Over the last few weeks I have been going through some personal struggles which have prevented me from blogging. Actually, I’ve barely been online aside from occasionally checking twitter on my phone. The events that have transpired away from the keyboard have lead me to make a few big decisions, one of which will affect you guys so I thought I’d better share it with you…

I quit my day job.

Without going into the ins and outs of it, I have been really unhappy. I found myself working back late every night, going into the office on weekends and working through my lunch breaks. I felt like no matter how hard I worked I never seemed to get ahead. It was affecting my friends, eating into my blogging time and worst of all, it was starting to affect my physical and mental well being. I chose to put my happiness first and after weighing up the negatives and positives I decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble anymore.

There is this misconception in the blogging community that all bloggers are portraying these perfect lives of DIY projects, cupcakes and dressing up. Sure, these may be things that most of us share on a daily basis, but do readers really think this is the way life is all the time? I for one, don’t think you guys aren’t that naive. While it would be nice to think that there are people out there living these glamorous, super fun lives all day every day, the reality we know that’s not true. No one wants to hear about my crappy day at work, the fight I had with my best friend or the time I tripped down the stairs and hurt my ankle. It doesn’t make good reading. So generally when these things happen to me, I don’t write about them. And I think that’s okay.

Blogging is a strange commitment. It is a passion and a labour of love, but it is also a commitment in which you give a lot of yourself without any tangible rewards most of the time. It’s amazing and fun but it also comes with an expectation from your readers that you will always have time to put out content, so I’m sorry that  this hasn’t been the case the last few weeks.

But anyway; I’m sure you’re wondering how my decision will impact you guys? Well, once I finish up and my job (and hopefully find something new) it will mean that I will be back, more focused and with more time to create quality content -  hooray! I have 2 weeks left until  my final day at work, so between now and then my posting may be slightly sporadic, but it will be there. I have some fantastic contributor writers who are coming on board and I can’t wait to introduce them to you!

Thank you for putting up with me during this down time. Being unemployed will not be easy, I know that, but with all the facts weighed against each other I am happy with my decision.


[Source: Buy this image as a Print!]

Here’s a question for all the ‘Pinners’ out there: out of all the products, clothes, accessories, designs and illustrations you pin on a regular basis, how many of said items do you actually purchase? Are you a consumer or just an image collector?

I know you love Pinterest.  Over the last 18 months, as its popularity has exploded, Pinterest has become a vital promotional tool for artists, designers, online stores and online content creators alike. You probably have 20+ boards all dedicated to specific topics. Anything you could possibly wish to find has an image ‘pinned’ for you to browse over and add to your carefully curated collections. You might even check it a few times a day, lest you miss something fabulous!

I’ll admit was a little skeptical at first. I was wary of it becoming another ‘weheartit’ or ‘tumblr’ style image sharing service, where finding the original source for any given image can be a total nightmare! However the ‘pin it’ button along with associated plug ins for web browsers, webpages and blogs has made correct sourcing automatic and, for the most part, it seems to work! For online content creators like myself, Pinterest is a fantastic way to draw traffic to my recipes and projects, but for independent designers and artists is it really helping or hindering?

Recently I came across a fascinating article over at I am the Lab . It is definitely worth a read in its entirety, but the article details the opinion of one such creator, Kal Barteski (of the Link With Love campaign), who has decided to forego Pinterest altogether! I know, right! The internet just gave one big, collective gasp! ‘How could someone not be on Pinterest’ you ask? Well, She makes a fair point in the article; while Pinterest is brilliant for directing traffic to your site, how many of those new visitors actually stay and buy something? I’ll wager, not as many as you would think. It’s all well and good to get your product seen via a Social Networking site like Pinterest, but if it’s not boosting sales and keeping your business sustainable, it defeats the purpose really.

To me, it seems like cutting the advertisement out of a magazine and sticking that on your wall instead of buying the poster itself. Many people are more than content to just have the image sitting in their board rather than in their home. It makes sense in a way, especially with the ability to ‘re-pin’ a lot of people never actually leave the Pinterest site to see the original content, much less purchase it themselves. When they can share the image with all their friends and ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over it online, I can see how people might not see the need to spend their money as well.

Personally, it makes me kind of sad. The internet has given us unlimited opportunities to fill our homes and hearts with amazing independent designs and we are squandering this gift. Never before have we had such easy access to beautiful, unique products from all over the world. I am a big believer in supporting independent creators, it’s one of the reasons I started my ‘Oh Etsy’ series. I love the feeling of having something a little unique in my home. When friends ask me where I found an art piece or piece of jewellery, I adore being able to share an artist in another country, with someone who has never seen them before.

We need to support these independent artists and nurture their talents. These artists don’t put their heart and mind into manufacturing something wonderful for it to be viewed on your iPhone, or your tablet, OR your High Def monitor. They worked hard to create something beautiful and new to be seen and felt and enjoyed in person!

I am the Lab has started a brilliant campaign which I have decided to take part in, and I hope you will too. It’s called the 1AM Promise. It’s a simple promise to purchase 1 handmade item a month.  It can be as big or small as you like, but if everyone were to buy just one handmade treasure a month we would be helping to support an independent creator. Everybody wins in this campaign; artists get their  creations out into the world and you get something a little special to love and keep as your own! I’m proud to say that my regular visits to Etsy means that I already probably buy more than one handmade item a month as it is. But from now on I will be making a concentrated effort to ensure that it is something fun that I do every month (and who doesn’t like buying presents for themselves?) I will be sharing my 1 item with you each month, as well as a new series coming up, featuring artists and independent store that I love.

Pinterest isn’t a negative service, but like most things on the internet it can be misused by not realising its full potential. I hope if you’re not already, you’ll not only Pin responsibly, but also think about supporting independent creators. Perhaps you’ll even take the 1AM Promise with me…

[Image Via: Paper n Stitch]
With Christmas just around the corner (and maybe some office Secret Santa’s or Gift Swaps to start shopping for) I thought I’d share some tips that I have learnt for buying the perfect gift. Now, I don’t like to blow my own horn, but I’m pretty awesome at buying gifts. I would even go so far as to say that its kind of ‘my thing’. This certainly isn’t due to any hidden gift giving talents. I’m no more insightful than the next person, but I have some clever tricks to ensure you’re always buying your loved ones something they’ll really enjoy and not just candles or socks this Christmas.

So, this sounds pretty basic, but I know so many people who don’t do this. Listen to the people you care about; what do they like? What are their interests? And I don’t mean just around Christmas or birthdays, I mean all year round. If a loved one mentions that book they’ve been wanting to read or that hobby they’ve been wanting to get into, I open up the notebook app (or even a draft message) make a quick note in my phone. Something like “Tom - Carl Sagan book” and save it for later. The best thing about doing this is that it just looks like you are sending a text message so your target is none the wiser and you have a handy reminder for later.

Speaking of which…

2. Set Up Reminders
In your phone, on your computer, in your calendar. Put a reminder in for the most important people’s birthdays. Not just for the day itself, but a few weeks in advance. This way you will know that birthday is coming up and have ample time to plan what you want to buy for that special someone. Especially if you are like me and you do a lot of your shopping online, you will appreciate the extra time when there is a 2 week wait on shipping!

3. Use Online Searches
And I don’t mean Google; sites like Ebay and Amazon are a veritable treasure chest of items you’ve never even thought of! Whenever I am stuck for gift ideas I head over to Ebay and start searching topics that my recipient might enjoy. Try names of television programs, hobbies, favourite actors or even general items like ‘leather bag’ and see what comes up! I can’t count how many times this has saved me when I was out of inspiration!

4. Bookmark it!
So you come across the perfect art print for your mum on Society6 and you think, ‘oh I should buy this for her birthday!’ But her birthday is months away and you’re a bit poor until payday, so you decide you’ll come back later, closer to the date and get it then.

No, you wont. You’ll forget and then when it comes time to buy her a gift you’ll be sitting there thinking ‘now what was that thing I saw back in June…?’ Bookmark that shit! And don’t let your bookmarks get lost in between links to funny pictures of cats… I have a ‘Buy’ Folder set up, with sub-folders for each of my family members/housemates/close friends. I save anything cool I see in these folders over the year, so when it approaches Christmas or Birthdays I can just open up the relevant folder and browse a ready made list of gift ideas. Just remember to name your bookmarks as what they actually are, (ie: ‘Owl Measuring cups from Anthropology’) instead of the default name so that if you come across a broken link when you come back, you can Google the item and try to find it elsewhere.

5. The Final Test
Many people may disagree with this last tip but it’s my number one rule: Buy something that you would like to receive. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should buy something to your own taste, but if when you put yourself in the recipients shoes, would you be happy to receive this gift? This is my final test when deciding on gift purchases. Even though tastes may differ, when someone can see the thought and care that has gone into a present, even if it’s not something they would have bought for themselves, chances are they are going to enjoy it regardless. Some of the best gifts I have ever received were items that I would have never in a million years picked out for myself, but I could see the love and thought that went into the purchase and that made me cherish the gift all the more.

So there you have it. Nothing ground breaking or crazy, just some simple ideas that will hopefully help you get through this festive season.

Happy New Year everyone! Generally I don’t make that many New Year Resolutions. I tend to re-evaluate my life around my birthday and make a bunch of goals for the next year from then, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t partake in New Years Resolutions as well. It’s hard to stick with your resolutions year in and year out, generally, most people will have already failed their resolutions by the end of January. Not that I’ve always completed my resolutions every year, but here are some tips that have helped me when I have ;)

Lets face it, you’re not going to fulfill 10 resolutions this year. I’ve made this mistake before, trying to make too many resolutions or tried to make resolutions that were simply not realistic. Choose one or two things that you can realistically achieve in a year. Try to choose something you really want to do.

If your honest you know you’re not going to up and quit smoking or stop having that afternoon chocolate fix overnight. Making a resolution like ‘I will quit smoking this year’ or “I will lose weight’ won’t give you something defined to work towards. Make your resolutions something that you can measure your success by. Set an amount and/or a date to complete your goal by so you can can track your progress against something. Saying ‘I will lose 3kg by June’ is much more achievable and you can see how close you come to or how far you exceed your goal.
One of the major problems with making New Year’s resolutions is that after a couple of days you lose motivation and start to forget about your new goals. Make a plan straight away and decide how you will complete your goals. Write down your resolutions and keep them somewhere you will see them. Plan your progress into your everyday life so that you can work on your resolutions over the year. If you can do it little by little it will make it that much easier to succeed.
Forgive yourself if you slip up once in a while. Especially with resolutions that are long term, there are going to be times where you don’t stick with it. It’s easy to have a bad day and throw in the towel thinking that now you’ve broken your resolution, it’s all a lost cause. Don’t let small losses ruin all your hard work. Remember that you’re only human and sometimes you will make mistakes. It’s okay.
Especially with bigger goals, try to set smaller mini goals to keep you going and reward yourself when you meet these goals. Let yourself have that pair of shoes you’ve been lusting after if you make a month without a cigarette or allow yourself the occasional bowl of ice cream if you’ve been working hard with your weight loss plans. Giving yourself incentives will help you stick to your plans.