Thursday, 24 November 2011

Anniversary, the last few leaves and new puppies

As I wrote a note this morning and went to date it, I realised that today was actually my on-line selling anniversary - I have no idea how that snook up so quickly. 4 years under my belt now as a proper on-line self-representing seller.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger version.

I just love the colours of sunshine on beech leaves on a crisp autumn day - against clear blue sky. It would have been criminal not to get out and appreciate it.

I think I probably actually started selling in the spring of 2007, but I spent a long while faffing about trying to settle on a system for selling - whether to try and develop my own shopping cart, just use PayPal buttons or to make life a little easier and use a third party selling venue. In the short term, I settled on selling through Etsy and set up my shop there, embedding it into the page of my own web site, whilst I sorted out a proper cart behind the scenes to replace my initial shambolic efforts.

So the day I opened my Etsy shop became my official anniversary as it's a line in the sand that I can identify with as a corner turned and the date is there in my shop as a reminder. I now have over 520 items in my own shop and those first scary efforts feel like a lifetime ago.

Who wouldn't want to walk down this path. I passed more people in hiking boots than I think I've ever seen in the area - everyone obviously felt the same way that I did about not wasting the opportunity.

So I decided to hold a short-notice 48 hour sale to celebrate, so I have 20% off everything in my shop and coupon code ETSYVERSARY20 will secure you the same discount if you prefer shopping on Etsy.

We had a couple of gorgeous days last week and I took myself out for some fresh air whilst it lasted and I suspect that I got to enjoy the last decent showing of autumn colour for 2011. One tree that I had photographed in absolute glory only 9 days previously was now almost bare, so the wind we've had over the last few days is sure to have seen many more leaves off.

I fear that the next time I walk this path it will be devoid of leaves and will feel much more bare and wintry. So I shall let you enjoy the photographs before we have to face the on-coming winter.

Last weekend we visited with family as it was my Mother's birthday and my sister has just given a home to her new Miniature Snauzer puppy Klara - who is just over 9 weeks old - she's been waiting for this since before she was born, having put her name down with the breeder after the Mum's pregnancy was confirmed.

She's absolutely adorable; cute as a button, full of energy, affectionate, very bright (learnt to sit on command over a weekend) and full of beans and extreme cheekiness. So I'll leave you with an "ahhhhh" moment which should warm your heart on this cold November evening.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of our Stateside chums.

It's not obvious from the shot above, just how tiny she is, until you see her with Mr Boo. He's not that keen on dogs apparently, but he always seems to have one on his lap and they always seem to want to be there!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

PHP server upgrades, autumn leaves and lots of coiling

Isn't it just typical - we get a day of glorious autumn weather on a day when we have other commitments and can't take full advantage of it. Why couldn't it have been gorgeous yesterday instead.

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.
The first click takes you to a gallery overlay, but you can view the larger originals (which should include the EXIF data) by clicking 'Show original' in the bottom left hand corner.

One especially spectacular beech tree, against a perfect blue sky. I just love that combination of colours at this time of year on the odd few days we're lucky enough to experience it.

Oh no, wait, that wouldn't have worked either, I woke in the morning to find that my web host had done some scheduled upgrades overnight (I've known about it for months, I just didn't comprehend the potential implications to me) that had stopped my web site working and I spent the day alternating between tearing clumps of hair out that I can little afford to lose, trying to keep my already rampant hypertension under some degree of control and in trying to find someone (Stateside and on a Saturday morning) who knew a lot more about it than me, who could give me a guiding hand to fix it.

As I no doubt post ad nauseum, I love to see sunlight through leaves - it lifts my spirits more than just about anything else. If I can heard birdsong too, that's a great bonus.

Thankfully I did find a kind soul on the cart developers forum who directed me to detailed instructions for a fix to what was a well known problem with my cart when the PHP version is upgraded on the server. Thankfully, the instructions were very concise and I have just enough experience of modding my own shopping cart to know how to download and edit the code files in question and restore the new version to the server. And I refreshed the site pages holding my breath and was astonished that it had indeed fixed it.

This particular stretch of path is always accompanied by the best selection of birdsong - there's a good tract of ancient woodland to the right of the wall and it always sounds lovely.

The problem had initially looked pretty terminal, with screen-full after screen-full of lines of error codes and I wasn't able to even log into my admin panel to see what version of the software I was running - so I wasn't expecting the fix to be quite so easy to implement and fully expected that my initial efforts might fix one problem, only to have to face the next one presented. So I am extra-ordinarily grateful to have got the right help very promptly and that it only actually required one line of amended code to fix what seemed like a catalogue of assorted problems. Phew!

I just love the rich coppery colours of the beech leaves against a blue sky. This was actually a long way above the ground, but my 700mm lens easily closed the distance.

It wasn't exactly how I planned spending my Saturday, but having experienced that first sickening lurch of my stomach in the morning when my site got borked, I was thrilled to have it up and running again properly by the afternoon. The only harm done, I suspect, is to my nerves.

As we drew the curtains this morning we were met with the most glorious clear sky and there was even a light white frost on some of the rougher textured surfaces outside. Mr Boo had a long-standing commitment for the afternoon, so we couldn't go too far before he'd have to leave, so decided to at least enjoy some of the sunshine by doing one of our favourite local walks after breakfast.

It really was a prefect autumn day - clear fresh crisp air with just a little bite to the breeze, wall to wall blue sky and gorgeous golden sunshine - which as it rose in the sky ended up remarkably warm and very pleasant to be out in. I was delighted to get out, stretch my legs, blow the cobwebs out and come home with rosy cheeks and a few photographs in the can.

My work this week - all a bit coil-tastic:

I had reason to re-make an old design for a customer who wanted a variation of something she'd bought some years ago and it enforced me to re-visit a technique I've not done for a while - coiling wire to make a rope-like structure. I've done various different wire 'ropes' in the past, variously twisting or coiling wires of different gauges to get the desired effect.

Whilst I almost always antique or oxidise my copper, I do love to see it all peachy and shiny after tumbling and cleaning, so couldn't resist taking a 'WIP' photograph to show all the textured shiny metal.

This week it was all about coiling. Having done a little practice to establish the best gauges for the effect and weight I was after, I soon established a rhythm for making rope-like bead sections to use within pieces and got totally swept away with ideas using them.

It started with a couple of kilt pins in a series I'm making for the holiday season, as they often sell for gifts for people who don't wear much jewellery and I had a few in progress. Having done this pair with Indian fancy jasper stones, I routed out some other gemstones of a suitable size and the amethyst came next - and I loved the faceted stone next to the copper, so the necklace soon followed, with its matching earrings. Now that my fingers are starting to recover, I will no doubt do some more - my head is still full of ideas.


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