). I was delighted, I love it so much I had to write this review even though I have millions more urgent things to do right now. You can click on each picture to see a larger version of it.

What I liked:

* The spiral format of the book makes it easy to use

* There are 24 projects, most of them are fresh (not a rehash of projects already in other books or readily available online), there are 10 paper patterns (ready to be cut as they are printed on one side only). The projects are varied: for your sewing room, bags, home deco projects, women clothing, kids clothing, quilt, wall hanging art, baby toy, even one project for your pet etc

* The book is a visual feast, very enjoyable to browse through with lots of bright and cheerful colours

* The book is very comprehensive. You will learn how to set up your sewing space, what tools are really worth having, she offers useful tips that I have not seen in other similar books, there is even a lesson on colour combination based on saturation. I love this book because Anna Maria somehow, through what she is generously sharing in this book, has inspired me to be more creative in my sewing process. She is inspiring me to think/act/create as a designer/artist and not just a seamstress.

* I like the fact that she used other designers’ fabrics in addition to her own, so the book is not a marketing book for her fabric lines.

* The tutorials are very well explained, and for each project she add a litte “color notes” where she explains why she chose that print and colour (it’s like an insider tip on how designers select fabrics for their projects)

What I didn’t like:

* A very few projects are already familiar to me (like the cozy cube)

* I would have loved to see full pictures of her studio

To recap, it’s a very good book, worth having even if you already have all the other fabric designers books (Amy Butler etc).

Fancy sewing something from the book right now? Click here to to go to the publisher’s site where you can download (pdf format) the free tutorial for the doodad pillow project from the book.