Education, Uncategorized

My first festival

Festivals are exciting! For some it’s an experience to look forward to and for others it’s a step outside of the comfort zone, for me it was somewhere in between. I was nervous due to the lack of communication from the organisers, I didn’t know what to expect other than a field, which was in a very windy part of the country, with people whom I did not know. What I do know, is that it was an amazing experience and one I’m keen to repeat… Next time will be different… Next time I will be prepared and here is how…

My first festival was a serious learning curve, for the most part I was huddled up trying to preserve heat, with large bulky layers leaving little room for manoeuvre and despite many comments from bemused festival goers I was far from warm… As this was a working weekend we knew that our equipment would be put to the ultimate test. End result one dead gazebo, frost bite *** (perhaps a slight exaggeration on my part), an abundance of truly wonderful people, willing to help the newbies out, hey it wasn’t that long ago that they were in our position and I now know what to take to help others like us, taking those first tentative steps into unmarked territory.

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It wasn’t all bad, for starters we got the tables right, we got the table cloths so right that they were complimented by veteran festival goers, our set up was eye catching, with different heights to give potential customers and browsers different area’s to focus on, we had small change, we had business cards and most importantly we had a smile, despite the cold, it was difficult not to smile. Here we were at a Beltane fire festival, going back to basics with like minded people, starting our days with mindfulness exercises, surrounded by bright hippie clothing, ukulele and guitar playing, singer songwriters all to keen to share their talent, which was amazing around the fire each night.

Our clothing needed some serious reconsideration, base layers and thermals are an absolute must, especially when your festival is in the UK and in April, we are off to Iceland next year and plan to build all of our kit around arctic conditions, the UK can’t beat us, next time we will be snug as a bug, so crack out the snoods, insulated boots, long johns, pixie hats and cloak (yes, serious cloak envy at this event, they have sooo many uses, amazing idea, pretty and warm, and let’s face it, who hasn’t on some level wished for a good excuse to own a cape, without having to keep it a secret for fear of being considered a weirdo).

Our gazebo is a story in it’s own right, it was clear we had made a rooky mistake as soon as we put it up, fortunately a more seasoned stallholder could see our mistake and kindly loaned us a couple of ratchet straps and dog tie out stakes to secure (a must have for all stalls) without these I am convinced that we would have lost said gazebo well before the final day. I’m sure that this delightful structure would be perfect in a back garden and a great choice for an afternoon tea party, however for coastal areas, prone to high winds, this is not the way to go. We decided to try and glean as much information and advice from the seasoned pros as possible and here is our top list of must have accessories.

Batteries… For when you’re all prepared with torches, only to find that the batteries are dead… Yes personal experience taught us this.

Head light… For going to the toilet at night, it’s difficult enough for us women to hover in such a small space, add in the bulky layers and feeling like the abominable snowman, whilst trying to hold a phone with a torch app in your mouth sounds entertaining but in reality a head torch would have made life that huge bit easier.

A workspace… I do not recommend a gazebo, options are vast and are dependent on finances. A day tent would certainly work for soft surfaces, as would a tunnel tent, which would give you the option of having your sleeping quarters in the same structure as your shop, meaning you don’t need to pack up each day. Gala tents are one of the more expensive options, however they are solid and with extra ratchets to secure it down, you can rest easily knowing nothing is going to get blown away., or collapse.

Here is a list of little odds and sods, that can really make the difference, sadly I didn’t have all of these, but I’ll be sure to take them next time.

  • Cable ties

  • Duct tape

  • Tarpaulin to throw over stock should the conditions change, or just a little added extra protection overnight.

  • Blankets

  • Capes… Capes are cool, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, they double up for extra bedding too, win win.

  • Loo roll

  • Lip balm

  • SPF for summer festivals

  • Thermal clothing / Thin layers

  • A woolly hat in case you didn’t go for a cape

  • Gloves

  • Snood / Scarf

  • Lighter / Matches

  • Folding chairs

  • Tin opener

  • Dining equipment for the luxury festival experience; pans, gas, cutlery, paper plates are awesome.

  • Water carrier

  • Bedding

  • Tent

  • Cash

  • Bin bags

  • Wet wipes

  • Ear plugs if you’re looking for some sleep, maybe push the boat out and grab an eye mask.

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There you have it, a list that may not be fully completed yet, but I sure wish I’d had some of these items, especially the cape, a nice lined one, with a hood to hide under whilst watching the flames of the fire dancing in the night sky.

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Education, Uncategorized

Is the education system failing our kids

I’m sitting here wondering how my beautiful children are doing on their SATS tests, I have explained to them that these tests are to measure schools performances and not their own, that yes they need to work hard at school and learn to the best of their abilities, but that all people, regardless of age, are individuals and we should be celebrating that rather than testing their academic abilities just to appease a governmental departments annual statistics.

I mean, what good is English literature to an athlete? Their focus will be on sports and maybe nutrition, what good is sports to a historian, science to a future entrepreneur, maths to an artist? The point is we are all different and perhaps our outdated school system needs to start reflecting this, rather than labelling all children as a statistic and teaching a curriculum, which is about as outdated as the dinosaurs.

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The current educational system covers one area, academia. What about life skills, how to run a household, how to deal with difficult situations, we have geography but aren’t taught to read a map, we have religious education but religions like paganism, “The old religion” are missed out entirely, clearly nothing came before Christianity.

If we wanted to test the effectiveness of heart surgeons, would we place the patients under inordinate amounts of stress to see if the surgeon was capable? No, we wouldn’t, because we would be risking lives. The surgeon would have undergone many years of education, training and observing prior to gaining their right to practice, this training although mandatory in this particular field and rightly so, isn’t for everyone, imagine if schools only taught us the skills to become a heart surgeon, how would this impact our kids mental health? My son, the future songwriter, my daughter, a future devoted teacher, who will be teaching the same curriculum that she learnt some 20 years ago. The world around us is fast paced yet our education is static and to add insult to injury, they test our kids, put them under huge pressure and for what? Figures, statistics!

How about teaching compassion? Nursery aged children are taught to share and to be kind to the other children, what lessons on compassion are taught to our children as they grow? A few posters dotted around, reminding one another to be kind to each other, is it enough, personally I don’t think it is. How about anger and emotional control? If you get angry you lash out and get punished, how about trying to find out why the child is angry, teach them how to take control of their emotions? Teach them to breath through it, teach them meditation and how to quiet their minds so they can be clear headed and focused, as this has more benefit than being punished time after time.

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A system update is well overdue, schools are the perfect platform to equip our kids with the tools they need as an adult, how to have a handle on life. Algebra and English literature, Romeo and Juliet still play a prominent part in the educational system, how exactly will this teach our kids? When they are 30 years old, will the lesson of Romeo and Juliet be more memorable than current politics and what opportunities politics can present when used with compassion, will it be more memorable than being taught how to breath through anger, to recognise when they are being taken advantage of, to know their self worth and the most important one, will it teach them that they are individuals and that their quirks define them as a person, that by being different to others is perfectly acceptable and there is no shame in that.

SATs have no place in our kids lives, they simply cause stress that children of this age shouldn’t have to encounter, not to mention the stress on the teachers who also have no faith and no say in the education system…. It’s time to coach and grow our youth, to teach them how to actually live a fulfilling life without the fear of being judged because someone is academically more advanced, measuring against statistics set out by politicians who have no respect for anyone, let alone our kids, after all it’s not like they are an important asset in our future, they’re just kids, how important could a child be?

Uncategorized

Polymer Clay Rose Tutorial

In this tutorial I will show you how to create a simple polymer clay rose. I have used blue, but had red rolled out to start with, so excuse the colour change within the photographs below.If you’re concerned about leaving finger prints on your work, a slight dusting of cornflour will eliminate this. I slice my roses diagonally after making them, as they often go onto journal covers.

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Step 1: Chose your colour and gather your tools, you will need;

Polymer clay, a rolling pin / pasta machine, scalpel, a piece of paper (optional) and a pen.

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Step 2: Draw a rough outline of a rose petal, for those who are more confident you can skip this step and step 4.

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Step 3: Roll out your clay so it is one even flat sheet, I use setting 1 on my pasta machine.

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Step 4: Mark your rose petals into the clay, I made 6 large and 3 small for the centre, you can do them all the same size or mix it up a little like I did. If you’re more confident, you can skip this step and just cut the petals out with no extra lines, if you’re not as confident, simply place your paper over the clay and trace round your image into the clay, repeat till you have enough…

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Step 5: Carefully take your scalpel and cut around the lines you have drawn onto the clay, set your petals to one side.

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Step 6: Roll a small sausage and place in the centre of one of your petals, this is to create the central part of your rose.

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Step 7: Roll you petal around the sausage, so that it looks like the following 2 photographs. Pinching the clay together as shown in the above image can make this easier to start with.

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Step 8: Take another petal and wrap it around the centre, place this one a little higher up on the rose, this will give it depth as the design starts to come together.

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Your rose should now look like this

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You can fan the clay out to give the petals shape now.

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Step 9: Add another petal and do the same as step 8.

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Step 9: Not the neatest rose, but it doesn’t matter as this is about to be covered. Place a petal on your growing design and then place another one on the other side, so one on the front and one on the back, see next image to see what I mean.

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Step 10: Fold the first petal into the centre (can be the front or the back one, whichever you get to first) you are giving the rose shape now, so don’t fold it flat into the centre section, then wrap the other side round in the same way.

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Step 11: Take your final petals and wrap them around the edge of the rose, make sure that these are higher up, so that you have room to pinch the petals together. giving it more shape and definition.

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Your final piece will look something like this.  You can add mica powder or eye shadows to the edges of the rose to give it more definition, do this prior to baking.

Pop into the oven and follow the baking instructions on the packet of the clay 🙂

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I made the rose for this journal using the above technique, as you can see it’s slightly neater than this one, but I wasn’t taking photo’s for each step, so it made it ever so slightly easier 😉

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www.etsy.com/uk/listing/501895116

Etsy Networking, Uncategorized

What are Etsy teams?

In my previous blog Etsy Success I touched on teams and some of the best Facebook pages to use for promoting your Etsy store, this article is more Etsy based.

So what exactly is an Etsy team? Etsy teams are the equivalent to Facebook groups, they are an ideal platform to market your Etsy store from.

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Where do I find teams? On the computer go to “You”, in the drop down menu you can find your teams. On the mobile app, tap into the 3 lines on your dashboard, teams are in here.  I recommend having a good look around using your computer first, as it’s easier to navigate. First things first you’ll need some teams to join! When I’m looking for teams, I look for groups that are very active, if there are hours and days between posts, then it’s not the team for me, I look at the number of members in the team, chances are if there are 10,000 members it’ll be a fast paced team with lots of activities to take part in. Finding teams isn’t always easy, so I look in the Etsy forums and I also ask people for their recommendations. Here is a list of some of the teams I’ve recently joined.

  • The Crazy Advertisers Team
  • ART
  • Daily Etsy Sales
  • Shameless Advertising
  • ACE
  • Happy Etsy Sellers
  • Promote
  • Promote Promote Promote
  • Do Another Thing (DAT) Team
  • ACTIVE ON ETSY
  • Affiliate Marketing Team
  • Etsy UK.

*** Worth noting, you don’t need the spaces when searching for these teams, for example; Daily Etsy Sales will be DailyEtsySales

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Now you’ve applied to some teams and have a starting base to work from, here are a couple of pointers to make things even easier. If you take a look down the left hand side of your screen you’ll see “Your threads”, click into this to view all of the threads you’ve posted in, if you’re taking part in a thread that requires you to return later in the day, you have the function to mark that thread, this is the equivalent of Facebook’s save post function, it’s like a bookmark, it will place these posts in a separate list, simply click into “Marked Threads” to access these posts quickly.

Etsy threads are backwards, quite literally! The newest posts come at the end of the thread, if you post your link you will be taken to the last page, then you can work back from there, it doesn’t take too long to get used to this.

There are 10 links to a page, so if you’re taking part in an activity that requires you to leave 20 hearts, that’s 2 full pages, don’t panic though, 20 is like leaving 2 comments on Facebook in terms of time taken to complete.

There are many different games and activities available for you to participate in, some require short and long links…

Long link; https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/493458205/peridot-tumble-stone-marriage-compassion

Short link; https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/493458205

The difference between the 2 is straightforward enough, the long link will bring up a pretty photographic attachment  and you can favourite (leave a heart) quickly without leaving the thread page. Short links require you to open another window to view the item, this increases your shops views as well as the amount of favourites, each post will specify what type of link you need to leave, so pay close attention to the wording in the original post.

There’s a post that says ‘favourite 10 shops above you’ but all the comments just say ‘done’. All you need to do here is click to the last page in the thread, have a look at the person above you, you will see their name and business name, this is all next to their photo/icon so for me it will have my logo, Nicky Collins and MysticalForest UK, click into the business name and favourite the shop, go back on your browser and continue up the list till you have visited 10 shops, then leave your “done” comment for the next 10 visitors to leave their love for you.

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Most of all, have fun experimenting and finding what works for you and your business, everyone is different, with different niches and experiences, there is no right or wrong way to network as long as you’re active, keep your products in public view and follow the thread/team rules, the sales will roll in, having a well set up store is essential to your ongoing success and you can read more on that Here.

 

If there is anything you’d like to know that I haven’t covered please leave me a comment.

Etsy Networking, Uncategorized

Etsy Success

Following on from my Etsy start up blog Here, I have been working on a way to increase my shops traffic, the results for me have been staggering. Increasing from 35 sales in the first 6 months to 45 in ONE month, it’s now time for me to show you in simple terms how you can achieve results that boost your business and your sales.

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In my last blog I touched on the importance of filling out your profile, this helps to strengthen your brand, I know if I’m going to spend big money with someone, I’ll check out their profile, I’ll look at the reviews and I’ll look at how everything is presented in the shop, these are crucial to starting and maintaining a successful Etsy business, it also differentiates the serious shop owners from the not so serious ones.

The first place to focus on is your listing titles, the first 3 words in an item’s title have the most pull, so you’ll need to place the most searchable words at the front of your titles, for example… “Beautiful unique rainbow coloured sparkly Moonstone crystal” will produce zero traffic, but “Rainbow moonstone tumble stone” is more effective and relevant to potential searches on both Etsy and Google.

Keywords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO); When someone searches on Etsy, the system scans your titles and tags for matches. Imagine what buyers would search for to find your items and use those words to title and tag your items. If you’re stuck try brainstorming what you would search for, if you go to Etsy’s search bar and key in what you’re selling it will come up with a list, showing you what buyers are searching for, these results can produce strong keys words for your listings… So for my Moonstone, I’ll have Moonstone, Metaphysical, Rainbow Crystal and so on… Be smart with your listing titles and tags, it’s well worth spending time tweaking and researching what others are using.

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Now you’ve followed the advice from my previous Etsy article and have made some changes if needed to your shop, you need to network. Networking is the best way to gain exposure for your page and is crucial in your ongoing success, there are a variety of ways to network effectively, here are some suggestions.

  • Use Etsy teams to build a rapport with other sellers. Etsy teams are very much the same as Facebook groups, they can be good they can be useless, it’s finding the teams that are active, who network on a daily basis in high numbers, who will support and encourage your growth and is relevant to your business, for example applying to a devout Christian team with a Pagan store probably won’t get you very far.
  • Facebook groups specific to Etsy, by joining in on some of the daily ladders you will see a big increase in your shops statistics, here are a couple of links to pages that have been invaluable to me. Etsy Uk Sellers Etsy ArtisansEtsy Buyers & Sellers.

Etsy networking is so much faster than Facebook, if you have a list of 100 links on Facebook you’ll be there for hours, if not days, on Etsy it will take you around 10-20 minutes, depending on how distracted you get by shiny things… The point being don’t worry about high figures, it’s fast but in a friendly way, it’s also easier to navigate.

Remember to make your product photography clear, with uncluttered backgrounds and relevant to your product, Etsy recommend using all 5 photo slots, the more engaging the photo, the more clicks it may receive. This can lead to performing better in Etsy Search and therefore increase your potential for sales.

I hope that this article has been helpful and if you’d like an expert to check your page over, Etsy offers to critique your shop for free and will make suggestions for you to improve your store – You can e-mail them here.

 

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Uncategorized

The story of Sister Rea

You’ll remember from my previous blog that my journey started with trees, it was Rea who posted this and since then we have become great friends, we have discovered that we were related in a past life, possibly several past lives as our connection is incredible, even with the distance between us geographically, we are able to sense one another and I like to play tricks with crystal energy…. I was definitely the annoying younger sibling hehehehe, so here is my “big sister’s” story!
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                                       https://www.facebook.com/bohosoulcreations
I started incorporating crystals into my business related craft work pretty much straight away. At the time it was just simply because I thought they were pretty, but after doing some research, I discovered the amazing benefits working with crystals can have, and I started focusing on matching crystals to what I needed rather than just what was pretty.
Doing that made me find the beauty in all crystals, not just my favourite coloured ones. Lately I have found that the crystals I become more attracted to, more times than not turn out to be the crystals I need.
I went through a stage where I needed to love myself more, I remember saying the words “I don’t really like myself much”, and I found myself drawn to Rose Quartz. I thought it was the most beautiful stone, and wore it everyday on my jewellery, without knowing at the time that Rose Quartz happened to be the crystal I needed to learn to love myself. With its powerful all around heart  healing properties, Rose Quartz taught me self love.
I now choose my crystals based on two things; which crystal seems to ‘call to me’, and what the crystal(s) signify. I always think you should choose what you’re drawn to, but if you want something very specific, learning their meanings and healing properties can be a great help.
I have always loved Amethyst – although I’m not sure if I’m just being biased because purple is my favourite colour. Out of all crystals, I think Amethyst will always serve a purpose with me, as it’s a great mind healer. In my opinion, it’s just as powerful and helpful as Quartz, an all around great stone to have around you, especially if you’re a spiritual person.
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                    https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BohoSoulCreations
Uncategorized

My crystal journey

I have always been fascinated by all things mystical, as a small child I vaguely recall conversations of healing and crystals and felt very drawn to the stones, it wasn’t until recently that I found my spiritual calling. I was browsing through facebook one day and came across a post about trees, I was drawn to the willow tree. I have some wonderful childhood memories associated with the willow, and it turns out the original poster also has an affiliation with the willow tree, although her memories weren’t from this lifetime. I later spoke to my mum and asked her about the willow tree from our old family home… There wasn’t a willow in the garden, this was a past life memory of my own. After a little more digging around I discovered that the females on my mums side of the family, have a lengthy history in the crafts, this is when I realised that I had been passed the gift of healing and things started to click into place for me.

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It’s been a roller coaster of a ride since then, my own crystal collection started to grow and as I started to take it more and more seriously I noticed some small changes, going out was becoming easier, my social anxiety was being kept at bay, I had more energy and focus, my ideas were just rolling in and for the first time in a long time life was absolutely fantastic. My partner gifted me a piece of her late Grandfathers Tigers Eye and as I sat and played about with it, I asked it to help me with my artwork. I’d remembered I could draw as a child, but I had a block, I didn’t know why, all I knew is that I wanted to draw more than stickmen, after almost 20 years I picked up my pad and pencils and this is what happened.

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If I had any doubt’s about spirituality and crystals they were blown completely out of the water with this piece, my artwork has continued to improve as I’ve practised and I’m now drawing at a professional level, it was a massive leap for me to take and I’m so grateful for the opportunity, I’ve found there are many opportunities out there if you’re looking. As a gifted healer it felt natural to explore the wonders of Reiki which I absolutely love, not long after my first attunements I had a massive panic attack whilst waiting for my partner, I couldn’t drive the short drive home, I was frozen I couldn’t breath and there was no logical reason to this attack, it was only later that evening once I’d meditated and calmed down, that I realised I had left one of my bracelets at home, it wasn’t the first time I’d come unstuck by forgetting this particular stone, I mainly used it to keep myself healthy, having had a severe chest infection earlier in the year. What I didn’t realise, was that this particular stone also blocked other peoples energy, what I had experienced was a fully blown empathic panic attack courtesy of the lady in the flat I was parked outside. This episode taught me the importance of my stones, it also taught me in a very literal way how to identify when the emotions I was experiencing weren’t my own. Since then I have found an even deeper connection with my crystals, I have progressed in my reiki journey and I’m all booked in for my Master course early next year, in addition, I’m training in hypnotherapy and life coaching. Crystals for me have changed my life in a way I never thought possible and now I’m teaching others how they can benefit from these gifts from Mother earth.