Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Thanksgiving, Black Friday on Etsy...and Discounts (oh my!)

Etsy recently announced that over the 'Black Friday' weekend, they would be promoting items with free shipping (P&P as I used to call it until my language became necessarily Americanised for the sake of those nice folks across the sea actually understanding my listings!) and other special deals.

I gave a lot of thought about whether to offer any promotions over the weekend. I know some people feel strongly that handmade items are too undervalued anyway - for the most part, I do agree with that. But on the other hand, it is good business practice (I think) to try and price your items so that you can give a little discount when the time is right. I don't very often do sales (almost never in fact) since my profit margins aren't huge, but finances are hard for a lot of people right now and it seems fitting at this time of year to do something more for buyers.

So...I sat down and had a good long think...and I decided that I could afford to offer free shipping (worldwide, even) on some of my smaller and lightweight items. I'm lucky that Royal Mail isn't really very expensive for small and light things, having seen some of the prices on American mail companies...eek! I've already tagged the items I'm going to give free shipping on in my shop so anyone wanting to peruse those items can go to my shop homepage and search in the Etsy search bar within my shop for "EtsyFreeShipping" (minus the quotemarks) That deal is going to be on from about late on Thursday night until early on Tuesday (UK time). I hope some people will take advantage of this rare opportunity!

One of the many things I didn't know about until I started selling on Etsy was that traditionally in America, the day after Thanksgiving is the big day for retail markdowns. Over here, Boxing Day and New Year's Day are the big sale days. Obviously, we don't have Thanksgiving in England. I've always been a little jealous of America having that big extra holiday. I'd like to say it's the ethos of it that I like (being thankful is no bad thing) or the opportunity to see family (mine are far away after all) but to be really honest...I think mostly I'm jealous of the food! (Big surprise for someone who named her shop and blog after a type of confectionery, haha.)

I don't eat turkey, having given up poultry and red meat back in oh, 2004 I think...but I've always been intrigued by the other treats Thanksgiving has to offer that I've never had a chance to sample. I have never seen yams for sale here in this small town, nor seen a recipe for them that didn't use the (baffling to me) 'cups' measurement system. But tomorrow, I think I might take some time out to be thankful and make some hearty autumn food.

One thing I think I might make is a kind of nut-roast that I invented a recipe for months ago and haven't had in a long time. I like making up recipes for things and unless I'm baking a cake/biscuits, I generally don't feel the need to measure things very precisely. I tend to work on a kind of ratio basis and a lot of it is done by 'that looks about right' methodology. I'm going to try and share the recipe here, and I'm hoping the lack of exact weights and measures will make the recipe easier to follow for those who use international measurements, rather than just plain confusing! Here goes...

Catherine's Nut Roast.
You will need a food processor or be good at chopping things up with a big knife (I use the former since it is much quicker and less prone to getting my fingers cut...)
Ingredients for two people (for more, just multiply quantities and make individual roasts per person or put all into a small loaf tin and cook for a bit longer) :
About one large handful of nuts. Last time I used a mix of hazelnuts and walnuts but any nuts should do the trick.
Seeds (pumpkin or sunflower, or a mix) - optional, but I include three large pinches of them for the nutrients.
Breadcrumbs - one handful or two thin slices-worth. This is a good way of using up bread that has gone a bit dry. Brown/wholemeal bread has a nicer flavour for this I find.
Herbs/spices. This will depend on personal preference but I like a good tablespoonful of either chives plus mixed 'English' herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - Art Garfunkel eat your heart out!) OR make a more exotic version with cumin, coriander (spice) and turmeric - I put a sprinkling in until it looks right, but I would guess that it equates to about a teaspoonful of each, maybe a touch more with the cumin.
Oil - basic standard olive oil is fine, as is sunflower oil. You'll need this to bind the ingredients together a little bit but shouldn't need more than a tablespoonful.
A generous splash of cold water.
A little bit of salt and pepper if you're so inclined.

Chop the nuts and seeds up, mix with everything else (if you use a food processor you can do it all in one go) and then pop it into an ovenable dish (a ramekin or suchlike) and press it in firmly so it all packs together. Bake in the oven at about 180 degrees C (sorry I don't know the international equivalent but basically the same heat you would bake cookies at) for 20 mins.

I like to serve this with boiled peas, carrots, mashed potatoes and veggie gravy with yeast extract (Marmite or similar) added (just half a teaspoon) for extra oomph.

Happy Thanksgiving, American readers. Happy drizzly nondescript Thursday, British (and probably other northern hemisphere) readers! Stay cosy.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Such a cold finger...

Today, I saw yet another mention of how Etsy tends to feature a lot of fingerless gloves and wristwarmers. They certainly are in vogue! Much as I like these inventions, it got me wondering if there are many nice fully-fingered handmade gloves on Etsy, for those of us in colder climes that really need warm fingers in the winter months. After much searching and much rummaging through mistagged items, I think I found some real gems:

Featured here are gloves and mittens by:
cholosoy, artycousinjenny, dollyknits, woolyrosie
montyandmarwood, knitwhimsies, plainjanecollection, thejoyofcrochet
verabelle, flowerpot, ingucite, maisondelucille
kukaramba, petitekrottcreations, thesittingtree, goldenhind

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Astronomical

Recently I have been suffering from a cold that decided to settle in my head and throat, and I have found myself very sluggish. Lots of hot drinks and huge bowls of home made soup, drunk with my slippers on, tucked up in bed. This is the reason for my recent quietness, blog-wise.

Yesterday, though, I managed to muster the energy to tidy up a little. I sorted out the recycling, hung up the jumpers that were hung on the back of my chair, changed the bed sheet and duvet cover, hoovered and cleaned the bathroom sink. I felt so much better for it, as I knew I would.

Later, I got back under the covers, popped on the telly. A cheesy Mel Gibson rom-com was on, one I've seen before - I find it easier to be creative when there's some background noise and this film was just familiar enough to stop me from getting too distracted from my work whilst being just entertaining enough to keep me sitting still. I stitched away with my bedside lamp on, the sky outside pitch black already.

I made something I've had in my head for some time, that I kept putting off making in the past. I find I do this with new ideas, I get excited about them and then feel afraid to go ahead with them in case they turn out to disappoint. Now I've finally gone and taken the plunge - and I am pleased to say the end result wasn't far off the idea in my head. Here it is...


The Astronomy pendant - number one (of hopefully several). Inspired by pictures of galaxies from afar and textbook astronomical diagrams. Made with layered pieces of silk in deep, midnight blue and one small white piece in the middle.

:-)