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Blog Move!

6 May

Hello lovely followers.  This is just a quick note to let you know that my blog has now moved address to emmadickiedesign.wordpress.com

All of my existing followers have helpfully been moved over by the lovely people at WordPress along with my existing posts.  All new posts will be found on the new site, and I’ve also taken the opportunity to freshen it up with a new look!

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Moving Day…

26 Mar

Moving day is fast approaching and my little bungalow is now a sea of boxes and bin bags!  Given the mess I am currently living in I’ve decided it would be best to put both my Etsy and Folksy shops on holiday.  This is something I’ve never done with my Etsy shop before – I’ve heard horror stories about it taking weeks or even months for traffic to pick up again once you reopen your shop.   However, this time of year is always quiet for me so this will give me the perfect opportunity to reopen once I’ve unpacked all of my boxes and take my time at streamlining things a bit.

Closed Sign in YellowstoneI’m also planning to finally change my shop name at the beginning of May so maybe less traffic in the meantime isn’t the end of the world!

I’ll probably be off the radar for the next week – my internet doesn’t get connected until next Wednesday so I’ll be relying on my phone signal until then!  I will however be snapping away so that I can create those promised ‘before and after’ posts… so stay tuned!

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

29 Nov

If you haven’t already started, then now is the perfect time to get on with your Christmas shopping! ImageThis weekend I am holding a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale in my Etsy shop and everything has been marked down by 15%!

ImageThe Candy Tree is currently offering a wide range of goodies that are just perfect for giving. From Cross Stitch Christmas Cards, to bImageeautiful sterling silver jewellery and my new range of knitted hats which are ideal for keeping warm in these cold months. Of course you could always treat yourself to a new scarf whilst you’re at it!

The sale runs from first thing on Friday morning right the way through to midnight on Monday (GMT). There is no need to mess around with coupon codes as all of my products have already been marked down by 15%.

Happy Shopping!

Image

Busy Bees

13 Jul

On my way to work the other morning I walked past a large flowery bush which was buzzing with bees working away in the early morning sunshine, and I started to daydream a little…

Honey Bee

Honey Bee by e_monk, on Flickr

I like watching little bees working away – especially honey bees (anything small, chubby and fuzzy looking is adorable in my eyes!).  They remind me of your average office worker – content to work away and not bother anyone else in the process.

Wasps however make me think of salesmen who employ hard sell tactics.  I don’t want to offend any salesmen here but I HATE it when people try hard to sell me something I’ve shown the slightest bit of interest in.  Wasps get in your face and harass you when quite frankly you were just happy to window shop.

So that was my random weird thought the other morning and I just thought I would share.  Time to get back to being a busy buzzy bee…..

Tooooo Hooooooot!!!!!

9 Jul

I’ve never been good at handling the heat.  I’m Scottish, pasty and used to average temperatures of around 10 degrees.  The last two days have been full of glorious sunshine and temperatures of up to 27 degrees – and not much cooler over night. I just can’t handle it! I can’t sleep, can’t walk at my usual “rapid” pace without risk of passing out and there’s no let up in the shade – even the breeze is warm!

I know I really shouldn’t be moaning, but today tipped me over the edge.  The heat actually caused problems with the trains and I ended up squeezing onto a crowded platform waiting for my delayed train to arrive.  Finally getting to squeeze onto a seat on the train, I think I was even hotter than when I was standing in the scorching heat.  And the smell of stale cheesy feet and BO was just lovely(!)

I received a lovely big bag of wool today and I can’t even bring myself to start knitting a new scarf – it’s just TOO HOT!

Sun-Flower

Sun-Flower by Lυвαιв, on Flickr

So if you’re wondering why there’s very little activity on my blog this week – the heat is the reason!  Plus my smartphone is being sent off for repair so I haven’t been able to take any photos with the dodgy little retro number I’ve borrowed in the meantime.  It can literally only be used to send texts and make phone calls…how did we used to cope without push email?!?

I think that’s everything I needed to rant about…I’m getting too hot to carry on typing much more.  My Thursday Feature post has already been scheduled and if I start to cool off then I’ll put together a heat inspired treasury for my Friday Finds.  But don’t be surprised if you hear little else from me this week…

What’s in a Name?

11 Feb

I’ve been thinking about it, putting it off, and then thinking about it some more…it may be time to change my shop name!

There are a number of reasons I have come to this conclusion, namely:

  • Candy trees are the name of lollipop centrepieces (which I don’t sell), however there are many companies out there that do sell them, and quite often have ‘Candy Tree’ in their name!
  • The name isn’t available on Etsy or many other sites I use, hence the use of ‘125’ at the end – this means that if people just search for The Candy Tree, they will no doubt find one of these other companies before they find me.

I’ve been putting off this name change because it will involve a lot of hard work – I will need to make sure that Etsy, Twitter, Facebook, etc all have the name available and I would like a .com and .co.uk as well… and that’s once I finally decide on a name!

I originally wanted my name to be something clever, perhaps a play on words or even a Scottish word that meant something related to crafts, knitting or handmade, however that was proving too difficult!

I’ve now gone in a completely different direction and may end up using a more personal name – something that takes me back to my childhood and is definitely unique to me.  I don’t mean to sound so mysterious but I would hate to post the name here before I’m ready to purchase my domains, only to find some evil person buys it up for themselves!

It may be a little while before I take the plunge – I still have a lot of business cards, thank you cards and earring cards with my Candy Tree branding and I don’t want the whole lot to go to waste… so for now, watch this space!!

Question Mark, Ipswich, 13 December 2012

Photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle

If you’ve had to change your Etsy shop name for whatever reason, I would really love to hear how it went – how did you tackle updating all of your social media pages and links?  Did you run into any trouble along the way?  Please leave your comments below!

It’s a Miracle, I can See!!

8 Jun

So I took the leap and got my vision corrected with laser eye surgery on 4 May (Star Wars day, how appropriate!)  I thought I would share the experience in case anyone else had ever considered it and wanted the patient’s point of view as opposed to the salesman chat!

Before…

I guess it had always been something on my ‘to do’ list whenever I had a spare bit of cash, but honestly who has spare cash these days?  So with a little push from my mum – whose opinion was that I’m only going to get older (thanks!) and might as well do it now and get my money’s worth – I decided to at least go along to the free consultation and see if I was a suitable candidate. 

After some initial tests involving lots of eye drops which made my pupils HUGE I was described as the perfect candidate which meant that I was suitable for any of the procedures on offer.  The amazing thing about laser surgery is that they can actually improve your vision beyond what can be achieved with glasses or contacts, however this comes at a much higher cost.  I was quite content to be able to have the same level of vision that I achieved with glasses, only without having to wear them, and this is exactly what the LASIK procedure offered.  It also happened to be the cheapest option which was a huge factor for me!

The consultation was very informative and the optician was very keen to answer any questions or concerns that I had.  The only criticism I have is that I was then put under a lot of pressure by the sales assistant to book my procedure that day.  I knew I was probably going to go ahead with the surgery, but it was a big decision and I wanted to go away and think about it for a day or two.  I was adamant that I wasn’t going to agree to anything until the effects of the trippy eye drops had worn off!  So we finally came to an understanding when I agreed that he could call me in a day or two.  For me, this high pressure sales technique is really off-putting and I was ready to just walk away.  

After thinking things over I decided I really wanted to go ahead with the surgery and booked the procedure for the following month, not realising at the time that I had picked a great day to have such a procedure (although [un]fortunately they didn’t use lightsabers :-))

The time really flew by and before I knew it it was only a few days to go and I had to stop wearing eye makeup (which is worse than it sounds!) and I was starting to get nervous.  On the day of the surgery I wasn’t allowed to use deodorant, moisturiser or makeup so I wasn’t feeling myself and really hoped that I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew on the way there!

I was taken downstairs to the waiting room where I mainly sat for an hour or so, received a couple of eye scans and got to read the paper with a cup of tea!  When it was finally my turn I was taken through to the ‘theatre’ where I was given a very attractive hair net to wear whilst the surgeon talked through the procedure with me.  At this point I was getting a bit anxious – I really just wanted to get the whole thing over with!

After some more waiting I was finally brought through to the ‘operating room’ which reminded me of a dentist’s surgery.  I was asked to lie down on a fancy looking dentist style chair which had a machine leaning over the side of it (the laser!) and a nurse gave me numbing eye drops.  This is when everything started to get a little strange…the eye drops meant that I no longer felt the need to blink and the surgeon placed a holder around my eye which would keep it in place and completely prevent me from blinking.  My other eye was covered over and I was asked to stare into a red blinking light…

…at this point I really had to concentrate on breathing steadily as I was starting to get a little panicked by all the strange noises and smells around me. 

The machine was passed over my eye with lots of beeping and crunching sounds and I had to lie very still for a few seconds whilst a ‘flap’ was created in my lens.  This flap would then allow the laser access to my eye under the lens.  I then had to stare at the laser whilst the surgeon worked his magic and this is when everything got a little psychedelic!  I heard the nurse mutter something about a fibre getting into my eye and so the surgeon had to flush it out before the flap was put back in place.

I have no idea if it was the flap being moved or the strange drops in my eye but all of a sudden I could see a kaleidoscope of eyes and I could even see the tiny fibre in the centre as the surgeon flushed it away.  The strangest sensation was being able to see all of this but not feel anything!

Septaclopse.

This isn’t quite what I experienced, but this image is just as freaky!

This whole process only actually took a few minutes and it was time to swap over to the other eye.  The nurse was trying to reassure me by saying that I would at least know what to expect this time, which is true but I still wasn’t looking forward to it!  Saying that, the second eye was quicker than the first, which is probably because they didn’t have any pesky fibres to deal with.  I did almost panic at one moment because I could no longer see the flashing red light, but it turned out that they were finished and it was just the surgeon’s hand was in the way!

So it was over and I was asked to get up and walk into the next room, which felt strange because everything had a milky haze to it thanks to the drops I had been given.  I sat in a dark room for about 20 minutes with my sunglasses on just to let my eyes adjust and to ensure there were no weird side effects from the anesthetic. 

My eyes felt so sensitive and it was difficult to keep them open – they actually felt as if they were suddenly too big for my sockets!  I made my way back upstairs where my partner met me with a big bag of sweets (as instructed!).  The surgeon had told me that the anesthetic would soon wear off and my eyes would feel heavy, gritty and sore so I should go home to sleep for a few hours.  Annoyingly we had to deal with Friday rush hour traffic but I was soon home and got into bed wearing some very attractive goggles which would stop me accidentally rubbing my eyes in my sleep. 

A few hours later I was woken by lovely pizza smells and I hazily made my way towards it (I was being well looked after!).  I could instantly see that my vision had improved but everything lacked a bit of definition and I still felt a little woozy. 

The next morning was amazing.  I awoke for the first time in about 6 years without reaching over to put my glasses on, and I could see!  I actually giggled aloud (although there was nobody home!) and walked through the house in awe at how quickly my eyes had adjusted.  It was a beautiful, sunny day and it was lovely being able to look out into the garden and see everything so clearly.

…and after!

I had a checkup with the opticians so that they could ensure everything had gone as planned and it was a little strange walking around outside – I could see, but my vision lacked a bit of clarity, especially when looking into the distance.  The optician confirmed that this was normal – my vision would fluctuate for the first few weeks as my eyes adjust and completely heal.  I was given an eye test and it was confirmed that I actually had better than 20/20 vision (which I didn’t realise was possible)!

The healing process would take roughly a week and I had to take two types of drops four times a day.  My eyes became quite dry and I was also given normal eye drops to use as often as I needed.  I was glad to have had the surgery on the Friday which gave me a couple of days to recover before returning to work on the Monday.  Staring at a computer screen all day certainly didn’t help the dryness of my eyes and I was using drops every 20 minutes! 

The week was over before I knew it and although it had become really annoying using the drops it was certainly worth it.  The redness of my eyes disappeared very quickly and I was soon able to wear my beloved eye liner again!

It has now been just over a month since I had the procedure and I have no regrets.  The healing process is so quick and being able to see almost perfectly the following morning was one of the most amazing experiences.  The only problem is that one evening after finishing my book, I reached up to take my glasses off and poked myself in the eye. Luckily this was a week or so after the surgery otherwise I could have done some serious damage!

I thoroughly recommend the procedure for anyone who is sick of wearing their glasses.  I have been told that I shouldn’t need glasses again until I am in my 40s/50s and so I should have about 20 years of perfect vision ahead of me. 

I’ve rambled on quite a bit but I really wanted to give an in-depth view of the whole experience.  If you have any questions, please just get in touch.  This is truly a life changing procedure, and the decision to go ahead with it shouldn’t be taken lightly.  My experience will obviously differ from the next person’s so please don’t hold me accountable if you have any negative experiences.  In saying that, if you have had laser eye surgery and had a different experience, either good or bad – please comment and share it below.

Running the Gauntlet

25 Jan

I came back to the office after my lunch break the other day not feeling refreshed, revitalised and ready to get back to work for the afternoon.  Instead I was in a foul mood from dodging chuggers!

I had stupidly decided to wander back to the office along Princes Street (Edinburgh) which has turned into a complete chugger fest!  (For international readers – chuggers are “charity muggers” – they are employed by charities to ‘encourage’ people to make donations).

These people have always annoyed me – mostly because of their impossibly cheery nature and the way they dance around in front of you to get your attention – by the way, I’m not making eye contact for a reason, waving around and doing a stupid dance is not going to make me change my mind! 

I hate chuggers!

This photo is a perfect example – this chugger is clearly blocking the man’s path and holding out his hand to stop him in his tracks!

What I didn’t realise until fairly recently is that these people aren’t volunteers – they are paid to do this!!! (This may not apply to all charities but certainly the majority do pay their chuggers).  I used to politely say “no thank you” and keep walking, however this was often met with further pleadings for me to stop for “just one minute” or insulting comments such as “don’t you care about animals?!” 

On one occasion I was on my way home from a very busy/stressful day at work and the last thing I wanted to do was chat to an irritatingly self-righteous chugger.  I was only 2 minutes from home (annoyingly the chuggers had spread to Morningside Road which is some 20 minutes from Princes Street) when a chugger from a very well-known charity asked me to stop.  I replied to the effect “I’m sorry I just want to get home” and kept walking which was met with “well these children don’t have homes!”…

What a horrible thing to say to someone you don’t know!  I was so angry but I just kept walking – it’s a moment I often look back on and think “I should have said this or done that (or punched him!)” but it’s too late.  I wish I had told him about the fundraising I’d recently done – I’d held a fundraiser through work which raised a decent amount.  This guy didn’t know me, and for all he knew I could have already been donating to his charity.  I used to donate £18 a month to a charity but it was a bit much when I was on the lower end of the pay scale so I cancelled after a couple of years. 

I keep meaning to sign up for another charity now that I’m earning a bit more, but this is my point – why do I need to justify myself to some random guy on the street?  Why should any of us need to justify ourselves when it comes to charity donations.  It is a choice!  There are so many worthwhile charities, but we each have our preferred cause and if we don’t have a lot of spare cash then donating to charity is going to be much further down our list of priorities than usual.  In addition, why should I justify myself to someone who is trying to make me feel guilty when they are actually taking money from the charity to stand there??  Apparently it can take up to a year for the charity to recoup the money spent on paying a chugger.  I recently read an interview with a chugger who stated that he was paid over £10 an hour! 

Just remember this the next time someone tries to guilt trip you into donating to their charity.  If you want to donate to a charity then great, go for it!  But I would suggest researching the charity online and donating through their website instead of handing your details over to some overpaid chugger whose sole purpose in life is to annoy people in the street.

I’d love to hear your comments and personal experiences with chuggers – good or bad.  If you are a chugger and think I’ve been unfair in any way then let me know –  I’d be interested to hear the other side of the story.

Your Driving Me Crazy!

20 Jan

That's Not My Here
I hope I’m not about to  dig myself a hole here – my writing is far from perfect (if you were being polite you would describe it as “clunky”) and like the rest of us I make the occasional spelling mistake or grammatical faux pas…

However, with the dawning of a new technically enriched era full of smart phones, tablets and netbooks, it seems we are spending every last waking second communicating online and this has made us lazy.  We no longer have the excuse of limited character space in our text messages – modern mobile phones can send multiple messages seamlessly lumped together which gives us ample room to type in full and include all those pretty vowels.   However what really drives me insane is the consistent incorrect use of such basic words as “they’re” instead of “their” or “where” and “were” and the example I see by far the most is “your” instead of “you’re” (this last one is visualised perfectly by CookieDuster’s photo above which he kindly permitted me to use!)

I have decided to put together a quick run down of common words which are incorrectly used.  I see many examples of these errors in Etsy shops and I think it is important to portray yourself as a professional when you are trying to sell a product – even if it is just a hobby.  These lessons were taught to us in school, which for most of us was a long time ago so it’s more than understandable that we have forgotten some of the basic rules!  On the other hand Etsy is full of international sellers, many of whom do not speak English as a first language and so I hope this list will help everybody to improve their basic writing skills.

So here is my top five of the most common incorrectly used words and phrases (in no particular order) together with a simple explanation of how they should be used:

1. You’re/your

The apostrophe is the clue here – it is substituting the ‘a’ in ‘you are’, whereas ‘your’ is referring to something belonging to the person you are addressing.

e.g.

“You’re better at cooking than I am”, “Your meatballs are better than mine”.

2. They’re/their

Again the apostrophe is used to show you that a letter is missing and ‘they’re’ is actually ‘they are’, whereas ‘their’ again refers to something belonging to someone.

e.g.

“They’re bringing pizza home”, “It’s their turn to cook dinner tonight”.

[I clearly have food on the brain as I think of these examples!]

3. Could of/could have

‘Could of’ is just plain wrong!  If you think about it “I could of went to the shops” doesn’t make any sense!  “I could have gone to the shops” is correct.  This also applies to ‘should have’, ‘would have’, etc.

4. Lose/loose

How you pronounce these two words should help you decide which is correct for a particular situation.

e.g. I pronounce ‘lose’ almost as if it has a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’, which is the same sound as in ‘loser’.  This will help you to remember that ‘lose’ is used when you (for example) have misplaced something or have come last in a competition, etc.

‘loose’ has a longer ‘o’ sound and means baggy or unrestricted – e.g. “I must be losing weight – these trousers are loose on me”

5. Too/to

‘Too’ means as well as or in addition. e.g. “Are you coming too?” simply means are you coming as well.

‘To’ however is one of the simplest and most used words in the English language but has the longest dictionary entry!  It is often used to express direction or motion, however a full definition can be found here – http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/to

We all forget or don’t notice sometimes that we have used the wrong word so I hope that this can be used as a quick reference.  I have intentionally kept explanations as simple as possible and there are in some cases many more meanings for some of the words I have used.

Feel free to comment and add your own examples below – amusing anecdotes are very welcome!