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Dorchester Dog Show and general news

I realise I’ve not written anything for quite some time now! I’ve been pretty busy as it’s the beginning of craft show season and there was lots to prepare!

Dorchester Dog Show

Today I held a stall at Dorchester Dog Show. I think that dog shows might be my new favourite thing, but I may come across as a bit crazy as I have to pet all the dogs!!

Here I am all set up with my wares!Giddings Gifts

It was such a lovely day – although a little bit cold weather wise! My favourite category during the day was the fancy dress section. Maybe next time I’ll enter with Molly and Baxter!

The dog show was just part of Dorchester Festival – see what else is going on here.

Other news

This week, we have been very proud to have hit 500 sales in our Etsy shop. Etsy is a very tough and competitive place, so we are very pleased to have achieved what we have in less than a year.Etsy Giddings Gifts

That being said, I’m now trying to move us slowly away from Etsy. I’ve been working on our website and have developed it into a shop. Gosh it’s complicated when you don’t 100% know what you’re doing! But, again I am very happy with how it’s looking and so far it’s functioning well. Check out how it’s looking here.

Now that it’s set up, I can focus on trying to blog more!

 

That’s it for now, short and sweet! Thank you for stopping by

gift ideas

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Easter Basket Stuffers Round Up

easter basker stuffers

Easter Gifts Round Up

It’s been a while since I perused Etsy for little treasures! Easter is fast approaching and I’ve noticed that little Easter gift baskets are a big thing this year. I’ve had a look at fellow Etsy sellers and have chosen 8 of my favourite finds to share with you.

Please note, for any international readers, these items are all from sellers in the United Kingdom. This doesn’t mean you can’t get hold of these goodies, it might just take longer to get to you!

 

  1. Easter Chicken Egg Cosies

I love crochet! I’ve seen a few egg cosies around, but these little hens by LilBitCrochet are adorable. And a bit of a bargain! Find out more here

easter gift

2. Personalised Chocolate Bars

Surely Easter is all about chocolate!? (Well it’s a big deal at least!). You can choose some of your favourite chocolate bars with PersonalisedCards4u and turn them into cute and personalised bunnies! Take a look.

easter chocolate

3. Personalised Easter Crate

You’re going to need something to put all of these goodies in! Applecratescouk have got some adorable crate ideas. Here’s their Easter themed box.

easter box

4. Felted Rabbits

Just had to include these. They’re so cute! Take a better look here. 

easter bunny

5. Easter cookies

If you’re not a fan of chocolate, CookieArtLondon have some lovely personalised cookies for Easter. Find yumminess here!

easter cookie

6. Easter Bunting

How about something pretty to decorate your house at Easter? Bakedbeanbaby have some adorable bunting here.

easter bunting

 

7. Paint you’re Own Egg Decorations

After the egg hunt is done, why not spend some time doing some crafts!? TatraCottage have some pretty Easter eggs for you to paint – find them here.

paint your own eggs

 

8. Peg Doll Bunnies

This are just cute! Check out Lynseysplace here. easter gift

 

Well that’s it from me! Hopefully  you’ve still got enough money to stock up on lots and lots of Easter chocolate!

 

Thanks for stopping by

 

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Crochet Dog Replicas

Crochet Dog Replicas

As you probably know, I’ve unleashed my crochet dogs to our Etsy shop. The response has been great and this has been keeping me very busy. This will be why it’s been over a month since my last blog post!

Due to the response to the dogs, I’ve had to extend the processing time to 3-4 weeks! I’ve currently got 5 to do!

Gallery

Anyway, here is a gallery of the most recent commissions since my last blog post. I hope you enjoy their cuteness!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Willing to wait?

If you would like a crochet dog portrait, just get in touch! I love receiving dog pictures and creating these mini-mes!

You can email me – giddingsgifts@gmail.com or come through our Etsy shop here. Just be aware, they’re not always listed in the shop, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be ordered!!

 

Thank you for stopping by

 

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Giddings Gifts – News update!

Etsy – It’s all going on!

I really want to blog more, but we’ve been really busy! Amongst many other reasons, it is a good thing I quit my ‘day’ job last year. I don’t know how I would have kept up whilst also working 40 hours plus somewhere else!

So a few weeks back I completely rejigged our Etsy shop and it seems to be working. I’m extremely pleased, I thought there would be a tumbleweed situation in January!

Sign commission

Last month I posted about how we made a large sign from reclaimed wood.

custom made pallet sign
Baxter in front of the sign!

Well, the same customer contacted us again to ask for more signs. We were very excited to learn that she works for a company, that amongst other things, designs window displays for shop fronts. By using my detective skills (well it wasn’t actually hard!) I found their website and saw a picture showing our previous sign clearly visible in the window of ‘Two Chicks Wholefood.’ Such a proud moment.

Now, I’m not allowed to share the photograph. But, if you’re interested, click here to go to the website that is currently displaying it. (Ours is the one that reads ‘POWER PANCAKES’).

Anyway, new signs! Chris and I (mostly Chris) spent a lot of time in January creating new signs. We already know that they are for ‘Pip and Nut’, as we were asked to include their logo.

shop sign reclaimed wood

Chris built and hand painted the signs and they look amazing!

hand made rustic shop signs

I just want to add, I cut out the stencil and packaged the signs up for shipping! Whilst not the impressive or creative parts of the project, they are important parts! And I can tell you, packaging three signs that weigh nearly 20kg altogether is not an easy task!

preparing to ship
Start!
ready to go
Ready to go (ages later!)

The signs have been delivered, the customer is happy and now we are eagerly awaiting photographs of them in situ.

Crochet Dogs

So, as you may know, I finally listed my crochet dogs on Etsy. So far, I have had two orders – consisting of three dogs. I just wanted to share the finished results!

 

crochet projects

The first two are Jem and Kizzy. Sadly, Kizzy is no longer with us. It makes me sad to hear when a dog has passed away, but it is an honour to make a tribute.

amigurumi project

On the other side, it’s also a lot of pressure to make sure it looks good! Hopefully this is a good memorial for Kizzy.

how to crochet

I’m pretty pleased with how Jem turned out. The fluffy dogs always look the best!

crochet toy

The next pup is Idefix. I am also very happy with how he turned out.

 

Anyway, that’s it for now.

Thanks for stopping by

 

 

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Crochet Amigurumi Dogs

Crochet Dogs – The evolution story!amigurumi dogs

Crochet is a huge passion of mine. My grandma taught me the basics when I was about 16 years old. For years I would crochet on and off but could only do patterns involving straight lines.

Just over 5 years ago, both my sister-in-laws became pregnant. So I got back into an ‘on’ phase so that I could make them baby blankets. I don’t know what happened then, but I had so much wool left over that I felt the need to get creative!

Amigurumi

After Chris and I got engaged in 2013, I began using Pinterest. As we all know, Pinterest is a great place for inspiration and ideas for all sorts of things. Originally my Pinterest use was so I could put all my wedding ideas in one place! Then I noticed all sorts of crochet patterns! And a thing called amigurumi…

I Instantly wanted to make tiny toys. The problem was, I kinda sucked! Well, that’s a bit harsh, I don’t think I was that bad considering I was a beginner. My main problem was sewing parts together – no matter what I did, it was really obvious where I had sewn!

Dogs

Anyway, one day I must have been looking at my two dogs and suddenly gained the urge to crochet their likeness!

I found a crochet pattern for dogs called ‘Ami Ami’. If you look this up on Pinterest – or just the internet – you will find a book of Japanese amigurumi dog patterns.

With further help from the internet, I taught myself how to read crochet diagrams. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy!

These were my first ever dog attempts, back in 2013.

amigurumi crochet

Now, as I said, considering they were my first attempts, they’re not awful! But I really don’t like them! Their eyes are too far apart, their ears are weird, not to mention what colours are they!? They both sit in my mum’s car to this day. Whenever I get in her car, I gaze at them and then tut in disgust!

Let’s try again

I then decided to do different bodies. This time, I thought it would be nice to make a gift for my mother-in-law, so I made her dogs.

Here were my next attempts:amigurumi dogs

Oh my! My mother-in-law must have felt like a mother with a young child returning from school, proud of some awful nonsense artwork they did in the day, that she was obliged to display on the fridge! Because, she put them on the mantel at the time!

I’m pretty sure Chris made a comment about them having weird bodies at the time. I am also pretty sure that I glared at him, protective of my creations!

Mark two

Still not satisfied (good job!) I developed the patterns a little. Here are all four dogs mark two!crochet jack russell crochet westie amigurumi beagle amigurumi

These are already, in my opinion, much, much better. I’d obviously gone out and bought myself some safety dog noses! Much better than relying on my dodgy embroidery!

Development

Not long after this, I started showing people at work pictures of my creations. Colleagues were obviously impressed as I started being asked to make mini versions of their pets. At first, it was a total hobby and I would only charge for wool.

I made gradual improvements to the dogs, learning from mistakes and finding better ways of doing things. This one was made around 18 months after the last lot:knitting

I was also able to design my own pattern. After learning how amigurumi patterns worked, I was able to create a pattern that worked for me, minimising sewing and maximising ‘realism’!. (I added ” to realism, as they’ll alway maintain a cartoon cuteness!). Nowadays, I am also much better at sewing!

Then to now

A colleague of mine kept telling me that I should set up a Facebook page to sell my crochet dogs. I kept agreeing and then doing nothing about it! One day, I had my parents round for dinner, when my phone started going crazy with notifications. She had obviously become fed up of me and had taken matters into her own hands!

My colleague had taken photographs I had shared on my personal account and created a Facebook page, without telling me! Pretty cheeky, but I am really grateful for what she did. I probably would have continued to put it off.

From there, I started selling crochet dogs. I didn’t advertise or put myself out there, but occasionally would get spikes of interest (They always came at the same time!). As I was working full-time for the police, I didn’t have much time or energy to feel enthusiastic about crocheting. I still made over 50 dogs in 2016 somehow!

Anyway, this is the last version of my Molly beagle that I made. Although, this was probably around a year ago.  beagle amigurumi

Etsy

I now have more time to crochet and so I have finally felt brave enough to put them on Etsy and put them out into the world a little bit more! Click here to go to the listing (If you want to!).

My skills have developed – I can now confidently make fluffy dogs for instance!doggy

Now I am proud of my crochet creations. Even if they cause me a lot of stress sometimes (they need to be perfect and not that will do! Can sometimes mean that I re-do parts several times!).

Hope you enjoyed the story. For more examples of my recent work, go to my Pinterest board – Amigurumi Pets. 

Thank you for stopping by.

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Twitter Networking and Hashtags for small business

networking on twitter

 Twitter Networking for Small Business

Twitter is a great social media tool. When setting up a small business, you cannot underestimate the power of social media in helping you. Personally, Twitter is my favourite – but it’s not for everyone! I find that Tweeting is a good way to get traffic to your site and to build up a positive profile.

As I have gone along on Twitter, I have compiled a list of great Hashtags and Networking hours. I am going to share this information in this post, to help you grow your business.

Side Notes

Just a couple of notes before I list:

  • This list is helpful for any small business. However, it is particularly helpful to craft business and/or female entrepreneurs.
  • All of the times are listed for UK times. The times apply for BST and GMT (unless specified otherwise)
  • People in USA – you can obviously join in with the UK hours! A lot of the ones in the evening here will be in the early afternoon for you etc. So you’ll be awake!
  • This list will help you grow your followers on Twitter. But! It will not help it grow super quickly/overnight. You have to keep going!
  • This list is divided into days when the hashtags are most relevant.
  • There are lots more networking hours out there. For example, there are lots of ‘local hours’ such as #westmidshour . I am afraid that I haven’t documented any of these. I live near Oxford and cannot find any local ones to me! Search on Twitter for your area and you will probably find a load more to add to your list.
  • I’m taking the chance here to say – follow me on Twitter! @GiddingsGifts

 

Networking hours

There are loads of networking hours on Twitter. They are a great way to get your business out there and to help support other small businesses. They all have a different level of involvement, but whatever the level, don’t be afraid to get involved. A lot of them can seem as though everyone already knows each other. But it doesn’t take long for you to become a familiar face. Just say hello, reply to people and start-up conversation.

And be generous! Retweet other businesses. You are far more likely to get your own tweets shared by others if you do this. Plus, you don’t want to spam everyone with all of your items – even if they are super amazing!

I will give a small overview for networking hours to give you a feel for what goes on.

Monday = Funday!

  • #creativebizhour – 8pm – 9pm – This is a great networking hour. It is run by a number of hosts – @CreativeBizhr @Lizzie_Chantree @kel02100 and @writewithsydney . During the hour you are encouraged to support others. Every week someone is crowned ‘the winner’ of this hour. This is achieved by retweeting and engaging with others and remembering to use the hashtag #creativebizhour. Anyone can win, whether or not you have previous been a winner. I won once during a very good week! The prize is a weeks worth of promotion from the hosting accounts. They will put out several tweets everyday linking to your products. Very handy!
  • #gifthour – 8pm – 9pm – Gift Hour is less involved than Creative Biz Hour and it runs at the same time. There is less engaging with others, but definitely worth using in your tweets.
  • #enterprisehour – 8pm – 9pm – Again, this is slightly less involved, but is another great networking opportunity. Personally, I focus less on this than Creative Biz Hour – as my business is creative. Enterprise Hour is more ‘business’, but means that literally any business can be involved.
  • #Mumsinbizhour – 8pm – 9pm – Now, I will be honest – I haven’t tested this one out! I’m not a mum, so I feel a bit cheeky using this hashtag! But if you are a mother in business, then give it a go!
  • #ecocreatehour – 8:30pm – 9:30pm – A great networking hour if your business involves being environmentally friendly. Mostly I will use this hashtag to promote my items that have been made from repurposed materials. But it is also great if you are eco in another way – for example, your packaging is recycled etc.
  • #buyonlinehour – 8:30 – 9:30 pm – Don’t think it need much explaining. Does what it says on the tin!!

 

Tuesday = Loose day!

Sorry to disappoint you! I don’t have any Twitter Hashtags that are specifically on a Tuesday only! Check out the weekdays entry later on in the post. There are still hours to get involved in.

Wednesday = hump day

I immediately ran out of rhymes for the headings!

  • #handmadehour – 7:30pm – 9:30pm – I love Handmadehour! Follow @HandmadeHour, who are the hosts for this. You will notice this hashtag appears a couple of times later on in the week too. On a Wednesday #handmadehour is run for two hours on Twitter. I have found that the first hour is the best. I think this is because a lot of people don’t realise it runs for longer and they dwindle away after this. This is a great networking hour to promote your handmade products and to share the work of others. It is also a great way to check on what the competition is up to!!
  • #woofwoofwednesday – 8pm – 9pm – I’ve put this one in here, as it is useful to my business. If your business involves dogs – e.g. dog products, dog walking services, dog friendly businesses etc – then this is also for you. It is run by @WoofWoofNetwork. You will find many dog owners and lovers sharing stories about their dogs. This is a great one for finding direct customers for doggy business.
  • #shouthour – 8pm – 9pm – This hour is still growing. At the moment, it is not overly involved. Again, it is worth putting the hashtag in your tweets.
  • #weddinghour – 9pm – 10pm – A bit of a late hour! But a great networking hour for any wedding related business.
  • Bonus for men in business – Send a tweet to @ADG_IQ using the hashtag #Kingof between 9am and 9pm. In your tweet, say a little bit about your business. A winner is then chosen and a business ‘crowned’ as the King of (something that relates to your business!). This is a great hashtag to enter. Winning boosts your business and online presence.

Thursday = Ladies Day

  • #Ladiescoffehour – 7pm – 8pm – A great general networking session for women in business. There will be general discussions and sharing of products and ideas.
  • #robinhoodhour – 8pm – 9pm – A general business networking hour. Great to promo your business and get involved with others.
  • #ukbusinesshour – 8pm – 9pm – The idea for this one is very similar to Robinhood Hour. Might as well add the hashtag in at the same time!
  • #twittersisters – 8:30pm – 9:30pm – This is very similar to Ladies Coffee Hour. You will quite likely find a lot of the same people here! However, someone is crowned the winner of #twittersisters . If you win, you get a nice bit of bonus promo from the hosts for the next week.
  • Bonus for women in business – Send a tweet to @ADG_IQ using the hashtag #Queenof between 9am and 9pm. In your tweet, say a little bit about your business. A winner is then chosen and a business ‘crowned’ as the Queen of (something that relates to your business!). This is a great hashtag to enter. Winning boosts your business and online presence. I’ve entered a few times. Not won yet though!!

Friday = Friyay!

Back to the rhymes! To be honest, there isn’t much on a friday. Check the weekdays entry for extra networking opportunities.

#hhlunch – 12:30pm – 1pm – This is exactly the same as #handmadehour run by the same account. Just remember, this on is only for half an hour!

#EShopsUKhour – 2pm – 3pm – Supporting independent online shops. To be honest, I find that this one is pretty quiet. You are probably better trying their general hashtag – #eshopsuk

Saturday = the weekend!

  • #ukweekendhour 9am-10am – A general business networking hour.
  • #crafturday – 9am – 8pm – An all day crafty networking session. You don’t have to be glued to the computer all day! Just put out a few tweets every so often during the day and retweet others. There is a theme to the day, which changes every week.

Sunday = also funday!

  • #ukweekendhour 9am-10am – If you haven’t been afforded a lie in, might as well join in again!
  • #womaninbizhour – 7pm – 8pm – A great networking session for women in business. Get involved in chat and share your goods (and others!). Follow @WhatsNewRae for more.
  • #ladiescoffehour – 7pm – 8pm – A very similar concept to Woman in Biz Hour.
  • #crafthour – 7pm – 8pm – Another chance to share your crafty projects and products with the world. This is very similar to Handmade Hour – which funnily enough runs again straight after this. Craft Hour will present a theme for the whole hour and two mini themes. IIf your posts contain the theme hashtag, the hosts are likely to pin your product on Pinterest. Follow @Craft_Hour
  • #handmadehour – 8pm – 9pm – Needs no explanation now!
  • #sundayhour – 8pm – 9pm – A general networking hour for businesses.
  • #englandhour – 9pm – 10pm – Another general networking hour for business!
  • Bonus chance – Tweet @TheoPaphitis about your business between 5pm – 7:30pm using hashtag #SBS . He picks out several winners to win Small Business Sunday. This is a big deal if you win it. It will open so many doors. I have seen businesses appear in newspapers and articles for winning and so on. I haven’t felt brave enough to enter yet!

Monday to Friday

There are lots of Twitter networking hours that run daily during the working week. All of these are on everyday, unless specified.

#earlybiz – 7am-8am – If you’re up early enough, you may as well share your wares! A general business networking hour.

#UKearlyhour – 8am – 9pm – Again, all businesses welcome!

#UKbusinesslunch 12pm – 1pm – Another general networking hour.

#1pmlunch – 1pm – 2pm – An hour to take a break from work! A great place to network at the same time. @1pmlunch will put out questions to generate discussion. On a Wednesday, they do a little quiz! Very fun!

#funpmlunch – 1pm – 2pm – pretty well the same as 1pm Lunch!

#rushhourbiz – 6pm – 7pm (Monday to Wednesday). Follow @PiggyMarketNo1 – firstly she runs this hour and secondly, she runs lots of other hours! She is also very friendly! This hour is another fun and general chat and share networking session.

#wineoclock – 6pm – 7pm – A Twitter party mostly for women. Everyone does talk about more than just wine, although it is mentioned a fair bit! Another chat and share hour. *UPDATE 24/01/16* – This hashtag is changing to #wnukrt – everything else is the same!

#uklatehour – 9pm – 10pm – Much the same as UK Early Hour and UK Business Lunch, but later! All three are part of the @FlockBN network.

 

Added bonus

If all of that wasn’t enough for you, there are some other general hastags to help you on Twitter. I won’t explain most, as they are relatively self-explanatory! Be warned, you will get varying success. But they are worth trailing out.

#craftshout – This is run by @CraftShout . They hold networking hours throughout the week, but they are at varying times. Also, the times are in CST, so you need to work out the time difference. If you are on Facebook, it is worth joining the group on there – as they give you a heads up before a Twitter Party starts.

#onlinecraft – this is run by @Craft_Hour and is the hashtag to use throughout the week. (When #crafthour isn’t on!)

#etsychaching

#britcraft

#womaninbiz

#brightpig

#87rt

#uksmallbiz

#bizuktoday

#thepetsbiz

#epiconetsy

 

The end

I hope you have found some useful hashtags and networking sessions in this post. Hopefully I will see you on Twitter! You will find me @GiddingsGifts

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General News – Updating Etsy SEO

Cor blimey! I have been super rubbish at blog updates! Partly because I have been super busy sorting out our Etsy shop. And partly because Chris has been hogging the computer! That’s a good thing though, as he has also been super busy and has been coming up with lots of new designs.

Etsy SEO

I have been working on the SEO on our Etsy shop. Gosh, that’s a tiresome thing! I took up the two week trial with Marmalead. You will see lots of bloggers from Etsy talking about this site. To be fair, it is pretty good. It tells you how often your tags are searched for, as well as providing you with new ideas. I have been making the most of it and have been jotting ideas down and updating the tags on our items. I am, however, trying to make the most of it. At the moment, I can’t really afford to subscribe to it.

I have, however, also found a website called Etsy Rank. At the moment, this is a free service. Mostly it does the same things as Marmalead. It rates your listings, tells you where you rank and tells you the popularity of your tags. What it doesn’t do, however, suggest tags or tell you how responsive tags are. I would have put the link to Etsy Rank in this blog – but in par with SEO, I’ve been told it will compete with this post!

Weirdly though, Marmalead and Etsy Rank grade my listings differently.

Etsy SEO
Marmalead
Etsy Seller
Etsy Rank

If you own an Etsy shop, I think that it would be best to have access to both SEO tools to help you get an all round picture of how your listings are doing.

New Cards

funny birthday card

As I mentioned, Chris has been coming up with lots of new designs. We have released several new cards, which feature a pop culture theme. I’m very excited about these and the expansion of the shop. I’m also feeling proud, as at the moment with my SEO research, they are popping up in searches. Hooray!

star ward birthday

 

star wars funny

the walking dead

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for looking

 

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for under 15 on Etsy

Valentine’s Day is coming

valentines day gift ideas

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

New Year has just passed – which can only mean one thing. The next holiday is Valentines Day and it’s  never too early to start thinking about it.

To help you out, I have had a look on my favourite small business market place – Etsy. I have gathered together 10 lovely and different gift ideas for Valentine’s day. And, they all have an added bonus! They all cost less than £15 (or $15!).

1. I love you Mountain Print by littlempapergoods

love printI’ll kick off the valentines day gifts with this lovely and simply print by Little M Paper Goods. You can get your hands on it here. 

2. Tiny Message in a bottle by EyMyMessage

cute valentines day gift

I love tiny things! Ey My Message capture your message to your loved one and pace it into a tiny bottle. They will customise it so that you can have your own personal message inside. (This is slightly more than just I love you, but not much more and still under 15!). The link is here.

3. Wooden Cards by Cardtorial

i love you card

I don’t think much needs to be said about these. They are lovely and elegant – and Cardtorial has a nice selection to choose from. You will find the I Love You wood card here. 

4. Spooning Since Burlap Print by MilsoMade

spooning since

Who doesn’t enjoy spooning?! This cute and funny print by Milsomade can be found here. 

5. Love Tree Keyring by TheGhostlyWood

valentine's day gift

Another cute item! The Ghostly Wood will customise this key ring with you and your partner’s initials to make a truly unique item. Here’s where to get your hand on it!

6. Loveheart Necklace by Lilley

love sweetsMmmm Lovehearts! Lilley has turned the classic love sweet into a wearable item. You can select from a choice of phrases to send the right message on Valentine’s Day. Take a look.

7. Felt Love Cat Ornament by TheStitcherySupplies

felt ornamentJust a cute cat ornament with a love heart for the cat lover in your life! See if you think it’s adorable too (here!).

 

8. Yoda Pun Mug by Fantasyworldexports

star wars mug

If your valentine is a bit of a geek and also loves a pun – then Fantasy World Exports have the gift for you! Just love this Yoda pun mug – check it out.

9. Martini Ornament by WhitneyLaurenSmith

olive you

Ok, you got me, it’s another pun! But how cute? Particularly if your valentine like martini! Here it is. 

10. I Love You More Print by GiddingsGifts

valentine's day

OK, so it’s a bit cheeky to add one of our own items! But, we’re super proud of this one and believe it is a cool way to show just how much you love your valentine. (This being by comparing your love to pop culture couples!). If you can forgive the cheekiness, this one it here!

 

Hope you enjoyed this round-up. Thank you for stopping by

 

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Christmas news

It’s Christmas time!

Well, Christmas has already been! it’s been a while since my last post. I have had good intentions of posting, but Chris and I have had a crazily hectic time since. This post will primarily be about me quitting my day job, Christmas and Molly the beagle – whom last time I posted had just undergone surgery.

 

No more Police (for me!)

PC GiddingsI finally did it! I have been a police officer in Thames Valley Police for just over 7 years, joining in October 2009. For the last year, I have been in the post of detective constable in Domestic Abuse Department. When I look back, I’ve been more unhappy than happy during my service. The police is just not what it used to be (based on all the stories you hear from cops close to retirement!). Right now, morale is very low and it is so depressing. For a long time, I felt completely trapped. I don’t have any experience in any other industries. My degree is in film production (it was fun at the time!), so my qualifications are useless.

Luckily for me, I have an amazingly supportive husband. We worked it out and established that we can manage without me having a job for a good while. People have called me brave, handing in my notice to the police when I don’t have a stable job to go to.

The way that I look at it, I have got to be happy – and what is the point in spending another 28 years in a job I don’t like? (28 years was the remainder of my prison sentence, sorry pension service!). And now I have enough time to really give our Etsy shop a good go and expand it into something amazing. I’m very excited that I have this opportunity. And now I’ll have more time to really commit to this blog too!

My last day in the office was 22nd December. No offence to anyone, it was pretty underwhelming. The worst part of the day was having to pay for the bus on the way home! (at the moment police don’t have to pay for the bus for travel to and from work in Thames Valley).  At least Chris surprised me with some prosecco, chocolate and a balloon at home.

Surprise gifts from husband

Christmas

Not going to say too much on Christmas. Just that Chris and I had a really lovely time spending it with friends and family. Oh, and, very exciting for me, my main present was an overlocker. I haven’t got it out yet, I can hear it calling me though!

Christmas selfie

Silly Christmas outfits
Both sides of the family!

Molly

So, Molly was still recovering from her mammary strip operation. She was doing pretty well and, to be fair, was pretty much back to normal (except for the gross looking healing scar on her stomach!).

Chris and I left the house on Christmas day to go and enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner with our friends, as we have done for the last few years. We returned around 3 hours later to discover…. Molly had got into the office (the door to which has a dodgy latch), where I was keeping a Christmas hamper for my grandparents. Molly helped herself to a pack of mince pies – eating 6 in total – AND a Christmas pudding for 4 people.

beagle ate entire christmas pudding

If you read my posts, you might notice that Baxter does not get mentioned an awful lot. This is because he behaves! And we know that Molly ate all of this as her stomach ballooned as thigh she’d eaten the pudding whole!

Anyway, it’s not a great feeling ending up at the vets on Christmas Day for an emergency call out. Sultanas and Raisins are toxic to dogs. Molly had digested A LOT, even by human standards!

I shall add, that Molly is fine. However she ended up spending 48 hours in the vets attached to a drip, as well as being fed charcoal. She missed most of Christmas and cost us £718. (She is insured but until both of our claims go through, we’re down around £2,225. Not a great feeling when you just packed your job in!).

 

Anyway, thank you for stopping by. Hopefully I’ll post again soon

 

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Weekly news – Molly’s operation

Christmas is nearly here

Christmas is just one week away! However, there has been one big thing on our minds this week in the Giddings household – Our beagle Molly. She has had to undergo surgery in the form of a mammary strip. Just for your information – I am posting some pictures of Molly’s post-operation wounds, for those with a light tummy).

funny beagle
Molly before the problems, just snoozing!

When we got back from our holiday, my mum told us that she has noticed a small lump on Molly’s stomach. The lump, once discovered, was incredibly noticeable. It felt like a weird hard pea. This was of course, very concerning to us – Molly was only neutered a few months ago and the lump was near to one of her nipples.

So, I took her to the vets, who tested the lump. I find that it is very difficult to talk to vets, they appear to casually throw words like ‘tumour’ around with no consequence! After the lab results came back the vet called me and said ‘The results show that is epididymal neoplasm. It could be cancerous but it is most likely cystic and caused by the mammary gland. It does not appear to be aggressive, but we recommend that it is removed as soon as possible.’ I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t really sure what this meant and the only word I really heard was ‘cancerous’.

Anyway, I called them back and did some Google research! Essentially it was a form of skin cancer, but was not showing signs of being malignant (so it’s not spreading, was my understanding!). They recommended a Mammary strip and Molly was booked in for an operation.

Mammary Strip

Now, I apologise for this post being so long-winded about my dog having a lump. But, I am clearly naive and if this helps anyone who’s dog is in the same situation, than great! Before the operation, I was under some impression that a mammary strip would be fairly straightforward . After all, the vets were talking as if they were just removing a tiny pea sized lump. Wrong! Basically, Molly has undergone a mastectomy. She has had three ‘breasts’ (mammary gland to be correct!) removed from one side. I now get what they mean by mammary ‘strip’. The operation is very invasive and much worse than her spay operation.

 

Molly had to stay overnight, but we were able to pick her up on Friday. I don’t know if you have ever seen such a sad little dog! She was fitted with a drain, so that any fluid would drip out and not build up inside. We were instructed that a child’s t-shirt would be good to put over her, so that it caught the drips and deterred her from licking herself. Well, I’m pretty small, so she has one of my t-shirts!

Here is Molly’s stomach with the drain

mammary glad surgery

 

Drain removal and subcutaneous emphysema

Molly had the drain removed yesterday. But what the vet does (or at least mine did!) is that they remove the drain and leave a gaping gross hole. Yuck!

mammary strip dogs
Post surgery scar, poor Molly

Molly is generally doing alright. Chris and I are carrying her up and down stairs when required (not fun when you live in a townhouse!) and stopping her from jumping up – so that she does not stretch too much. However, yes – a new problem! I have now noticed that when you touch her, her skin feels like tissue paper and makes a crinkling noise. This is happening along her back, stomach and hind legs.

Again, I have got on the old Google and think that she may have subcutaneous emphysema. From what I can tell, she basically has air under her skin – which has probably come in through her open wound. It appears that in most cases, it dissipates on its own and does not cause significant problems, but I will be calling the vets again tomorrow to make sure. If you are interested, the article I found most useful, was this one.

dog best friends
Post op sleeping, with Baxter keeping an eye out!

She’ll be ok!

Anyway, sorry to be a negative Nancy – this has genuinely been the main thing on our mind all week. Some morals of the story:- get lumps checked out (obviously!) and get pet insurance (the mammary strip along cost £1391!). The main thing is, Molly has gone through the worst part and she should make a full recovery. Now she can get back to trashing our house – I leave you with a picture of how Chris and I found our craft room after Molly got herself locked in it whilst we were at work (just before the operation!).

dog shaming
Yep, you can see poop in this picture!

Thank you for stopping by